By Rieva Lesonsky

photo money

A blog post I wrote for earlier this year has taken on a life of its own.

Here’s what I wrote in March 2009: “I heard a story on the radio about a man who had decided to conduct an experiment. For one year, he was only going to buy products or services from companies where he had personally met the owner.

“The experiment was meant to combat the impersonal nature of many of our transactions these days. We shop at big-box stores and eat at chain restaurants. The man talked about how he ended up eating at the same three restaurants over and over again because he just didn’t have the time to meet any other independent restaurant owners.

“With more and more small businesses on the edge of survival, I’ve been thinking about which three stores I would most hate to see go out of business, and how I can support them with my dollars.”

Blogger Cinda Baxter read the post and was struck by the idea. A few weeks earlier, she had written a post on her blog AlwaysUpward urging people to spend $50 a month with independent businesses in their local community. Putting the two ideas together, Baxter came up with the 3/50 Project.

With the slogan “Pick 3. Spend $50. Save your local economy,” the 3/50 Project encourages consumers to spend $50 a month with three local brick-and-mortar businesses. (That’s $50 a month total—although $50 per business would be great, too.)

With the holiday shopping season coming up, independent retailers need support now more than ever. Check out the 3/50 Project site for details about the project. If you’re a retailer, you can find tons of support materials, from logos and window clings you can display in your store to fliers and bookmarks you can slip into customers’ bags. You can also read all the press the 3/50 Project has gotten and find out how it’s helped local communities keep money in their towns.