Coronavirus,  Weekly Blog

Jeff Bezos Needs No Fundraiser

Amazon is fine in the time of COVID-19, but not our Mom-and-Pops

As we hunker down in this coronavirus-imposed isolation, we’ll soon run out of “things.” Food is obvious. … and we all know about our obsession with toilet paper. But there’s also everything from children’s crayons to laundry detergent to books to medications to … well, the list is as long as your list.

We’re sure not going to the stores to get them. We’ll just go online.

Probably to Amazon.

Like Amazon needs our help.

The ones who do need our help — and much more than just our help, of course — are the shops and restaurants we used to visit. Already, of course, we had shifted much of our buying online. But this forced acceleration may be the death knell for some of those Mom-and-Pops in our own communities.

Eschewing Amazon

Turns out books from actual stores, like this signed copy of the new Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks from Buxton Village Books on the Outer Banks, read just as good as Amazon books.

No question: Online buying is the most sensible approach during this crisis. Doesn’t have to be from Amazon or the other behemoths, though.

It can be from the locals, too. Most do have websites. Many are taking online orders, even when closed. We can order pickup or delivery from LOCAL restaurants. We can order gift cards, even for later use, from LOCAL shops. We can order books from LOCAL bookstores.

As an author and now publisher, I deal regularly with a couple dozen bookstores on the North Carolina coast and in the Richmond, Va., area. I’ve come to know their smart, hard-working and yet far from wealthy owners. I’ve decided to order a book a week, choosing a different store each time.

They’ll be books I probably would have bought, anyway. Some undoubtedly will be for the grandchildren. (Just received my first purchase from an Outer Banks bookstore, of a new book by a friend of mine, James D. Charlet, “Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks.” It was a signed copy. As a completely unexpected bonus, it even quoted an excerpt from my book on Hatteras Island! Woo-HOO!)

To be clear, I know there’s no way my pathetic weekly purchases are going to help these shops. Not by themselves. At best, they may be momentarily heartening. They’ll show shopkeepers they haven’t been completely forgotten.

Of course, others already are joining in such efforts.

And if still others would join in …

So what can you do?

Actual, no lie, really-and-truly excerpt from one of my books in Shipwrecks.

Many can’t buy much now, being without work and without income. But for the rest of us, who might be making purchases, anyway — doesn’t have to be a book at all — this is the time to come to the aid of friends and neighbors.

So what could you — YOU — buy that you would be buying online anyway — just this time from the local Mom-and-Pop?

Let us know.

Ray McAllister, former columnist of The Richmond Times-Dispatch and former editor of Boomer Magazine, is the award-winning author of six books, including four on North Carolina’s islands. Through Beach Glass Books, he is also the publisher of nine books by other authors.