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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
FairfaxOpinionLetter to editor: Massive retailers only winners in proposed legislation

Letter to editor: Massive retailers only winners in proposed legislation

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Editor: If the General Assembly passes and Gov. Youngkin signs SB 341, who stands to benefit? It’s simple: Big Retail.

The measure is a transparent attempt by big-box retailers and their lobbyists to slow down online competitors state by state as brick-and-mortar retail sales continue to steeply decline. Mega-stores like Walmart shouldn’t be allowed to write laws that suppress competition from Main Street entrepreneurs who are expanding their reach to customers and markets all around the world via the Internet.

A bill propping up Big Retail isn’t worth risking the vitality of more than 750,000 small businesses employing more than 1.5 million Virginians. Small-business owners selling on online marketplaces are college students, moms, grandparents, neighbors and friends. They’re people in our community, not the crooks that SB 341 pre-judges them to be when they sign up to pursue their dream, or just make a little extra cash, on online marketplaces.

Virginia isn’t wrong to address organized retail theft. But policy proposals need to ensure in-store crime is being addressed at its source. As it’s written now, SB 341 punishes honest online businesses while ignoring the root of the issue.

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If this law had been in place when our online business was started, we might never have gotten it off the ground. In SB 341’s wrongheaded attempt at curbing in-store theft, it’s the livelihoods of Virginia’s online sellers that stand to get stolen.

Nikhil Bhat, Tysons

Bhat is owner of Iconi Kitchen in Tysons.

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