Monday, April 26, 2010

The 3/50 Project

Did you shop in a local, independently owned store this week?  Did you go out for dinner at your local Outback Steakhouse, or did you stick to the family-owned diner up the road?

I have been amazed, as I get plugged into my small-ish community, to find out just how many independent business owners are out there.  I am equally amazed by just how hard they have to work to stay in business. 

I am one of those people who struggles to see how my individual efforts can make a difference.  But The 3/50 Project is something that makes individual action feel significant - meaningful, even.  The beginning of something huge.

Have any of you heard about this?

The 3/50 Project is a grassroots movement only a year old, dedicated to "saving the Bricks & Mortar our nation is built on."

The concept is pretty simple. It asks shoppers across the country to pick three independently owned businesses they would miss if they disappeared and to try and spend $50 a month shopping there (collectively).

The 3/50 Project website tells us that for every $100 spent in an independently-owned place, $68 stays in the community; at a national chain, only $43. Spend online though, and "nothing comes home."

The stats - if you're anything like me - may not move you.  Offer big numbers all around, and my brain fogs over.  But then I think about the small toy store where we buy all birthday presents, the local Mexican restaurant where the husband/wife owners know my kids and know that they like the beans and rice separated.  I think about my obsesssion with Atwaters coffee and bread, and honestly - the stakes become very clear.

What I love about The 3/50 Project is that doesn't ask us to break up with the Big Box Retailers like cold-hearted lovers.  Nope.  All they're asking for is fifty of your hard-earned dollars - spread out between three retailers.  It means you can still massage the Liberty prints at Target, even pick up a Max-Pak of NutterButters, and do it with a clean-ish conscience.

The one point I take issue with on their site is the suggestion that when we shop online, none of our dollars go back to our community.  Of course this must be the case if we're filling our virtual shopping carts on or Sephora.  But some very incredible designers - for example, EllieBellieKids or joyababy -  are selling their products online these days, and I would encourage you to always pursue the small business, even if it means buying online. 

The very best part of the project, though, is its encouragement to shop - and live - mindfully.  When we are conscious of our choices, surely we are the wiser for it.


Mayhem and Moxie said...

What a fantastic concept! I had no idea this was out there in the world, but will definitely be checking it out. Thanks, friend!

And I have to tell you that I loved the line about the Mexican restaurant knowing to separate the beans and rice. That definitely happens in our neck of the woods over here. :)


Cheryl said...

Over from SITS (because I was there this morning and somehow am not seeing your posts on my google reader. is it b/c X is down to one nap and now I have NO time to do anything?)

Anyway, cool concept. We have a lot of local restaurants here, and once I can eat again, we'll be going. I also second your thought on the small businesses online - ESPECIALLY the ones you've mentioned!

Jen C said...

Kirsten this is such a great idea! And thanks for the shout out too.

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