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A Whiff of Wi-Fi

Something smells like profits in this hot-spot bakery.

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This story appears in the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A little Wi-Fi with that baguette, madame? Le Boulanger (www.leboulanger.com), a family-owned bakery in Sunnyvale, California, wanted a broadband network among its 19 Northern California stores. So it let Hotspotzz Network (www.hotspotzz.com) help pay the freight in return for making its stores "hot spots," where customers can e-mail or surf the Web wirelessly as they munch and sip.

The 18-month-old network not only garners Le Boulanger goodwill, but also about $500 in extra business per store per month, figures CFO Scott Brunello. Le Boulanger uses its Web site and the network to broadcast specials to customers via virtual coupons. The 802.11b signal can reach Wi-Fi-equipped PCs up to 300 feet from each store transceiver, and tech-oriented Silicon Valley-ites often e-mail ahead to check Wi-Fi availability before scheduling a meeting.

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