What’s an Independent?

There are as many definitions for the word “independent” as there are types of retail stores. For the sake of clarity, we cull the most salient points from the most highly respected “buy local” organizations in the country, and hold businesses fitting that definition in the highest regard.

Don’t assume that “independent” equates to a monotone description, however. The 3/50 Project supports locally owned brick and mortar businesses of all types: retail stores, dry cleaners, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. The people behind the counter and in the back office are the same ones you see at the nearby grocery store (possibly another indie business), each of which has a personal stake in the health of your local economy.

More specifically defined, Independent means:

• The majority of the business’ ownership is private, by employees, the community, or an area cooperative, and is resident to the community in which it’s based

• The business operates out of a physical storefront or similar and is the only business residing at that specific doorway’s address (not a kiosk, home based business, etc.)

• The business relies solely on its unique name and reputation (ie, does not “wear” a regionally or nationally recognized brand name)

• The business is registered only in its home state, and has no affiliation with an out of state headquarters or corporate office

• Full decision making function for the business is held by the local owner(s), including the name, signage, brand, appearance, purchasing, etc.

• The business is solely responsible for paying its own rent, marketing, and other expenses

• It has no more than six outlets, all of which are located in a single state, with a central base of operations in that state

• It is not a vendor (ie, does not sell wholesale)

Wondering why we don’t consider franchises, regional/national brand names, or home based businesses “independents?” Click here to find out.

*Employment statistics courtesy
U.S. Labor Department 2/6/09 report;
68/43 stats courtesy Civic Economics

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