An Economic Stimulus Plan That Starts With “Thank You”

We’ve all been through it. The empty feeling in the pit of our stomach when a treasured friend moves away, later to be replaced by long distance phone calls, a stream of emails, and birthday cards in the mail, always looking forward to the day we’ll reunite.

Sadly, those comforting feelings don’t apply when the treasured friend is a retail store that’s become part of our daily life. When River City Books closes at the end of the month, countless residents of Northfield will be left with that “pit of the stomach” emptiness that has no long distance relief on the horizon.

Having been an independent stationery store owner for fourteen years, I understand the pain felt by retailers like River City Books as the economy wobbles and consumers hold back. What began as an economic downturn in the autumn had become a psychological tsunami by March 1st.

What our country needs, in my opinion, is a meeting of the minds between two groups that hold valuable stakes in the game—small business owners and members of their communities.

Enter The 3/50 Project.

With a tag line “Save your local economy three stores at a time,” the project‘s goal is to promote shopping in locally owned businesses while thanking customers for the positive impact that decision has on a local economy.

Let’s face it—we’re tired of being inundated with doom and gloom: the system is broken, the banks are frozen, the economy is bleeding. That’s all we hear. Images painted by mainstream media are ghastly and devoid of hope. What we need—what we crave—as a nation is to pinpoint areas where positive change can occur, then feel good about promoting them. That’s the American spirit.

Based on three simple numbers, The 3/50 Project aims to strengthen the local brick and mortar businesses that made this country great while saving the local economy in the process:

    3:   Pick three businesses you’d miss if they were gone, then return to them to
          say hello, pick up a little something that makes you smile, knowing those
          transactions are what keeps that business around.
    50: If half the employed population spent just $50 per month with locally owned
          businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
    68: For every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $68 returns to the community
          through payroll taxes, property taxes, sales tax, salaries, and other business
          expenditures. If spent in a chain or franchise, only $43 remains local. If spent
          online, nothing comes home.

In essence, the whole thing boils down to “Pick 3, spend 50, save the local economy.” It’s really that simple.

Marrying that simple message with an equally simple delivery method, The 3/50 Project requires no more from participating businesses than downloading a free flyer, printing it on their desktop printers, then handing them to customers with their purchases or receipts. When you look someone in the eye and say ‘thank you for shopping here,’ it resonates.

Consumers are desperate to feel appreciated and valued. The 3/50 Project puts that in motion, making this a true win/win for everyone it touches...while saving their local economy, three stores at a time.

A  website has been established to promote the movement, link to the free flyer, and list participating retailers and other supporters. It can be found at:

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About the author:
Cinda Baxter understands retail from the inside out. The recipient of two national Retailer Excellence Awards and frequent press coverage ranging from Minnesota Monthly to Modern Bride, she now “pays it forward” to both retailers and vendors through her consulting company Always Upward, as a Contributing Editor for Gifts and Decorative Accessories Magazine, and as founder of The 3/50 Project.

An expert in the gift and stationery industry, Cinda’s resumé includes seats on some of its most distinguished boards: AmericasMart Atlanta, the National Stationery Show, Retailer Networks Incorporated, the Gift and Home Trade Association, and a recent appointment to the Gift for Life Board of Directors. She’s a featured speaker at numerous trade shows, including the Hong Kong Gift and Premium Show, the New York International Gift Show, the Los Angeles Gift Show, and the National Stationery Show—and at several regional marts, including Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston. Whether addressing an audience of independent retailers or international business leaders, her focus remains constant—creating success.

As founder of acclaimed online communities RetailSpeaks (independent gift and stationery retailers) and Brilliant Ink (professional stationers dedicated to original design), Cinda is considered a pioneer of social networking in the retail industry—a reflection of her passion to help community based business survive and thrive for years to come.

Media contact:    

Cinda Baxter, (612) 435-0423
Founder, The 3/50 Project
Minneapolis, Minnesota


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