Monday, February 6, 2012

The 3/50 Project. LOVE. THIS. NOW.

As writers and consumers of books we're reminded constantly that brick and mortar bookstores are on the decline. Of course this trend isn't only impacting bookstores. Local shops of all kinds are struggling to compete with the large, omnipresent box stores in our communities. I won't name names, but these stores bring the goods to us cheap and that's what we (apparently) like. I shop in those stores too-- I think it's a necessary part of modern life.

But I wish I had the budget to shop other places.

This generally makes me feel helpless.

If I were to shop locally all the time, it would take so much time that I'd never have a chance to work (which would end the shopping pretty quickly). I'd also lose out on spending time with my family, and writing. Not to mention that it costs more.

You might argue that shopping locally or with independently run stores costs the ACTUAL price, and that the prices at a box store are absorbed all along the path of production (by the children making the items in a third world country, all the way to the person working the register without healthcare). For a better argument, see The Story of Stuff.

I saw this project referenced on one of my favorite podcasts How Stuff Works.

The brainchild of Cinda Baxter, The 30/50 project is simple. Pick three independently owned stores you think are important, and patronize them.

For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community (versus $43 in a national chain).

$50 per month IS in my budget right now, and I am going to make a conscious effort to spend more money with independently owned stores, both locally and on places like etsy.

Since I put my own things on etsy, I have a big interest in supporting and enjoying the other artists there. And as I browse the site, I find myself LOVING the gorgeous hand-made items. They have something that mass produced items will never have.

What about you-- do you feel guilty about supporting the stores that are devastating local economies?

Do you think I'm nuts?

Where do you shop and why?


  1. This is awesome! I'm trying to spend more locally or at least from smaller businesses. I try to balance my bookbuying 1:1--1 book from physical B&N, 1 book from an indie. But you're right--with a limited budget, that can be tricky.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this, Kat! I try hard to shop locally, but it's not always the most fiscally responsible option, unfortunately. It's great to know that spending small amounts locally helps. I'll definitely spread the word!

  3. Thanks for the shout out--every voice counts!

    For the sake of accuracy, we don't ask folks to spend $50 x 3 businesses. Just $50 total per month, ideally spread across those three, but hey---if someone wants to kick in $150, the locals will love you for it. :)

    Here’s to big things ahead for all the little guys out there,

    Cinda Baxter
    Founder and President
    The 3/50 Project

  4. This is a really great idea for those of us used to always looking for the best bargain. It allows us to still do that while still helping local businesses.

    As for Etsy.... I just purchased a really great art print from there the other day. I could blow thousands on there, and I do enjoy helping out these types of businesses.

    Awesome idea, and thanks for sharing it with us :-)

  5. I've never heard of this before. It's really interesting, though. I'm going to head to the site now and get more info to see how I can help. Awesome post!

  6. I like that idea Rebecca!

    Yay Katy, and thanks for the tweet!

    Cinda- thanks for dropping by! What a fabulous idea! I corrected the post, thanks for the insight.

    Jaime-- I hear you. There is such amazing art there. And LOTS of stuff for the home I'm swooning over.

    Quita- cool, huh? I'm really loving this idea.

  7. Great post! Thanks for sharing this!

    I like to frequent my local farmers market style produce places. Not the booth style community ones, which are actually expensive in my area, but the kind that have a permanent building with no-frills boxes piled on top of crates, local seasonal produce and cheap, cheap prices. This way I save money and support the community.

  8. I have been changing my shopping habits to shop locally more. I joined a coop and do my grocery shopping there and I spend the same or less than when I did my grocery shopping at Super Target and I'm getting healthier food and supporting local farmers.

    I love shopping at local independent businesses.

    I live in a city that is home to many corporations and I work in the arts so some of these corporations are sponsors or make donations to where I work. That eases the guilt. I've also known many people who have worked at chains because the jobs provide health insurance. If I buy a book from B&N I figure I'm helping someone get health insurance.

  9. Jennifer and Carrie- thanks for the comments--

    I agree Jennifer, those places rock (my neighborhood farmer's market is still one of the affordable ones, too, which I love).

    Carrie- I did not know that. I knew St*rbucks gave employees health insurance, but didn't realize B&N did, too. And you're right- Corporations aren't evil, but I think it's about balance.

  10. I really like shopping at local stores but I don't do it enough. I should start by buying more books at indies. I love sites like Etsy and go there often when I'm looking for things. I bought several things from Etsy sellers for my wedding in 2010. :)

  11. I'm in a shame spiral over where I have to shop most of the time for cost reasons, but I have always patronized my local indie bookstore so that's one and I think I can come up with two more (including a fair trade co-op that sells gifts), does the local wine cellar count? Ahem.


YAY for comments! Thanks for adding to the conversation.