- Amazon is a sponsor of San Francisco’s small business week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
- Small businesses in the city say they view Amazon as a competitor, not a supporter.
- Amazon on depends on small sellers for sales, but its marketplace poses problems for businesses.
Bookstores, hardware stores, and other small businesses in San Francisco got a surprise during the city’s small business week: Amazon, perhaps their biggest competitor, is sponsoring the event.
The e-commerce giant is a top sponsor of the promotion and a “small business champion,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday, citing the website of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
That status has upset many small business owners, the Chronicle reported. Amazon has spent decades building its retail business, which has posed a serious threat to smaller businesses that sell everything from books to electronics.
Amazon has become a one-stop-shop for almost anything consumers need to buy, Vanessa Martini, a buyer at Green Apple Books, told the Chronicle.
“It’s a learned helplessness in a lot of customers,” Martini said. “Amazon has taught them that this is how you shop and buy, but that’s not. There are so many other options.”
San Francisco’s small business week events included a panel titled “How to Start Selling in Amazon’s Store,” according to the Chronicle.
“It’s in incredibly poor taste,” Eileen McCormick, the store manager at Green Apple, told the Chronicle. “It’s insulting. It’s ridiculous.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story from Insider. Amazon spokesperson Kelsey Friedrich told the Chronicle that sponsorships with local business groups are “just one of the ways we help create new opportunities for the small business community.”
San Francisco’s small businesses face other challenges specific to the city. Foot traffic downtown has remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, with fewer workers and tourists coming to the area. And some businesses have cited crime, such as shoplifting, as challenges to remain in operation.
Amazon has a complicated relationship with small businesses. They have become a key part of the company’s retail business, accounting for more than half of gross merchandise sales on the website. Selling on Amazon is also a relatively simple way to set up an online presence and grow sales, experts previously told Insider.
But Amazon, which has expanded into new categories such as prescription medicine and groceries, remains a competitor to many mom-and-pop businesses. Even those who sell through Amazon face risks, such as having their products copied by Amazon.
Even who gets labeled a “small business” on Amazon is up for debate, with the designation going to local retailers as well as multinational consumer goods makers like Johnson & Johnson, The Information reported in April.
Do you shop or work in retail in San Francisco and have a story idea? Reach out to Alex Bitter at [email protected] or via text/encrypted messaging app Signal at 808-854-4501.