Main Street Moves Online

Conventional wisdom once held that Main Street merchants, unable to compete with low-cost, tax-free Web retailers, would crumble beneath the Internet onslaught. But rather than rolling over, Main Street is jumping on board. In a recent survey by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 84% of small businesses located in historic downtown shopping districts said they had increased their Internet usage in 1999. According to the survey, these same retailers--65% of whom reported increases in sales last year--are profiting not just from their own e-commerce efforts, but also by using the Web as a marketing tool. It still may be quaint, but Main Street is just another stop on the Information Superhighway. (For more on this topic, see Letters.)

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