Canna -Cu­ri­ous

For the

The Georgia Straight - - News -


A lit­tle book that delivers big in­for­ma­tion! Writ­ten by free­lance writer and jour­nal­ist Amanda Siebert and chock-full of case stud­ies from Van­cou­verites. Give the gift of knowl­edge and in­sight this hol­i­day.

from page 14

He said that e-com­merce re­ally thrives in heav­ily con­gested ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, such as Seoul or Tokyo, where it’s dif­fi­cult to reach desired shop­ping des­ti­na­tions. That’s not such a prob­lem in Canada.

“We’re kind of in an ideal place for phys­i­cal re­tail,” Gray said. “As much as we com­plain about traf­fic in Van­cou­ver, it’s not bad.…we’re in prox­im­ity to most things we want.”

But if the pub­lic takes a greater in­ter­est in the im­pact that e-com­merce is hav­ing on the vi­brancy of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, there could be a back­lash against the e-com­merce giants. Al­ready in the Queens bor­ough of New York City, there is grow­ing ou­trage over Ama­zon’s place­ment of its second head­quar­ters there. That’s be­cause of fears it will gen­trify the neigh­bour­hood and drive up hous­ing costs.

In the 2015 book Sav­ing Cap­i­tal­ism: For the Many, Not the Few, U.S. po­lit­i­cal econ­o­mist Robert Re­ich noted that as plat­forms like Ama­zon are able to col­lect more data about con­sumers, they’re bet­ter equipped to sti­fle in­no­va­tions from po­ten­tial com­peti­tors. That’s why he’s ar­gued for strength­en­ing com­pe­ti­tion laws and bust­ing up large tech com­pa­nies that con­sol­i­date too much con­trol over cer­tain sec­tors—in ef­fect, to save cap­i­tal­ism from the ex­cesses of the mod­ern mo­nop­o­lists.

It’s some­thing an­tic­i­pated by au­thor Stone in The Ev­ery­thing Store, which was re­leased in 2013.

“Will an­titrust au­thor­i­ties even­tu­ally come to scru­ti­nize Ama­zon and its mar­ket power?” Stone asked in his book. “Yes, I be­lieve that is likely, be­cause the com­pany is grow­ing in­creas­ingly mono­lithic in mar­kets like books and elec­tron­ics, and ri­vals have fallen by the way­side.

“But as we have seen with the dis­putes over sales tax and e-book pric­ing, Ama­zon is a mas­terly nav­i­ga­tor of the law and is care­ful to stay on the right side of it. Like Google, it ben­e­fits from the ex­am­ple of Mi­crosoft’s an­titrust de­ba­cle in the 1990s, which pro­vided a pow­er­ful ob­ject les­son of how ag­gres­sive mo­nop­o­lis­tic be­hav­ior can nearly ruin a com­pany.”

An­other les­son for Ama­zon: in­vest­ments in gov­ern­ment re­la­tions can pay div­i­dends. In 2013, the cor­po­ra­tion spent al­most $3.5 mil­lion on lob­by­ing in the United States, ac­cord­ing to Re­ich’s book. As the Straight went to the printer, Ama­zon had four ac­tive lob­by­ists listed in the B.C. lob­by­ists reg­istry and an­other 12 listed in the fed­eral lob­by­ists reg­istry.

Back at Sikora’s Clas­si­cal Mu­sic, Ed Savenye said that if on­line shop­ping keeps grow­ing, it will con­trib­ute to a grow­ing com­part­men­tal­iza­tion of so­ci­ety, fewer so­cial in­ter­ac­tions, and more iso­la­tion. He em­pha­sized that it goes be­yond the stereo­typ­i­cal im­age of some­one in their T-shirt and un­der­wear point­ing and click­ing while loung­ing on the couch and ex­tends to se­niors liv­ing alone, who some­times visit stores to in­ter­act with oth­ers.

“I’m not walk­ing away from cus­tomers,” Savenye in­sisted when dis­cussing the loom­ing clo­sure of his store. “I’m walk­ing away from friends that I’ve known for 10 or 15 years. I am prob­a­bly closer to many of these cus­tomers than I am to some of my own dis­tant-branch fam­ily mem­bers. It’s sad.”

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