Facebook community, NOT ON AMAZON, has grown faster than ever over the past month as its members seek to combat sharply rising inflation and energy bills.
NOT ON AMAZON, an online community where artists and creatives promote and sell their goods, was only set up by self-confessed internet newbie and 'Class War' Punk Rocker, Jamie Rackham, in November 2020 — and less than a year on it already boasts over 146,000 members.
The number of 'NOT ON AMAZONERS ' has grown faster than ever over the past month as the cost of living soars. The reason for this is that members can promote their businesses and advertise their work on the page at no cost — crucial given sharply rising energy bills, the higher cost of living more generally and tax rises to come. Members are then free to complete their deals however they choose to. NOT ON AMAZON doesn't take a penny. Jamie says:
At NOT ON AMAZON, our mission is to establish a new way of selling online where small businesses don’t have to pay large commissions to online marketplace owners. We call it decentralised ecommerce. We've managed to do this by using a platform that is already free in the form of Facebook. With energy bills soaring, the cost of living rising and tax rises to come, every penny counts.
Jamie, who lives in a lorry parked next to his workshop in the Forest of Dean, had zero experience of using social media until late last year. In fact, it was only when he posted some videos of an up-cycling project he was working on to his Facebook feed in October 2020, and got some great feedback from friends, that he started to spend more time on the world's largest social network.
At around the same time there was a big news story about Amazon's net profit for its latest quarter being three times what it had been the previous year — with a whopping $63 billion being generated for the e-commerce behemoth by third party vendors (translate: small independents) alone — something Jamie found “seriously disturbing”.
While governments globally had locked down their countries and established a system whereby the only way anyone could buy pretty much anything was from huge corporations, independently owned business were being forced to close left, right and centre. To rub salt in the wound, the Chancellor of the Exchequer even proposed that artists and makers should consider re-training if they wanted “secure incomes” moving forward.
Light bulb moment
The light bulb moment for Jamie came on November 3rd 2020. Sat eating his lunch, looking out the window, thinking “two days til lockdown” and wondering how he was going to get through the next few months financially, the idea for the NOT ON AMAZON group was conceived.
Initially, Jamie thought that the group might be a way for him, his girlfriend and some of his friends who work in the creative fields to gain some exposure, raise the profiles of their businesses and make some sales in the run up to Christmas. But then the internet did what the internet does and the number of people joining the group went supersonic. Jamie even had to do a small crowdfund to buy a computer that was up to the task, as his laptop was 11 years old and on its last legs.
Reflecting on the group, and his experience of the past year, Jamie says:
"I was completely unaware how many people needed a community like NOT ON AMAZON and how many people felt the same as I did about the current situation where ordinary people are struggling financially while billionaires take complete control of the planet's resources, both real and virtual. At NOT ON AMAZON, we're doing what we can to address this imbalance and show people that there is another way to do things. That way is decentralised e-commerce, which empowers small independents rather than profit from them. The next step is to use this group as a base to create a UK-wide network of local community action groups that can spread the message further and have a positive impact on the real world.
An example of the positive impact NOT ON AMAZON can have is when Jamie put out an appeal to members of the group for donations of their work for an online New Year's Eve Charity Auction for the Bristol food bank, The Community Care Package. This was a great success and the 50 donated works sold for a total of £1,762 — enough to pay for more than 400 vegboxes.