How You Can Save Local Business
Provided by The 3/50 Project
Which three local businesses would you miss if they closed their doors? Maybe it’s that deli on the corner where you grab the best sandwiches. Perhaps it’s the video store down the street where the clerk stashes the latest release behind the counter. Is it the florist who already seems to know exactly what your wife will love for her birthday?
Small business (defined as having 500 or fewer employees) are the lifeblood of the American economy, accounting for an astounding 99.7 percent of all employer firms, according to a 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Yet locally owned independent businesses are under far more pressure than ever. Trying economic times that have consumers closing their wallets, the credit crunch, and shoppers searching for perceived bargains at large chain stores have taken a severe toll on the local guys.
It was that combination of factors that was weighing heavily on Cinda Baxter, a Minneapolis-based retail consultant, early in 2009. “It began with a really rotten week in March,” Baxter explains.
What three stores would you miss if they disappeared?
Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile.
Your purchases keep them in business.
If half the employed population spent $50 each month in
locally owned stores, it would generate more than $42.6 billion
in revenue. Imagine what would happen if 3/4 of the employed
population did that.
For every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 returns to
the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures.
If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend
it online and nothing comes home.
The number of people it takes to start a trend...you.
That Monday, a friend told her to turn on Oprah. “I flipped it on and saw an hour-long program telling consumers to stop discretionary spending. As someone who knows how small business works, it was devastating. Then CBS did a piece on consumer saving and how consumers were now doing such a good job of it. The headlines were just dire and abysmal; by the end of the week, more people I knew had turned off the news than were still watching it.”
Baxter decided to take matters into her own hands: “I am not a person who thinks the glass is half empty with holes drilled in the bottom, so three days later, I wrote a blog post.”
That post meant for only a few friends was the start of what would soon become an international movement to support locally owned businesses. Baxter’s concept is that if half of the employed U.S. population chose three locally owned independent businesses they would hate to lose, and then spent a combined total of $50 a month with them, it would have a major impact-generating an estimated $42.6 billion of revenue annually.
For every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 remains in the local economy. In contrast, only $43 of every $100 remains local when spent in national chains, and little or no local revenue results from online purchases.
“No one has talked this through with consumers,” Baxter says. “The experts all talk in terms of macro or microeconomics-not how consumers talk to each other over the dinner table. We simply say, ‘Here’s the impact.’ It really resonates that even a small amount of spending can make a big difference.”
The 3/50 Project takes a realistic approach. “We’re the only buy local movement that doesn’t ask consumers to stop going to big boxes. I understand that while you can find many things in a local business, there are some items that people will continue to go to big boxes for. We just ask them to balance their spending a little better; that all or nothing mentality is what got us into this mess in the first place,” she states.