A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting interview on the radio with Cinda Baxter, the woman who started the 3/50 project. I had not heard of the 3/50 project previously, but I like it and got on board right away.
3/50 started in response to an Oprah Winfrey show; Suze Orman was her guest, and she was admonishing everyone to stop spending money and quit buying things because the economy was collapsing. I am sure Suze and Oprah didn't mean any harm, but still, that's not the kind of consumer behavior that will help to pull us out of a recession.
Cinda thought that Suze and Oprah were not thinking about this whole issue correctly, so in response she wrote a blog post and suggested that we each pick three locally owned, independent stores that that you appreciate and support them by committing to spending $50 between them each month. Brilliant thinking on her part, and a lot of people agreed because the 3/50 project has over 46,000 "fans" on Facebook.
Supporting locally owned stores is important. According to Cinda, for each $100 spent in a locally owned shop, $68 stays in the community as compared to only $43 in a national chain store purchase. More important to me is the preservation of retail diversity. I just hate the vast placelessness of monoculture strip malls full of national chain stores and restaurants, and try to stay away from those things when I can.
For my 3/50 stores, I have decided to support a local bike shop (Hiawatha Cycles), a local restaurant (Turtle Bread Co.) and Nokomis Shoe Store. All three add to my existence and it'll be easy to do this. If you have any interest at all in supporting the local shops, consider making your own 3/50 commitment.