Is Amazon the devil? Part One: Showrooming

Most of us like saving money or getting bargains. We look for the lowest prices on the consumer goods we buy, probably so we can buy more stuff. What that means is that many people engage in the practice of “showrooming”—investigating an item in a traditional store, but actually purchasing it from an online retailer, typically Amazon. This may be behavior that is commonly engaged in, but is it ethical?

I say no. The standalone store is paying for the lights, the electricity, the wages, only to have the masses try out the (fill in the blank with the consumer good of your choice) in the store and go home to order it on Amazon. Sure, it may APPEAR to be cheaper, but what about the hidden costs? That store (actually its owners) is employing local people, who in turn tend to spend their wages locally, a boon for the community. It is paying taxes to the local authorities, enabling sidewalks to be maintained, streetlights to be kept on, and potholes to be filled. Will Amazon come plow your local roads after a winter storm? I didn’t think so.

I’m not saying you should never purchase anything from Amazon. But do the right thing and order it sight-unseen-in-person. Stay out of the stores if you only intend to examine an item before making an online purchase elsewhere. You may think you are saving money, but you are costing your community. And ultimately, when there are no more bricks-and-mortar stores, you will wind up costing yourself, because your stuff isn’t going to be cheap any longer if Amazon is the only game in town.