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Plugging In, Cashing In

Small local businesses build online empires

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Walk into Huppin’s electronics store right now and you’re greeted by the most classic of holiday scenes. Colored lights and fake snow in the window. A red felt stocking hangs for each employee. Synthtastic seasonal tracks fill you with holiday cheer as you scavenge for a deal on plasma-screen TVs.

And yet, 80 percent of the company’s customers will never see the stockings. They won’t hear the music. They’ll instead pull up the Website for OneCall. com, Huppin’s online brand, and buy their goods with no manufactured holiday cheer at all.

A November ConsumerReports.org poll said 49 percent of people surveyed will shop online this year, up from 44 percent last year. And while online sales still only make up for 10 percent of total holiday spending, it’s increasingly vital that mom ’n’ pop shops like Huppin’s — which has occupied its downtown Spokane storefront for over a century — gut it out in the cutthroat online world alongside big-box corporations.

“I think customers have said they want to choose how to shop, and it’s not my right as a busi

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