You know how our editor always cheers for shopping locally and compares local businesses and their initiatives to marketplaces like Amazon.
He's known to say that when shopping locally, you support the businesses that in their turn support local organizations, while Amazon has never been noticed in donating to an Estevan school or a sports group.
And that's true. But I decided to write this column to make it a bit fairer, as pitting online shopping versus local shopping as two options opposed to each other didn't seem as such to me. And while I do my best to support local stores and home-based businesses as much as I can, I also see online shopping as something that allows the same local entrepreneurs to grow their income and reinvest into Estevan through their other needs.
Plus, I do see online shopping as something that sometimes saves my time and energy.
Be it the local co-op offering online shopping as an option to make it safer for everyone and also saves my time, or a virtual store that allows me to get something I can't find in town, I'm grateful for others taking care of my needs. And I appreciate the opportunities contemporary life gives us.
Online shopping is a pretty good thing to my taste. Not only do they help me with what I need, but online businesses also do good things when they can, just as traditional ones.
Most Estevan businesses allocate money to support local groups and initiatives of some kind, making this community so great. But it's not fair to say that big businesses don't. Jeff Bezos, the founder of "evil" Amazon, topped the list of biggest charitable givers in 2020, giving $10 billion (billion!) to groups fighting climate change. Yes, we didn't see this money directly coming to our community, but, potentially some of those dollars will funnel down to somewhere in Saskatchewan. However, I don't think anyone at that point would connect them to Amazon.
And while no small business in the world can afford to donate such a pile, I truly believe that they all at different levels do the best that they can to make the world around a better place. Those who have more resources support global campaigns, while the local entrepreneurs ensure that things keep rolling in their communities, and each is playing their part.
Another idea that seems unfair to me is that while shopping online you are just giving up all your money to huge and already wealthy corporations, leaving small businesses struggling. Yes, marketplaces get their share, but behind each product you buy, there is often an entrepreneur or small business trying to make a living same as everyone else.
They use big virtual sales grounds to help move their product, and I'm pretty sure if we would survey everyone in Estevan, there would be quite a few people who chose this entrepreneurial path, especially in times of pandemic, when opening a real store often seemed like a huge risk.
Other businesses prefer to keep their character and stick to their brand, creating websites and working crazy hard to get noticed on the global web, which is also online shopping, just of a different format.
While many people don't realize it, the Estevan Mercury is a business too, and we know firsthand how difficult it is to attract the attention of customers when you are working online. It takes knowledge, skills, luck and years to get anywhere. So to say that going online is an easy path isn't fair either.
On the third hand, just like local businesses, marketplaces create hundreds, actually thousands of jobs worldwide. They allow entrepreneurs to prosper, and they also hire thousands to keep going. And while there is no sorting facility in Estevan, I know a few local people who seasonally work for Amazon, and then come back and spend the money they make here.
With all that said, I'm still an eager local shopper (I guess I just like shopping. Period.) I appreciate the great variety local businesses offer us. I appreciate the opportunity to come in, socialize, sense the items, try clothes on, smell the perfume, and go back and exchange something that didn't fit, without any hassle, if I have to. I love walking downtown sometimes and just looking at different storefronts and displays. I value that businesses and people working there often inspire me, help come up with ideas when I'm stumbling and are always there to give me a hand with solutions to the tasks I have.
I do love shopping in Estevan. I've done 90 per cent of my shopping locally this year, and hope most of you did the same, so we keep that wonderful opportunity alive and thriving, inspiring new businesses to open because we will support them.
But it doesn't mean that shopping online is evil, it's just different. Please, shop local as much as possible, but know that even if shopping online in most cases you still support an individual behind the virtual business.
I guess my main point is that as long as we do our best to support each other, we'll get out of any storm.