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The Boston Globe


Innovation Economy

Some Web retailers hope showrooms lure buyers

Remember the 1999 vision of shopping’s future? We’d buy everything online, customized to our most exacting specifications, and have it all delivered to our doorstep, tax-free. E-tailers scoffed at the notion of renting storefronts, hiring clerks, and carrying shelves full of inventory that might quickly go out of style.

But if you stroll down Newbury Street and its side streets today, you can try on pants from Bonobos, a suit from Blank Label, or eyeglass frames from Warby Parker, Web retailers all. (New York-based Warby Parker is backed in part by Spark Capital, a venture capital firm on Newbury Street.) In November, online jewelry merchant Gemvara plans to open a temporary store amidst the art galleries and cafés; it will stay open until Valentine’s Day.

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