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It’s a very Bezos Christmas

Here’s an idea: Let’s call billionaire Jeff Bezos at his Beverly Hills, California, home and ask him to hire a couple of Wheeling residents to work remotely for his online Amazon empire.

While we’re at it, let’s ask Jeff for a donation to the youth baseball program in St. Clairsville. Maybe we can get him to kick in a contribution to the Nutcracker Village in Steubenville.

Let’s not forget to remind him to pay his Marshall County property tax bill to support public schools.

Bezos has been raking in more billions this year, as people flock to the Amazon website to buy everything from toilet paper to Christmas gifts. How much in sales has come from the Ohio Valley? Millions would be a good guess.

Bezos is not going to hire anyone from Wheeling. He doesn’t pay property taxes in Marshall County. He couldn’t care less about worthy causes anywhere in our area.

So why on earth are we so eager to enrich him?

Why don’t we buy at local stores, instead? Many of them have websites, too. With or without online presence, they offer conveniences Bezos can’t match. You can look at, handle, taste and smell items you’re considering as gifts. Store personnel can offer advice you won’t get from Amazon. Often, they’ll match online competitors’ prices. If you’re not certain a particular toy is just the thing for your grandchild, they’re ofter eager to show you how it works.

Not infrequently, they’ll suggest to you that you’re spending too much money by purchasing Product A when lesser-priced Product B is just as good or better for your purpose.

Does Amazon do that?

COVID-19 has been a godsend to Bezos. Now, online shoppers can claim they buy through their laptops because it’s safer. Previously, they were limited to talking about “convenience.”

You’ll have to trust me on this: It would be a whole lot more convenient for Mr. and Mrs. Local Store Owner to say “no” when asked for a worthy cause donation — and keep the money in their own pockets. Which reminds me: Don’t give me that “tax write-off” garbage about why business owners don’t deserve credit for supporting charities. Say that and it’s obvious you have never run a business and don’t understand tax law.

It would be more convenient for Mr. and Mrs. Local Store Owner to cut back on their retail facility and refer customers to their website. That would save them money on payroll.

Which brings me to your family members, neighbors and friends.

How many of them rely on Jeff Bezos for their bread and butter? Thousands work at local retail outlets, large and small.

Remember Sears at the Ohio Valley Mall? How many local residents do you suppose lost their jobs there when the store closed — in large measure because of online competition? How many were handed pink slips when Macy’s closed at the mall, partly for the same reason?

But hey, it’s the holidays. We’re all really, really busy. Who has time to go shopping at brick-and-mortar stores? Time is money, they say.

Yes, it is. So when many local stores substituted other plans for their normal Black Friday sales, managers knew lack of the big crowds would cost them money.

They also knew it would be safer for people in their communities.

Local stores and their employees are more than businesses. They’re part of our communities. They’re us.

They deserve a merry Christmas, too. They’ve earned it.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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