The 3/50 Project is a non-profit initiative whose purpose is to underscore the importance of locally-owned businesses to towns and cities all over the world. The premise is simple: you just pick three local, independent businesses each month with whom to spend fifty dollars each. This doesn’t have to be extra money above and beyond what you’d ordinarily spend — buy some fruits and vegetables from your local farmers’ market, or your morning coffees from a non-chain espresso bar, or bring those down-at-heel boots to the cobbler for repair — but spending money locally has big effects.
The 3/50 Project estimates, for example, that of every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to and circulates through the community in the form of local taxes and payrolls. When you shop a chain store, on the other hand, only about two-thirds of that amount — about $40 — stays in the community. When you shop online? Nothing stays in your community. Nada. Zip.
Shopping locally at least some of the time translates directly into local jobs and local tax revenue. We local business owners support our communities directly and indirectly: we send our children to local schools (staffed by teachers, custodians, and principals), we pay local accountants and lawyers for their services, we buy our office and store supplies locally, and we hire local contractors when we need repairs.
Small, local businesses also tend to be tough survivors. Business decisions are often quality-of-life decisions: many small business owners could make more money doing other things (usually working for other people, maybe in other places), but prefer to stay where they are, doing what they do, because they enjoy it and they feel that they can make their towns better places by being where they are.
I like to buy my apples from Randy at the Farmers’ Market, and books from Greenley’s Bookstore on Front Street, and my yarn and needles from the Knitting Nimrod Collective. There are a ton of wonderful merchants and craftspeople out there, just waiting to give you the kind of service and attention to detail you thought was long gone in this age of big box stores.
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