Started in Buffalo and Cleveland, the idea of a cash mob is simple: take $20, get a bunch of friends and social connections to do the same, and all converge on a local business at a specific time on a specific day. You get fellowship and community camaraderie, the business gets a needed jolt of revenue, and everyone gets to proclaim their love for local.
The results are in, and the reviews are outstanding. As a retort to the extraction-heavy corporatization of American communities, an organic movement to help save local businesses is just what the economy ordered. Some are even calling Cash Mobs the anti-Groupon:
The Groupon-led daily deal craze has made shoppers eager to get as much as possible from local shops for as little as possible—even when that turns out to be a terrible deal for the businesses themselves. Now, a new movement in support of local business is turning the flash-sale concept on its head. Participants in “cash mobs” pick a store, then flock to it in droves to pay full-price to support a local business in need.
Cities across the country are joining the movement and hosting Cash Mobs in their neighborhoods. This video from Portland, OR’s KATU-TV shows how a Cash Mob works and the effect it has on one local business.
The popularity of Cash Mobs can be attributed to a number of things, but one that stands out is the desire of people to see their unique local businesses survive and thrive in the current economy. Stephanie Modry of Upper Deerfield, NJ saw the idea on CNN and ran with it.
“If people my age  don’t start doing something and supporting local businesses, we’re never going to have businesses downtown in Bridgeton, and I’d like to motivate people my age to come down to Bridgeton and go to First Friday, see the art gallery, bring their kids on a different day to see the art gallery, check out the different businesses and things they offer,” said Modri. “I think (the Cash Mob) will be fun. We need something to motivate people to spend their money locally.”
It’ll only be a matter of time before the Cash Mob concept swarms a business in your community, and if not, I encourage you to start one. (I’m currently planning something very similar in mine.) And we’ll all be better off for it, because successful local businesses are the cornerstone of the strong communities of the future.