Hate local business? Buy everything from Amazon.

My friend and associate Kevin Knodell just published a piece on the closure of Comic Book Inc. in Tacoma. I will confess to never having gone to the shop in question, mostly from my lack of interest in comic books. However, I look at the closing of any independent business with a pain in my gut.

At one point during my time in Parkland, I went out shopping with a new group of Dungeons & Dragons players to my favorite local business, The Game Matrix in Lakewood. It’s a one-stop shop for everything from Warhammer miniatures pants and LARPing supplies, to family board games and copies of The Dead Gentlemen’s hit film The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising. Their selection is astounding, and they’re willing to order anything they don’t have. I’ve not once had a bad customer experience there, and the folks who come in to play war games and run D&D sessions are polite and informative. They’ve even got a soda machine that sells cans of Mountain Dew for fifty cents. Regardless, one of these new players was looking for a fairly specific miniature, pre-painted if possible. They had a pewter, unpainted version of a tiefling druid-ish mini, but they wanted something like a reasonable price for it. The player’s response to the clerk was, “Well, that’s a little expensive. I think I’ll just order this on Amazon instead.”

This was the moment, friends, where I started to think very seriously about Amazon. It also made me wonder about my friendship with the person in question, but that’s for my therapist.

For starters, I can think of no worse of an insult to a person than to say, in effect, that your livelihood is not worthy enough of a thing for me to spend money in your shop. This is not far removed from wishing them deprivation and hunger, for it is the suggestion that their shop is not a worthwhile place. Without their shop, they’ve lost their job. Granted, one person’s business on a ten dollar item might not be enough to bring down an institution. It would take a spectacular amount of lost sales, by a competitor who could compete at such a volume that they could undercut the meager margins on a ten dollar miniature to make that sale. It would also take a generation or two to become more or less indoctrinated and addicted to the experience provided by this competition, to the point where they begin to base most of their purchasing patterns around the outlet. And that, friends, is why Amazon is terrifying to me.

Buying the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is a $50 proposition, plus sales tax. It’s not a cheap book, but then again it is the only book you’d really need to play the game (past a Monster Manual for the DM; and no YOU DON’T NEED THOSE SPLATBOOKS AAAHHHH). That $50 purchase is a commitment to some, perhaps even more to a cash-strapped high school or college student, but its purchase should be seen as something of a rite of passage. The new gamer is taken to their local Mecca, the gaming shop, walked through the halls of endless supplements and Salvatore novels, and handed their new tome. They learn the shopkeeper’s name, and check the nearby corkboard of index cards for any games starting in the area. It can be this great experience, interacting with people and interfacing with tactile items.

Amazon.com cheapens the experience, literally, by offering the same book for $31.50. They’ll go a step further and ship it to your door in two days if you’re a college student. Imagine the convenience of never having to deal with another human being while you get into a hobby whose main conceit is that you must deal with other human beings. Think of the time you could save not being exposed to other games that you might be more inclined to pick up. Add that to the gas you’ll save when your book shows up in an over-large cardboard box, wrapped in plastic bubble wrap or filled with styrofoam, and you’ve got one hell of a deal.

The gloves are off. I see Amazon as one of the most damaging forces arrayed against small, independently owned business. One could counter-claim that the recession is the real killer of businesses, but I would propose that it only fuels the fire beneath them. When I was in college and my income was significantly less, I would look at a $20 savings as the simplest of choices. And that was for admittedly frivolous things; for absolute needs like my textbooks, the choice was even more obvious. Why spend money that I need not spend, I would reason. Me first, I would reason. These guys would give me free deliveries, occasionally next day, on the same item I would pay significantly more for at the local bookstore. I was not the only undergraduate student of modest means in 2008. I feel I can safely say that there are millions of people who look at the value proposition of Amazon (and other online retailers) versus their neighbors, and shrift their neighbors.

