Locally-owned businesses help make communities unique, but we often choose to shop at big box stores because of good selection and lower prices. We may be saving time and money, but we may also be hurting local entrepreneurs.
The Southport/Oak Island Chamber of Commerce is trying to change that by jumping on board an international initiative to save local businesses. It's called the 3/50 project. The concept is simple: Pick three independently owned businesses you'd miss if they closed and spend a combined total of $50 a month at those stores on items you would ordinarily buy at a major corporation.
Organizers cite a Civil Economics study that says for every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenses. If you spend that at a national chain, only $43 stays in the local economy.
"The local mom and pops really are the backbone of America," Karen Sphar of the Southport/Oak Island Chamber of Commerce said. "And that's what we're asking you to do is support the backbone of our industry and our economy."
According to a 2007 study by the US Department of Commerce, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small businesses.
The project was started a year ago by an independent retailer from Minnesota who was having a tough time getting business. She's not telling people to stop shopping at "big box" stores. She's just asking people to balance their spending with the big guys and the little guys.