San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon took to Twitter on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to urge all mayors to stop using Amazon.
Harmon said people are going straight to the internet, especially Amazon, instead of shopping locally. She said Amazon hurts small, local businesses and has an overall negative effect on communities.
“I feel like mayors have a bigger responsibility than most to ensure the economic viability of their community, and Amazon is implicitly detrimental to that mission,” Harmon said. “Mayors really shouldn’t be personally utilizing Amazon, in my opinion. I mean, really, neither should anybody.”
Harmon called for residents to shop locally by tweeting a picture of her cutting her Amazon Prime card with scissors.
I am the Mayor of San Luis Obispo and am leaving Amazon as a customer and want to call on other Mayors to do the same. Wanted to get your feedback about how we might amplify this message. @stacyfmitchell pic.twitter.com/ixupszZHet
— Heidi Harmon ??? (@heidiismighty) February 5, 2019
“It’s really convenient – I totally get it,” Harmon said. “I mean, I’m having a hard time quitting. But it’s destroying downtowns. It’s really having a negative impact on our communities.”
Chief Executive Officer of Downtown SLO Bettina Swigger agreed that eCommerce sites like Amazon have had an overall negative effect on businesses.
“There is no doubt that retail in general has been significantly disrupted not just by Amazon, but online shopping in general,” Swigger wrote in an email to Mustang News. “The same is true in Downtown [San Luis Obispo], but we maintain a healthy mix of brick-and-mortar stores, both locally-operated and chains. We invite all to come experience the special magic that comes from having a personal experience while shopping, which is so much more meaningful than the click of a button.”
Amazon has a heavy presence in San Luis Obispo. As of 2015, they employed approximately 100 people locally, according to The Tribune. Cal Poly also launched the first university-based cloud innovation center powered by Amazon Web Services in 2017, and the company frequently participates in career fairs on campus.
Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said in a 2018 news release that more than 1 million U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses are selling their products on Amazon, resulting in more than 900,000 new jobs.
“Amazon helps small and medium-sized businesses reach hundreds of millions of customers around the world, giving the smallest of businesses the opportunity to compete next to the biggest household brands,” Wilke said in the news release. “These businesses are a vital part of Amazon’s continued growth.”
However, Harmon said Amazon is “a detriment” to building relationships with local merchants.
“I try and do what I can to support locally-owned small business here in the community,” Harmon said. “That helps the individual business owner, but also helps the community at large — economically, but also socially.”
Harmon also mentioned co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Stacy Mitchell in her Tweet, asking what else she could do to promote her call to action. Mitchell is the author of “Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market” on The Nation.
“I wanted to lead by example in some way and invite other mayors to consider doing the same,” Harmon said.
Stores that recently closed in San Luis Obispo include Ann’s Clothing, Aaron Brothers and San Luis Luggage.
Correction: Jeff Wilke is the CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, not Amazon.