Consumers, businesses work together

MEEKER I There’s no doubt times are tough for small businesses but according to former retailer Cinda Baxter, it’s business owners — not the economy or circumstances — that determine whether or not a business succeeds.
Meeker Chamber of Commerce president Margie Joy welcomed a group of business owners and consumers to a June 7 presentation she described as “how we can all be the rising tide that raises the ship.”
Baxter, who owned and operated a high-end stationery store in Minneapolis for more than a decade, has turned her passion for the success of brick and mortar stores into a nationwide campaign. As a well-respected social networking pioneer, blogger, speaker, and founder of The 3/50 Project, Baxter is focused on bringing communities together to support small business and the local consumer, not just one or the other.
The 3/50 Project, which started as an idea on her blog, Always Upward, went “viral.” The project, or challenge, asks people to think of three local brick and mortar businesses they would hate to lose, then take $50 of the money they already spend in a month, and spend it at one or more of those local stores instead of taking it out of town or shopping online.
“It’s not an all or nothing approach. It’s okay to still go to a big box store, or choose a national brand, just balance it out,” Baxter said.
“It’s not about ‘shop local’ or ‘buy local,’” she added. “The goal is to support all local businesses.”
According to the statistics on The 3/50 Project website, for every $100 spent in individual brick and mortar stores, $68 stays in the community. The same $100 spent at a big box store only returns $43 to the local community, and money spent online returns nothing to the local community. If half the employed population spent $50 a month (that they are already spending somewhere else) at an independent brick and mortar store, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue.
Baxter encourages consumers to first look toward their local businesses before they choose to buy.
For business owners, The 3/50 Project provides a number of free resources for businesses participating in the project, everything from printable flyers and banners to window clings.
“The economy will turn around, everything is cyclical,” Baxter said. What business owners do in times of crisis will decide the future of small businesses. Baxter’s goal is to provide businesses with tools, cooperation and information to help them make the kinds of decisions that will ensure their success.
Where consumers buy their goods does make a difference to the economy, to communities. “It has to be an all-community project in order to make this float,” Baxter said.
To register your business, or access the projects resources, visit www.the350project.net or visit Baxter’s site, www.alwaysupward. com for more information.
The presentation was sponsored by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce and Meeker Drugs.