The real exception I made to the standing Amazon policy was in used books, which I pursued voraciously at a few fine local shops (Tacoma Book Center and Park Avenue Books mostly, with some trips to Half Price Books after I learned of its existence). I applied the same spendthrift logic to these used shop excursions, but there was also the notion that local businesses were worth the effort to sustain. Over time, I fell deeply in love with the Tacoma Book Center in particular. Their selection is astounding, and they will hunt down and order materials that they don’t have in stock. I would bring in stacks of old books, willing to accept that I would be able to trade them all for maybe one or two “new” titles, and accepted this on the notion that this is a business that lives on selling books for more than what they spent to buy them. I, in turn, clear their inventory space for new books and more sales. It all started to feel very organic, like I was cleaning the teeth of a whale or something. Symbiotic relationships and whathaveyou. Furthermore, I could actually find better deals there than I could from private sellers through Amazon. I wasn’t having to cut my own throat to keep them in business, which was fine by me.

When I think about CBI closing, I think about my own local comic book store, The Dreaming. I chose the apartment I did based in part on the fact that I can basically crawl to The Dreaming in under a minute. It’s an extension of my apartment to me, a library full of Lovecraft statues and New World of Darkness core books (plus those mysterious comic book things). They host tabletop gaming sessions several nights a week, and are now doing Magic twice a week (borrowing space from the Scum of the Earth Church next door). On Free Comic Book Day, the owners placed out a dozen boxes full of used comics (most in plastic) for anybody to grab. They’re providing an outlet and a creative space for a host of nerd folk like myself, and to keep that space in existence I make a conscious decision to purchase what I can from them. When they didn’t have a copy of The Killing Joke, I ordered it through them. Did it take longer than three days? Yes. Did I spend more money than if I had ordered it on Amazon? Yes. Did I help put food in the mouth of the awesome owner? Yes. To me, that will forevermore be the difference.

I’ve had the argument thrown at me that Seattle residents should not be so concerned with giving money to Amazon, as it is in fact a local business. That’s right, jerkoff. It’s a local corporation with branch offices, warehouses in multiple states, and international outlets. Buying your Janet Evanovich novel of the month from them is the moral equivalent of buying it from a human being with a name and a family, who runs a shop a few blocks from where you work. Amazon needs the money, you see. The economy’s in a bad way, and Amazon’s not quite sure how it’s going to pay its medical bills next month. It would love to have enough financial stability to someday take the whole Amazon family on a vacation to Vancouver, but right now it is having enough trouble paying off its student loans and providing for its kids, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.cn. It wouldn’t be having such a hard time if those smug, caviar-drinking small business owners weren’t cutting into their profit margins. #occupymainstreet

Stop buying things from Amazon. Find a local business that will sell you the same item, pay a little extra, and form a relationship with another person. Keep your local storefronts occupied, and keep your neighbors fed. Live in a world where a person can own a small business and make a living, and not be ground into poverty by an impossibly big competitor. If nothing else about this article struck you at all, I would hope this does: be aware of the relationship between your spending habits and their effect on your neighborhood.

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Posted by jeffrud

My friend and associate Kevin Knodell just published a piece on the closure of Comic Book Inc. in Tacoma. I will confess to never having gone to the shop in question, mostly from my lack of interest in comic books. However, I look at the closing of any independent business with a pain in my gut.

At one point during my time in Parkland, I went out shopping with a new group of Dungeons & Dragons players to my favorite local business, The Game Matrix in Lakewood. It’s a one-stop shop for everything from Warhammer miniatures pants and LARPing supplies, to family board games and copies of The Dead Gentlemen’s hit film The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising. Their selection is astounding, and they’re willing to order anything they don’t have. I’ve not once had a bad customer experience there, and the folks who come in to play war games and run D&D sessions are polite and informative. They’ve even got a soda machine that sells cans of Mountain Dew for fifty cents. Regardless, one of these new players was looking for a fairly specific miniature, pre-painted if possible. They had a pewter, unpainted version of a tiefling druid-ish mini, but they wanted something like a reasonable price for it. The player’s response to the clerk was, “Well, that’s a little expensive. I think I’ll just order this on Amazon instead.”

This was the moment, friends, where I started to think very seriously about Amazon. It also made me wonder about my friendship with the person in question, but that’s for my therapist.

