I do freelance webdesign and usually just work with smaller, local mom and pop shops. However, I have a new client that wants to hire me to do a website not only for their main shop, but for regional and possibly national as well.

The structure will (may?) look something like this.

The company sells green widgets, among other types, but really wants to focus on their green widgets. So the main shop in the region wants this:

1.) metropolisgreenwidgets.com - 15 or so pages, good original content, etc.

Now, they also want people who are in the suburbs to find them easily when googling, and want to also purchase other domain names and redirect them to the main one. So:

easthavengreenwidgets.com and westhavengreenwidgets.com and northhavengreenwidgets.com will all have 301 redirects to metropolisgreenwidgets.com.

Will doing that cause a problem with duplicate content????

2.) Then, they want me to build a site for the other shops in the region (other cities) - these are shops in other cities, some even in other states, and these sites will each be unique in address information and *some* content - i.e., the shop in greenville will have different contact info, and a completely different image gallery (the widgets they sell are custom service related) BUT will use the same basic *model* as the original site. So:

differentcitynamegreenwidgets.com will "look" (will use the same theme, etc.) like the original metropolisgreenwidgets.com, and may share some of the same content (some shared product information, etc) but will have slightly different content in regards to about us, contact, very customized image gallery representation of their custom work, etc.... The company wants each city's site to retain the brand look, but be customized for that particular city. So then we'll end up with:

metropolisgreenwidgets.com - first, original site
----->easthavengreenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->northavengreenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above

differentcity2namegreenwidgets.com - separate site, but hosted on same server
----->suburbofdifferentcity2greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->anothersuburbofdifferentcity2greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above

differentcity3namegreenwidgets.com - separate site, but hosted on same server
----->suburbofdifferentcity3greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->anothersuburbofdifferentcity3greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above

What is the best approach here? Do I set up each city as it's own unique site (also I'll be using wordpress) - which is what they REALLY want, or would it be better (from SEO standpoint) to set up greenwidgets.com and then subdirectories off the main site (using WPMU) for each city (but then would that muck up waters when redirecting different suburb based keyword domain names to them each)???

I think they want each city to be it's own site because each city will be responsible for their unique site and will be paying for their site individually (not billing one central office, but each site controls their own destiny to some extent). Like a franchise, only not really a franchise, if that makes any sense ;-)

It's a great account - I get to create quite a few sites, use a base model for all, but customize each, good recurring income, and none of that is difficult - but how to structure these and not have issues with some duplicate content, etc., is troubling me. Any advice is appreciated!