Shop Local – the 3/50 Project


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Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.

This is the message of the 3/50 project, founded in March by Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant and professional speaker with a mission to strengthen independent brick and mortar businesses. According to the website, Cinda has spent 14 years as a successful retail store owner, and feels “an obligation to pay forward the hard earned knowledge and expertise that brought me to where I am today.”

350_project_200x177The 3/50 project encourages consumers to shop local, asking them, What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? The initiative explains that if just half of the employed population spends $50 each month at locally owned businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Something the local businesses may appreciate.

More stats for thought from the 3/50 project: For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. Spending in a national chain keeps $43 in the community. Spend online, and “nothing comes home.”

Here is the way the 3/50 project is really getting the word out to consumers: locally owned independent retailers are encouraged to register with the 3/50 project to stay on top of what’s happening with the initiative. If the business takes the next step and lists as a Supporter, that business has access to a variety of free marketing and media materials including graphics for use on websites and in advertising, flyers, banners, enclosure cards – even t-shirts and cool stuff –  plus the listing of the company, complete with a reciprocal link, on The350Project.net. However, it may be interesting to note that a project of this nature really builds momentum from its online connections – the good will of the global community, as it were.

Cinda and the 3/50 do have people talking everywhere, from coverage in the Wall Street Journal, on local television, CNN Monday, prominent blogs … on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more. The 3/50 project is proof of the power of social media indeed. In more ways than one.

After Kim Crow, style editor of Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH, wrote about the 3/50 project, she heard from people in her community, many of whom support the 3/50 project, yet many really aren’t interested in shopping local. Some cited the inconsistent hours some local shop owners keep as a deterrent. Some don’t like the keen customer service offered by small stores – where there’s no place for someone who’s “not that kind of shopper” to run, once a salesperson spots them. Others are more interested in the return policies and other services offered by department stores, that may be more convenient for them.

Wow. After talking with and sharing the success of so many local children’s wear shops with our readers – in just the last two years or so – retailers such as Seal & Co. in Summit, NJ … Synchronicity Boutique in Baltimore, MD … Lollipop Junction in Pawleys Island, SC … Heritage House in Miami, FL … Sugarplum Tree in Perry, GA … Me.Me’s in Metairie, LA, Honey Beez in Louisville, KY … Little Threads in Chicago, IL … Kathleen’s Kids in Tulsa, OK … Buns in the Oven in Boise, ID … Side Street Boutique in South Lake Tahoe, CA … Wee Three Children’s Store in Santa Rosa, CA … For Kids Only in Los Angeles, CA … Luan’s Children’s Dresses in Long Beach, CA … Sam Ellis Store in Calexico, CA, just to name a few – it’s a little distressing to me that some folks in the Cleveland area have such uninspired local shopping experiences.

There are  lots of local retailers who strive for shopping experiences with the “WOW” factor … and I’d bet a lot of these local shops are children’s wear professionals.

In any case, certainly the nobility of “saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on” can inspire both consumers and retailers to act. In some way. And that’s a good thing.

-Janet Muniz

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