Avoiding Amazon and buying local

February 10, 2015

I don't buy much non-essential stuff—that is, everything that isn't groceries, medicine or clothing (okay, and fuel)—online, but when I do, I try NOT to purchase from Amazon. One of their warehouses is below.

A typical Amazon warehouse.

Instead, I try to buy from tiny e-commerce websites or better yet, from small, owner-operated retailers here in the Yukon. I may do product research and read customer reviews at Amazon, but I continually make the effort to avoid buying anything through them. There's enough people who do so that I figure my few hundred dollars per year isn't much of a ding on their bottom line.

The problem is that Amazon makes it so darned easy to shop for anything. You can find, quickly pay for it and have that item delivered direct to your doorstep. The result is near instant gratification (as it still takes 1-2 weeks for an average box to travel all the way north).

Compare this experience to buying local here in Whitehorse. If the retailer doesn't have the exact item you want, in the correct size, quantity and/or colour, you have to get them to order it from their supplier. When it finally comes in, your purchase can be made. Typically this whole process takes 2-8 weeks.

On the other hand, if your item is in stock, you can buy it. If that same item doesn't work and/or fit, you can easily take it back for a refund, exchange or credit.Buying local, at least in the Yukon, requires both patience and flexibility; patience to wait and flexibility to simply roll with it. Compared to shopping at Amazon where you can have your needs near instantly gratified, buying local can sometimes be a challenge. I think though, the personal rewards are greater.

When you buy local, you not only force yourself to be wiser about and more cautious with your money, but you also help sustain your neighbours' businesses and put food on their families' tables and clothes on their kids' backs. You can also make a lot of friends and valuable contacts along the way.

I'm far from being a green, love-the-earth-and-all-its-habitants sorta hippie, but I still like to make a difference where possible. Having also being in business myself for nearly eight years, I have a truckload of empathy for other people who set up and run their own shop. It's not an easy road to travel, so I think we should all support each other as best we can.

Avoid Amazon. Buy local.