For starters, I can think of no worse of an insult to a person than to say, in effect, that your livelihood is not worthy enough of a thing for me to spend money in your shop. This is not far removed from wishing them deprivation and hunger, for it is the suggestion that their shop is not a worthwhile place. Without their shop, they’ve lost their job. Granted, one person’s business on a ten dollar item might not be enough to bring down an institution. It would take a spectacular amount of lost sales, by a competitor who could compete at such a volume that they could undercut the meager margins on a ten dollar miniature to make that sale. It would also take a generation or two to become more or less indoctrinated and addicted to the experience provided by this competition, to the point where they begin to base most of their purchasing patterns around the outlet. And that, friends, is why Amazon is terrifying to me.

Buying the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is a $50 proposition, plus sales tax. It’s not a cheap book, but then again it is the only book you’d really need to play the game (past a Monster Manual for the DM; and no YOU DON’T NEED THOSE SPLATBOOKS AAAHHHH). That $50 purchase is a commitment to some, perhaps even more to a cash-strapped high school or college student, but its purchase should be seen as something of a rite of passage. The new gamer is taken to their local Mecca, the gaming shop, walked through the halls of endless supplements and Salvatore novels, and handed their new tome. They learn the shopkeeper’s name, and check the nearby corkboard of index cards for any games starting in the area. It can be this great experience, interacting with people and interfacing with tactile items.

Amazon.com cheapens the experience, literally, by offering the same book for $31.50. They’ll go a step further and ship it to your door in two days if you’re a college student. Imagine the convenience of never having to deal with another human being while you get into a hobby whose main conceit is that you must deal with other human beings. Think of the time you could save not being exposed to other games that you might be more inclined to pick up. Add that to the gas you’ll save when your book shows up in an over-large cardboard box, wrapped in plastic bubble wrap or filled with styrofoam, and you’ve got one hell of a deal.

The gloves are off. I see Amazon as one of the most damaging forces arrayed against small, independently owned business. One could counter-claim that the recession is the real killer of businesses, but I would propose that it only fuels the fire beneath them. When I was in college and my income was significantly less, I would look at a $20 savings as the simplest of choices. And that was for admittedly frivolous things; for absolute needs like my textbooks, the choice was even more obvious. Why spend money that I need not spend, I would reason. Me first, I would reason. These guys would give me free deliveries, occasionally next day, on the same item I would pay significantly more for at the local bookstore. I was not the only undergraduate student of modest means in 2008. I feel I can safely say that there are millions of people who look at the value proposition of Amazon (and other online retailers) versus their neighbors, and shrift their neighbors.

The real exception I made to the standing Amazon policy was in used books, which I pursued voraciously at a few fine local shops (Tacoma Book Center and Park Avenue Books mostly, with some trips to Half Price Books after I learned of its existence). I applied the same spendthrift logic to these used shop excursions, but there was also the notion that local businesses were worth the effort to sustain. Over time, I fell deeply in love with the Tacoma Book Center in particular. Their selection is astounding, and they will hunt down and order materials that they don’t have in stock. I would bring in stacks of old books, willing to accept that I would be able to trade them all for maybe one or two “new” titles, and accepted this on the notion that this is a business that lives on selling books for more than what they spent to buy them. I, in turn, clear their inventory space for new books and more sales. It all started to feel very organic, like I was cleaning the teeth of a whale or something. Symbiotic relationships and whathaveyou. Furthermore, I could actually find better deals there than I could from private sellers through Amazon. I wasn’t having to cut my own throat to keep them in business, which was fine by me.

When I think about CBI closing, I think about my own local comic book store, The Dreaming. I chose the apartment I did based in part on the fact that I can basically crawl to The Dreaming in under a minute. It’s an extension of my apartment to me, a library full of Lovecraft statues and New World of Darkness core books (plus those mysterious comic book things). They host tabletop gaming sessions several nights a week, and are now doing Magic twice a week (borrowing space from the Scum of the Earth Church next door). On Free Comic Book Day, the owners placed out a dozen boxes full of used comics (most in plastic) for anybody to grab. They’re providing an outlet and a creative space for a host of nerd folk like myself, and to keep that space in existence I make a conscious decision to purchase what I can from them. When they didn’t have a copy of The Killing Joke, I ordered it through them. Did it take longer than three days? Yes. Did I spend more money than if I had ordered it on Amazon? Yes. Did I help put food in the mouth of the awesome owner? Yes. To me, that will forevermore be the difference.

