How do you pronounce the name of The 3/50 Project?
Pretty much like it looks: “the three fifty project” (the slash is silent). When putting our name in print, please be sure to capitalize the T in The and the P in Project. And hey, thanks for asking—it’s always a bit awkward to hear us referred to as “three-slash-fifty” or other...um...interesting monikers.
(P.S. If you’re a member of the media, please be sure to check out our Resources page, scroll down to the section titled “Ads and Media,” then clink on the link for media notes. They’ll help you steer around embarrassing potholes.)
Where did this all begin?
With a on Cinda Baxter’s blog at . Five days later, she threw together a flyer. A couple of weeks later, a website. Once the site went live, things got interesting—in the first week alone, more than 7,600 “absolute unique visitors” found their way to our online home (8,600+ if you count repeat visits). For the LP version of how this came together, .
Has anyone done anything like this before?
Nope. The 3/50 Project began a completely new chapter in the pro-local movement (of course, given our viral success from the moment we launched, a lot of copycats have since come along---none who share our realist message of balance, though).
How does The 3/50 Project stack up against other "pro-local" groups?
Unlike other groups, The 3/50 Project:
...• Is the only group that offers a realistic message of balance...we highlight independents but
......don't demand you completely shun everyone else (most folks can't live like that)
...• Is not owned or operated by a manufacturer or vendor
...• Is not run by a marketing or PR firm
...• Does not blur the line by claiming nationally branded stores are "independent" merchants
...• Is not political, nor do we endorse political candidates
...• Does not rely on incendiary or inflamatory language to incite angry response
...• Does not require payment to participate
And best of all....
...• We're the ONLY organization founded and run by someone who's actually been an independent
......brick and mortar merchant (14 years). We don't just talk the talk; we've walked the walk.
We don't have the deep pockets, outside creative agencies, moneyed staffs, research firms, or flashy bells and whistles other guys do...which is what makes us the real deal. Our only "bosses" are locally owned, independent brick and mortar merchants, from retailers to restaurants, dry cleaners to hair salons. We're all about you.
Does the 50 in 3/50 mean as a consumer I need to spend $150 total each month?
No...well, not unless you want to (which would undoubtedly be fine with independent business owners). The idea is to commit $50 each month to locally owned businesses, total. Maybe that means rethinking where you currently invest your money, opting to pick up that birthday card or pair of jeans in a locally owned business instead of the big box you’ve been going to. Or maybe it means eating out once a month because you realize slamming the brakes on all spending stalls economic recovery. It’s just that simple.
Are you asking me to completely swear off chains, and franchises?
The 3/50 Project isn’t an “all or nothing” campaign that insists consumers stop shopping in chains or franchises. Instead, our message is about balance-—of the money you currently spend each month, we simply ask you to redirect an affordable $50 back to the locally owned independent businesses that have been forgotten of late.
Just as there are things in a locally owned store that you can’t find in a big box, there are also things in a big box you can’t find in a locally owned store. We simply need to think about where our dollars are best invested, consider the greater amount of revenue local businesses return to the community, then purchase accordingly. Otherwise, local economies suffer irreparable harm.
How do I get listed on your Supporters page?
Just click on the "Jump In" link at the top of each page, then follow the easy road signs along the way. Please note that new listings can take up to 10 days to appear. Re-registering only slows the process down and kicks your original listing out as a duplicate, so please don't register more than once.
How do I get a link to my site from your Supporters page?
After you’ve registered, visit the Resources page, then scroll down to the Member Badges section. See the code provided there? Copy and paste it into the layout of your business website’s home page, then return to the Resources page to let us know. We’ll link your listing on Supporters back to your site, free of charge. Just our way of saying thanks for all you do.
I registered as a Supporter, but I don't see my listing. What's up?
If you registered more than 7-10 days ago (the time frame we typically update in), chances are, it's there...you're just missing it. Click to begin the search process before contacting us to ask where your business listing is. Please. Thank you.
What is LookLocal?
The first coast-to-coast iPhone app that helps you find locally owned, independent brick and mortar merchants, connect with them, and share them with your friends. It's free, it's easy, and it includes the wonderful indie businesses listed here on our site.
Best of all, LookLocal is about more than just "buy" or "shop" local. We shine a light on the full array of options, from retailers to restaurants, service providers to sleep overs, florists to floor-ists (okay, so that's stretching English, but hey, you get the drift). Each is special; each one counts.
To learn more about LookLocal and all its glorious local goodness, please visit the App Store.
Where can I get a copy of LookLocal for my iPhone?
To download the app, (did we mention it's free?).
Are there Android and iPad versions of LookLocal?
Not yet, Grasshopper...but they're on the way. Stay tuned to for announcements.
How do I upgrade from a Basic listing in the LookLocal app to an Enhanced listing?
First, a little explanation: A free Basic listing includes basic info--your business name, address, and phone number. An Enhanced listing, on the other hand, adds extra bells and whistles--photographs, plus links to your email address, website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Pretty cool stuff, given consumers' passion for "all things wired."
