I live in a small town and rarely buy anything local. I purchase my gas across the border where I save 10-30 cents a gallon. I often browse bookstores for books and then buy them much cheaper at amazon.com (no tax). In fact, I’m seeing the advantage of buying virtually every item I need on amazon.com My question is: Is this appropriate? Am I cheating someone or sinning by doing this? Does the Church have guidelines about this?
[quote=knute]I live in a small town and rarely buy anything local. I purchase my gas across the border where I save 10-30 cents a gallon. I often browse bookstores for books and then buy them much cheaper at amazon.com (no tax). In fact, I’m seeing the advantage of buying virtually every item I need on amazon.com My question is: Is this appropriate? Am I cheating someone or sinning by doing this? Does the Church have guidelines about this?
What you are doing is quite legal so not a problem at all. We all have to cut financial corners where we can these days. If no-one supported Amazon.com, they would go under
I try to buy locally produced products when the price and quality are competitive, but don’t have any loyalty to any specific stores. A dime or so difference in the price of a canned vegetable, say, that I might use a dozen of a year isn’t going to break me and I will try to buy the locally produced stuff. Same with textiles. It’s just an occasional purchase, but I try to find Springmaid sheets when I need them becaused they are produced nearby and provide jobs for our people. There is a local chain of convenience stores/gas stations here. I buy from some and avoid some others because their gas prices vary by as much as twenty cents at stations that are just a mile or two apart.
There is a small town about 25 miles from here that has attracted a lot of affluent residents because of its proximity to a lake. Gas prices there are twenty to thirty cents higher than they are in the city and very few residents buy there since most of them work in the city anyway.
The bottom line is that it is up to you where you choose to spend your money. There is nothing illegal or immoral about what you describe.
I think you are fine!!! There is nothing immoral about spending your money wisely.
If you’re ever asked by local merchants as to WHY, tell them quite plainly but politely what you’ve told us. Maybe they would make their products more tempting for purchase, or figure out a way to make local products more cost-effective.
There is nothing moral or immoral about patronizing one business over another in any particular transaction.
But if this is a pattern for you, I suggest you ask yourself whether it is truly cost-effective for you in the long run to bypass the merchants who make your local community a desirable location in favor of a small price differential. If your local businesses wither on the vine, and you end up living in a community with boarded up shops, have you really helped yourself?
Generally, if you can afford to do it, then it would be virtuous to spend your money (even if it costs a bit more) with a merchant who promotes the common good of your community by paying taxes, donating to local churches or civic efforts, and employing your neighbors. And, in the long run, you are helping yourself by maintaining the desirability of living where you do.
If you routinely buy books on amazon.com, then I would recommend that you stop frequenting your local bookseller. He invites the public into his shop on the implied premise that you may spend money there. You want an advantage there that amazon.com cannot give you (actually perusing a book before you buy it) and it costs the merchant money to provide that benefit to the public. To routinely take advantage of that benefit without any real intent to pay for it would not be charitable.
I see your point about the bookstore browsing, Grayton. Thanks.
In case you’re interested, knute, I have heard that amazon.com will soon have more browsability and you will even be able to buy SECTIONS of books rather than whole books.