Save the economy three stores at a time

by Cinda Baxter on March 11, 2009

in Economy, Marketing, Retail, The 3/50 Project

3-50-project-logo_500px2A friend turned me onto a great piece about strengthening the local economy by patronizing local brick and mortars. Written by Rieva Lesonsky (Consulting Editor at, the post titled “Support Your Local Small Business” touched my retail-lovin’ heart in a big way.

Her article sprang from a customer service-related experiment last summer. In that case, a guy decided to purchase goods and services only from businesses whose owners he’d met. Before long, he was frequenting the same three restaurants repeatedly, which inspired Lesonsky to twist the concept slightly, then consider the implications of her own shopping habits:

With more and more small businesses on the edge of survival, I’ve been thinking about which three stores I would most hate to see go out of business, and how I can support them with my dollars.

Puts things in pretty clear terms, pretty quickly.

And this got my wheels spinning.

Why not build a campaign tieing this three-door concept to the $50 Retail Challenge? Call it The 3/50 Project, supporting local business in small, easily consumable bites.

The goal is simple: Ask consumers to frequent three local brick and mortar businesses they don’t want to see disappear, and to spend a very affordable $50 per month doing it.

Could be those three. Another three. Doesn’t matter. It’s about funneling revenue back into local business. You know-—the folks that pour money back into the community via commercial property taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, and salaries (not to mention all that good will by way of volunteer time, silent auctions, sponsored softball teams, workshops, book signings, etc.).

Whadaya say folks? I can have a window banner whipped up in no time for printing at your favorite local print shop and bag stuffers you can print on your desktop. Just say the word-—I’ll get the PDF files in your hands asap.

Related links:

Seth Godin mentions The 3/50 Project
Let’s get The 3/50 Project on the Today Show
The Project 3/50 bag stuffers are here
Oprah, you’ve got it wrong
CNBC host Erin Burnett reminds us the battle is about more than just money
Enough with the carnage
The 3/50 Project grows legs
Want to be a 3/50 Project rock star?

Candace Carr March 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Thanks Cinda! I’m going to start printing out bag stuffers TODAY and giving them to customers and passing them out to other businesses. Keep coming up with these good ideas, we all need help.

Faith Sheridan March 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm

This is fantastic. I am posting the flyer on the board for all the other condo owners to see. This is an opportunity for real, positive action in our communities.
Thank you so much.

Valerie Martin March 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm

What a fabulous idea! I will be using those bag stuffers at my store!
My friend Connie over at Madison Magazine sent me the email.
Thank you!

Molly Arnold March 25, 2009 at 8:35 am

I’m going to start using right away and recruit as many other local businesss to do the same. Great project! Many thanks!

Kim Williams March 26, 2009 at 11:43 am

I’m in. I can do that. My coworkers talk about that a lot so I’m going to forward a link of your blog to them. Thanks!

Agy Wilson March 28, 2009 at 10:08 am

I use a local meat market (not only are their loss leaders under market for a lot of goods in the mass store, their meat cuts are great and cost less as well). When I do go to supermarkets, I NEVER use self-serve. They are NOT usually timely (my daughter and I recently went through the lines, she in the self-serve, me with a person in front, Express. I was finished a good three minutes before her. The more self-service, the less personal service. Remember when people use to actually ANSWER (and CALL) the phones? Press one. please. The thing to always remember when we hurtle headlong into technology, when we REPLACE something, often something is lost. Make sure it’s not just COST effective, but fits on all other levels. A great lesson is the Ama Divers, you have to define the value you have before you can successfully bargain for the value you think you’d rather have.

Agy Wilson March 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

Okay, that wasn’t clear. The Ama have a policy to fish (or pearl) in only a certain manner (usually no tanks) they will only harvest to a certain point– what they’ve determined is ENOUGH, instead of AS MUCH AS THEY CAN GET. Only the women dive, though they harvest until old age, and many have OTHER jobs. The common wisdom is this has gone on for 2000 years. Talk about self-sustaining!

Susan Huenefeld March 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Please remember that many independent retailers with a brick and mortar store also have online stores. That money also stays in the local community.


Editor’s note: The money only stays in the customer’s community if that customer happens to live in the town where the website is based. Otherwise, all of their purchase is leaving their local economy.

Zan Bielec March 29, 2009 at 8:44 am

As a member of Locally Owned Tallahassee I am so proud to find you! This is great!

Leah Frank April 6, 2009 at 9:15 pm

We are a community of 2000 people who are searching for proactive ideas to help save our core businesses and attract entrepreneurs to grow our schools and churches. This puts the ‘Buy Locally’ into a simple plan that anyone can live with and not feel guilty when they shop at outside stores. Now we can focus our energy and measure the results as the year progresses. Thank you for your insight and for having the courage to put it out there!

anita s hartman April 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm

This is great! I can’t wait to pass this information on to the city of Delphi. We are a struggling little town and need all the help we can get.
Thank you very much!~

Greenstreet April 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Love the message and simplicity of the campaign! Anyone doing this in the UK that we can get behind?

Editor’s note: Not to worry…there are plans in the pipeline for creating a UK division of The 3/50 Project. Will be meeting with someone this weekend to talk about it!

Angie April 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

I’m printing flyers for our Farmer’s Market

Ted Hurlbut April 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Great idea for local retailers to band together and build local loyalties.

Dana Davidoff April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Busy spreading the word!

Peachie Attonito May 2, 2009 at 6:05 am

Thanks Dana Davidoff, my friend, for sharing the 3/50 Project concept with me. I have always tried to do this as my Dad was in his own business my whole life but didn’t really realize the impact it made as I never really gave it a thought. It just came naturally for me to do this. I will keep my eye on this Project and do my best to spread the word. Wonderful way to strengthen the very retailer we need to see out there. Thanks again.

Eileen Wallace May 12, 2009 at 6:37 am

I think this 3/50 project is great. I have forwarded the information to our local magazine, SRQ, in hopes of spreading the word. Thank you.

Eric Shaw May 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm

This is a great idea. Thank you so much for taking the time to come up with this idea. It is so very true!!

susan hayes May 17, 2009 at 5:24 am

wow! what a great site. i’m in!!!

Shandell's May 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

How simply brilliant, I am a small store (studio)owner, I make all of what I sell. Also I am in a small town in upstate NY. Just signed up to support 3/50 project.

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