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Trisha -- I'll tap into your online shopping expertise, I'm sure. Having being raised in Italy, I do prefer to see, touch and feel what I'm buying so to the store it is for me. I used to buy a lot from Amazon, then I started blogging and now I have more books than I can read ;-)

Mario -- bookstores (brick and mortar ones) are the perfect environment to be with people and alone at the same time. And offer a great way to sample material before making the purchase. What I often do is sample at the bookstore and then buy online. Only on a few rare occasions I pay full price for a book on the spot. See what happens? We become so price sensitive when stores keep running promotions and discounts. Think of supermarkets.

I get a kick out of the references to bookstores as well. Interestingly enough, Borders and B&N have provided many Americans a new kind of experience that combines shopping, browsing, and just hanging out. The environment gets a good amount of people coming through (great for quick breaks and people-watching). The square footage isn't small nor as daunting as a shopping mall. Lastly the hours are excellent.

I love the model of empowering employees in order to create a better customer experience.

I don't get out to the offline stores much, but do a lot of online shopping. Head and shoulders above the rest is Amazon, whom I shop frequently. Not only do they sell gazillions of items at reasonable prices, they are clear when they don't have items in stock, provide honest user reviews, and offer other items I might like that I may not have thought about before seeing their offer (yes I often buy the additional item(s) on impulse).

They've worked hard to make the buying process easy, and to develop a relationship with every purchaser with features like Wish Lists and Occasion Reminders.

This approach may not be feasible for a lot of offline stores, but every online retailer can learn a trick or two from Amazon.

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