A student recently passed along to me an article published in Business Week (nov 26, 2007) entitled "Threadless: From Clicks to Bricks." It is an interesting article that talks about how companies that have started online, such as Threadless.com or Lucy.com, are now moving to bricks and mortar stores.
For those of you considering opening your own business, it begs the question of whether or not the web is a good 'starter' market to assess your opportunity. You can see what works and what doesn't. You can also collect some data to more accurately determine whom your target customer is and what their precise needs and preferences are. Then, if success seems to be coming your way, you can continue to capitalize on the online market while also entering the bricks and mortar retail market. Your chances of success in the more costly bricks and mortar market will hopefully be improved based on the previous business experience, growing reputation and more overall knowledge about the opportunity. It will also likely help you obtain the financing necessary as you can show more support for your business plan.