3/50 project worthwhile

I decided to take a throwback look at some of my previous Observer columns

With a view to the recent spate of “Throwback Thursday” photos on my Facebook feed, I decided to take a throwback look at some of my previous Observer columns.

(For those unfamiliar with the term, Throwback Thursday is the practice of posting photos from years ago to relive the moment, in a cyberspace sort of way.)

I came upon a column I wrote in 2011 about shopping locally – always a hot button topic in a small town – especially in view of the influx of big-box and franchise stores that goes along with the opening of the SmartCentres location.

If there are businesses in town that we like to shop in, that we want to retain, we need to make a conscious effort to support them – not just in spirit, but with cash.

The column was about an initiative called the 3/50 project.

It’s a type of buy-local campaign that was born in the U.S. as a simple way of supporting independent, locally owned businesses in your community. By educating consumers about the impact of their spending habits, the project’s goal is to increase consumer spending in a way that delivers the greatest amount of financial benefit to local community economies.

Citizens are asked to think of three businesses they would miss if they disappeared, then patronize them on a regular basis by dedicating $50 of their monthly spending to those locally owned businesses. The website has an extensive definition of what makes a company a “local business,” but it generally comes down to the owner being directly connected to the community where the business operates – not a national chain, like Walmart, or a franchise, like Tim Hortons.

I liked the concept at the time because it was simple to do and spending at least $50 per month on a truly local operation was easily achievable. It made me think a little more about where I’m spending my hard-earned dollars and how I want those dollars to benefit the city where I live. I also liked that the project isn’t about never shopping in big-box stores or out of town because that’s not realistic for most of us.

So one of my commitments was to purchase my bread from the Blue Canoe bakery rather than a chain grocery store. Since my family goes through a lot of bread, not to mention that I rely on their take-out soup for a quick, nourishing supper on the busiest night of my week, it wasn’t hard to follow through on my $50 per month commitment. It’s now three years later and my Blue Canoe habit is well ingrained. And it’s been a great pleasure to see owners Al and Sandy Boucher’s business thrive and even expand into additional space since this original column was written

I like that I am, in a small way, investing in the success of a local business who I feel turn out a great product and offer personal, attentive service.

There are many other local businesses like it in town equally deserving of someone’s $50 a month, so I hope some other residents might pick up on the initiative.

I think the 3/50 project’s worth a throwback action.