So I might ruffle a few feathers with this post as it seems like everybody LOVES Amazon. Even people in my own family are Prime members. And, they have to be doing something right for a single share of stock to be worth $1,000. So let me tell you why I don't shop at Amazon as much as humanly possible.
It's the New Walmart
If you remember back to the 90s and early 2000s, Walmart received a lot of angst for killing the American Main Street and forcing many a mom and pop store to retire early because they simply could no longer compete with a superstore that had the ability to offer many of the same products for less money.
There were plenty of other reasons to “hate” Walmart as well:
- Stores were (and still are) dirtier than other retail establishments
- Employees have a lower hourly wage and fewer benefits than other places of business
- Walmart is a greedy and big corporation
- Private labels are not good quality
While there are many gripes about Walmart, there is one reason we have probably all bought something from there at least once in our lifetimes. They carry products we can't find anywhere else, or, they are cheaper than other national retailers.
If you live in a small town like we do, your only retail options are Walmart and the Dollar Tree. Unless you shop online.
Amazon is the Internet Walmart
Amazon is to the Internet what Walmart is to brick-and-mortar businesses. Business models are always changing and right now the shop online and ship from a warehouse method is the most cost-effective for businesses and consumers.
Walmart is still the #1 retailer in the world in terms of size, but, Amazon is probably the most popular online retailer as they have their hands in so many different products.
While Amazon started as a bookseller you can also buy the following items from them:
- Kindle readers and Ebooks
- Audiobooks and Audible streaming service
- Stream movies and tv shows
- Amazon Echo
- (Almost) Anything that is sold in any brick and mortar store
- Subscribe & Save can net you an additional discount
For $99 a year, you can even get free 2-day shipping and complimentary access to the digital resources mentioned above.
I used to shop almost exclusively on Amazon in college and through my mid-20s because you only needed to spend $25 to get free shipping. And, I could buy used items for less even after paying the shipping fees. It was once they started raising the shipping minimums and basically requiring the Prime membership did my wife & I start looking elsewhere to shop.
I Try to Avoid Amazon and Walmart
As I've mentioned before, Amazon's Prime program is hard to pass up. It's one subscription fee that can actually be worthwhile and save you money in the long run. Plus, we still make the occasional purchase there and I also occasionally include Amazon links on my site.
In general, my wife and I try to avoid Amazon and Walmart as much as possible.
- Continuing to support the two largest retailers only continues to make them larger
- We can find better (or equivalent) deals at other places
- We try to support other stores and retailers that share a similar vision as us
I like to root for the underdog, and my biggest fear is that there won't be an underdog left if we all shop at Amazon. At that point, Amazon can do whatever they want with prices, product selection, etc. If there's a lack of competition, Amazon has no reason to continue improving their performance or bring new products to the market.
Where We Shop Instead
If we rarely shop at Amazon or Walmart, where do we shop instead?
- Craigslist and thrift stores….we like to buy used as much as possible
- Online retailers that partner with Ebates (get 1% to 40% cash back on every purchase)
- Wholesalers like Boxed or Jet that offer 2-day shipping*
- Ebay (I'm a big fan of their Buy It Now option)
- Vitacost and Azure Standard for healthy food
It takes a little more work on our end, but, we get can find better deals. And, we know we are supporting smaller companies and individual sellers as well.
*For full disclosure, Walmart owns Jet.
Why Do You Shop At Amazon?
I'm not telling you not to shop at Amazon because that would be hypocritical on my part. They are very successful for a reason. Before you complete your next purchase, I just ask you to ponder why you shop at Amazon. Maybe you can support another company to inspire competition and to help out the little man.
Do you shop at Amazon exclusively, or, do you “spread the wealth” like we try to?
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.