For Greenfield storeowners, Amazon much tougher foe than Walmart

Greenfield in 1917, around its commercial heyday.

Greenfield in 1917, around its commercial heyday.

From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

'The Atlantic had a good article (“A Small Town Kept Walmart Out. Now It Faces Amazon,’’ March 2) about Greenfield, a town in western Massachusetts.

Greenfield has managed to keep big-box retailers out of town in order to preserve locally owned stores. But now local store owners and consumers who want to keep them are fighting a bigger enemy – Amazon. The behemoth online retailer offers a convenience that’s very difficult to compete against. Alana Semuels writes:

“Greenfield and other towns across New England are learning that while they might have been able to keep out big-box stores through zoning changes and old-fashioned advocacy, there’s not much they can do about consumers’ shift to e-commerce. They can’t physically keep out e-commerce stores—which don’t have a physical presence in towns that residents could push back against—and they certainly can’t restrict residents’ Internet access. ‘It’s one thing for me to try and fight over land use in the town I live in, or in somebody else's town,’  {local leading} big-box foe {Al} Norman told me, ‘But e-shopping creates a real problem for activists, because on some level, shopping online is a choice people make, and it’s hard to intrude yourself in that.”’

Beyond the demise of local business that keep much of their revenues in their area,  there’s a hollowing out of local civil society as people have fewer opportunities to meet in local  stores; there are fewer of them as more and more folks order more and more products from home or office. As the Internet society heads toward its fourth decade, we’ll need to find different ways to encourage locals to meet and to participate in their community other than, say, joining AA.

To read The Atlantic’s article, please hit this link: