The “shop local” concept has been generating quite a bit of buzz in the business community lately, and it’s a topic that has excited many small companies in Harvey County.
The idea of supporting small, local businesses has even led to national events, such as “Small Business Saturday,” which encouraged customers to get out one weekend and purchase items at local shops.
The “shop local” movement also has spawned the “The 3/50 Project.” Founded by Cinda Baxter, the program is dedicated to encouraging consumers to support local, independently owned businesses.
Baxter spoke to a group of local business owners in October at the Meridian Center in Newton, and she told them about how the project could help the economy in Harvey County.
“Cinda Baxter understands small business from the inside out, having once been a retailer herself,” said Nancy Ludlum, owner of Imaginary Designs in Newton.
The idea behind the 3/50 project is simple: Consumers pick three brick-and-mortar local stores they wouldn’t want to lose and spend $50 at independently owned businesses a month.
Consumers’ individual contributions may be small, but the impact can be huge, Baxter said.
Locally owned, independent merchants return 68 percent of their income to the local economy. And if half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned stores, those purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
“This is the power of small business proven true,” Baxter said. “The 3/50 project is about all local merchants. Every single merchant plays a role in the local economy.”
Although some consumers may hesitate to spend money in a time when budgets are tight, Baxter encouraged them to give the program a try.
She said if they don’t pump enough dollars back into the local economy, they can actually make it more difficult for the economy to recover in the long run.
Following the 3/50 project doesn’t necessarily discourage consumers from shopping at large chain stores, either.
“It’s OK to still go to the big boxes and the big chains, just balance it out a little bit,” Baxter said. “Don’t forget about the little guys.”
She also said it was important not to forget about supporting other local businesses besides just shops, such as restaurants, banks, dry cleaners, etc.

Looking ahead
Baxter said the past few years have been a discouraging time for small businesses as they constantly hear news about the nation’s struggling economy and how customers are making cuts to their budgets.
However, she encouraged them not to give up and to continue planning ahead so they will be ready when the economy rebounds.
“The idea of success being a journey is really true,” she said. “It’s continuing to move forward. This is where we start building the foundation for tomorrow’s success.”
To learn more about the 3/50 project, visit www.the350project.net or find the project on Facebook.