I know Amazon is a huge company, and I still maintain my love for mom & pop stores, especially bookstores. (In fact, dwell.com has put together a map of the best Independent Bookstores across America, if you are interested.)
And, in my family, Amazon was kind of a bad word for a long time, because my mom worked for dearly departed Borders (may it rest in peace).
When you have a kid with autism, who is very particular about the things that he wants/needs, you need a resource that will help you find very particular items. A timer in the shape of an egg but in green? Check. A 10 foot play parachute at a reasonable price? Check. A helmet that is similar to what Dig Dug wears? Check.
And lucky for me, just finding these things on Amazon is enough. We don’t actually have to purchase it. It is just the knowledge that you could if that need arose seems satisfying to him.
But for the times that we do need to purchase (and when I say need, please don’t misunderstand that I order him anything he wants. Allowance is involved, here), Amazon Prime is the way to go. $79 a year gets you free shipping for most things – that’s huge for someone like me who does almost all of my Holiday shopping online, and a lot of other shopping, as well. Amazon Prime also gets you instant streaming to an increasing number of movies and TV shows, and a lending library for kindle users.
Having an online retailer at my fingertips as a backup plan for the times when we cannot find purple sweatpants at the store, has been a huge help.