the 3/50 Project

This is a difficult post to write.
For a while now I've been wrestling about how I feel when hearing(usually overhearing) so much from so many people about what a great yarn deal they got on-line; or this sock yarn that is to dye (sic) for that just arrived in the mail; or anything from or about Knitpicks or other on-line distributors.
You have to understand that I'm not violently against big-box stores or on-line shopping. I'm glad to send customers to Michaels; we've happily co-existed with them virtually across the street from my store for the past 8 years. The point is that they can afford to stock tons of stuff that I just don't have room or the interest to carry. And many times I've heard that their staff have recommended WOOL-TYME to shoppers when they don't have what the customer needs.
But the reality is that as our economy is changing, if we don't make a true effort to recognize the value of our local bricks and mortar stores that provide attention, expertise, service, and the physical availability of products for customers to touch and relate to, we are going to lose these stores.

The 3/50 project is a grass roots economic stimulus plan of sorts, conceived by Minneapolis based retail consultant, Cinda Baxter and you can link to their website for more information at http://www.the350project.net/ . The idea is to take some time to really reflect on the value of small, local and independant businesses in our own lives, and to start putting our money where our warm feelings are.
The 3 refers to choosing 3 local businesses that you would really miss if they weren't there. (How many people have said to me over the past few weeks how sad that the S&R Dept. store is closing?)

I would really miss the chats that I have with David at Green Door Vitamins on Wellington St. The morning glory muffins at the Sleepless Goat are the best in town. A visit to the Glenburnie Grocery store is almost as good as a trip to the cottage as it reminds me so much of other small grocery stores that I've visited on warm summer weekends away. What would my family have done without Fred's Bread??????? When we got new kitchen cupboards a few years ago, we got more and upgraded products for the same money from a local company than we were quoted by Home Depot. Progress Fitness is the only gym in town that allows me to buy a pass for x# of visits, and no time limit which allows me to visit the gym when I can without feeling that I'm wasting a fortune on a membership; only a locally owned and independant gym has chosen to do that.

The 50 of the 3/50 project refers to encouraging consumers to consciously spend $50 in product and/or services at these businesses each month to show our support for that which they bring to our community.

I personally don't know that such an amount would make sense (I'm not sure that the 2 of us could eat $50 worth of bread from Fred each month,) but I think that important thing is to make us more mindful of where we spend our hard earned money and to consciously choose to visit these 3 businesses at least once a month.

The reason that it's difficult for me to write this post is that I'm a firm believer in balance in everything; I know that I won't forgo my 1/2 hour of rest and relaxation at Starbucks across the street in favor of driving downtown to go to an independant cafe. And I, like most people, love to SHOP while on holidays out of town. But every week I hear out-of-town customers coming to our store, so grateful for an LYS (local yarn store) that is big enough to offer selection and environment; so many of their communities have seen their local craft stores close over the past few decades. We are happy to have them and proud to be carrying on a tradition of service and selection, but I guess I wonder when I hear local customers talking about a colourway that they just had to order from Arizona, or a particular fibre blend that could only be purchased in Colorado, - how much do you really need that ball of yarn, and would those bucks perhaps be better spent at any of the local businesses in Kingston rather than shipping it to communities that have no stake in our homes and lives.

Please don't ever feel uncomfortable in our store, no matter where you spend your knitting dollars, but I personally felt challenged by this 3/50 concept and wanted to share it with you.