In November of 2010 Gardner Square Two introduced The 3/50 Project in Gardner. Mayor Hawke has always been a big advocate of supporting the local economy and it has been a common theme in many of his speeches. During these tough economic times it is important to find ways to support small businesses. The time was right to move ahead on this, and Square Two and the City adopted The 3/50 Project adding their own tag line: Get It in Gardner! The 3/50 Project is a national movement to “save the brick and mortar businesses our nation is built on.” The concept is simple: Choose three businesses that you would miss most if they were gone. Spend $50 between those 3 businesses each month. Save your local economy.
Mayor Hawke declared the weekend of November 11-14, 2010 as The 3/50 Project Awareness Weekend and encouraged all residents to rediscover their community’s small businesses and support our local economy. We were so leading edge! At the same time Mayor Bloomberg of NYC was doing the same thing. Simultaneously American Express came out as a corporate sponsor for The 3/50 Project and introduced Small Business Saturday.
Signs saying “3/50” began showing up in store and business windows around the City and the project caught on. Some downtown businesses experienced an improved holiday season. According to Patti Bergstrom, owner of The Velvet Goose, “shopping local is one of the most energy-efficient, heart warming, self-sustaining contributions that people can make to their community.” It has been reported that for every $100 spent in independently owned businesses $68 returns to the local economy.
According to Alan LeBlanc, co-owner of John’s Sport Shop, shoppers acknowledged that they were in his store to spend their $50 and to thank his family for all that they do for the community.
Former Square Two president, Dan Rameau commented: “While there is not much that we can do as individuals to impact what is happening on Wall Street and the national economy, we can impact our own Main Street and Downtown.”
Creating awareness for the need to support the local economy is a long and continuous process. The number of businesses with “3/50” signs is growing. Gardner Square Two and the City of Gardner will continue to purchase billboard space in Gardner to remind us all to shop locally and the 3/50 Project will continue to be part of Square Two’s work plan.
Additionally, banners hung from the downtown lampposts remind residents and visitors to how important “Keeping It Local” really is.