I've been thinking a lot about the growing success of e-commerce and its effect on our local businesses. What would happen to the neighborhood I grew up in if our dependable grocery store of 60 years (which I've been frequenting for the past 51) went out of business? I personally know that many residents here would be devastated. I depend on them for that last minute cilantro I forgot to grab at Whole Foods, or that load of Ice Cream my stoned sister is craving.
A friend wrote an article a couple of years ago about her reflections after noticing that many of her favorite small shops in Wallingford had gone out of business. She looked up her Amazon shopping history and was mortified. The long and the short of her story is a vow to never shop on Amazon again. Well, that’s great, but that’s not our reality. There are probably 10 of her willing to do that in the city of Seattle. But is that what we really want anyway? Probably one third of my customers at Nube Green work at Amazon! And it’s too large and a way of life to end at this point. So what does that mean for the local grocery store? What does that mean for the local gift store? I’m not sure. But what I can do is share my own personal thoughts.
Mindfulness is the only possible road I can come up with right now. I also shop on Amazon. Yes, the owner of a “green” shop cheats. But really, is it even cheating? It’s a new economy that I can’t quite figure out as a consumer and a shop owner. Before any of my Amazon purchases, I do go through a little exercise. I ask myself questions like: Does the local grocery store carry this? Have I shopped there enough lately to feel like I’ve done my best if they do go out of business? Does Elliott Bay Books have this in stock? Can I wait?
I’m not saying that there is a right or wrong here. I truly am scared of losing our local grocery store, and I’m also scared of losing my own attempt at retail.
Please let me know your thoughts! What are your ideas about how we might find a balance between between the conveniences of online shopping and the importance of small, and special, local businesses? What are some of the the local businesses in town that you would hate to see close up?