As independent retailers, you know how important it is to shop local. When customers make a purchase at your garden centre, they keep cash circulating in your community and help you pay your taxes, your payroll and your operating expenses. The problem is reminding your customers of these benefits. A new movement based in the U.S. is making it easy to do just that.
The 3/50 Project asks people to consider which three independents in their community they would miss if these businesses disappeared. Cinda Baxter, the woman behind the idea, encourages shoppers to spend a total of $50 a month at three locally owned brick and mortars. Extrapolating from U.S. numbers, if 50 per cent of shoppers did so, they would generate over $4.7 billion in revenue for local business. For every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 of it returns to the community versus only $43 for national chains. While the data used in the current 3/50 Project is for the U.S., Baxter plans to release a Canadian version in the coming months.
Moira Calder, owner of the Port Moody Garden Centre in Port Moody, B.C., has already signed up to be a supporter on the project’s website. “The core of the project is interesting and it’s very current and relevant to what we are doing here,” says Calder. The garden centre has already been working to promote small businesses and buying local in the community and Calder says the concept really spoke to her. Marjorie Martin, co-owner of Garden Soul in Claresholm, Alta., was also inspired to sign up online. “My customer needs to be educated. I do not believe that if they knew the impact of every single buying decision that they made, if they fully understood the power that they had in those decisions, that they would buy the way they do,” says Martin. She plans to include information about the project in her customer newsletter but says she’s being very careful with her wording. “We don’t want to sound whiny about it…I want to strike the right balance and get the point across without burning any bridges.” Martin is also presenting the 3/50 Project to her chamber of commerce in hopes that other local independents will get on board.
As word spreads about the project, many business owners are getting creative. In addition to those that are teaming up to cross-promote, Baxter reports on her website that retailers in Des Moines, Iowa, pooled their resources to run a full-page colour ad in the newspaper to promote the 3/50 Project along with their logos. Businesses in Plymouth, Mich., are launching a city-wide yard sign campaign.
Signing up for the project is easy – and free. Visit www.the350project.net and you’ll have access to free flyers to hand out to customers as well as store visuals like a countertop sign and window banner. The only cost is printing the promotional products and the payoff is sure to be much greater.