Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Endangered Indie Stores Need Your Help

On Saturday I did what I could to support retail consultant Cinda Baxter's "3/50 Project" and one of my favorite bookstores.

The 3/50 Project encourages consumers to imagine a world in which three of their favorite independent brick-and-mortar stores no longer exist. Those are the very three that consumers should spend their money at each month—at least $50 in total. Baxter emphasizes her idea with a breakdown of how much of that $50 stays in the neighborhood when it's spent at indie stores rather than at national or multinational chains.

The wisdom behind supporting indie stores is not new to me. My family owned and operated indie businesses for years. I had a front-row seat to their struggles to survive through malls, recessions, and box stores—not to mention arson, theft, and personnel problems. Indie bookstores, of course, have an added nemesis: And my local bookseller has been hanging on by a thread. Donations and a used-book sale helped Women & Children First make it through 2008; now the 30-year-old establishment is hoping to make it through to 2010.

Baxter doesn't address the difficulty for the unemployed to rush to the rescue, but obviously a sale at a local indie store would be the sensible time to act on the 3/50 ideal. Which is exactly what drove me to Women & Children First on Saturday—a used-book sale. 

The books were donated by customers to the store for its sale. Hardcovers were $4 and softcovers were $2. The price was right for me to indulge and feel good about it knowing that I was helping a store survive.

Try your hand at the 3/50 Project. You're going to spend your money somewhere, so it might as well be at an indie establishment. Find out how good spending can feel.

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