Have you been to downtown Edmonds lately? In the last few years? It is transforming itself daily. There is not an empty storefront to be found. Take a snapshot of Edmonds and place it next to the definition of “Charming” in the dictionary. This is the gem that is underfoot. Right under all of our feet! I am fortunate to be a part of what happening and you can be too. We are all looking forward to an event called “Shop Small Saturday” Nov. 25. You are invited to come down and support local business with your holiday shopping kickoff right here in your hometown.
Why is this so important? Shopping at local independent stores is not only a feel-good thing to do. It is a statement about what is important to you. It is voting with your wallet. Each dollar you spend at an independent business returns an average of 3 times more money to your community than spending at a chain store — a benefit we all can bank on.
Over the years, I have been going to visit Robert Boehlke of HouseWares. In my opinion, Robert started the reformation of our shopping district. His store has grown from a small place on 5th, to a bigger one at 4th and Main, and now has landed in the location that was once Edmonds Variety. He has set the bar high for the rest of us business owners. His updated space and upscale merchandise helps us all know what is trending and cool. As a local business owner myself, I hold him in high regard for not only how he had grown his business, but also the work he has done behind the scenes to support the growth that you see blossoming in Edmonds.
You will find people like Robert at many stores up and down Main Street and 5th Ave. I have had the opportunity to get to know other shopkeepers here and I am impressed. Like Robert, they work long hours but most have found time to do extra. They volunteer to raise money for local schools and charities. There is a tremendous amount of time planning and funding events like the monthly art walk. There is a group that advocates at city council meetings and with the city directly to influence things like improved signage and parking.
We are you… people who live and work next door. We are your neighbors.
Think of a favorite business you have recently discovered or have enjoyed over the years. Now imagine coming downtown to find them gone. Unfortunately it does happen. Mostly it is due to lack of business and not lack of trying. Small store retail is a tough gig – especially in this era of online and big box store shopping. But it is small business that drives the local economy. Research shows a strong correlation between the percentage of small locally-owned firms and various indicators of personal and community health and vitality.
I want to share the 3/50 Project with you. I first heard about it from, you guessed it, Robert Boehlke. The 3/50 Project supports independent, locally owned businesses by inspiring consumer loyalty to the storefronts that directly fund their communities. It takes what happens once a year as a “Shop Small” event and transforms it into an acknowledgement that we all need to put our money where are hearts are, and go there more than one time a year.
At 3/50 Project website, you will find this: “Think of three businesses you’d miss if they went away. Stop in. Say hello. Pick up a little something that makes you smile. That’s what keeps them around, after all.” Pick three businesses and once a month spend $50 at one of them. That is the 3/50 philosophy that will save Main Street USA. Pick 3. Spend $50. Save your local economy.
The Edmonds City Council is getting on board this year with a proclamation to “Shop Local.” This official thumbs-up was presented at the city council meeting on Tuesday November 14th. It does feel pretty good to shop local. We have cool stuff here in Edmonds, and some pretty awesome food places too… not to mention the beach and the view. Make a day of it November 25 and any day of the year you want to support your community in more ways than you can imagine.
For more information, please visit www.the350project.net
— By Tracy Kay Felix
Tracy Felix is currently the President of the Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association, and Co-Owner of ARTspot.