Two new Amazon warehouses in Winnipeg

Multinational has been criticized for business practices

Amazon Prime delivery vans, pictured here in Gainesville, Fla., have become a common sight in Winnipeg since the e-commerce giant opened two warehouses in the city. (Todd Van Hoosear-Wikimedia Commons)

Amazon, the multinational tech company known for its e-commerce website, recently opened two delivery warehouses in Winnipeg. These stations, which became operational in December 2021, are located on Regent Avenue and Plymouth Street.

While the goal of these warehouses is to improve delivery times for Winnipeg customers, there may be other consequences. In particular, Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world, has been criticized for its negative impact on small businesses.

Jill Zdunich is the owner of Shop Take Care, a Winnipeg-based consignment clothing and home goods store. They have two locations: 109 Osborne St. and 217 McDermot Ave.

“We’ve felt the impact of e-commerce platforms,” Zdunich says in an email to The Uniter, adding that “I don’t think there’s a small (business) out there that hasn’t by now, to be honest.”

In fact, RBC’s Canadian E-Commerce Survey, released in 2019, found that 85 per cent of consumers have bought something on Amazon’s website. The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased its popularity.

Nevertheless, Zdunich says she does not feel “overly threatened” by Amazon at the moment, for a variety of reasons.

“Because 80 per cent of our overall business is recycled/consignment clothing, we’ve been able to stay afloat through these hard times thanks to our loyal customer base here in Winnipeg,” Zdunich says.

“There will always be folks who make the conscious effort to choose local, and those folks will always be our clientele.”

Like so many other small businesses, e-commerce has been a double-edged sword for Shop Take Care. On the one hand, e-commerce giants like Amazon have significant market power, but, on the other, online platforms also help small businesses stay afloat – which has been especially relevant during the past two years.

“When the pandemic first hit, we were scrambling ... to get our e-commerce shop up and running,” Zdunich says. “Thankfully, because of our e-commerce site, we were able to still make some revenue while we were fully locked down.”

Amazon did not return The Uniter’s request for comment. In December 2021, however, Amazon Logistics’ regional director Mikhail Clarkson told Global News that the new delivery stations “are expected to create more than 200 jobs, both full- and part-time.”

“Our customers and residents in Winnipeg and its surrounding areas have been longtime supporters of Amazon, and we’re so proud to create jobs and provide even better delivery times and customer service in the region,” he said.

In addition to encroaching on small businesses, Amazon has also been criticized for a wide range of its business practices. These include anti-competitive behaviour, anti-union practices, allegedly using forced Uighur labour, tax avoidance, selling books promoting pedophilia and antisemitism, poor working conditions and influence over local news stations in the United States.

Published in Volume 76, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 20, 2022)

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