In November, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, traveled to Vermont to talk about the threat that Amazon poses to Vermont’s communities, businesses, and workers.
In two events, one in Burlington, joined by ILSR research associate Olivia LaVecchia, and one in Manchester, Stacy dug into ILSR’s research on Amazon’s growing power and impact. The events also covered how policymakers can address Amazon’s market power, and what citizens can do to support a more diverse, equitable, and locally rooted economy, even when they’re shopping online.
The events were sponsored by Phoenix Books, VTDigger, and Northshire Bookstore, and featured lively turnout, discussion, and community engagement.
To learn more about Amazon’s and its growing dominance, see ILSR’s report, Amazon’s Stranglehold.
Here’s a roundup of stories in which state and local outlets cited ILSR’s work and provided information about the events in Vermont.
Village Vitality: How Vermont’s Downtowns Are Changing To Serve Their Communities, Vermont Edition on Vermont Public Radio – November 13, 2017
Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Gary Holloway, downtown program coordinator at Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, joined host Jane Lindholm for this hour-long discussion of what’s working—and what’s not—in our downtowns, how businesses can compete with the Amazons of the world, and what the right retail mix is that best serves a community.
The Deeper Dig [Podcast]: The Amazon effect in Vermont by Mike Dougherty, VT Digger – November 16, 2017
Stacy Mitchell says that as Amazon takes over more of the infrastructure powering its operation, its effect on American commerce both nationally and locally is increasingly stark. But few antitrust regulations seem to be curbing the company’s expansion. “We have to use our power as citizens to take away Amazon’s power and to make it operate within a set of democratic values,” she says, “as opposed to it deciding what the values are.”
The News Project – Amazon: Clicks, Price, Value? by GNAT Programs – November 21, 2017
Amazon’s ‘stealth invasion’ subject of VTDigger talks Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 by Anne Galloway, VT Digger – November 9, 2017
“Amazon has quietly positioned itself at the center of a growing share of our daily transactions,” said Mitchell. “Today, two-thirds of all U.S. households are subscribed to the membership program Amazon Prime, more than half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon, and Amazon captures nearly one in every two dollars that Americans spend online.” Amazon’s growing dominance stands as threat to local retailers and the communities they support, Mitchell and LaVecchia say.
Locals Consider the Amazon ‘Stranglehold’ by Sadie Williams, Seven Days – November 15, 2016
As of April 2017, Amazon collects sales tax on direct sales from all 45 states that mandate a sales tax. That practice, LaVecchia said, is “part of what’s shaped the conditions under which Amazon has gained as much confidence as it has. And I think that there is this idea that Amazon has become as big as it has, as powerful as it has, kind of by outcompeting everyone else.
“[But if] we looked closely at the history of this company,” LaVecchia continued, “a key part of its strategy was taking advantage of public handouts and benefits not available to its competitors.”
Vermont’s small businesses face an Amazon problem by Kevin O’Connor, VT Digger – November 12, 2017
“Vermont,” she says, “has more small businesses per capita and the least big-box square footage of any state in the country.” But the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says that for all the pushback against chain competition, Vermonters aren’t seeing or talking about a threat of more amazonian proportions. Make that Amazon.com proportions.
“Vermont is perhaps the only place one can point to for not allowing companies to overwhelm the local economy,” she says, “but Amazon is having a similar effect, and it’s invisible.”
Can local businesses compete with Amazon? by Priscilla Liguori, WCAX – November 14, 2017
“Fifty-five percent of online shoppers now start their shopping at Amazon,” said Mitchell. Mitchell wants legislators to monitor Amazon’s power so that its continued growth doesn’t destroy local shops. “We also want people to be talking to their elected representatives because Amazon has benefited a lot from tax advantages and subsidies,” she said.
Amazon’s threat to local business by Anne Archer, Manchester Journal – November 15, 2016
“Amazon intends to control twenty-first century infrastructure of the economy,” Mitchell said. When she asked the audience how many people have an Amazon Prime Membership, roughly half the audience raised their hand — which Mitchell says is not an anomaly. According to the author, fifty percent of American households are Prime Members. These customers tend to go straight to Amazon to buy products rather than comparison-shopping.
Local Bookstores Take Aim at Amazon by Sadie Williams, Seven Days – November 10, 2017
It should come as no surprise that independent bookstores are more than a little miffed at online monolith Amazon. But mom-and-pop book shops aren’t the only businesses affected by the retail giant’s ever-expanding reach and dominance. The massive corporation captures one of every two American dollars spent online. That’s according to a 2016 report published by Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia of the nonprofit advocacy group Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and, for monthly updates on our work, sign-up for our ILSR’s newsletter.