American consumers are worrying more about Amazon's power, a new CNBC survey finds - CNBC

American consumers are worrying more about Amazon's power, a new CNBC survey finds - CNBC

American consumers are worrying more about Amazon's power, a new CNBC survey finds - CNBC

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 08:45 AM PDT

Demonstrators in a Long Island City park in Queens, New York, protest the planned Amazon HQ2 office on Nov. 26, 2018.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Once a year Amazon celebrates its customers — and itself — by holding a sale. It's called Amazon Prime Day, and if you're so inclined, you can often score low prices on everything from Amazon Kindles to rice cookers to paper towels.

According to the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, one in five people (20%) shopped on Prime Day 2019, which was July 15–16. That's less than half of the 44% of people who last November said they were planning to shop at a small business on another retail holiday: Small Business Saturday 2018. But to the extent that the "everything store" is directly taking on small business retailers by offering cheap prices and free delivery on everyday items, consumers are increasingly cognizant of Amazon's growing dominance.

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey takes a quarterly pulse of attitudes among small business owners, while also checking in on sentiment toward small business among the general public. The third-quarter 2019 survey was conducted across approximately 10,000 Americans between July 29 and Aug. 4. For the first time since the survey began in 2017, a solid majority of the American public (59%) says Amazon is bad for small businesses — nearly three times the number who say Amazon is good for small businesses (22%).

This represents a significant shift from just two years ago, when opinion was nearly split between those saying Amazon is bad for small businesses (37%) and those saying it's good (33%).

Results from the second quarter of 2018 fall squarely in the middle, with 47% of people saying Amazon is bad for small businesses and 28% saying it's good for small businesses. This indicates a steady slide toward pessimism rather than a dramatic drop-off caused by one particular event. What's driving this shift in public sentiment?

Amazon facing political headwinds

For one thing, the company has faced criticism from some prominent politicians — particularly President Donald Trump. Trump has used his Twitter account to attack the company for not paying enough taxes and taking advantage of the U.S. Postal Service, and he has often tweeted unfavorably about Jeff Bezos, the company's founder and CEO. Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which the president has derided as well, and though the two businesses are not linked in other ways, Trump frequently ties them together.

More recently, Amazon faced a public outcry after announcing that it would open a second headquarters location in New York City. This time it was the political left leading the opposition, worried that the company would change the character of the neighborhood and that new jobs would go disproportionately to high-skilled newcomers rather than those who were already living in the area.

For the record, Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to say Amazon is bad for small businesses (64% and 62%, respectively), so the downward trend over the past two years holds across party lines.

Whether influenced by politics or not, the public's changing attitudes may reflect a changing understanding of their role as consumers.

The public overall is increasingly aware of the trade-offs involved when big tech companies take over. A recent Pew Research Center poll found a large decline from 2015 to 2019 in the number of people who say technology companies have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country.

Whether influenced by politics or not, the public's changing attitudes may reflect a changing understanding of their role as consumers. Technology companies — including Amazon, along with others such as Facebook, Google and Apple — have finally begun to attract negative attention for their monopolization of certain markets.

Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would investigate Amazon for its anticompetitive practices — a clear acknowledgement that its concentrated power has put smaller businesses at a disadvantage.

More people are choosing sides

Consumers can connect the dots. Amazon is often the first, or only, place people go when they want to buy something — anything — online. It's less and less sensible to say that Amazon isn't having an effect on small businesses, and fewer people today say so than before.

In 2017 a quarter of people (25%) said that Amazon has no effect on small business. By 2018 that number had dipped by four percentage points, and this quarter it fell another six, bringing the percent of people who say that Amazon has no effect on small businesses down to just 15%. More people are choosing sides in the struggle between big business and small businesses, and — for now, at least — they recognize that the online giant is dominating.

Certainly, not all small business owners compete with Amazon. An independent Realtor or a private-practice dentist office, for example, faces little to no competition with Amazon. But for small businesses in industries such as retail or wholesale trade, the threat from Amazon is an existential one.

Notably, while confidence among small business owners was down by two points overall in this quarter's survey, it was down by five points in the retail trade industry, bringing it to a new low.

Small business owners who find themselves in competition with Amazon are in a tough spot. Look no further than Long Island City, where the proposed New York City HQ2 would have been located, and where small business owners themselves were reportedly nervous about their top competitor moving in. Their concern wasn't that their bicycle shops and bookstores would be competing with Amazon for customers — that was already a given. Instead, they worried their rent would go up and they would be priced out, yet another way to find themselves competing with Amazon and losing.

In a statement to CNBC, Amazon responded: "We recognize that we can do more to help people see all the ways that Amazon helps small businesses, and we are working on it. We're proud of how we empower 1.9 million independent American businesses. Independent retailers — mainly small and medium businesses — make up more than 58% of sales on Amazon, and those businesses made $160 billion in revenue in 2018 alone. On average, they sell more than 4,000 items per minute on and, worldwide, small and medium-sized businesses selling in our stores have created an estimated 1.6 million jobs."

By Laura Wronski, senior research scientist, SurveyMonkey

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey for Q3 was conducted across approximately 2,300 small business owners between July 29 and Aug. 4. The survey is conducted quarterly using SurveyMonkey's online platform and based on its survey methodology. SurveyMonkey publishes additional quarterly small business data and analysis.

This story has been updated with a statement from Amazon.

A small-town movie theatre comes back to life - keystoneedge

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 09:11 AM PDT

From 1920, when it opened as a silent film venue, until 1975 – the year Jaws came out – the Victoria Theatre was downtown Blossburg's movie palace. Tom McNamara remembers seeing films there as a kid, and even being thrown out for tossing something at the screen.

