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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

Small town businesses join competitors in Internet sales

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Retailers in small towns are beginning to feel the effects of Internet shopping as high speed connections find their way to rural areas.

Bigger-city retailers have complained for years about Internet competition but only recently have small towns begun to see the same problem.

The convenience of point-and-click shopping deals one more blow to the small-town shops already facing competition from large discount retailers including Wal-Mart.

"I'll try my best to whip the big boys," said clothing store owner Duane Hansen, 74, of Spencer.

In September, Hansen launched his own Web site to compete with other retailers on the Internet.

"Business wasn't like it used to be," Hansen said. "I had to change that."

His plan worked. He's selling $110 dress shirts and $99 neckties to customers from California to Massachusetts.

In Hawarden, a town of 2,500 north of Sioux City, Main Street retailers are concerned about the new buying habits of customers but many aren't sitting still. About 150 local businesses have their own Web sites.

"You have an audience you never had," said Janet Brown, who oversees a Web site at In-Weave, a rug and fabric store in Hawarden. "We could not have done it without high-speed Internet."

Hawarden residents approved a $4 million plan to create a system providing cable television, telephone and high-speed Internet service across town in the mid 1990s.

High-speed Internet gives residents and retailers faster access than dial-up service.

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