Internet Project to Save the Brick & Mortars

I am not a scrapbooker (where would I find the time?) but I follow the Scrappin’ Bunnies blog (http://scrappinbunnies.wordpress.com/) because she occasionally posts about things in McKinney that have nothing to do with scrapbooking other than being a fantastic photo opportunity (like visiting the MOM & POPcorn Candy Shop downtown or taking pictures of the snow we had this past February or visiting the Farmer’s Market).  Today she had a post that was simply a graphic explaining what the 3/50 project was.  I was so impressed with the idea that I just had to pass it on.

With one exception, and I think a very important one, this is a brilliant movement.  The one exception is the “spend it online and nothing comes home”.  That all depends on where that Internet retailer resides.  They do live Somewhere, they store their inventory Somewhere and that Somewhere stands to benefit from your on-line purchase when that retailer hires Somewhere people to help with administration and shipping and handling to get the product from Somewhere to Somewhere Else.  For example, JC Penney’s is  headquartered in Collin County and their on-line sales do help our area.  Albeit, there is an issue with sales tax but that bag of worms is slowly getting ironed out.  While I understand that our brick and mortar stores can sometimes feel threatened by on-line competition from huge discounters like Amazon or the Fashion Bug, it is important that we use our noggins and not indiscriminately rule out on-line purchases.  Here are some of the businesses I have in mind when I say this:

Posy Lane (http://www.posylane.com/)– I believe that this is an entirely on-line business but it shows up on so much Downtown literature that they must have something to do with our downtown. What, I don’t know, but I’ve been treating them like any other business on the square due to their appearance in the literature.

Special Things (http://www.rubylane.com/shops/specialthings) – has a significant on-line presence in addition to their brick and mortar store on  the corner of Virginia and Kentucky

Plum Creek Primitives (http://www.plumcreekprimitives.com/index.php) – has a limited selection of their inventory available for on-line purchase.

Star Specialty Contempo (http://www.contempomckinney.com/)- though they have closed their brick and mortar store while one of the owners deals with health issues, they had a fully functional on-line catalog similar to Special Things.  It’s currently down for construction.

My Swanky Boutique (http://www.myswankyboutique.com) – is all set up and ready for business it looks like, as soon as they have some products listed.

The Canine Cookie Company (http://thecaninecookiecompany.com/)- this is an excellent example of a Historic District resident with a great idea and great commitment.  She does not have a brick and mortar storefront but she shows up everywhere – Farmer’s Market, Krewe of Barkus, etc. We, as neighbors and as  a community, have a vested interest in this woman succeeding and the Internet can help. Her new web site is currently under construction but her old web site was set up for e-commerce and the fact that the new site is on GoDaddy suggests that it will be capable of e-commerce once its up and running.

My point is that the Internet is not a faceless, ruthless competitor. It is a tool, available to everyone equally, and several of our downtown merchants have harnessed this tool for their benefit.  And, while I admit that the Internet has evolved like everything else so that a simple web site may not really be so simple anymore if you want to do it yourself, specialized sites like VistaPrint (for basic web sites), Etsy.com (for e-commerce in hand-made goods) and GoDaddy.com (for e-commerce in everything) have significantly reduced the barriers to e-commerce that existed previously. 

That being said, all of our downtown retailers can use the “feet through the door” and the tenets of the 3/50 project resonate loudly.  Which three businesses would you really miss if they weren’t there? If stopping in once a month and making a small purchase would help ensure their success, would that really be so difficult to manage?  Oddly enough, I think if you make a commitment to do this, you’ll find a surprising change in your shopping habits and attitude towards the square.  Even as much as I love the square, I wasn’t a regular shopper until this past Christmas season. It was just as tight for us as everyone else so I wanted to shop smartly, spending less but getting something unique – something you could ONLY get in McKinney. I had always considered the square merchants somewhat pricey but went down anyway because I wanted to support the square and this is the place to look for things available only in McKinney. I still expected my budget to cause me to get the bulk of my Christmas presents from discounters like Tuesday Morning, but that is not what happened. I found that Chase Hall has an exclusive scent candle, Kudzu Blossom, that was around $15  for a six inch candle (might have been on sale). Star Specialty Contempo had drunken chicken cookers for under $20. The Little Red Hen has  an exclusive Christmas ornament with the historic Courthouse hand-painted on it for less than what something similar at Hallmark would cost . I stopped in 120 and found great decorative sticky notes for my mom.  Landon Winery has great gift bottles of wine for less than $15.  I can “throw a dart” in Plum Creek Primitive and find a great gift idea at a reasonable price. The Sample Shop, too, is perfect gift shopping source. One thing led to another and pretty much my entire Christmas came from the square.  And it didn’t stop there.  I am now a regular shopper on the square and I’m not paying more than I would anywhere else because I have learned to look.  I honestly couldn’t pick only 3 stores at this point.

So, I encourage you to check out the 3/50 project website and I also want to throw out a big “Thank You” to the McKinney Main Street Program and McKinney Chamber of Commerce who are listed as supporters of the project. 

Local downtown merchants listed as independents on the site are:

209 Downtown Salon & Spa, Alternative Furnishings, Core Pilates Studio, Made of Sugar & Spice Girly Girl Parties, Plum Creek Primitives, Smitten, Spa Esoteric, Stained Glass of McKinney (and, sadly, the now closed Sugar Plums)

Other McKinney independents include:
Gigglebrush Designs, Metro-Grafix and (with special thanks for their blog post today) Scrappin’ Bunnies

The 3/50 Project…

A good idea…

Spread the word

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