Saving the Bricks and Mortars

Just the other day, I was forwarded an email by my sister from a local independent retailer. The message was strong and lured me into researching further. Carole Hudgins, owner of The Little Ladybug and originator of the email, sent a cry for support. She urges current customers and prospective clients to take part in the 3/50 Project. The goal is simple: Ask consumers to frequent three local businesses they don’t want to see disappear, and to spend a very affordable $50 per month doing it.

The 3/50 Project is a viral Buy Local campaign that sprung from a simple blog post in March 2009, supporting independent, locally owned businesses. By educating consumers about the impact of their spending habits, the Project’s goal is to increase consumer spending in a way that delivers the greatest amount of financial benefit to local community economies. The Project’s tag line, Saving the Brick and Mortars Our Nation is Built On, refers to its sole purpose – retention of locally owned, independent businesses, whose dollars provide a large portion of annual revenue critical to funding public resources and services.

Consumers are asked to think of three businesses they would miss if they disappeared, then return to them, with a reminder that those transactions are what keeps the doors open. The number 50 ties to the fact that if just half the employed U.S. population dedicated $50 of their current monthly spending to locally owned independent businesses, more than $42.6 billion of revenue would be generated annually. The 3/50 Project message then explains that for every $100 spent in local, independent brick and mortar businesses, more than $68 returns to the local economy; when spent in a big box or chain, the amount drops to only $43. Spend it online, and unless you live in exactly the same community as the e-tailer, nothing comes home.

I can think of three businesses right off the bat. And, supporting this Buy Local campaign is at the heart of the Chamber’s mission. Over 85% of our members are small businesses. On January 19th, we’ll support this campaign further by hosting the Buy Local Business Expo. Already, 30 companies have signed up as exhibitors, and we’ll be promoting all the programs and services you can find right here at home.

This Holiday Season, and on through the year, let’s get the word out and take part in the survival of the cornerstone of our local economy – our Brick and Mortars.