I am very dependent on Amazon. I find myself increasingly ordering everything I need to run the household from them, and I feel guilty about it. I am an advocate for shopping locally. My town once had a thriving main street of small businesses but now it is nearly all large retail chain stores. Buying from Amazon is the worst act of killing off Main Street America!
But it’s convenient … and the selection is great … and items are typically in stock … and the price is right … and returns are easy … and with Amazon Prime, I get nearly everything in two days … and I can order things using one of my many Amazon Echo devices or my phone … and ARRRRRRRGHHH!
I get a little solace knowing that some of what I buy is actually from smaller companies that use Amazon for fulfillment but I still feel that pang of guilt when the Amazon boxes stack up at the doorway.
If I examine my buying habits, it becomes clear that the opportunities to buy local or more specifically, from small businesses are few and far between. I do get our prescription medications from a local non-chain pharmacy — though I have no idea how much money they make from that — but I rarely buy anything else from them unless it’s an emergency due to their high prices. I get groceries from a mix of local independent and large chain markets, though when Amazon Fresh was delivering to my area I was close to using them almost exclusively — when they bought Whole Foods which has a local store, they stopped deliveries. Items that I need for J’s care such as equipment, pull-ups, wipes, etc., I get exclusively from Amazon given the selection and pricing. If I need bulk paper goods such as paper towels and toilet paper or something else that I would buy large sizes of like laundry detergent, I might shop around for the best price and order from Amazon or Costco. The one exception tends to be clothing. I’m still buying more clothing online than I would expect but not so much from Amazon — more likely through a retailer’s own website such as the Gap, Skechers, PBTeen, etc. Oh, and then there’s alcohol; beer and spirits I buy from a variety of local retailers but lately my wine purchases have been made online.
So what is it that I’m feeling guilty about? Well, books for one, though there are no independent bookstores convenient to me. Music? Well, now that I’ve discovered Apple Music, I’m not even buying that much music, and again, there aren’t any music stores near here except Barnes & Noble. Gifts? For my daughter’s friend’s birthdays, I’ve started giving cash, and for most other gifts, I might order something online from a smaller retailer. Jewelry? Who has time to buy jewelry? What have I forgotten?
The point of this post is to say that desperate times call for desperate measures, and I consider my current situation as desperate. I need (we all need) to stop beating ourselves up about things like this and do what is best for our family, our pocketbook, and our sanity. I don’t mean to encourage you to abandon Main Street completely — if you have access to good local stores, by all means, patronize them — but if you live in a Main Street desert like I do, just do what you need to do.
Oh, I forgot my one big contribution to the local economy — I spend way too much money with local non-chain restaurants. I take great comfort in that even though my doctor probably wishes I ate less.
How do you feel about buying online?