Tom has since made amends. Now a retired schoolteacher, he and his wife Tonya began renovating the long-shuttered theater in 2009. Today, the Victoria shows first-run films, hosts community events, and boasts state-of-the-art digital projection and devices to assist the hearing and visually impaired.

The Victoria Theatre first opened in 1920

"It was closed for so long people that did not even know that it was there," says Tonya. "For years, people would wonder what it looked like inside or say, 'Wouldn't it be nice if someone could open it back up.'…We love talking to people that remember coming to the theater for their first date 50 years ago. And [we] enjoy sharing the era of a local, one-screen movie theater with a generation that did not know such a thing existed."

The theater was renovated back in 1965 — the décor and its 200 seats come from that era. During their recent restoration, the McNamaras found a silent-era piano under the stage, a 1940s popcorn machine (which they hope to bring back to life), the original curtain, and carbon-arc movie projectors. A grant last year enabled the couple to install a lit marquee.

"That improved the appearance a lot," explains Tonya. "It looks more like a movie theater now."

Before the restoration

The theater is community minded and the community has reciprocated.

Admission and concession prices are kept low so that "people on limited income or who have large families, that otherwise may not go to a movie theater, can afford to go," says Tonya.

The McNamaras invested in a digital projector three years ago. That enabled them to offer assistive devices (purchased with local donations), including headphones and eyewear that projects closed captioning on the lenses.

The owners also keep things family-friendly, usually passing on "R" rated movies.

We love talking to people that remember coming to the theater for their first date 50 years ago.Tonya McNamara

"We are pleased with the fact that parents feel comfortable dropping off their children to see a movie unattended," says Tonya. "You may not do that at the mall."

The McNamaras also strive to accommodate school groups, daycares and others, showing a current movie or a DVD on request when the theater is available. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Victoria screens matinees and encourages patrons to BYO lunch. Tuesdays are also sensory friendly — the sound is turned down slightly and the lights may be left low depending on need. On Blossburg's Small Business Saturday, the Victoria shows a free Christmas movie.

The new facade of the Victoria Theatre

The theater is also rented out for live music, parties, and private movie showings, and has hosted two weddings. A non-denominational church group recently started meeting there monthly.

"With Tom and I being very active volunteering within the community, the theater is an extension of that," explains Tonya. "[It's] an anchor building within the Blossburg area that helps make our area a vibrant community, rather than just a business to make a profit off of. I believe the personal touch of a family-run business sometimes outweighs what you experience at a multiplex."

ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.

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New location and maker space at Amaze and Grace in Grand Chute -

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:30 AM PDT

(WFRV) – If you could use a space to help you tap into a hidden talent or maybe just a spot for some art therapy, Amaze and Grace has a new maker space that will help with both.

They have some fun events coming up, including a grand re-opening for their new location inside Home Interiors at 4805 West Michaels Drive in Grand Chute. They are open Mondays from 10 am – 2 pm and the rest of the week from 10 am – 6 pm.

For more information on their new maker space on all of the upcoming events, stop by their Facebook page.

Aug. 17: Grand Re-Opening & Outdoor Market
Sept. 14: Outdoor Market
Oct. 4 – 5: Fall Vintage Shop Hop
Nov. 30: Small Business Saturday

Louisiana Organizations Launch Joint Effort To Raise Money For Community Christmas Tree - People's Tribune

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 12:00 AM PDT

In an effort to enhance the holiday landscape and the Christmas spirit, three organizations in Louisiana are joining forces in an effort to purchase a new tree to use as the centerpiece in town for holiday activities.

The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau and Louisiana Community Betterment are working with a company that specializes in large holiday decorations for municipalities. The new Christmas tree would stand 14-feet tall with a base that is eight-feet wide. The tree would also feature a large Nativity star on top and have new bulbs. The tree also features over 400 LED lights to brighten the town during the holiday season.

"We are trying to rebuild the holiday spirit within our community. We are hoping that people like to see the town dressed up during the holidays and will really jump in and help us with this," noted Community Betterment Director Diane Huckstep.

If funds can be raised quickly enough the tree can be ordered at a large discount. The entire package costs about $6,000 without discount.

The tree is versatile in that another section can be added in the future to make the tree stand over 18-feet tall, and together with the stars that line Georgia, will make the town very festive.

The company is the same one that Community Betterment has used to purchase the 33 beautiful stars that have brightened the holiday season in Louisiana.

There is also a large slate of holiday activities planned in Louisiana.

On Friday, Nov. 29 will be the Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Elks Lodge which includes the ceremonial lighting of the tree.

Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 30 which includes a "Find The Christmas Elf" competition in Louisiana this year.

Community Betterment will be holding the holiday decoration contest again this year with residents of Maple Grove Lodge serving as judges. Judging ends on Dec. 18 and awards are presented in residential and business categories.

On Saturday, Dec. 7 there will be an event geared to children that includes a costume parade, painting and wreath-making. More details will be published as the date draws near.

The annual Louisiana Church Walk and Soup Supper will be held on Sunday, Dec. 8 and is sponsored by the Women's Ecumenical Society.

Organizations are also joining forces to offer babysitting services for busy parents needing to do holiday shopping on Saturday, Dec. 14. Responsible teenagers will be selected and a $5 donation for the babysitters will be charged. The location will be announced closer to the event.

A new Christmas tree is needed for Louisiana and will help bring the holiday spirit alive. Find more on events as the holidays draw closer on the calendar.

Funds are needed right away to make the tree a reality. To make a donation, contact LVCB Director Maggie Neff at 314-640-4420 or Chamber Director Kristal Pitzer at 573-231-4477 or Huckstep. All donations are tax-deductible.


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