I’ve had the argument thrown at me that Seattle residents should not be so concerned with giving money to Amazon, as it is in fact a local business. That’s right, jerkoff. It’s a local corporation with branch offices, warehouses in multiple states, and international outlets. Buying your Janet Evanovich novel of the month from them is the moral equivalent of buying it from a human being with a name and a family, who runs a shop a few blocks from where you work. Amazon needs the money, you see. The economy’s in a bad way, and Amazon’s not quite sure how it’s going to pay its medical bills next month. It would love to have enough financial stability to someday take the whole Amazon family on a vacation to Vancouver, but right now it is having enough trouble paying off its student loans and providing for its kids, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.cn. It wouldn’t be having such a hard time if those smug, caviar-drinking small business owners weren’t cutting into their profit margins. #occupymainstreet

Stop buying things from Amazon. Find a local business that will sell you the same item, pay a little extra, and form a relationship with another person. Keep your local storefronts occupied, and keep your neighbors fed. Live in a world where a person can own a small business and make a living, and not be ground into poverty by an impossibly big competitor. If nothing else about this article struck you at all, I would hope this does: be aware of the relationship between your spending habits and their effect on your neighborhood.

Posted by Hizang

I don't really care about forming relationships with people in the store, I'd rather buy things from Amazon thanks.

Posted by Hailinel

I live in Seattle. Technically, Amazon is a local business. They're convenient, but I don't shop for everything online.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

@rebgav said:

I do hate local business... and I do love Amazon... my "local" bookstore is a B&N, "local" game store is Gamestop and "local" movie store is Target. I think I'll skim your post and then continue buying everything from Amazon.

This is about the same situation for me as well. B&N isn't a struggling company by any means and if they are it could be because at least I can find a book on Amazon that isn't in shit condition. And if it is all I need to do is mention a frayed corner and they will SEND ME A WHOLE NEW COPY. A whole new copy of a $60 book for a frayed corner that I never really complained about. All I mentioned was the box being a bit too small and they sent me an entire new copy. I've never once experienced that quality of customer service in a physical store. If I had a locally-owned book store of course I would support it, but I don't and Amazon has treated me really well so I have no reason to feel guilty for using them.

Edited by BraveToaster

Your post (article) is well-written, but I will have to disagree. I understand that small businesses have to make a living, but I like taking advantage of sales. The money I save can go to other purchases or sit in my bank account. It's my money and I'll spend it however and wherever I please.

Maybe I should play some sad violin music and take another look at the article. Nope, I still feel the same way.

Posted by Grimhild

I use it for things I can't find locally. But for awhile when I showed up at the local comic shop, they were confused that I still wanted to buy omnibus trades from them at a slightly higher price, rather than just order it from Amazon.

"You have the same resources as us, really. It might take a couple of weeks, and you could just buy it online," almost like they weren't taking me seriously. "But I like it here." Now they don't ask me anymore.

It's also funny to me when people here complain about there being no local co-ops and Wal-Mart dominating the groceries. I then explain to them that there's a farmer's market rrrrrrrrrrright down the road over there, maybe 10 minutes out of their way. I think people are just too comfortable complaining about the convenience that they apparently hate so much. This doesn't apply to everyone, obviously, but some people don't look hard enough. If that's the route they want to take, more power to them. Just don't complain about the greedy corporate giants and the poor, downtrodden local businesses when you can't be bothered to look beyond Facebook for your social activism.

Posted by Jrad

I'm all for supporting local (independent) business, but there aren't any family-run bookshops or comic stores anywhere nearby, and like hell I'll ever purchase a book from Indigo/Chapters -- the people who own that company are batshit insane with censoring. Amazon is a necessary evil for most people, I think. The moment I move to a city that actually has decent shops like the sort you describe, I'm sure I'll be giving them my business, but until then, Amazon is the way to go. It'd be nice if there were competitors to Amazon, though. Also, it's crazy that I can usually buy things cheaper on amazon.com and pay to have them shipped to Canada, than buy them from amazon.ca (Nova Scotian sales tax is great) with free shipping.

@Hailinel said:

I live in Seattle. Technically, Amazon is a local business. They're convenient, but I don't shop for everything online.

Did... did you read the post?

Edited by MrKlorox

I would if any offered what I wanted. Living in a small town is the worst for getting things locally.

