Monday, November 09, 2009

3/50 Continued

Really people? I have to read the FAQ for you?

We've got no place to shop. If you really took a look at the 3/50 concept, you would see that the point is to avoid the big box stores where possible and throw a little money to the independents. I took the idea a step further, perhaps, to suggest that these small stores should be local. When the dude and I sat down to think about where our money went, our thoughts really turned to places within walking distance, but that's just us. My LNS is 40 minutes away. (You'll notice that I did talk about the bead shop, not the needlework store.)

We have a place, but I don't like the stock or the people who work there. Frankly, my blog isn't the place to write about this. A letter to the shop owner is. If you'd like help, I'd be happy to look over what you write. I would let the owner know how much you used to spend there and how much you spend on the internet. I'd also take into consideration the story of one shop owner who wrote her initial business plan based on her own spending, only to find out that people spend way more than she did--like 10 times as much! (Good problem to have.) When I met the woman who spent $900 at camp (and several hundred more per month) I thought I had seen the pinnacle of stitchy spending. Then last year I sat at a table with a woman who spent over $2000 in the store and then had a three page bill when we went to check out on the last day. And she went to camps every month!

More importantly, the 3/50 project says that you should look around at the independents and see which ones you want to survive the economic downturn. It sounds to me like you don't care if they do. So you're fine not spending there. Find three different stores (or restaurants) you would be sad to see go.

I have to get some stuff from the box stores. Here's what the 3/50 FAQ has to say about that. Jennifer wrote about this recently too.

Why should I feel guilty about shopping online? You shouldn't. Unless you like the look of a shuttered downtown.

"I want to try the little shop's camp too" DD, you are going to have to take that up with bestpal. You know how she hates change.


Lee said...

We own an independent pharmacy. If you think that the LNS has been affected by big box and internet/mail order shopping, it's nothing compared to the impact felt by independent pharmacies in small communities. Independent pharmacies are closing left and right, and these are well established businesses that have served their communities well for years and years. In our case, for over 50 years.

I had better stop here, before this turns into a full blown rant. But I'll end by saying that I always try to support our local businesses and cringe whenever I see a new big box opening in our town. I guess it's because I feel their pain.

Deb said...

Well, I'd gladly support my locals if there were locals that had what I wanted in town. Every single LNS has closed around here and I have to drive an hour to get another one. The alternative - shopping the big box stores or the internet.

Another aspect of this is that shop owners are no longer willing to support those people who do come in looking for a particular product or help. It's all about customer or potential customer service. Case in point - a knit shop that I go to - I had a simple question that would require a simple answer - I was asked if I bought that particular yarn there. I had not - was purchased years ago - they wouldn't help me. Didn't they realize that a helpful hand would have resulted in me having a happy attitude about the store and shopping there? So I go elsewhere - if the stores shutter, it's their own fault. I could go on and on about this. I live in a town with a really quaint downtown. It's too bad that there is no customer service. It works both ways.

Nic said...

I live in a little suburb of a big city. We're lucky - most of the shops aren't yet fast food takeaways, cheque cashers and betting shops, although they are encroaching.

Yes, we lost the needlework shop, but there's a quilt shop another 15 minutes stroll away. I'm known by name there. Same with the little yarn shop in a nearby suburb. The owner waves madly when I'm at the crossing, just to make sure I'm going into her shop ... so I do!

I'm known by name at the local pharmacy, the hardware store, the post office, a couple of the charity shops, the framing workshop and the bookstore.

I also patronise the fishmongers, lingerie store, women's clothes store, several of the cafes and Chinese takeaway (although as SO does the ordering, it's his name that's known!)

Apart from the Post Office, none of these are chains and are mostly staffed by the owner.

And it's so much more fun that the online alternatives or big supermarkets. Yes, it can take me longer, but "what is this life if full of care we have not time to stand and ..."

I'm not just helping local business, I'm helping myself - I feel rooted, I feel valued - and I get a nice walk out of my errands too!

C in DC said...

Most of my "local" money goes to restaurants and the dry cleaners.

As the 3/50 project points out, it's about balance. I want my very convenient chain store to continue to carry DMC and some other basic supplies, so I will buy those items there occasionally, but usually go to my not-so-local LNS for specialty purchases.

Also, my LNS is often a better bargain than the big chains, especially for framing.

Rachel said...

I feel lucky to have a wonderful LNS. The net is a wonderful tool to search for projects but I always make sure to order or purchase through my lns. Even for special dyed fabrics. If I dont like how the fabric turned out, the owner will place it in her inventory for someone else to snag.

We do have a few of "those shops" where the shop owner/managers are just too rude to be believed. Im thankful I have other local shops to share my $$ with

Barb said...

I would definitely support local shops if there was something I wanted to buy there. Sure, I can find high priced pottery, crafts, art, furniture, even books, but I am on a budget that says I can't afford those things right now. Our local restaurants seem to be doing fine, even the non-chain coffee shop has been around for years. I'd say the local business I support the most is the library, but that doesn't count.

I wish I didn't have to drive 45 minutes to get to a LNS and then find that they don't have what I need. I have to weigh the cost of my time and the use of gas and car. It seems that every time I do go into an LNS I buy stuff I hadn't planned on buying, partly because I do want to support them.

Down with Walmart!

Jennifer said...


(yes, that was my takeaway from this post, as I am picturing exactly what TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS of stash looks like. And the expression on my husband's face)

Anonymous said...

Yes, $2000.00. I saw it, too.


doris said...

I can't get past the $2000. What the hell did she buy? Everything?

When I worked at EEF ages ago, we had a customer who was always buying stitchy stash at every LNS in the area. She felt she had to hide it from the husband, so she put it in her car's trunk. Eventually, she rented a storage space for her stash! I feel really normal now.

Monsoon said...

I went to the 3/50 website and in search of independently owned stores in the area (I could not think of a single one!)It directed me to the website where I found only bookstores and bicycle stores are independently owned in greensboro. Not a single pharmacy, craft store, or card store. This really purturbs me...I want to move somewhere smaller, the little town 40 miles away has a ton of independents...I try to get there when i can (about once or twice a year) but it is not really local.

$2000? really? I thought i blew the bank when i spent $200 at a LNS this summer in PA.

Miriam said...

Since I have talked a lot about buying local and buying independent on my blog, I get these funny, awkward guilt reactions from people I know. They actually apologize to me for going to Target or not buying ______ on Etsy. I get justifications for why they shop where they shop - budget constraints, too far, no choice, etc. Same stuff. But always reasons why not as opposed to reasons how they might try.

Looks very similar to what I've seen here.

I like to talk on my blog about what my values are and what I do, and why. I don't try to beat people over the head. But it definitely seems to provoke a lot of guilt and justification.

Rachel S said...

I can do this. In the summer, we try to buy a lot of our produce from produce stands, so how much harder is this?

Anonymous said...

this post = love

i own a lqs/lns/lys and it breaks my heart to watch "customers" use my store as a way to view products before purchasing them online (there have even been some people brazen enough to tell me outright that was what they were doing...)

But as an owner, we aren't allowed to say something about this for fear of "guilting" people. (I just watched another owner of a store get vilified on a forum on this very topic - and that's what they said to her - that she was "guilting" them).

If only people realised what a difference coming to buy a spool of thread, or a DMC cotton makes to a small business.

On the flip side, it is also our job to provide superior customer service. To be better stores, to offer better products, to be friendlier, and more helpful. Something at my store anyway, we pride ourselves on providing.

Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. It really means a lot.