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The San Diego Union-Tribune published a story about Cash Mobs a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about ever since because of this quote:
“I think it’s a fad, unfortunately,” said Bernhard Schroeder, director of the Entrepreneurial Management Center at San Diego State University. He said a one-shot approach isn’t enough to make a struggling business solvent.
“I think the people that are doing (cash mobs), they get more out of it than the small business person,” he said. “They want to feel that they are helping someone. But they’re not helping them out in a sustainable way.”
The reason I’ve been thinking about it is because, first, we’ve repeatedly stated that Cash Mobs isn’t designed to save businesses. If a business relies on Cash Mobs to save it from going under, that business has far larger problems than a Cash Mob can fix. Cash Mobs are admittedly one-shot infusions; they’re not meant to be repetitive or sustain a business. However, in that one-shot, the business clearly benefits – check out the fantastic mob in Chagrin Falls as an example.
Second, people are supposed get something out of Cash Mobs! Whether they get “more out of it than the small business person” is up for debate; if the small business person is selling something at a price they determine, and the Cash Mobber buys it at that price, I think most people would agree that, according to the market, both parties are benefiting and making a fair trade. In addition, the business is getting publicity – in some cases, a LOT of publicity – and I think it is difficult to put a value on that.
However, there are other benefits to Cash Mobs that aren’t exactly part of the business transaction. Cash Mobs are about creating and supporting our communities. In this, I will concede that the participants probably gain more in that we’re creating communities and networking people who otherwise might not be connected. For example, my friend Chris told me yesterday that he met some amazing people at the last Cleveland Cash Mob – like David Meyers from Cleveland Woodworks and Andrew Edward from the Cleveland Leadership Center. He and David are talking about working on a project together, and then he asked about the Cleveland Bridge Builders (which is run through the Cleveland Leadership Center). These aren’t the sorts of connections that you make at networking events or office happy hours – they go deeper than that. Making these connections is part of the community-building that I think is at the real heart of Cash Mobs.
To Schroeder’s first point: is it a fad? Who knows? What I do know is that right now, lots of people are doing great things for local businesses across the country and around the world, and if that’s a fad, it’s a fad worth supporting.
Chagrin Falls Cash Mob is getting HUGE – USA Today and the AP picked up the story! Great job, Jim!
by Sankalp Gosain
Cash mobs for cash jobs.
We’re reasonable people. We know there’s little we can do to make anybody regularly patronize a ‘shmobs destination -that’s up to whether the business itself can win over the mobbing faithful. And for all our wishes to the contrary, the one-day spike in business isn’t going to actually reverse the trajectory of a failing local business.
But what we can do is make it very, very appealing to walk in some shop’s door exactly once. Maybe the mob likes it and goes again, maybe the mob whips out their smartphones and leaves a hundred scathing reviews on Yelp before they’ve even left the building –that’s totally up to the whim of the mobbers and we wouldn’t have it any other way. However, in the same way that a store will hand out coupons or give away samples so customers will give them a shot, Cash Mobs can motivate the locally-minded into a store they might not have otherwise checked out (see “appeal of partying”). And like any other loss-leader, this just might mean a whole bunch of newly-minted repeat customers –something that actually can move a local biz into the black.
But wait, there’s more.
Now when other might-be entrepreneurs in town catch wind of their mobbing neighbors’ open-minded, ‘try anything once’ approach to fledgling enterprises you can sure bet they’ll be more inclined to taking the plunge and set up shop.
And that’s when the magic happens. Cue the chairman of the Federal Reserve…
Ben Bernanke: “Small businesses are central to creating jobs in our economy; they employ roughly one half of all Americans and account for about 60 percent of gross job creation, newer small businesses, those less than two years old, are especially important: Over the past 20 years, these start-up enterprises accounted for roughly one quarter of gross job creation even though they employed less than 10 percent of the workforce.”
Tim Kane, senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation: “Start-ups are responsible for all net job growth in the U.S. economy. During years of recession, net job losses grow at existing firms—those a year and older—while job creation at start-ups stays stable. Start-ups create an average of 3 million new jobs annually, all other ages of firms, including companies in their first full years of existence up to firms established two centuries ago, are net job destroyers, losing 1 million jobs net combined per year.”
When you support the local guys they stick around. And as the Cash Mob swells and word of this “give ‘em a shot” attitude spreads, new businesses and jobs pop up.
So Mob in your town. Help businesses survive and thrive in your town. And watch as the elusive job fairy is lured – you guessed it – to your town.
If you buy it, they will come.
by Marilyn Koop (Norman, Oklahoma)
It all started with listening to NPR. I was listening to the program Marketplace Money (which I don’t normally listen to) when the story of the Cleveland Cash Mob aired. How brilliant to bring awareness and focus to locally-owned businesses. I was struck by the utter simplicity and impact of what a cash mob could do – symbolically and tangibly -for a community. All I could think in that moment was “I am doing this Norman. I’m just gonna do it.” So, I did it. When I got home I created a Norman Cash Mob Twitter account; a Norman Cash Mob Facebook group; and, a blog Norman Cash Mob. I was doing it. And I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to do it either – Cleveland Cash Mob already had it down. Andrew Samtoy was extremely helpful and supportive when I made contact with him, asking for advice and clarification. Chalk up another mark in the Benefits category of social media tools. By utilizing as many forms of social media tools as possible, and by using old-school text messaging, Norman Cash Mob was created and grew in a very short period of time.