Once your business appears in our Basic listings, it's simple to upgrade to Enhanced. Click , send us a note that includes:
.....(a) your business name
.....(b) the physical address of your business (NOT a mail-only address)
We'll forward upgrade info to the email address on file. Promise to make the process quick and simple for you (wanna keep the family happy).
Why isn't my business listed in the LookLocal app?
There are a number of possibilities:
...(a) You joined the Project before April 2011, but didn't update your information with us when requested in May or June (we tried...four reminders in six weeks....). A second opportunity to update was announced on October 1, 2011, .
...(b) You registered as a Project Supporter in the past four weeks (the website is updated approximately every 7-10 days, but the app is updated monthly, in keeping with Apple's resubmit timeframes).
...(c) Your business is not listed on The 3/50 Project Supporter pages (click to get on board)
...(d) Your business isn't an independent brick and mortar as defined
Why does my app listing show up at the bottom of the list as "Distance unknown?"
LookLocal locates businesses using geo-targeting by way of Google maps. Sometimes, even though Google might be able to locate an address on the web, it can't quite make the connection on a smart phone (so much for "smart"). In the extremely rare cases that that occurs, a business shows up as "Distance unknown" because Google just doesn't know where to put it.
If your business is in that bottom-of-the-list catchall, please drop us a line including the following:
• Your business name
• Your business's FULL physical address (not a mail-only address)
• Your business's +4 zip code (ex: 55416-2442)--that usually does the trick
Be sure to include all three pieces or we won't be able to noodge Google off the dot.
Where can I find graphics or copies of press releases for use in ads or with local media?
Check out the Resources page. You’ll find all sorts of goodies there. Visit often, since we like to add new stuff whenever possible.
Can I print something on the back of the flyer?You betcha! Adding your business name and contact info on the back is a terrific idea; it lets customers know who’s out there supporting their community. Beyond that:.....1. Please don’t alter the front of the flyer.....2. If you want to do anything beyond your business name and contact info on the back, just ask.
Can I use the banner style graphic from the top of your web pages, the flyer, etc.?
No. Those elements are not allowed for third party use outside of items we produce in-house.
Can I produce items using The 3/50 Project name or graphics (ie, t-shirts, lapel pins, stickers, etc. etc. etc.)?
We’re sorry, but no, we do not allow third party production of items using our brand, name, content, or graphics beyond the specific items and uses described on the Resources page. We’ve gotta stay in line with those pricey federal and state registered trademarks and copyrights, you know. Please visit our store instead, keeping in mind that every penny of the profit margin goes toward paying our significant overhead costs (not all of the costs...just a sliver, so we need every penny we can get).
Why do you use Cafe Press for The 3/50 Project web store instead of a local company?
Even if we could find a company capable of printing one t-shirt or one coffee mug at a time without it costing a small fortune, it would only be local for the folks living in that community. For the rest of us, it would still be out of town. Since Cafe Press can handle single-item orders without us having to warehouse inventory, and because they started out as a small, independent business, they turned out to be the best fit available...so to speak.
What exactly is an independent?
Someone who sleeps little, eats on the run, balances their checkbook over the breakfast table, combs through order forms in bed at night, and is capable of sorting invoices, signing paychecks, fielding questions, responding to emails, and faxing confirmations while simultaneously explaining to a new employee how to check in UPS. (For a more official version, .)
Why don’t you include franchises or regional/national brand names in that definition?
The definition of “independent” and the resulting guidelines used by The 3/50 Project were not created quickly or without thought, but are based on widely recognized standards as defined by the three largest and most highly respected Buy Local organizations in the country: BALLE, AMIBA, and the American Booksellers Association.
Unfortunately, no one can be all things to all people. Given the wide variations in the amount of corporate input and support among the thousands of franchise and chain operations around the country, The 3/50 Project supports one very specific, very unique business model—that of the independent business who does not have the benefit of a preferred vendor list, specially negotiated vendor pricing, corporate office access, and a regionally/nationally recognized brand name (which, by extension, allows franchises to benefit from the halo effect when the corporate office runs national ad campaigns).
Whether a hardware store or a burger place, a regionally or nationally recognized name provides benefits that true “independents” don’t have—otherwise, why would anyone pay for the right to wear them?
Please don’t feel we’re tossing you out the door if you own a business that fits into this group, though. Hundreds of chains, franchises, and recognized brands agree that supporting their independent counterparts is critically important to the health of their local economies, and register with us to show it. If you look on our Supporters page, you’ll see them listed on the right hand side of the page. Just our way of saying thanks for their belief in The 3/50 Project.
Why don’t you include home based businesses in The 3/50 Project?
Short answer: Because they aren’t brick and mortar independents.
Long answer: Because they don't return as much revenue to the local economy.
In addition to residential property taxes for their homes, brick and mortar owners pay commercial property tax for their business location. They also pay a second electric bill, second water bill, second gas bill, and second phone bill for the brick and mortar location. They tend to employ more people, which means even more money going into the local economy.
