March 24 has been declared National Cash Mob Day by Cash Mob organizer Andrew Samtoy. This is the culmination of a growing global movement to use the communication power of Facebook and Twitter to redirect community funds toward independent retailers and small businesses versus big box stores. Cash mob organizers encourage community members to descend on a small retailer at a predetermined time and spend at least $20. Participants often meet beforehand and all head to the shop together. Since the store owner is warned in advance, he or she is able to ensure that there is enough stock on hand and enough staff members to handle the influx of business.
Since summer 2011, it’s estimated that nearly 140 cash mobs have been successfully organized and launched all over the world. What these events are able to accomplish is twofold. They bring an added (and much needed) one-time boost to Main Street sales revenues. But they also cultivate a bit of celebrity around that particular independent retailer, reminding community members of the small business treasures they have in their own backyard and thereby encouraging repeat customers and an upsurge in business over the long term.
Groups such as the American Independent Business Alliance, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economics, and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have for years pushed to strengthen local economies by encouraging people to shop locally instead at major chains. Experts assert that by redirecting their dollars in this way, people are in fact investing in their own community, because more of the money stays local.
Overall, cash mobs have been highly successful, with one cash mob event in early February bringing $1,500 in sales to a Cleveland toy store in just over an hour, and it is believed that a National Cash Mob Day will take this success to the next level. Founder Samtoy expects at least 175 mobs to shop at independent retailers on March 24, with 50 to 100 people per mob. If nothing else, this event will bring much needed attention to the role small businesses play in individual communities.
Lieber, Nick. “Joining the (Cash) Mob to Help Main Street.” Bloomberg Businessweek. 3/6/12. (3/8/12.) http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-06/joining-the-cash-mob-to-help-main-street.
Sollberger, Eva. “Cash Mobbing Waterbury.” Seven Days. 3/7/12. (3/8/12.) http://www.7dvt.com/2012cash-mobbing-waterbury.