by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The federal government is steering small businesses to do more business with Amazon to help them recover from the economic crisis prompted by the pandemic.
The U.S. Commercial Service, a trade promotion agency, is hosting a series of “Go Global” webinars with Amazon in June to teach small businesses to access markets in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates by becoming sellers on the e-commerce behemoth. Some entrepreneurs are crying foul, blaming Amazon as the source of their woes.
Gina Schaefer opened up her first hardware store in Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., in 2003. Alongside her husband, she expanded the business to 13 locally owned hardware stores, employing roughly 300 people in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metro areas. She said a retailer like Amazon is the last place to which the federal government should turn to help small businesses.
“The larger Amazon has gotten, the fewer number of independent businesses we have,” Schaefer told the Washington Free Beacon. “One by one industries have been picked off by predatory pricing and overlooked government regulations to the point where starting a new business, at least in the retail sector, is nearly impossible.”
The agency’s webinars with Amazon are designed to get clients for the web giant. …
… In response to Amazon’s growing market dominance, small businesses are forming coalitions seeking to leverage anti-trust legislation to ensure that they are not crushed. Schaefer, a member of the Small Business Rising coalition, said the Commercial Service partnership with Amazon will further undermine small businesses as they struggle in the post-lockdown economy to stay independently viable. Like many other small business owners in retail, she supports the idea of Amazon being broken up.
“No one ever envisions that street empty or only populated by a soulless Amazon store. Yet businesses are failing at alarming rates now, in large part to concentrated market power,” Schaefer said.