Weekend Warriors

A Whole New World

It's easy to see how some businesses can benefit from using e-mail or establishing a Web presence. But how do you know whether going online makes sense? According to some who've done it, it's worth a try.

Jon Wagner's company, Miniatures and More, sells animal-themed gift items such as key chains, pins and figurines. In February 1997, he received a phone call from an ISP inviting him to visit its site. "I checked it out and discovered I could create and operate a site for $100 per year," he says.

The Riverview, Florida, entrepreneur launched his site, AnimalGifts, that same month; since then, his mail order sales have increased by one-third. The success inspired him to create a second business, Pad-Mak-R, which sells notepad-making kits on the Internet. Kits consist of a "press," special glue and backing; users can print pages from the site and make them into personalized pads.

In March, Wagner closed Miniatures and More's retail store and moved the business solely onto the Web (and into his home). "I never thought I'd be shipping to Scotland and Germany," says Wagner, "but through my Web site, I get customers worldwide."

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