Posted by Demoskinos

Nope. Sorry. Amazon treats me nice. If I'm in the mood to buy a anime box set why in gods earth would I want to pay the full $60-$70 that some of the box sets cost when Amazon will sell it to me for $30 dollars? I'm more concerned with money than forming relationships.

Posted by Hailinel

@Jrad: Not very carrefully, no. But I have now.

But what I said before doesn't really change much. I do shop for a number of things on Amazon; mostly things that would be a hassle for me to buy otherwise. But if there's something I can buy locally, then by all means I'll do that.

Posted by StrainedEyes

Yeah... I'll keep using Amazon. Fuck awkward trips to specialty stores.

Edited by TruthTellah

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I respect your personal stance on this and appreciate your commitment to your local community businesses, but uh...

*kicks local business*

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

I live in a small town, where there are only local businesses. It's fucking terrble. Everything is way too expensive, and they never have a decent selection of anything. The next town is 20 minutes away, and they have big chain stores that I can find what I need at a much cheaper price. I also have Amazon.

Sorry, but it's not Amazon's fault that local businesses suck. If they don't know how to compete AND keep their prices competitive, especially during times like these where people want to save as much as they can, well then maybe they should go out of business. All I know is that I can get what I want on Amazon for much cheaper, and I've never had a bad experience with them.

Posted by mandude

Too bad. People are just going to have to accept that robots provide a better and more efficient service than people. The sooner that happens, the sooner we can allow civilisation to adapt to that fact, rather than tenaciously holding onto life in the stone age.

Edited by Jay444111

@Hailinel said:

I live in Seattle. Technically, Amazon is a local business. They're convenient, but I don't shop for everything online.

Wait... there is an actual amazon shop... How is it?

Also I have a video game store that opened a few months ago and it kicks ASS! Great prices on everything and even offers almost new damn old games! Thanks to them I have FF Tactics again! Yay! They go with Amazon prices actually.

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

@Jay444111 said:

@Hailinel said:

I live in Seattle. Technically, Amazon is a local business. They're convenient, but I don't shop for everything online.

Wait... there is an actual amazon shop... How is it?

Also I have a video game store that opened a few months ago and it kicks ASS! Great prices on everything and even offers almost new damn old games! Thanks to them I have FF Tactics again! Yay!

No, Amazon basically started in Seattle and has its headquarters in Seattle. So in that instance it's a local business.

Posted by McGhee

I <3 Amazon.

Edited by PillClinton

Hate to sound like a spoiled, entitled prick here, but when it comes to the exchange of goods for money, it should always be about the consumer first. Amazon offers the best deal to consumers in most cases, so I feel fine buying from them (places like Wal-Mart don't apply because of their shitty business practices and lack of respect for humanity). Of course, when it comes to things like speciality food shops and the like, the in-person local experience should, and probably will continue to, remain. They're about the only small local business that seem to be thriving still in my area, anyway.

Posted by Dixavd

Personally, the reason I don't buy from Local stores is an off-shoot of the convenience idea - I simply hate loud sounds (especially crowds) and having to hear people speak when I am thinking (like looking at a specific group of products I am thinking of buying and thinking through which is worth more to me etc... I am also very uncomfortable in public places around strangers unless I have something specific I want to do (such as get a specific item). I honestly do not want to form relationships in shops - I am actually almost full-on against it as it as shopping is one of those activities which I want to be left alone with unless I am paying for it in which case I want it to be quick rather than to create a conversation. In fact, I hate being talked to so much while I shop that I find going to propper independant local stores will actually be a worst experience for me than to go for a branded chain store (which likely has more crowds and takes a long time) simply because they seem to insist on making conversation with me.

But on the other side of the coin, I think the idea that these sorts of relationships and communities that you enjoy cannot exist in retail chain stores is kind of absurd; obviously it will depend from store to store (but so would local stores too) but I found places which do that. Taking your Warhammer/Figurines example from the start of your piece, then the branded cross-contental chain of the Games Workshop has quite a lot of that (In fact my local one which is in a very large Mall* here which has a store which gives classes on painting and teaching people to play the games. As well as set-up days where people can come and play games there. In fact, if I remember correctly, the manager there hires people to work at the store from if they have taken part in these community events and know a great deal about the things they are selling and how to explain it to new customers. I truly think that some big-name stores can have some great communities built-up making franchises seem vastly different from one store to the next as the kind of atmosphere within them is quite different.

