This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009 - pick 3, spend 50

Recently, former DCL manager Peg Hooper emailed me a link to a fascinating campaign. It's called the 3/50 project (www.the350project.net) -- and it makes so much sense it's a wonder nobody thought of it before.

The tagline of the project is "saving the bricks and mortars our nation is built on." The whole idea is this (pulled from the project home page):

"What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.

"If half the population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine the positive impact if 3/4 of the employed population did that.

"For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

"The number of people it takes to start the trend .... you."

And it ends with this: "Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy."

It doesn't seem like this should be hard, does it? But those retail chains have such a wide selection, and the prices are so low! And what could be more convenient than the Internet?

As is so often the case, the choice comes down to short term and long term. In the short term, you have more to choose from, and you save money. In the long term, everybody winds up working for a chain, and sending more of their money out of town.

We buy what we value -- but we don't always think that through.

I do make it a point to buy something regularly at Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. Why? Because I think independent bookstores are important. There are independent restaurants in Castle Rock, Parker, and Castle Pines North I try to frequent, too. I not only like their fare, I like the people who run and work in them. It pleases me to know that my modest trade helps to keep them around.

The 3/50 project has supporters all across the country. You can find them on the website. I understand that some Colorado Chambers of Commerce are giving it a look, too.

And isn't there something comforting about the fact that real economic stimulus doesn't necessarily require enormous government programs? If you want your community to survive and even thrive, maybe it just comes down to this: spend your money where you live. The job you save may be your own.

LaRue's Views are his own.

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