Independents Days is once again being celebrated in downtown Lincolnton July 1 - 14. Named "Best Downtown Special Event 2008" by the North Carolina Main Street Center, this year's Independents Days includes the Shop Local Challenge, the Find Your Independents scavenger hunt, and the 3/50 project.
The initiative was begun by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) as "Independents Week," but the Downtown Development Association's (DDA) Promotions Work Group put its own spin on the event by starting Independents Days, a two week long celebration of downtown Lincolnton's locally owned independent businesses, in 2008.
The Shop Local Challenge encourages the public to shop locally owned businesses first, and to keep track of items that are not available from such establishments. Lists of those items may be turned in to the DDA at the Business & Community Development office, 114 East Main Street, to help the organization in identifying products and services that could benefit the downtown community.
Perhaps one of the more popular activities of Independents Days is the Find Your Independents scavenger hunt. To play the game, participants pick up game cards at the Business & Community Development Office or other participating businesses. They then scour locally owned businesses in the downtown area in search of the unique items listed on the game cards. Clerks in each business will mark the card with a special sticker acknowledging that the items have been found. Once participants find all of the items, they will then turn their game cards in to the Business & Community Development office by July 14 where one will be randomly drawn on July 15 for a prize package filled with goodies from each of the following participating businesses: 36th Street Bakery & Café, Fausto’s Coffee, First Federal Savings Bank, Heavenly Paws Pet Grooming, Hi-Lites, Kate McCall, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio/Studio 220, The Perfect Spot and Ride-A-Bike. No purchase is necessary to play the game.
"The game was developed to offer some incentive for people to visit downtown Lincolnton's locally owned independent businesses that they may not visit on a regular basis," said Cathy Davis, Chair of the DDA Promotions Work Group. "We hope that our participants discover something new downtown, whether it be a new business or an item that they did not know was available in Lincolnton."
The final facet of the promotion, the 3/50 Project, has swept the nation's independently owned businesses since its launch earlier this year. The project asks citizens to identify the three independently owned businesses that they would miss most if they were gone. Citizens are then encouraged to stop by those businesses - to pick up a small gift for a friend or even just to say hello - as a way of showing their support.
“Fifty comes from the idea that if even half the employed population spent a mere $50 per month in locally owned retail stores, those purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue,” said Cinda Baxter, creator of the 3/50 Project. “That's a huge impact for a relatively small investment.”
Approximately $68 remains in a community's economy for every $100 spent in locally owned stores. By contrast, only $43 per $100 remains local when spent in national chains; little or no revenue results from online purchases.
“In essence, the whole thing boils down to 'Pick 3, spend 50, save the economy.' It's really that
simple,” said Baxter.
More information on the 3/50 Project can be found at www.the350project.net, and more information on Independents Days can be obtained by calling Lincolnton Business & Community Development at (704) 736-8915 or visiting www.downtownlincolnton.blogspot.com.