This past week I posted an article on our Facebook page about Amazon purchasing Whole Foods and remarked how this move was concerning to me. This posting has garnered the most views I have ever had for a posting and many very supportive responses. Someone actually came in today having read my posting and said, “I told myself to go downtown and buy a few books rather than do a late night mindless button push on my computer. We all need to support our local merchants if we like having them in town!” Thank you!
As an owner of TBS, I've personally seen what Amazon's business practices have done to the viability of independent bookstores, as well as chains ... remember Borders? When I was growing up in Westfield, this town supported three bookstores. Now TBS is one of only two independent bookstores remaining in all of Union County. This, in large part, is because of Amazon and their ability to undercut the competition on every single item they sell.
One of the most frustrating conversations I have — and it happens more and more — is when someone tells me they can get the book they are holding in their hand — the book I spent 20 minutes helping them find — the book I have stocked in my store that I have to pay rent for, cheaper on Amazon. Every time I hear this comment, I grapple with the best way to respond to this statement. Do I get into the economics of running a bricks-and-mortar business or do I tell them about the personalized customer service we offer that you won't get online? Should I let the person know how this question makes me feel or just smile and tell them to go ahead and order it from Amazon if the savings are the most important thing to them? Honestly, this conversation can be so disheartening.
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It is only because I love TBS, willing to work for non-monetary rewards (and thankfully, there are many) and still have a number of loyal customers that we have managed to stay in town, but just barely. I am not so naive that I think people will ever boycott Amazon, as if that is even really possible these days. All I ask is please try to buy some of your purchases from local grocers, retailers or independent local booksellers ... or at the very least buy from a place that isn't owned by Amazon.
Thank you for your loyalty and patronage! Each of you — and your support — is very important to us.
We hope to see you soon.
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