Dispatch – Fayetteville, Arkansas
Late one evening in January I was doing my usual thing of discussing life and issues with a group of friends on Facebook. An offhand remark about small business led me off on a search for some articles. In my research I came across an article in the International Business Times about Cash Mobs and Social Media. The headline caught my attention and the article led me to the Cash Mobs blog. I was captivated by the idea and just knew it would be a perfect fit for my community, Fayetteville, AR.
I posted a link to the blog on my FB wall and in no time the messages were rolling in telling me to do it. The next day I spoke with the person that handles marketing for a local café and we made plans to meet and see how to make this happen.
My initial thought was “Someone should do this,” and for the life of me, I can’t tell you how or when it became “I am forming a Cash Mob group.” It just happened. Within a week I had the meeting with Caitlin and we chose a date and a location.
I set up the Facebook page and the response was overwhelming. I quickly decided I would need help and went about finding some other people that I knew to be committed to local business and a strong sense of community to be my ‘board.’ There are six of us that maintain the FB and Twitter accounts, research the businesses suggested by the community, set up the mobs, as well as generally promote the group and the project.
From the beginning we decided to adopt a slightly different format for our events. We announce the date and location of the event approximately three weeks ahead of time and post the event on FB. We send press releases to all the local media. So far we have had coverage on two local radio stations, including our NPR affiliate and were featured on their Ozarks At Large show the Friday prior to our inaugural mob in late February. We were also covered by a local TV station at our first mob.
We have one mob per month and have now had three. The first was a local independent book store named Nightbird Books. On a Sunday afternoon we brought around 125 people through their doors and sales were quite brisk. Owner Lisa Sharp was thrilled with the results and is one of our most committed promoters. The March event was at The Hardware Store and brought in around 50 participants. This past Saturday we mobbed Handmade Market. While I do not have firm numbers, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 participants and owner Mim Wynne tells us we TRIPLED her normal Saturday sales. In other words, a lot of people spent more than that $20.00!
The really great thing is hearing people tell me “I’ve seen this shop and never stopped in. I will be coming back often.”
Next up we will be participating in a local street fair on May 20th to raise awareness about the Cash Mob project and hopefully get more people involved. Our next mob will be the following weekend and we will be releasing information for it on Monday, May 7, 2012.
I receive messages from community members with great ideas and thoughts about the project on a routine basis and we have a lot of plans simmering for the coming months. I know things will keep changing and evolving as we go along and that is just fine. I can’t wait to see where this adventure leads me next.
Sally Baker Williams
Cash Mob Fayetteville, AR