As big-box stores have encroached on small Wyoming towns, “buy local” has become a mantra for people who want to see independent businesses survive in their communities. It's an important goal, one that is essential to the survival of small businesses, especially in a struggling economy.
A column in Sunday's Billings Gazette spotlighted a Minnesota woman's campaign to help people make that conscious effort to shop at home. The woman, business consultant Cinda Baxter, developed a relatively-simple idea that is catching on nation-wide: The 3/50 Project. The idea is for shoppers to identify the three local businesses they would most hate to see close. The shoppers then set a goal of spending $50 per month among the three stores. Theoretically, because everyone's needs and shopping patterns are different, customer dollars would be spread among a variety of businesses.
A gallon of paint at the downtown hardware store, a $15 birthday present and a card at a Main Street shop, a new CD from the music store down the street — and the monthly goal is met, right here in Powell.
The 3/50 Project gives shoppers a concrete way to approach buying locally, and the impact can be huge.
According to the 3/50 Project Web site (www.the350project.net), if just half the working people in the nation followed the plan, they would boost annual small-business sales by $43 billion. And, for every $100 spent in independent businesses, $68 stays in the community, compared to just $43 in national chain stores.
The numbers are compelling and show how the little things truly do add up. It's a method small-town Wyoming shoppers can use to help ensure the “mom and pop stores” we rely on don't become a thing of the past.