Clearly, I am only speaking from my personal experience but from knowing the kind of shopper that I am and the kind of service I want when I get to storee, then I do not feel bad about where I shop and how most of it is now online with the rare times that I go out shopping being in franchise big-name stores.

*(Sidenote: I should point out that I don't quite understand exactly what a Mall is as it is not a term that is used very often here in England, but I thought using my natural descriptions of "Shopping Centre" to be vague and missleading to others who use the term mostly for the middle of Towns with lots of shops around. In this example, I mean "Mall" as a very big multi-levelled building with many different stores inside for all kinds of products as well as dining areas ect...)

Posted by Slax

@Hailinel said:

I live in Seattle. Technically, Amazon is a local business. They're convenient, but I don't shop for everything online.

This!

Also Tacoma doesn't smell great, so I'd rather not go there...

Posted by Hailinel

@Dixavd said:

Personally, the reason I don't buy from Local stores is an off-shoot of the convenience idea - I simply hate loud sounds (especially crowds) and having to hear people speak when I am thinking (like looking at a specific group of products I am thinking of buying and thinking through which is worth more to me etc... I am also very uncomfortable in public places around strangers unless I have something specific I want to do (such as get a specific item). I honestly do not want to form relationships in shops - I am actually almost full-on against it as it as shopping is one of those activities which I want to be left alone with unless I am paying for it in which case I want it to be quick rather than to create a conversation. In fact, I hate being talked to so much while I shop that I find going to propper independant local stores will actually be a worst experience for me than to go for a branded chain store (which likely has more crowds and takes a long time) simply because they seem to insist on making conversation with me.

But on the other side of the coin, I think the idea that these sorts of relationships and communities that you enjoy cannot exist in retail chain stores is kind of absurd; obviously it will depend from store to store (but so would local stores too) but I found places which do that. Taking your Warhammer/Figurines example from the start of your piece, then the branded cross-contental chain of the Games Workshop has quite a lot of that (In fact my local one which is in a very large Mall* here which has a store which gives classes on painting and teaching people to play the games. As well as set-up days where people can come and play games there. In fact, if I remember correctly, the manager there hires people to work at the store from if they have taken part in these community events and know a great deal about the things they are selling and how to explain it to new customers. I truly think that some big-name stores can have some great communities built-up making franchises seem vastly different from one store to the next as the kind of atmosphere within them is quite different.

Clearly, I am only speaking from my personal experience but from knowing the kind of shopper that I am and the kind of service I want when I get to storee, then I do not feel bad about where I shop and how most of it is now online with the rare times that I go out shopping being in franchise big-name stores.

*(Sidenote: I should point out that I don't quite understand exactly what a Mall is as it is not a term that is used very often here in England, but I thought using my natural descriptions of "Shopping Centre" to be vague and missleading to others who use the term mostly for the middle of Towns with lots of shops around. In this example, I mean "Mall" as a very big multi-levelled building with many different stores inside for all kinds of products as well as dining areas ect...)

If you've played Dead Rising, the setting you run around in that game is an example of a mall, though if I remember correctly, it was an abnormally large mall (probably for video game purposes).

Posted by mandude

@Dixavd said:

*(Sidenote: I should point out that I don't quite understand exactly what a Mall is as it is not a term that is used very often here in England, but I thought using my natural descriptions of "Shopping Centre" to be vague and missleading to others who use the term mostly for the middle of Towns with lots of shops around. In this example, I mean "Mall" as a very big multi-levelled building with many different stores inside for all kinds of products as well as dining areas ect...)

Pretty much exactly the same as in England.

Posted by Iron_Tool

@Hailinel said:

@Dixavd said:

Personally, the reason I don't buy from Local stores is an off-shoot of the convenience idea - I simply hate loud sounds (especially crowds) and having to hear people speak when I am thinking (like looking at a specific group of products I am thinking of buying and thinking through which is worth more to me etc... I am also very uncomfortable in public places around strangers unless I have something specific I want to do (such as get a specific item). I honestly do not want to form relationships in shops - I am actually almost full-on against it as it as shopping is one of those activities which I want to be left alone with unless I am paying for it in which case I want it to be quick rather than to create a conversation. In fact, I hate being talked to so much while I shop that I find going to propper independant local stores will actually be a worst experience for me than to go for a branded chain store (which likely has more crowds and takes a long time) simply because they seem to insist on making conversation with me.

