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Small Business Matters

Kevin Mitchell • Editorial • October 4, 2013

Band Source in Downers Grove, Ill.

If you’re an independent music storeowner, consider getting familiar with the 3/50 Project . Founded in 2009 by Cinda Baxter, a former retailer herself, it advocates for indies in thought-provoking ways.

Rather than merely wringing hands over the increasing challenges small business owners face, this organization seeks to raise awareness of how vital the independent shop is – to the community, to those who work there, and the local economy. They point out facts like: for every $100 spent in an independent store, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. Spend that same Benjamin in a national chain and $43 stays. Spend online? Nothing.

I am increasingly vigilant about trying to buy whatever I need from my local retailer (I say “try” because that retailer has to keep his or her part of the bargain – exceptional customer service, knowledgeable employees, quality products). Not to say there aren’t occasions to buy online sometimes and excellent online retailers are out there, but following 3/50 has made me aware that the taxes I pay on that scarf at the neighborhood boutique for my wife goes to my kids’ school, pays the salary of the cop cruising the neighborhood, and keeps the trucks in my nearby fire station maintained.

The 3/50 project wants all consumers to understand these points, and they do it through “small business Saturdays” and other programs dedicated to “strengthening independent brick and mortar businesses,” as they state on their site.

MMR, long a voice of advocacy, is now recommitting our determination to strengthen your business. And you’re all for it. Publisher Terry Lowe personally oversaw and executed an extensive reader survey last month and 62 percent responded that you look to us to learn about business strategies, and 57 percent look to learn about best practices in MI retailing. 

This month we’re launching Small Business Matters, an ongoing feature where we provide practical ideas and hands-on tools to help you be successful. And we’ll look beyond our world to see what we can learn from other small business industries, because there is much to learn from that bike shop owner, that jewelry shop, and in the case of this month’s feature, that former kite storeowner.

At the end of the day, we’re all united in our dedication to sharing the passion of music making. But for us in this industry to be successful in that noble endeavor, independent stores must be strong, innovative, and profitable. Because small business matters. 

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