Depending on the day, and twists and turns of the news cycle, Amazon is either the greatest thing or the worst thing to happen to American businesses.
President Donald Trump dubs Amazon a "no-tax monopoly" and said that it is doing "great damage to tax-paying retailers." He repeatedly criticized the company and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, throughout his presidential campaign and into his presidency.
But Linda McMahon, Trump's head of the Small Business Administration, takes a sunnier view of the internet giant. Visiting Amazon's Seattle headquarters in July, she praised the company for providing "opportunities for small businesses," saying the company helps foster entrepreneurship.
It's not just the Trump administration that's split on what Amazon means to Main Street businesses. Even small business owners don't know if Amazon is good or bad for small businesses, according to the latest CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.
The challenges are manifest, as Amazon increasingly becomes all things to all people: bookstore, clothing retailer, grocer (through the recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market), movie producer and whatever is next. Up against Amazon's loyal and growing customer base, its low prices and fast deliveries and its wealth of analytics and consumer data, mom-and-pop stores are thought to face an existential threat.
Nonetheless, small-business owners are divided about equally on whether Amazon has a generally positive or negative effect on the climate for small businesses in the country. A little more than a third (35 percent) say what's been called the "Everything Store" is "good for small businesses," while a few more (42 percent) still say it is "bad for small businesses." About 1 in 5 (21 percent) say Amazon "has no effect on small businesses."