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Cater to the New Downtown Consumer

As consumers flee the 'burbs, they'll need help from you.

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This story appears in the February 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Cities are booming again as suburbanites, fed up with high gas costs and long commutes, are flocking to city centers. These new downtown consumers need stores, restaurants and a variety of specialized services to meet their needs, says Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. "[Entrepreneurs] have to look into the demographics in cities and look for opportunities to serve those communities," Nasr says.

After assessing the needs of the downtown St. Louis populace, Linda Loewenstein founded Niche, a fashionable furniture showroom, in 2004. At the center of a revitalized area, Niche's first-year sales passed $1 million, and 2006 sales surpassed $1.4 million. "It's been exciting," says Loewenstein, 46. "You feel like you're contributing to growing a neighborhood."

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