Amazon Is Here, But …

Ryan Koltiska
Ryan Koltiska
Director of Marketing and Communications
Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce

[This article originally appeared as a “Community Perspectives” article in The Sheridan Press, November 15, 2014.]

 Amazon is here, but it’s not the end of the world for downtown businesses.

I had a conversation last week with a local businessman, and one phrase in that meeting rang loud and clear: “Amazon is here.” This man, a leader in a successful Sheridan business, is quite aware of the reality that Amazon and other Internet giants have moved to Sheridan. We may not see them on Main Street or Coffeen Avenue, but they are part of Sheridan’s marketplace, like it or not.

This is not a doomsday story. This is about accepting what we cannot change. We can’t change Amazon. I’m not sure who would try; and besides, I like Amazon. (I can almost hear a unison gasp from many who are reading this who realize I am an employee of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.) “Think Local First,” right? Absolutely. I believe in that completely. Don’t fire me from the Chamber yet.

Sheridan is my home. I love it here. I have shopped at local businesses since I was a kid and I still shop locally. I am invested in this community for the long haul because its success is my success. I love walking into a store and talking with the owners or employees who know my kid’s name and ask how my wife is doing. I love seeing those I graduated high school with owning businesses and continuing to invest in the same community that poured into our lives. I continue to be amazed at all the businesses that donate to the myriad great causes, proud of how Sheridan takes care of its own. I love it here. But take out all the businesses that line the streets, and I don’t think I’d stick around. So when the Chamber reminds you to shop local, I’ll be the first to jump on that bandwagon.

But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I don’t shop online…. UPS would tell on me anyway. I hope local business owners don’t expect that people won’t shop online at all. When I need a pair of size 11 men’s tap shoes, I’m not going to even waste my time looking around town. Living in a town the size of Sheridan is exactly what I want to do, but it cannot support every business that a metropolitan area can. Honestly, I’d rather try on a pair of tap shoes before buying them, but I don’t expect for anyone to try to make a living selling items that are hard to stock in a small town. Places like Amazon actually make it more convenient to live here, and I don’t have to drive to Denver for tap shoes. So when I say I like Amazon, it’s because I feel like it enhances my life in a small town. I still want to shop at Sheridan stores and buy from a local retailer. I especially want to do business with those who are investing in my community. But I also like tap shoes.

Amazon is here, but so are the 615 Chamber member businesses. I feel like we can coexist.

As we approach the busiest shopping season of the year, my plea to you is not to stop shopping online altogether; but to do that for the items like tap shoes. For everything else, Think Local First: shop in the community that invests in you. This season, the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce is making shopping local even more enticing and giving away almost $3,000 in Chamber Bucks when you “Get caught shopping” at local stores. Wear your Christmas Stroll button while doing your shopping on Saturday, December 6, 13 and 20, and you might find yourself walking away with an extra $25, $50 $100 or $250 in Chamber Bucks.

For more information, check out “Get Caught Shopping Sheridan” on Facebook or on www.sheridanwyomingchamber.org.

 

 

 

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