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Via Rob Walker's wonderful Murketing blog, I discovered the 3/50 Project, which is worth checking out. I probably don't have the organizational skills or the money to ensure that I spend $50 a month at three local businesses that I want to survive, but it did get me thinking about the places I do want most to keep going, if only for my own selfish purposes. My three:
Quimby's: Only started making a point of going here recently, as I've become somewhat more interested in the comics scene. I think it still plays a role that record stores used to be notable for: a place of commerce that also serves as a tastemaker and resource that's as good as anything you'll find online.
The Green Grocer: A pleasant, locally-sourced little grocery store near my apartment. It can be pricier than a big box, but it's convenient and, for its size, is well-stocked with the necessities. I'm grateful to have a grocery store in walking distance, and it's far from the overstuffed madness of big grocery stores, which, for entirely personal reasons, is my idea of hell - which is to say that I don't oppose their existence, just that I hate being in them because they give me claustrophobic panics which people of sounder mind may not fully understand. Though I don't think it's a coincidence that the Clash did a song called "Lost in the Supermarket." See also Stanley's.
57th Street Books/Seminary Co-Op: There's not only nothing like the Seminary Co-Op in the city, there are very few bookstores like it in the country.