But on the other side of the coin, I think the idea that these sorts of relationships and communities that you enjoy cannot exist in retail chain stores is kind of absurd; obviously it will depend from store to store (but so would local stores too) but I found places which do that. Taking your Warhammer/Figurines example from the start of your piece, then the branded cross-contental chain of the Games Workshop has quite a lot of that (In fact my local one which is in a very large Mall* here which has a store which gives classes on painting and teaching people to play the games. As well as set-up days where people can come and play games there. In fact, if I remember correctly, the manager there hires people to work at the store from if they have taken part in these community events and know a great deal about the things they are selling and how to explain it to new customers. I truly think that some big-name stores can have some great communities built-up making franchises seem vastly different from one store to the next as the kind of atmosphere within them is quite different.

Clearly, I am only speaking from my personal experience but from knowing the kind of shopper that I am and the kind of service I want when I get to storee, then I do not feel bad about where I shop and how most of it is now online with the rare times that I go out shopping being in franchise big-name stores.

*(Sidenote: I should point out that I don't quite understand exactly what a Mall is as it is not a term that is used very often here in England, but I thought using my natural descriptions of "Shopping Centre" to be vague and missleading to others who use the term mostly for the middle of Towns with lots of shops around. In this example, I mean "Mall" as a very big multi-levelled building with many different stores inside for all kinds of products as well as dining areas ect...)

If you've played Dead Rising, the setting you run around in that game is an example of a mall, though if I remember correctly, it was an abnormally large mall (probably for video game purposes).

I guess you've never been at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Posted by mandude

@Iron_Tool said:

I guess you've never been at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Come on. It has a sea park. That's definitely cheating.

Posted by DrPockets000

Alternatively, you could buy from an independent seller on Amazon. The site isn't simply an online superstore with unlimited stock feeding directly into Mr. Amazon's pockets. 

Posted by Vinny_Says

Big Businesses are just small businesses that got their act together.

Posted by JasonR86

I really dislike the argument "Another place is taking my business and now I have to close!" It may be very true and likely is. But...well, not to sound harsh but learn to deal with the changing marketplace or get out of that business. If your business can't survive changes then so be it. That's that. Whining and condemning a place like Amazon for the closure of a business is weak and simply misguided. It is up to the small business owner to adapt and keep the business alive and not just hope and pray that places like Amazon will just up and disappear and consumers will drop out of the sky and walk into the store.

Posted by Morrow

I buy literally everything I can from Amazon. It's convenient and their service is the best. Often things are cheaper too, and it's delivered to your home address. Hell, I even buy food there.

Posted by Morrow

@PrivateIronTFU said:

Sorry, but it's not Amazon's fault that local businesses suck. If they don't know how to compete AND keep their prices competitive, especially during times like these where people want to save as much as they can, well then maybe they should go out of business. All I know is that I can get what I want on Amazon for much cheaper, and I've never had a bad experience with them.

That pretty much sums it up :)

Posted by Asurastrike

Local businesses like Safeway, Barnes and Nobles, Best Buy, and Gamestop?

Posted by MistaSparkle

@Hizang said:

I don't really care about forming relationships with people in the store, I'd rather buy things from Amazon thanks.

Yup yup. This right here. Sometimes people are assholes, and I just don't want to take that risk. Plus I'm pretty antisocial.

There also just aren't a lot of "local" businesses around where I live.

Posted by zombiesatemycereal

@jeffrud said:

Stop buying things from Amazon. Find a local business that will sell you the same item, pay a little extra, and form a relationship with another person. Keep your local storefronts occupied, and keep your neighbors fed. Live in a world where a person can own a small business and make a living, and not be ground into poverty by an impossibly big competitor. If nothing else about this article struck you at all, I would hope this does: be aware of the relationship between your spending habits and their effect on your neighborhood.

Yeah no thanks. I'll take Amazon any day over stores with lazy/rude employees, no stock, overpriced items, and one cashier for 10 people.

