the case for local (or a not-so-much love letter to Amazon.com)

Dear Amazon,

I love you — kind of.

I love you because you are oh-so convenient. Before I can say Google, you’ve showed me just what I’m looking for. That book. That . . . well, anything. You have all of it, everything.

As you know, Amazon, I don’t live in an especially large city. So I appreciate that you carry things I just can’t find here.

And I love that your prices are competitive. I trust you won’t rip me off. Despite that one delivery incident, our relationship is mostly a charmed one.

Oh, I love you all right. But friend, you are making me nervous. You’re already the largest online retailer in the world, and you’re about to get a little too big.

Much separates you from local retail stores, shops and businesses. The most obvious difference? Time. I can cruise into the local Two Tulips and pick up a package of stationery and get the note in the mail before the stationery I ordered from you arrives. And although they don’t carry the most obscure titles, a few local bookstores have served me well, plus some Barnes & Noble action too (RIP Borders).

But if you start delivering things the day I order them?

The local gems may be up for a David and Goliath-esque match, and I’m afraid the Davids may not win this time.

See, Amazon, I’m an advocate of buying local when possible. Several studies have demonstrated that when we buy from a local, independent business, a much larger chunk of our money is used to make purchases from other local businesses. (Cue The Lion King’s Circle of Life.)

And furthermore, Amazon, you know how much I cherish nonprofits. Nonprofits receive, on average, 250% more support from local mom-and-pops than the big guys.

Local businesses keep communities unique, contribute to a higher quality of life, employ local citizens, offer fantastic customer service and encourage community prosperity. I could go on.

So, Amazon, I’m not saying this is the end. We can still see each other; I’m not breaking up. But things are moving a little too fast. Jealousy has no place in a love affair and so I’m keeping this relationship open. You see, I love community. And I believe in it a whole lot.

Remember when I said I love you for your selection? I’m afraid this reason I love you could drive the wedge between us. I’m afraid I’ll be able to find a smaller and smaller selection locally, because the little guys may lose their ability to compete.

These local businesses, Amazon, matter. They’re neighbors, friends and important stakeholders in our communities. So I’m going to keep buying local when possible.

There is a place in this economy for large companies and businesses like you, Amazon, to be sure. You play an important role. And I believe there is also a place and a role for small ones.

I can handle waiting a few days for what I’ve ordered. But I can’t handle losing another local gem.

xoxo, kinda,
Sarah

Credits, research and stats from: Sustainable Connection, How the e-commerce giant will destroy local retail, Amazon on Wikipedia. Image via.

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6 thoughts on “the case for local (or a not-so-much love letter to Amazon.com)

  1. I love local businesses for the community they provide. Plus the whole “I can’t just buy this on Amazon”-ness of it. I wish more people appreciated that aspect.

    But, of course, I also love Amazon. How can you not? What a tangled interweb we weave, my dear. 🙂

    • YES — it is such a thin tightrope! Thinking critically helps, and thinking creatively helps even more, yes?

  2. That is a tough one. With the oh-so-attractiveness of Nicole’s Prime account and the fact that sometimes when I order something early enough it arrives next day…it’s hard. But honestly for me, I buy things that I would probably not be able to easily find elsewhere. I don’t like the breaking down of boxes and possibility of returns that go into ordering online, so while I use it, I don’t get basic necessities there that I could find in a brick and mortar. It may radically shape the way people purchase but then again…it may not. It will be interesting to watch.

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