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Small businesses to compete with Amazon expansion

By Pauleen Le, ple@wkbt.com
Published On: Sep 04 2013 06:20:06 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 04 2013 07:51:05 PM CDT

WKBT, News8000.com

LA CROSSE, Wis. -

As technology continues to advance, more and more people are cutting back on trips to the store and heading to the web to do their shopping.

Online retail giant Amazon has announced it will build five new distribution centers across the U.S. to make the shopping experience easier and even quicker, but will small businesses in our area still be able to compete?

Co-owner of Kick Shoes in La Crosse, Allison Krzych, said owning and maintaining a shoe store takes more than just keeping up with the latest trends in footwear.

“Being a small business owner, you have to flex with the times, and technology is always changing,” said Krzych.

Kick Shoes has called downtown La Crosse home for six years. Last year, they received an opportunity to sell their shoes with one of the biggest retail giants online.

“One day, Amazon called us and said, ‘Hey, you pick out great shoes, they're different shoes from what we're offering, why don't you sell your shoes on Amazon?’” said Krzych.

Since then, Krzych said their shoe sales on the site have grown every month. She sees Amazon's expansion as a step to even more business.

“We're a small business in the heart of the Midwest ran by two girls that are opening up to billions of users on Amazon,” said Krzych. “So that's good.”

Touch of Class on Main Street in La Crosse has been in business since 1976 -- “Long before we had to worry about the Internet,” said the store’s owner Kim Pretasky.

Over time, Pretasky has also tapped into online retail, but just through the store's website.

She's not too concerned she'll lose customers to Amazon's because it was never a competitor to begin with.

“Because of the scope of product they offer and the resources they have, we would not be in the ball park,” said Pretasky.

Pretasky said the store has seen double-digit increases every year thanks to the certain brands she carries and the personal customer service.

Even with Amazon's help, Krzych would also prefer the face-to-face contact.

“We are homeowners in this area,” said Krzych. “We conduct our business with small businesses and it’s all about community, which is why the brick and mortar small business ownership is better than Amazon, but Amazon is a slice.”

Even though both stores are providing some form of online retail, both see at least 80 percent of their profits coming from in-store customers.

Amazon already has 40 distribution centers nationwide. It plans to build the five distribution centers in California, New Jersey and Texas.

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