To support corporations like Amazon, or individual businesses

Karina Benson, co a&e editor

This past May, my older brother, Kevin, graduated from college with a degree in computer science. In July, I flew out to Seattle with him to assist in his search for a new home away from home. If one is moving to Seattle with a degree in computer science, it is safe to assume they are going to work for one of two companies: Microsoft or Amazon.

In my brother’s case, he accepted a position at Amazon after interning for them last summer. While he was home over the break people would tease him about accepting a job from “the evil empire” and it got me thinking, is Amazon actually doing more harm than good?

I am most definitely guilty of buying more from Amazon than I should. Everything is accessible, there are a ton of options, and my package is almost always waiting for me when I come home from school the next day. I love it!

However, I often end up regretting my decision. It will happen a couple weeks later when I am out and about with my friends or family. I’ll be walking around town and I’ll stop by a small boutique, and there, staring right at me, is an even cuter phone case, or an even more stylish pair of sunglasses than the ones I just bought on Amazon.

Not only am I frustrated that I impatiently and impulsively bought that less unqiue trinket, but I am upset I spent my money on rather than at an independent shop. I am no expert on this topic, but I have always believed it is better for our overall economy to support individual business owners rather than large corporations.

I try to buy real books from independent booksellers rather than online ones or ones in an electronic format. However, I realize this is not always plausible. Sometimes convenience is our greatest priority and I do not mean to shame that.

I truly believe Amazon is great for some things. However, Amazon’s role in the economy and its relationships with small businesses vary greatly. On one hand they can bolster a small business by providing a platform (Amazon Web Services) for them to sell their goods. On the other hand, the wide range of products they sell, often at lower prices and with faster shipping, can prove detrimental to many businesses.

Along with my concerns about Amazon’s role as a competitor, I was also wary about purchasing so many things from a company with a questionable reputation regarding how it treats its workers. I’ve heard the horror stories about the stress amazon employees are put under when they are responsible for delivering ‘x’ number of packages by the end of the day. But, the public called them out on it and recently Amazon increased its minimum wage to $15 an hour for employees in the United States. Is this a perfect solution? Absolutely not, but they did take a concrete step which is something I wish I saw more of.

The most important conclusion I came to after all my searching, was that you need to keep your eyes open as a consumer. You do not get to choose the price or the policies of a company, but you do get to choose where you purchase things from, so be discerning. If convenience and price are your top priorities, Amazon is hard to beat. But even Amazon is limited and there are hundreds of thousands of other retailers awaiting you, so I urge you to choose wisely and take advantage of the variety. I think my brother would agree with me.