It’s not much to ask: Spend $50 a month at locally owned, brick-and-mortar stores in your community. That’s the goal of the national grassroots movement “The 3/50 Project.”

When its Web site was launched last year, it released a wellspring of interest, garnering 7,500 unique visitors in the first week.

It’s a simple directive. Every month, make a point of visiting at least three independently owned businesses, for instance, a restaurant, jewelry shop, furniture store or ice cream stand. Spend a total of $50 among them.

The result? For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.

For a list of participating businesses in Ohio, visit www.the350project.net and click on “Our Supporters.”

WHERE DID THIS ALL BEGIN?

With a post on Cinda Baxter’s blog at AlwaysUpward.com. Five days later, she threw together a flier. A couple of weeks later, a Web site. Once the site went live, things got interesting — in the first week alone, more than 7,500 “absolute unique visitors” found their way to our online home (8,600+ if you count repeat visits).

HAS ANYONE DONE ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE?

Nope. Looks like The 3/50 Project is pretty much one of a kind (until copycats come along).

DOES THE 50 IN 3/50 MEAN AS A CONSUMER I NEED TO SPEND $150 TOTAL EACH MONTH?

No … well, not unless you want to (which would undoubtedly be fine with independent business owners).The idea is to commit $50 each month to locally owned businesses, total. Maybe that means rethinking where you currently invest your money, opting to pick up that birthday card or pair of jeans in a locally owned business instead of the big-box store you’ve been going to. Or maybe it means eating out once a month because you realize slamming the brakes on all spending stalls economic recovery. It’s just that simple.

ARE YOU ASKING ME TO COMPLETELY SWEAR OFF CHAINS, AND FRANCHISES?

The 3/50 Project isn’t an “all or nothing” campaign that insists consumers stop shopping in chains or franchises. Instead, our message is about balance-—of the money you currently spend each month, we simply ask you to redirect an affordable $50
back to the locally owned independent businesses that have been forgotten of late. Just as there are things in a locally owned store that you can’t find in a big-box store, there are also things in a big-box store you can’t find in a locally owned store.We simply need to think about where our dollars are best invested, consider the greater amount of revenue local businesses return to the community, then purchase accordingly. Otherwise, local economies suffer irreparable harm.

HOW DO I GET LISTED ON YOUR SUPPORTERS PAGE?

Just click on the “Jump In” link at the top of each page, then follow the easy road signs along the way. Please note that new listings can take up to 10 days to appear. Re-registering only slows the process down and kicks your original listing out as a duplicate, so please don’t register more than once.

SO WHO’S BEHIND THE CURTAIN AT THE 3/50 PROJECT?

Cinda Baxter, the founder of The 3/50 Project, is a retail consultant and professional speaker through her company Always Upward. What does that mean in real world terms? As she puts it,“I hand Superman capes to small business owners, then teach them to fly.” Her mission is to strengthen independent brick-and-mortar businesses from the inside out. Having spent 14 years as a successful retail store owner herself, Cinda “gets” what business owners are going through, speaks their language, and is determined to see them stick around for the long haul. Gregg Marshall, president of Rep Connection in Aurora, Colorado, is the resident spreadsheet guru. It’s his expertise that makes the business listings on the Supporter pages appear like magic.

SOURCE: www.the350project.net

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Saimi Bergmann

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