Amazon's School Fundraiser a 'Fail', Says Main Street

Amazon is back in the news as the Goliath that is taking business away from local shops.

After its Price Check appdebuted during the 2011 holiday shopping season, local shops were especially offended when the online retailer offered shoppers a $5 credit to scan products at brick-and-mortar locations, then purchase the same item from Amazon.

Now Amazon is under fire again from towns in the Saugerties Central School District near Albany, N.Y., reports the Saugerties Times. It seems the school district is using a rewards program offered through Amazon as a district-wide fundraiser.

The program is simple: when shoppers go to Amazon, they enter through a special link that, when purchases are made, a portion of their purchase price is donated to the school.

But the outcome is complicated. Main Street businesses in the area say that is money that could be spent locally, raise the tax base that could then go back to the schools in property taxes.

According to the Saugerties Times, since the link went live in November, $10,512 in purchases were made; $677.80 was donated back to the district.

“It definitely affects us and hurts us, and it doesn’t send the message to shop local,” said one business owner. “Bottom line is, my tax dollars are supporting the schools and Amazon’s tax dollars are not.”

School district officials contend that if Amazon wants to give money to school districts, Saugerties should take advantage.

But local shop owners are doing what they can to fight the online retailer, offering discounts to lure local shoppers back to town.

What do you think? Does a program like Amazon’s hurt local businesses?

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