By Colin Burrowes
Why travel two hours away to find a mall to do our Christmas shopping, when the true power to undermine local businesses is right at our finger tips? Really, why bother driving down snow covered highways or risk slipping on a sidewalk when we can just click a button on one of the handy devices we surround ourselves with every day?
Seriously, why would we want to go out to a store and get advice from an experienced shopkeeper who knows the products they are selling, when we can just as easily order the same item with Amazon Prime from the comfort of our own bed.
I suppose reviews from other consumers can be helpful, but I’m not so sure they can replace the words of wisdom our local business owners have gathered in their years of service. Perhaps online reviews can be mixed with your local shopping experience, I see many people combining those experiences already. How many times have you seen a shopper staring at their phone, comparing the Amazon price to the item on the shelf in front of them, and then making the Amazon purchase right then and there? I know I’ve seen it happen. It’s so easy to save a few dollars, and with free shipping from Amazon Prime, it’s a short wait for your item to arrive.
Maybe, we need to ask ourselves whether those small savings are worth losing the spirit of a healthy downtown. Are big box stores and drives to the city really what is killing small businesses, or is it the fact that we can shop for almost anything we want without even leaving home?
I think there are some aspects of shopping in local stores that just can’t be replaced by online shopping. The social aspect offered by a thriving downtown goes beyond just meeting friendly, smiling faces we recognize while we are shopping. It goes beyond that when local businesses invest back into the community, supporting events, parades and festivals that bring the community together.
Closing that Amazon app and purchasing items from a local retailer is an investment in your community.
I know, I know, the selection Amazon offers is unbeatable, but how many of us use Amazon to only buy the items we can’t buy in town? Probably not too many of us. Why bother walk all the way down to Queen Street when we can order slipper socks from the comfort of our living room while we binge watch the new season of Jack Ryan on Prime.
The convenience of online shopping is killing our local retailers just as much, if not more, than our trips to the city to visit shopping malls and box stores. How many of those presents under your Christmas tree this year arrived in an Amazon box? Maybe it’s time for us to practice some Amazon abstinence and reestablish relationships with our local retailers.