Would a Not-Amazon.ca-like effort help indy retailers compete with the online giant?
A website with a provocative domain, Not-Amazon.ca, has seemingly overnight become a go-to directory to reach more than 4,000 independent stores across four Canadian cities. The success is more surprising considering it was created by a social media manager as a side project with no plans to make money.
“Hell no! It’s all volunteer baby!,” the 27-year old founder Ali Haberstroh answers in the FAQ section on the site on whether Not Amazon makes money.
The site’s inception began on Nov. 22, the day before Toronto went into a second partial lockdown, when Ms. Haberstroh built a Google spreadsheet with categories and links to local shops offering curbside pickup and deliveries to remind herself to shop locally. She shared her list on Instagram and then decided to turn it into a website. She purchased the Not-Amazon.ca domain for $2.99 Canadian.
The domain name reflected her frustrations that big boxes and Amazon.ca had thrived during the pandemic as Toronto’s mom and pops faced extinction. All the shops offer nationwide shipping, curbside pickup and local delivery.
“Jeff Bezos has made enough money this year,” Mr. Haberstroh told Toronto’s NOW magazine. “My goal with this whole thing is to make it almost impossible to use the excuse that shopping with Amazon is more convenient.”
She further told The Guardian that she wanted the site to mimic Amazon in “having everything in one place.”
Not Amazon has expanded beyond Toronto to Calgary, Halifax and Vancouver and earned significant media coverage. Many articles include interviews with shop owners attesting to spikes in online traffic since being featured on the site. According to a Jan. 2 New York Times profile, the website has garnered more than half a million page views.
The site is now submission-based with thousands of businesses waiting for Ms. Haberstroh’s approval. More cities are planned to be added.
Not Amazon came along at a time when numerous surveys have shown that consumers are eager to support local businesses significantly impacted by the pandemic and a minor backlash has been seen against big boxes and major online sellers that have done well during the crisis.
- A Canadian ‘Buy Local’ Effort Fights Amazon on Its Own Turf – The New York Times
- Not Amazon: Canadian website takes on the online giant – The Guardian
- ‘Not Amazon’ website seeks to boost local businesses across Canada – CBC
- Not-Amazon makes it easier to shop local in Toronto – Now Toronto
- Should local book stores be taking on Amazon? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would a website such as Not-Amazon.ca work in the U.S.? Is it possible and does it make sense for independent retailers in the U.S. to collaborate on a national basis?