When the Federal Trade Commission announced its landmark lawsuit against Amazon in September, the stories of small business owners and their struggles with Amazon were suddenly all over the news. Nicholas Parks, who has been selling his SnobFoods hot sauces and condiments on Amazon for 20 years, talked about it. NPR said the online giant had repeatedly raised seller fees and supported its own products on its platform, making it difficult for his company to stay in business. “As soon as Amazon started selling it, I was just shut out of the market.”
Small business voices weren’t just rallying to support the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit; their stories, testimonies and activism helped set the stage for this. And dealing with Amazon is just the beginning. Corporate concentration is spreading throughout the economy and threatening independent businesses. But these booksellers, pharmacists, grocers, office supplies and more are fighting back.
Small Business Rising (SBR), a coalition of independent business groups promoting the voices of small businesses around the Amazon lawsuit, has fought many antitrust battles. In response to the unprecedented corporate concentration in our economy, SBR opposed credit card fees (essentially a monopoly tax) and advocated for adequate funding for federal agencies that regulate competition. He supported strong leadership candidates for agency positions and advocated for stricter guidelines for corporate mergers and acquisitions. SBR has become a sought-after voice to represent the small business community to Congress and federal executive agencies.
Comprised of more than 40 business groups, Small Business Rising launched in 2021 in response to both the growing threat of monopolies in our economy and the unique role that small business voices play in our politics. Small businesses transcend political divides, are entrenched in the communities they serve, and are critical building blocks of economic growth and the middle class, making them key agents of political change.
SBR began by building an existing network of independent business associations and local economy nonprofits across the United States. Coordinated by the Local Self-Reliance Institute, SBR includes national industry associations for independent businesses, such as the Specialty Toy Retailers Association of America, the Booksellers Association of America, and the National Grocers Association, as well as independent business associations representing various industries. Like the Louisville Independent Business Alliance and Local First Arizona.
Through Small Business Rising, business owners have testified before Congress, shared their stories with the media and politicians, pushed for stronger antitrust laws, and pushed their representatives to level the playing field for independent businesses.
Together, Small Business Rising members represent more than 300,000 independent businesses and news media coverage. The hill described the coalition as “playing a key role in the high-level antitrust debate” and “helping push lawmakers through the House Judiciary Committee to break up the biggest tech companies.” SBR was featured in a popular movie Time Magazine article on why the Federal Trade Commission may go after Walmart. Avenue of the Americas “Small Business Rising has taken its argument for sliding fee reform to lawmakers,” he said, profiling SBR’s campaign against credit card swipe fees. […] tells local personal stories about macroeconomic trends but also the struggles of businesses. They mobilized a wide range of store owners to deliver the campaign’s message directly to legislators.”
While the Amazon lawsuit will continue in court for the next few years, SBR coalition partners will continue to press for better federal antitrust enforcement. They are also taking their calls for a level playing field to the state level, increasing momentum for better antitrust enforcement in states like New York, Minnesota and Maine.
Whether working alongside lawmakers in Congress or the heads of key federal agencies, Small Business Rising provides an important voice in the fight to prevent growing monopoly power and strengthen fair competition. “From Congress to federal agencies to City Councils, policymakers must heed the calls of the small business community to return to fairness in our economy,” said Lauren Gellatly, advocacy and campaign manager at ILSR and SBR representative. “Things are turning around and we are making progress in taking back decades of autonomy from the biggest and most damaging monopolies. Small business is a cornerstone of our communities, and we will continue to defend a level playing field consistent with American laws and ideals.”
For more information about SBR, visit SmallBusinessRising.net or contact coalition coordinator Lauren Gellatly.[at]smallbusinessrising.net.
If you like this post, don’t forget to sign up for the monthly Hometown Advantage newsletter for our latest reports and research.