The Boutique BeatBy Danna Thompson

There is a campaign sweeping the nation, and the concept is simple-spend a combined $50 each month at three independently owned retailers you don’t want to see go away and save your local economy. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with founder, Cinda Baxter about what she calls The 3/50 Project.

In March of 2009 the economy was grinding to a halt and the media was a whirlwind of negativity with no end in site. As a former retail gift shop owner, she sat down to her blog one morning and decided it was time to talk about how we can turn this around. She assumed her message would reach only a half dozen friends and acquaintances, but within 48 hours she had more than 350 emails from curious business owners wanting more information. Now she travels the country talking about her message of saving brick and mortar businesses owned by people in the community.

The impact is profound. For every $100 spent in locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community in taxes, payroll and other expenditures (only $43 remains if you spend in a national chain). If over half the employed population spent $50 each month at locally owned businesses it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.

Buy-local campaigns exist in many forms. “This message is unique because it’s one of balance, not about giving up big chain stores all-together. Stop and look at your spending and decide what local businesses mean the most to you,” says Baxter. “This message is in dinner table language, it’s not about crunching numbers.”

The retailers still around since the start of the recession are downsizing, renegotiating leases and moving to locations with hopes of higher traffic and better occupancy rates. The economic climate has improved since this time last year, but there’s still room for improvement.

Since learning more about the 3/50 Project, shopping feels more like a contribution rather than an indulgence. Last week I was looking to pick up a new pair of athletic shoes for my son. Rather than perusing the large chain store we usually frequent for these types of purchases, I tried out West Stride on Northside Parkway (the large chain store will get my business for football equipment in the fall). The young woman that helped us was knowledgeable, friendly and didn’t try to up-sell me on the high-priced brand (though those ended up being his favorite anyway). As an added perk, I got a cool West Stride branded Nike shirt for spending over $70.

To learn more about The 3/50 Project and what defines an independent store, visit

Special Sales & Events This Month

Urban Cottage Annual Summer Sale continues through July.

Boutique Bargains Clearance Sale, July 23-24, at Atlantic Station (above Z Gallerie).

Mint Julep is relocating to Peachtree Battle Shopping Center in early August.

Children’s Boutique Warehouse Sale, July 24, at Atlantic Station (next to Dillard’s). Admission is $5, which goes to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Danna Thompson is the founder of, which provides shoppers, fashionistas, and trendsetters with up-to-date information on Atlanta Boutiques. We cover shop events, promotions and profile area boutiques. Contact Thompson

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

3 replies on “The Boutique Beat: 3/50 Project”

  1. As a new Boutique owner in Atlanta and a Big Boutique shopper as well. I think this is great. I will be very happy to participate. I don’t shop as much as I would like due to the newness of my business. However, I hope to be successful and support local businesses around me.

  2. Excellent idea. I’d love to see people keep their local
    independent store in mind when shopping. I have just closed my 3200 sq. ft. store on the Westside, downsized my inventory and moved EcoEMPORIUM to At the Collective in Inman Park to not only cut monthly expenses but to concentrate on what’s really important to me
    and my customers…organic baby products and organic mattresses and bedding. If the economy remains at it’s current status, opening in collectives may be the best option for the small business owner. I love my local customers and some customers from out of town have
    called to find me at my new location. The support is most appreciated.

  3. Thanks for the great piece, Danna; it’s voices like yours that help The 3/50 Project resonate from coast to coast. Together, we really can make a difference…$50 at a time.

    Here’s to big things ahead for all the little guys out there,

    Cinda Baxter
    President and Founder
    The 3/50 Project

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