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GUEST COLUMN: The heart of a small business

Dylan Conmy
Dylan Conmy

As we enter a new decade, there is much to be said about the state of our economy and the state of this country on a whole. There is one thing that has not changed, however, no many how many issues the United States have trudged through: family-owned businesses. Families have been opening small businesses since immigrants stepped on U.S. soil and created a dream with the skills they could provide, and the passion they put behind it. The United States began with small businesses, and they survived and did just fine, all without Amazon (believe it or not).

I know what you are thinking — here we go again with another small business manager griping about Amazon and other big box conglomerates, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is, I am going to gripe about it, because it is an all-too-real issue. Amazon is not going to go broke any time soon; they are not going to falter in their monopolization of consumerism. The founder is not going to lose his home and his finances (at least not due to lack of business ... divorce, perhaps). Amazon is untouchable — all of the strength and power of a mythological god, with the frightening fact of reality thrown in there. On the other side of the boxing ring, there are small businesses, who, by their very name, are SMALL. We are small, but mighty. Independent, but part of a nation-wide army. We do what we can to make shopping more of an experience, and less of a chore. That is where we differ from the cold electronic heart of Amazon.

Please keep this in mind as you enter 2020 — with the variety of shops that are around town, you can basically get anything you need. In most cases, you will have it the same day you shop. You can touch it, look at it from every angle, get some human feedback from someone who actually cares about what they are selling. We will even wrap it for you. Small businesses are built on blood, sweat and tears. Small businesses are built on taking a big chance that could cost you everything you have, but having faith in your community that they will support your passion, because your passion is providing them with something they will love.

Small businesses are families and friends, hard work and personalized cultivation of product. We are special events and community involvement. Small businesses are the ones you go to when you need a donation for your raffle or fundraiser, and we happily provide whatever we can. Amazon will not be holding live storytime anytime soon. Amazon will not be serving hot cocoa and treats as you shop in cold weather. Small businesses will always work 40-plus days in a row, without seeing much of their home or family events, so that we can make sure your holiday is everything it needs to be, and more.

Because, you see, small businesses are about commitment and care, and we are not going to back down, roll over, or leave anytime soon. Your Amazon purchase may chip away at the local economy (67 cents of every dollar spent locally stays local); it may chip away at the business owners’ survival; it may even close down a bookstore, toy store, boutique, or artisan shop. Relying on Amazon is diminishing small-town America, and everything that this country started from in the first place. Small businesses will fight to stay alive, no matter what. We just all hope you are there fighting with us in the shopping community. Please make wise choices in 2020 and beyond, and keep small businesses alive. We offer so much more than deals and sales.

On the other hand, you will save $2.50 on Amazon, so I suppose it balances out in the end, right?

Dylan Conmy, Ottawa

Vice President, Ottawa Downtown Merchants

Special Events Coordinator, Prairie Fox Books

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