Small brick-and-mortar businesses around St. Louis aim to sell more than goods

Ross Hunter rang up an out-of-town customer, peppering her with questions about her travels and stay.

His Central West End store, Provisions St. Louis, is full of high-end goods: Gentlemen’s barware, Alpaca scarves, books carefully stacked on wooden tables. These gifts, he said, are meant to give his customers a very specific feeling. 

“I like to know there’s a story,” Hunter said. “I think that a lot of people forget that retail is an experience.”

In the face of booming e-commerce and consolidating mega-stores, small brick-and-mortar businesses across St. Louis and the world are hunting for what makes them unique. And they say they’ve found it: Shoppers visit them not just for the gifts, but for the memories.

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