Mobsters to Like: ‘Cash Mobs’
Hobbled by the recession and threatened by those big-box stores out by the highway, local food purveyors have been searching for ways to get the communities they serve to patronize their aisles.
They’re about to get mobbed.
“What we need to be doing is spending our money locally so that it stays local and enriches the people in the community,” said Andrew Samtoy, a Cleveland attorney who helped create a new take on the flash mob phenomenon that swaps cash for the flash.
Samtoy developed his “cash mob” idea during a civic association retreat last summer and wasted no time trying it out with his cohorts at a local shop owned by a friend.
“I thought it would be amazing if all 62 of us on the retreat showed up at her store and spent $20 each,” he recalled. “That $1,200 wouldn’t change her business, but it would at least give her a big infusion of cash right then.”
With that initial success, Samtoy helped establish a blog (cashmobs.wordpress.com), Facebook page, Twitter feed (@Cashmobs) and email address to assist others interested in setting up their own cash mob parties. Mobs have helped stores in cities as large as Los Angeles and as small as Muskegon, Mich.
“Getting people in the door is the key,” Jennifer Cross, owner of an antique and furniture store that was recently mobbed, told the Muskegon Chronicle. “I saw a lot of new faces in here today.”
Locally owned businesses that have been mobbed include bookshops, variety stores, restaurants, toy stores and, yes, food stores. The emphasis is on local businesses more than local products, but the two often go together, Samtoy noted.
“It’s impossible for us to get locally made contact lens solution, but what we can do is buy it from businesses in the community that benefits the community,” he said.