ILSR Press Event: Sellers and Small Businesses Applaud FTC’s Amazon Lawsuit

Date: 26 Sep 2023 | posted in: agriculture, Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Third-party sellers and small business leaders joined the Institute for Local Self-Reliance at a virtual press briefing to applaud the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, hailing the action as a critical step to ending Amazon’s abuses and opening the online market to competition.

At the press event, ILSR Co-Executive Director Stacy Mitchell was joined by third-party sellers and small business owners who spoke to the importance of this case and took questions.

You can watch the recording here and below.

Speakers from the press event include:

  • Stacy Mitchell, co-executive director of ILSR and a leading expert on Amazon’s monopoly power and impact on small businesses. “Today’s action to break Amazon’s monopoly control over online commerce is great news for Americans. For too long Amazon has been allowed to maintain a stranglehold on the online market. It’s used its power to thwart competition, bleed small businesses dry, exploit workers, and take advantage of consumers.”
  • Jason Boyce, founder of the seller consultancy Avenue7Media, and author of The Amazon Jungle.
  • Nicholas Parks, president of Snob Foods: “Amazon owns the platform, so they pay nothing for ad space and assess nothing toward logistics fees. Meanwhile, third-party sellers spend fifty percent or more of revenue for those items. This is why it’s impossible to compete head-on with Amazon.”… “I’m not sure another example exists of a retailer operating at a gross loss for more than a few months. Amazon can only afford to do this by charging ever more fees to third-party sellers and customers of AWS. This case from antitrust authorities is critical to ensuring businesses like mine can sell fairly online.”
  • Lindsay Windham and Nate Justiss, co-founders of Distil Union: “More and more of Distil Union’s dollars go to Amazon fees. In a way, we fund their lobbying efforts – including those that make it harder for us to maintain a profitable business. We are thrilled regulators are taking action to make Amazon more fair for small businesses.”
  • Doug Mrdeza, a former Amazon third-party seller and owner of Top Shelf Brands: “Amazon presents itself as a partner, but in reality, it’s a competitor that steals proprietary information and uses it to put third-party sellers out of business. The company’s ‘blending’ of its various lines of business lies at the root of all the problems small businesses have with Amazon. I would still be in business if it wasn’t for Amazon. I applaud the FTC for finally taking action.”
  • Danny Caine, co-owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas:Amazon’s anti-competitive tactics disrupt nearly every part of my industry, and that’s unfair. It makes it harder for a bookstore like The Raven to compete. At times, it’s impossible. We need vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws so small businesses like mine can compete, thrive, and enrich the lives of their workers and their communities. We support the FTC’s case.”

Reactions from additional sellers and business owners:

  • Michael Wiesel, founder and CEO of Earthy Good & Kiss Naturals: “Amazon recently suspended three of my most popular items. They often ‘suspend’ items waiting for test reports. We send them the reports, then an AI-generated reply comes rejecting the reports. This can go on for months. Our Amazon U.S. sales have evaporated and put many of the small retailers we sell to out of business. They are the only show in town. It is critical for someone to take action and we strongly support the FTC bringing this lawsuit.”
  • Bill Stewart, owner of Long Island Toy & Game: “It’s near impossible to measure exactly how much Amazon has cost my business. They have pushed my listings off their marketplace. They are also ‘stealing’ business from my physical retail store, website, and other online marketplaces by using unfair and anti-competitive practices. Yes, we need regulators to act. It is about time.”
  • Gina Schaefer, co-owner and founder of A Few Cool Hardware Stores: “Amazon controls the infrastructure that businesses must rely on to communicate with their customers and the market Amazon bullies small businesses, steals their best ideas, and saddles them with exorbitant fees. The FTC’s case is a critical step to ensure we have a digital marketplace that works for small businesses.”
  • Kimber Lanning, founder and CEO of the independent business group Local First Arizona and member of Small Business Rising: “Amazon penalizes businesses who try to sell for a lower price on other platforms and imposes ever-growing fees on its sellers. I’ve heard directly from an Amazon seller in Tempe. He asked not to be identified for fear that Amazon would retaliate against his company. He described the crushing weight of Amazon’s fees, which is capsizing his and many businesses that sell on Amazon’s marketplace. We applaud this step from the FTC.”

ILSR released an explainer looking at why the lawsuit was filed and what it seeks to accomplish. This follows new research from Stacy Mitchell, Amazon’s Monopoly Tollbooth in 2023, exposing the steep and rapidly growing fees Amazon extracts from the businesses that have little choice but to rely on its site to reach customers — a striking measure of its monopoly power. These exorbitant fees are crushing many sellers, raising consumer prices, and funding Amazon’s expanding empire.

To speak with any of the above, please contact Reggie Rucker.

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Katy Milani

Katy Milani is the Senior Policy Advocate for ILSR's Independent Business initiative.