Almonte / Brockville / Business / Opinion / Perth / Restaurants / Shops / The Wedge

Mainstreet is at war with Cyberstreet : It’s not pretty

Beautiful Downtown Almonte, a cherished hub in this community and a destination location for tourists. PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

By MAGGIE M, Editor, thewedge.LIVE — NOTE: This is a new category, “Opinion.” The wedge is super positive–no deaths, no crime, no politics; but, a little edginess once-in-awhile is valued by our readers. So, here it is.

This writer has seen Amazon’s packages–that unmistakable smirk in its logo–stacked high at our Canada Post locations through the region last Christmas. I consider, the sales lost from our local retailers: shoes, dresses, electronics, toys, you name it.

Canada Post may be part of Mainstreet’s woes, as USPS is in USA. Is the government unwittingly participating in income lost on Mainstreet by offering a low-low delivery cost to Amazon and an exhorbitant price to small retailers and Canadians? I purport that this may be the case.

My dear sister sent me a Brownline, 6″ X 8″ Business Diary, wrapped in brown paper to save on weight this Christmas. The CP shipping cost at regular (slow) speed was $15.09 including $1.00 of insurance–more than the cost of the product.

Not wishing to write out-of-turn, I signed on to Amazon, to be fair and honest in my reporting.

I ordered a pair of Sketchers women’s running shoes/pump-style from Amazon for $57.39 which arrived in a box–a heavier and bulkier item than the diary. It was quoted at $5.90 ($10 less) for shipping using CP delivery but FREE since I was a Prime customer. (BTW it took 12 days to arrive, like the Christmas Song! How poetic.)

Had the proper delivery charge been applied to shipping the final tally would have likely risen to $77.39 or more. I am fairly confident taxpayers are financing this discount.

CP’s demise is assured if this continues–unless subsidies on the taxpayers’ backs enables Amazon. Is Mainstreet being eaten up by its own leadership?

The White House has gone public announcing that this is the case South of the border. I imagine the same may be occurring here. If so, this an egregious breach of our Competition Act. Such breaks are not offered to Mainstreet or consumers buying their products. Is our high shipping price financing Amazon?

Downtown Brockville, Ontario. PHOTO BY the wedge.LIVE

I’ve been impressed with “Buy Local” campaigns in our towns and cities in the wedge. Downtown Brockville is leading the charge, beating the drums. We featured this in a recent story.

Citizens love their Mainstreets. They love to walk on them, visit their shops, dine in their bistros, press hands and sip espressos in their cafes, take in the sights of their beautiful historic buildings and waterways that run through many of them. This lifestyle option is now at risk.

First, Mainstreet had to survive Walmart. Endless independent shops closed, lives were ruined, jobs were lost. The big-box chain is now losing market share to Amazon and has closed over 200 stores. O! the irony–divine retribution. Walmart just closed all its Sam’s Club in U.S. And then there is Sears, Macy’s, Target… The list is long.

Mainstreet must not be endangered any further. It is at the very core the beating heart of every community. No one wishes to serve at the pleasure of a single corporation who’s very name speaks of optimal gerd or size.

One only need take a trip through Downtown Brockville for example to see the prowess of real, tactile retailers in action. On a slushy street, overcast with a heavy rain, all stores and services were open mid-afternoon and at-the-ready for customers. All owners were present and their assistance without equal. In comparison, Amazon on-line help (seemingly bots) or looking for help in “bigbox” is a comedy of errors. I frequented about ten businesses, spending money in two. It was a market study among other things and Brockville received a high score beyond my expectations.

I enjoyed looking through Amazon and clicking at first–it was a new experience. My conclusion is, this company has a long way to go to authentically deliver pie-in-the-sky promises. I have ceased being a customer as its service was lacklustre. Foremost, I will not contribute to the destruction of what I hold dear, the beating heart of the villages, towns and cities I cover in my travels. Never mind, the endless undercover reports of Amazon employees’ and delivery contractors’ suffering.

Downtown Perth, Ontario. PHOTO BY the wedge.LIVE

All Mainstreets must stand-up and show their heart, their value, their charm. They must work together to reach and serve their markets and if necessary, develop a powerful delivery option. I visited a few small retailers whose sales are mostly on-line; yet, you can enter their shops and touch everything and meet the human behind the screen. Aye, there’s the rub.

Amazon Owner, Jeff Bezos, just reported 2017 personal income (Forbes) of $109 Billion U.S. He is working feverishly on robots and AI to execute on-line orders, rendering human employment of little value. The drones are not yet at our doors–this is, I am told, a few years off.

Many speak of a “retail apocalypse” forgetting that if small businesses die-off (the backbone of Western world economies) and jobs are lost en masse, there will be no one to buy Amazon’s products–or any products. The tech industry is growing; but, who will be the beneficiaries? The whole “house of cards,” will come down, taking everyone with them.

If Jeff Bezos is really smart, he would consider and nurture Mainstreet. In the absence of this, Amazon will go down in flames in less than a decade.

And this is my opinion today. It feels good to unpack this congested mind.