Posted by Taku128

I'm a consumer, not a charity. If I can get a better deal elsewhere that's where I'm going.

Posted by phrali

i completely disagree with op and i love amazon. I dont owe any business anything. Dont try to guilt trip my into using any particular vendor, not gonna work.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

I agree with the OP. The community that can form around a boutique like a comic book store is second to none. I've wasted far too many afternoons picking up purchases and then sticking around for a couple of hours to talk about comics. I can do the same online, but it's not the same thing at all.

That's really what I'm going to miss as more and more people buy online and remove any human interaction they can out of their lives. Communities.

Posted by vonFlampanker

For what it's worth, I ordered a new hardcover book from a local-to-the-author store ( they're in upstate NY and I'm in Chicago). They were a joy to work with and the book they sent was signed. I like amazon and use them all the time but there's value to be had in local business.

I think the mom-n-pop stores were pretty well done in by the big box stores, now we're seeing big box stores suffer at amazon's hands. Personally I hope the cycle comes back around to local owned and operated soon.

Posted by vonFlampanker
@Oldirtybearon I'm with ya. Nothing like a good local group to recommend new stuff to check out with a measure of authority. Worth looking for.
Posted by Unilad

Local businesses' are the cornerstone of our society. I will support them for as long as I can. I like knowing where my money goes. Theres a lot to be said for our society and culture when we prefer to defer human interaction.

Posted by Emperor_Jimmu

Should I also stop buying games on Steam and books on Kindle?

Posted by Geno

"Don't buy fruit from the supermarket, form a relationship with your neighbor and buy it from their backyard. Who cares if tomatoes are 5x the price, keep local business alive!" 
 
"Don't buy games from Steam at 1/4 the price with unlimited downloads straight to your computer, get into your car and drive to your local games shop to pay full price for a disc instead. Support small business!" 
 
"But if we switch to wax, what will the whale fishermen do for a living if we no longer need their whale oil?"
 
Business is business, not charity or elementary school. If  someone is getting outcompeted it means they're not doing something as good as someone else, and the customer should go with the superior option. They probably outcompeted some businesses in their day, and now they're being outcompeted as the cycle of business innovation continues.
 
Who you personally want to buy from is your decision but to say that customers as a whole should shift from cheaper, more efficient and more convenient options in order to provide life support to outdated business models is just puerile.

Posted by Simplexity

I can't remember the last time I went into a store that wasn't a grocery store, if there was a way to order food to your door I would do it, dealing with people is such a fucking hassle and annoying.

Posted by LD50

@Hizang said:

I don't really care about forming relationships with people in the store, I'd rather buy things from Amazon thanks.

Posted by Sooty

Get ripped off in small local stores or shop online. It's a hard decision!!!

Posted by Catarrhal

The only local businesses I support are independent restaurants. You couldn't pay me to eat a chain restaurant, and I haven't been to a drive thru since the nineties.

When it comes to retail, however, local business is virtually nonexistent, and stores like GameStop and Wal-Mart deserve to die (and I hope they burn in hell, for that matter).

Posted by SMTDante89

There's one independent record store a few towns over that I infrequently get to go to because it's about half an hour away, when I get the chance to go, I'll go over there to buy my music for sure. There's something about being able to browse around and find new stuff to listen to or albums and bands that you sometimes forget about. It's also nice to talk to others about music that you enjoy. They also have a store close to my college but I still don't get to frequent it as often.

If I was able to go there more often I would likely not buy a lot from Amazon except for special editions of albums or albums that were ridiculously cheap, but then I could likely get those special/collector's editions straight from the band's webstore itself.

Posted by Hailinel

@Iron_Tool: The Mall of America is hardly an average mall.

Posted by LikeaSsur

Kinda sad to see some of the responses here. Saving money is always valid, but some of you actually want to avoid human interaction? I'm sorry to hear that.

I'll admit, I don't have any "local" businesses around, but the people at Gamestop know me and I know them, same with the people at Jimmy John's, the cashier at 7/11, and everyone in my bank knows me by name. Could I save more by buying games off Amazon? Sure, but I don't like using my credit card all the time, that stuff is...unnerving to me, and I like the relationships I have formed, even if nothing will come of them.

Posted by BaneFireLord

It's called business. If you can't compete with the big guys, you die.

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