No one sees an economic downturn earlier than a retailer. Even though the rest of the world acknowledged it last fall, the reality is that most of you felt the first tremors as early as eighteen months ago. By July gift shows last summer, many buyers were reporting the worst June they’d seen…ever.
Retailers were also the first to cry “foul!” when mass media leaned heavily on the most negative adjectives possible in its daily headlines. By early March, words like “apocalypse,” “tsunami,” “suicidal,” and “hemorrhaging” were becoming commonplace.
Don’t even get me started about Oprah’s plan to have consumers stop all non-essential spending. In a retailer’s world, all consumer spending is essential.
Retailers, happily, are also among the first to recognize a great idea when it comes along, then grab the thing and run with it. Enter stage right: The 3/50 Project.
Like you, I felt my blood boil over the media negativity and my nerves rattle over the death grip consumers had on their wallets. It was that frustration that inspired me to combine a public request with straightforward math, inspiring customers to walk toward the light (last winter felt a lot like a Poltergeist spinoff, after all). The result? “Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.”
The concept is simple: (1) Pick three stores you don’t want to see disappear, then return to them; (2) If half the employed U.S. population committed $50 of their monthly spending to locally owned brick and mortars, it would generate more than $42.6 billion annually; and (3) For every $100 spent with local independents, $68 returns to the local economy, compared to only $43 from big boxes or chains, and zero for online purchases.
What’s happened since then has been nothing short of breathtaking. Not only have retailers “grabbed this thing and run with it,” they’ve turned it into a national wildfire.
In the three months since The 3/50 Project website launched, more than 7,600 businesses have endorsed us, our Facebook page has over 11,800 fans, and nearly 98,000 “absolute unique visitors” have found the350project.net. Both local and national media have jumped on board, including The Wall Street Journal and Fox Business, the latter of which recently introduced The 3/50 Project as the group who “just might have the formula that could save local businesses.”
In a nutshell, Mom and Pop just gained a big voice in the room.
The hero is all this, however, is the independent business owner who hands out our free flyers, spreads the word through their community, blogs and Twitters about the Project, and takes it upon his or herself to say “Enough tears…let’s GO.” Whether using The 3/50 Project to promote just their storefront, or banding together with fellow merchants in the community, those single voices are raising up, in unison, and getting a lot of attention.
Every day, I receive emails about the positive impact The 3/50 Project is having on the public. Stories of long lost customers returning to stores…of customers purchasing from locals instead of the big boxes they would have gone to a week earlier…and of consumers so moved by the Project that THEY print out the flyers to share with local merchants.
My father taught me early on that quite often, it’s the simple solution that makes the most sense. The 3/50 Project has proven that, in spades.
And it’s proven that together, we really can make a difference.
Cinda Baxter, Retail Enabler and Founder of The 3/50 Project
For more information, to register as a supporter, or to download the free marketing materials mentioned, please visit the350project.net.