Two months of taking a break from Amazon
For a time I really liked the convenience of Amazon, and the ability to discover products from millions of sellers and have them delivered to my door quickly. But one question I started asking this year , especially after getting into #BetOnMainStreet, was what changes when you don't have any relationship with the people you do business with? What would it be like to be intentional about shopping locally? So, I took on the challenge, and decided that once BOMS kicked off, I would limit my shopping on Amazon, and invest some time in thinking about where and how I would do business first.
Learning to think
One thing you will experience when betting on Main Street is something we are calling "Social Atrophy." Your ability to think about how to find things you are looking for, where to go, and who to talk to, are all social competencies. But in a world where you can allow yourself to be flooded with information and products through online platforms, it is easy to lose this ability, and with it, the ability to talk with and get to know the people you do business with. Once you start again, you can feel that you are working off that social atrophy much like working off that Corona 15 a lot of people put on during the lockdowns. For myself, I learned, or re-learned, each of the following when getting intentional about Betting On Main Street:
- Get to know when Garage Sale season is, and plan a weekend going hunting. Sometimes you will find exactly what you are looking for, or a good base to get started
- Go down to Main Street a few times, or take a trip to one in a nearby city. You might just get to know your area in ways you hadn't before
- Use a street map website like OpenStreetMap to look at every store of a given type in your area
- If there's a Makerspace or similar co-op in your area, see if you can find a maker that specializes in what you are looking for
- You could try your hand at making the thing yourself
- If you do order online, ask a friend about brands, and go directly to the brand's website to order
- Classified ads sites like Craigslist are another great place to look around
- Finally, sometimes you can just not buy whatever it is, especially if it is less "need" and more "I kinda wanted it"
When trying this out, what I found by intentionally doing some of the items above is just how much fun it is. And that's the point - by Betting On Main Street, we're re-connecting people and re-building local community, and having a great time doing it.
To do the comparison in Amazon shopping, I picked a two month period last fall, July 15-September 15, since we were in a similar living situation, and also because it was a time where there was no Christmas shopping involved. Also, being summer, we were also out of the heavy lockdown period of Spring 2020, i.e. stores of all kinds were open. Finally, I was in autopilot when it came to buying online at that time. While adding up the orders, I first looked at the headline numbers first:
July 15 - Sept. 15 2020: 14 orders totaling $1,153
Feb. 15 - April 15 2021: 3 orders totaling $159
What a difference intentionality makes! By paying attention, I cut my Amazon spend by 86%, and nearly $500 a month! I've read elsewhere that purchases made online or with credit cards will bypass the hesitancy to purchase, but now I'm seeing it in hard numbers. It also explains why I suddenly feel like I always have cash - I was throwing it away previously, almost on autopilot. Looking over the orders also, I saw 6 books I haven't read yet, and an appliance I later saw at Costco, which funny enough was much cheaper if I had simply gone and bought the device right off the shelf - 0 day delivery!
If you are big on Amazon, just take a moment and go over your order history. How many orders did you place last year? How much was it? If you could pick an item to start buying or making local, what would it be? Drop us a line at the Contact page and tell us what you would like to do.