I quit buying from Amazon 4 years ago. I get better deals on products elsewhere but still have to use their services.

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I quit buying from Amazon 4 years ago. I get better deals on products elsewhere but still have to use their services.
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  • I quit buying from Amazon during the first COVID lockdown.
  • I've found community, not just commerce, in brick-and-mortar stores.
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In the summer of 2020, when COVID-19 had us stuck in our homes, the only things left on the city streets were fleets of delivery vans — a lifeline for many and the final straw for me.

For a long time, I hadn't been comfortable with the environmental and social impacts of online megastores. So, as e-commerce reached a fever pitch during the pandemic, I vowed never to order from Amazon again.

I quickly realized I'd made the right choice, but as time went on, I also discovered that my cut from one of the world's biggest companies wasn't quite as clean as I'd thought.

Buying online isn't always best for your wallet

The first thing I noticed when quitting buying from Amazon was that I didn't actually need 90% of what I ordered. The convenience of being able to hop on Amazon for any item you think of, no matter how obscure, results in you buying every item you think of, no matter how much you need it.

Impulse purchases used to be candy bars at the checkout, but anything can be an impulse buy when it's just one click away. Abstaining from Amazon — and all the online megastores — meant that I no longer made those impulse purchases, and, unsurprisingly, life went on.

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What surprised me, however, is that I'm not as shrewd a shopper as I'd like to believe. I'd taken it for granted that because something's online, it's the best deal you're going to find. But, after avoiding Amazon for a few months, I realized that it's not always true — the same item that I've found in a store can be double the price when looking online.

Brick-and-mortar stores are about community as much as commerce

Browsing brick-and-mortar stores isn't just about buying. A few years ago, if I needed parts for a stereo, equipment for sports, or gear for old cameras, I would have ordered them online. Now, I venture into the real world.

This has allowed me to explore new neighborhoods, support small businesses, and, most importantly, meet new people. Small stores for specialized items become hubs for the communities they serve, and I've gone from sitting in my apartment buying things online to hanging out in-store, chatting with people about the things I enjoy.

As the months turned into years, I continued to ride high and mighty on my anti-Amazon horse, but that all came crashing down when I decided to dig a bit deeper.

You might be using Amazon without ever even knowing

I thought I was quitting Amazon by simply not buying things online, but the company directly owns sites like IMDb and Twitch, both of which I've used in the last few years without even questioning.

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What's more, a chunk of Amazon's revenue, and most of their operating profit, actually comes from Amazon Web Services, which is the tech that underpins many of the websites, apps, and services that we use every day, whether that's Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Netflix.

So, while I haven't bought anything on Amazon for almost four years, I've certainly used their services. I don't think that detracts from the positives of quitting buying from Amazon, but it does give some perspective.

Quitting online megastores certainly has its perks, but in a digital age when everything is so connected, making a clean break is often much harder than you think. And, in the case of a giant like Amazon, might not even be possible at all.

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