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Online Retailers Turn To Brick And Mortar Stores As Shoppers Seek Personal Service

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- From clicks to bricks, more and more online retailers are going back to basics -- opening brick and mortar stores.

Cindy Perez and her fiance were out shopping for wedding bands when the happy couple decided their internet search needed a detour to the mall.

"We went online and we searched it, but I need to see how it feels, how it fits," she said.

Blue Nile, the diamond retailer, is among several online businesses opening up shop at Roosevelt Field. The trend suggests e-commerce may not be eclipsing the old school brick and mortar store.

"Consumers still want to feel and experience the brand, so they can actually see the product, see that it's the same quality they see online," Roosevelt Field Shopping Center, Marketing Director Nancy Gilbert told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

What's old is new again. France and Son -- an online site for furniture and decor -- recently opened a Manhattan shop and an outlet in Farmingville where customers can sit in chairs and touch fabrics.

Owner Kevin Wu believes a physical presence builds trust and loyalty.

"A lot of customers seek out internet businesses with stores to make sure they are legitimate. If there is a problem they know we are going to stand behind it," Wu said.

Experts said reports of the mall's death are greatly exaggerated.

"Not the case, evolving but far from dead," Sabre Real Estate Group's Jayson Siano explained, "We are finding that brick and mortar stores are helping online retailers expand their exposure."

And shoppers said some things are just not a click away.

"I need something quick, so that's why I'm not shopping online," one shopper said.

"For shopping for clothes that I have to try on, I have to go to the store," another said.

Merchants also said the face to face interaction with customers provides vital feedback. They can't improve or evolve if their only connection with shoppers is virtual.

Even giant Amazon is investing in physical stores. They recently added a pop-up at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

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