That’s not to say that all home based businesses are bad—just that they don’t qualify as 3/50 Project participants (sorry, but this is not open for negotiation).
Why do you say “nothing comes home” when referring to online sales?
Because 99.9999999999% of online sales generate nothing for the community the end user lives in. Nada. Zip. Zero.
For those of you who operate online stores in addition to your brick and mortar locations, please remember that customers in your area already know you’re local. When they read the flyer, you fall into the 68% category before they even hit the end of the paragraph. For the rest of your online customers...well.... You really are an out of town e-tailer which doesn’t contribute to their local economy.
My company would like to donate products or services to participants in The 3/50 Project. How do we go about doing so?
Please explaining what you have in mind. (Note: We don’t share or sell our contact list, so any collateral offered would be done so under a separate participant opt-in.)
My company wants to sell a product or service to participants in The 3/50 Project
Thanks for thinking of us, but The 3/50 Project is not hiring third party services, nor do we offer products or services on behalf of other organizations to sell to our supporters.
If your hope is to use our name or brand to sell products or services to participants, well...gotta talk to us first since there are a whole lot of state and federal trademarks and copyrights involved.
My media outlet would like to sell advertisting using The 3/50 Project nameSince The 3/50 Project was created to bring revenue toward small businesses—not invoice revenue from them—we don’t allow use of our brand or name to sell ads or media time unless it’s being done as part of an awareness campaign that adheres to specific guidelines. To download those guidelines, click . While these guidelines may seem restrictive, protection of The 3/50 Project brand and the independent, locally owned brick and mortar businesses that rely on it is of the utmost importance.
My company would like to roll out a promotion using The 3/50 Project name. May we do that?
If 100% of the resulting proceeds go to all locally owned, independent businesses , well...cool beans. Just be sure to go through the Resources page for graphics so the trademarks and copyrights don’t become an issue.
Also, it’s fine to say an event or promotion is “in support of” The 3/50 Project...but please avoid formal relationship kinda terms (in partnership with, co-sponsoring, etc.) since that’s another issue entirely.
If the promotion is being sponsored or launched by an organization, it must include all local independent businesses. The 3/50 Project is here to support every locally owned, independent brick and mortar merchant in your community—not just those who are members of one particular group or another.
Now, that said.... If any portion of the resulting proceeds go to a person or company that doesn’t fit the definition of independent or if your promotion will charge independents for goods or services, we’re talking about licensing (including tv and radio affiliates, vendors, chains, franchises, etc.). Use of our brand, content, and/or items provided on the Resources page that extends beyond the purposes specified there must be approved in advance, in writing.
In a nutshell, The 3/50 Project was created to build revenue for independent brick and mortars, not large companies or national brands.
What’s the difference between an endorsement and a promotion?
An endorsement says “Here’s the message, check it out” without asking for anything in return.
A promotion says “Here’s the message,” then asks for something tangible in exchange.
So who’s behind the curtain at The 3/50 Project?
Cinda Baxter, the founder and President of The 3/50 Project, is a retail consultant and professional speaker through her company . What’s that mean in real world terms? As she puts it,“I hand Superman capes to small business owners, then teach them to fly.”
Her mission is to strengthen independent brick and mortar businesses from the inside out. Having spent fourteen years as a successful retail store owner herself, Cinda “gets” what business owners are going through, speaks their language, and is determined to see them stick around for the long haul.
The Chicago Market became an enthusiastic Sponsor of the Project a mere two days after our launch. Providing thousands of free window clings to our Supporters the first three years, they reached out on our behalf, far beyond the retail buyers who frequent their gift and home furnishing shows. Click to visit their website.
MC Services (Pewaukee, Wisconsin) is a locally owned, brick and mortar business who brought The 3/50 Project's original database into its next generation. Their (very generous) donation of hundreds of manhours beyond what our budget could endure gave us the ability to carry independent merchants listed on our Supporter pages into the LookLocal iOS app. Without them, none of that would have been possible. Click to visit their website.
Gregg Marshall, president of in Aurora, Colorado, is the spreadsheet guru responsible for making the business listings on our Supporter pages appear like magic the first two years (of course, “magic” to a layman equals endless lines of macro code to a brainiac like Gregg). His patience and hours of volunteer time are deeply appreciated.
How do I get in touch with an authorized spokesperson to talk about The 3/50 Project?
There’s only one person authorized to speak about The 3/50 Project, and that’s the founder, Cinda Baxter—check out for details. She’s the one with the stats, the story, and the keys to the castle...plus she’s been a professional speaker for more than seven years (NSA, IFFPS, and IASB). You’ll be in good hands from the get-go.
If you’re approached by speakers or other individuals offering to present programs on our behalf -or- are at an event where someone other than Cinda is doing a presentation about the Project, please
As founder of The 3/50 Project, is Cinda available for interviews or speaking engagements?
For media inquiries, . For speaking engagements, please contact her through her business website, .
Does that woman ever have time to eat? sleep? breathe?
(a) Yes...if it’s dark chocolate; (b) nope; (c) so far, so good.