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Small businesses have suffered greatly due to covid restrictions while big box stores such as Amazon, Target & Wal-Mart have increased their profits significantly. If we want to help make a difference in this world, one thing we can do is to stop shopping at Amazon and other big box retailers.

This is of course much easier said than done, and it’s very difficult to avoid the big box stores completely. But we can start making small choices to break ourselves of the habit/need to shop at big box stores whenever possible.

Here’s how:

1. Start the Habit of Thinking About Alternatives.

In this day and age of being able to order so much online, this gives us a lot of flexibilty to find items we need from multiple sources. While Amazon.com or Target.com might be the most convinient – it’s not always the only place you can purchase a desired item.

It’s probably impossible to go cold turkey from Amazon (I know I couldn’t!), start by just thinking about where you might obtain items.

2) Read Amazon Reviews, But Purchase Elsewhere.

If you use Amazon for their many item reviews – go ahead and keep doing that. BUT, before clicking Add To Cart, see what company makes said item. Do a quick DuckDuckGo search (because you really should stop using Google) and find the company’s direct website or another smaller store. Order from them instead.

Yes, you might have to pay a few bucks more for shipping, but you’re also giving money directly to a smaller business that can use your money more. And hey, you never know, sometimes you might actually get a BETTER deal direct from the company than from Amazon.

Here’s an example:

Years ago, I bought a folding push/pull wagon off Amazon & LOVED it. I wrote a blog post about it. The wagon company saw my post, contacted me, and offered me a discount code to any of my readers who purchased directly through them. I even wrote a follow-up post last year about their newest wagon model.

Working with and buying directly from small businesses can be win win for everyone.

Another more recent example. For Christmas this year, I was researching this super cool Lily’s Things Double Slackline Ninja Course (Deluxe Edition). I found it on Amazon for $189, but when I went to the Lily’s Things website, I saw that they were selling it for only $169!

So sure, keep using Amazon for their reviews if you’d like – but look around a bit and strongly consider actually purchasing the product elsewhere.

3) If You Do Amazon Subscribe & Save, Consider Other Subscription Services.

If you usually shop subscribe & save, start looking for other subscription services. If you can find something you subscribe to for not too much more expensive elsewhere – choose to subscribe to it elsewhere.

Some Amazon Subscribe & Save alternatives:

  • Azure Standard – a natural/bulk foods company where you pick up your order at truck “drops” all across the country. Amazing selection. Great for animal feed/farm/garden/organic as well. (I love Azure so much & will be writing a separate review post on them soon)
  • Thrive Marketplace – food & household items, specializing in organic, natural, sustainable, and ethical products. They also have a Autoship subscription option.
  • Grove Collaborative – cleaning & household products.
  • Boxed – online grocery, though I’m not sure if they offer a monthly subscription service.

4) Choose the Lesser Of Two Evils.

It can sometimes be impossible to find an item you’re looking for at anyplace other than Amazon or another big box store. In these cases your best bet is to go with the smallest or least offensive option.

For example, if you can only find a book you’re looking for at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel, consider purchasing from B&N. No, it’s not a perfect solution, as B&N is still a large corporation, but depending on your own stances, it might still be the lesser of two evils.

5) Use Another Wish List service.

I’ve grown to use Amazon’s wish list to keep track of all the things I want to buy and my kids want and then we share this with family.

I haven’t managed to get this transitioned over for this holiday season, but I plan to starting in the new year. There’s actually a bunch of other wish list sites out there, at some point maybe I’ll get around to doing a deep dive review on each, but for now, here’s a few other online wish list services:

6) Buy Local & Get To Know Your Local.

Take a closer look at your local community. When you drive around, pay attention to small shops and strip malls. Notice mom & pop stores you never paid attention to before. What do they sell?

If you’d rather not go inside, go online and see if they have an online storefront. Buy directly from them and save on shipping by picking up. Or if they don’t offer online shopping, call them or take a chance and visit in person to check them out.

7) Try Ebay & Etsy.

While both eBay & Etsy are larger corporations, all their products are seller submitted and most of the revenue goes directly to the seller. Especially if you can’t find a product anywhere other than Amazon, check to see if anyone is selling it on eBay first. Sometimes people jack up prices on eBay/Etsy, sometimes they don’t.

You can also find extremely unique products on Etsy that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find anywhere. (as an example, see these unique “freedom masks” I found on Etsy).

8) Shop Secondhand & Community Websites.

Craigslist, in-person yard sales, VarageSale, etc are great options to support local individuals, as well as find unique items for great prices.

(I’m specifically leaving Facebook/FB Marketplace off this list, because I feel similarly about facebook as I do Amazon & think more people should break the habit of their hold over our lives)

Bonus is that you’re keeping things out of the landfill & giving life again to pre-owned objects, which I’m always a fan of.

9) Lastly…Just Stop Buying So Much Stuff.

I mean, how much stuff do we buy that we don’t really need afterall? If we get more into the habit of re-thinking everything before we buy it, we may in fact stop buying stuff we don’t need.

Side note but: Although… if any of you are looking for a good startup project, I’d love for someone to create a streamlined community centered around borrowing/renting out items to individuals in need. Like Air BnB but for things. The opportunities are endless – need some canopys for an outdoor event in your backyard? Have an awesome camping tent you only use 3 times a year? Rent it out to another family while they’re trying out their first time camping before they invest in their own camping gear.

For the record, I am NOT a fan of, and NOT advocating for any kind of “you’ll own nothing and be happy” Great Reset nonsense. Putting the world government in control of every item we can use or access is a very.bad.idea. But individual community volunteerism? That’s a very GOOD idea. 🙂

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