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when jessica atkins gets it in her head to buy something, she wants it from a nearby store, not an online merchant. But before venturing out from her suburban Chicago home, she goes comparison shopping ... at a Web site.

Her e-commerce site of choice,, helps not only Ms. Atkins, but also bricks-and-mortar retailers and newspapers, which so often have found themselves pitted against online rivals. She took advantage of shopLocal recently to save $75 on an MP3 player. Unlike other shopping sites, "this one will give you the actual lowest price at a shop in your area," says Ms. Atkins, who makes each purchase decision from her home, followed by a trip to a retailer within 25 miles, a distance she sets for shopping searches.

Ms. Atkins is not a newspaper reader, but she's relying on a newspaper company-owned service. ShopLocal is owned by Gannett Co., Knight Ridder and Tribune Co. via CrossMedia Services. Ms. Atkins goes directly to the shopLocal site, but it can also be accessed from participating newspapers' Web sites. CrossMedia has more than 140 sites affiliated with shopLocal including Gannett's USA Today, and Tribune Co.'s Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

HarvestINFO, a similar service, is available only via papers' Web sites. It says it has deals with more than 400 media companies and papers worldwide, including Cox Newspapers' Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Advance Publications' Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

Newspapers have given their advertisers access to the papers' Web sites for years, but typically all they were able to do was post online the ad that was running in the paper. ShopLocal and HarvestINFO take advantage of Internet capabilities to sort, store and retrieve. Consumers can retrieve information from these databases through searches by item category, brand or retail store.

"I like the fact that you can put in your ZIP code and it will tell you stores in your immediate radius," Ms Atkins says of shopLocal. "It's actual local shopping."

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