Despite what SNL has to say, Atlanta has more to offer than Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-a and…ummm… Paula Deen.

I’m no clairvoyant, but I think Atlanta has a good shot at landing the new Amazon headquarters, despite what other pundits, prognosticators and Saturday Night Live might have to say about it.

Business types have already written op-eds claiming that Boston or Washington D.C. are the leading contenders for HQ2, while SNL recently reduced Atlanta to a traffic hellscape with nothing of merit other than Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and Paula Deen’s racism (although I’m not sure what Deen has to do with Atlanta other than she’s an easy stereotype for Southerners). The fact that Amazon’s search for a second headquarters was worthy of a comedy skit shows just how much the retail behemoth has captured the public’s attention.

If Amazon locates HQ2 in Atlanta it could means billions in additional revenue for the state and 50,000 jobs.

I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. My novels and poetry collections are sold there and it’s usually the first place readers go to find my work. I’m a devotee of Amazon Prime, because I love the video service and two-day delivery. I also seem to order something from there every other week: a new charging cord for my iPhone, a fresh pair of walking shoes, an obscure European film on DVD that I can’t stream on Netflix. It’s become second nature to click a button and have it magically arrive at my door.

While my books are sold at Amazon, I don’t buy books from there anymore. With the sale of physical books on the rise after the whole eBook thing leveled out and indie bookstores gaining a foothold again, I am willing to drive to Charis, Eagle Eye or A Capella and spend a little extra. What is irrefutable is that Amazon is a brick-and-mortar retail killer. Toys R Us, Target, Barnes & Noble, shoe stores, supermarkets and countless small retailers are being upended by Amazon. Unlike eBooks, it doesn’t look like the public is going to lose interest in buying from Amazon.

I’m not advocating an Amazon boycott, but I am encouraging you to balance out your shopping habits. If you have a favorite small retailer or mom-and-pop shop, don’t forget to show them some love a few times a month rather than clicking a button on your phone.
As the always prescient Joni Mitchell sang: “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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