Monday, October 21, 2013

Looking Local

In a round-about way, I recently discovered an organization that every independently owned business should know about: The 3/50 Project.

It is an organization, founded by former retailer, retail consultant, and professional speaker Cinda Baxter, built to strengthen independent brick and mortar businesses. Here is how it got its name:
  • 3: What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.
  • 50: If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue. 
"Independent" merchants who have no outside corporate support of any kind are the same businesses who return the largest percentage of their annual revenue to the local economy, according to a 2009 Civic Economics Study. Stated on The 3/50 Project's website: "For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community in taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here."

Those are good reasons for consumers to patronize their local independent retailers. And the free resources and networking offered by The 3/50 Project are good reasons for independently owned businesses to join their ranks of supporters.

It came as no surprise to me to see some of my favorite small retailers on The 3/50 Project's list of participating independents in my town. The 3/50 Project encourages membership and support from all around the country. It only started in 2009 and is on a great growth path (5,000 indie businesses joined in its first two months of existence and grew to 23,000 by 2011). I believe many, even most, people want the small brick and mortar businesses to survive, we just don't realize the impact of our dollars. The 3/50 Project spells it out and helps small businesses enhance their social media presence, network with each other, and find strength in numbers. 

In 2011, The 3/50 Project launched an iPhone App called LookLocal to give small business owners a tool in the battle for consumer attention. According to their press release, LookLocal features “independent brick and mortar” merchants, locating those closest to where the user stands, regardless of whether they are at home or on the road--a feature no regional or city-specific app can offer.

As The 3/50 Project seeks to make connections, I discovered it on my way to a wedding. I am heading to a family wedding in Denver on November 2nd and saw, on the website of the B&B where I am staying, a link to The 3/50 Project and I was curious. So I explored and found more. The B&B also has a close relationship with a local independently owned book store, The Tattered Cover. That prompted me to initiate a conversation with The Tattered Cover about consigning my book. Life is full of connections.

As the year's biggest shopping season approaches, look around you and find those indie retailers who need our support and whose creativity and hard work offer unique, high-quality products and services far above their bigger competitors with the big advertising budgets. They can positively impact our way of life more than we know.

No comments:

Post a Comment