I am fortunate enough to live in a community that is FULL of locally-owned shops, one element that makes Norman, Oklahoma a very special town. But my town is growing larger everyday. When I first moved to Norman to attend the University of Oklahoma, Norman had a population of 75,000 and now, 25 years later Norman is a small city of 111,000 -without the student population of OU. With this growth and the ever-proliferate amount of “big box” national chain stores, it’s very important that our community not only continue to support locally-owned small businesses but passionately support them. Participating in a cash mob is a demonstrable act of this passion.
Above all the practical reasons to organize a cash mob for my community, it’s the expression of love toward our locally-owned shops that people – including myself -connect with the “why do it” of Norman Cash Mob. To know that just by gathering together to show this love to a chosen local shop, awareness is raised; money infuses a business; people enjoy the act and the fun; and, it becomes something greater than just the act itself. That’s local-empowerment that ripples and rolls like the wind through the grass on the plains.
The inaugural Norman Cash Mob was held on December 2, 2011 at 6 p.m. The local shop mobbed was a great, unique place The Wild Hare, owned by Reese Truesdell. We had a great mix of people show up, including lots of families. From 6 p.m – 8 p.m., 25 cash mobbers dropped $955 in The Wild Hare. Quite remarkable when you consider the size of Norman. Of course, we all viewed it as a great success and people were ready for the next Norman Cash Mob (which will be held December 16, 2011). It is the goal of Norman Cash Mob to do a cash mob at least once a month. I believe that the combination of fun, adventure, socializing, and demonstrating love for their locally-owned shops, Norman Cash Mob will continue to grow.
So why do people get together and do a cash mob? Maybe we feel more connected to our local shop owners because they’re our friends; our kids play together; we went to school together; we serve on non-profits together; we’re neighbors. Truly, this connection we feel contributes to our desire for our locally-owned businesses to succeed. The more we support our local shops, the stronger our community is as a whole. It’s a pretty simple dynamic but one that still requires tending and care. The more people are talking about Norman Cash Mob, the more people are becoming informed and passionate about supporting their hometown shops which was the goal all along.
by Lauren Way (San Diego)
There are two real questions here, for me. Because, in my understanding, the Cash Mob movement is about shopping locally and supporting the economy of the community, but it’s about more than that. It’s about the mob itself.
So, first, why shop locally? Because walking down a street with diverse and interesting storefronts is fun; those shops can only stay open if we patronize them. Because you can get to know your neighbors, have conversations with store owners who’ve been in your community for years or those who are just starting up. You can get insights to happenings and fun things going on down the street that you wouldn’t have heard about before. In San Diego, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and not know your neighbor’s name. It took us having a massive power outage for me to learn who lives next door, that was a huge wakeup call. Because it’s political action. Nothing is louder than the almighty dollar, and where you spend it speaks volumes. Visiting the local café, the neighborhood boutiques, the little corner bookstore is a way to keep things at home, to keep our neighborhoods unique and vibrant and diverse, to let our local economies thrive.
Relevant to this, also, is why “Mob”. Why follow all of those silly rules? Because it’s a party! You get a whole bunch of people together. Some know each other, some don’t. And everyone is there to make a difference. We’re all there with the same goal, and we’re all on the same adventure. There is buzz, there is energy. Where are we going? What’s this mob going to be? Will I be adding to my library? Record collection? Wardrobe? That’s part of the fun! And, when you have fun and make new friends, you’re far more likely to keep things going. I know I’ve become far more mindful of where I spend my dollars AND I’ve had some wonderful conversations with some wonderful folks thanks to this first event. By getting a bunch of people together at once and all going to one place, the impact is tangible. We all need a little instant gratification now and again, and seeing the line of people in the little store that’s never before had a line and hearing the grand total of the night makes the difference feel more significant. And, hopefully, that joy stays with at least some of the mobbers, and they carry it on to the future. Or, maybe they saw a couple of other nearby shops, and want to check them out. Or, maybe they are reminded of another local shop on their block or by their work that they’ve always meant to visit but never actually checked out. The mob is the chance to grow and celebrate community. The movement is about supporting our local community. All of it is about fun.
Oh man, did I really forget to post about the next Cleveland Cash Mob in our very own blog?
The next Cleveland Cash Mob will target Ohio City next THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15 at 6:30 p.m. We’ll be meeting between (LOCALLY OWNED) Market Garden Brewery and the West Side Market. For those so inclined, I’ll be at Market Garden by 5:40 to get some food and a drink; then, at 6:30, we’ll all meet in that alley between the two markets. The business will be announced; we’ll mob; then we’ll repair to ABC Tavern for an all-night happy hour and some amazing food.
The kicker: the business we’re mobbing is also doing a food drive to benefit the Cleveland Food Bank (it’s just the sort of thing we love about them). If you bring a can of food, they will give you 10% off of your purchase. SCHWING.
So save twenty of your holiday dollars and meet us in Ohio City next Thursday!
And for those so inclined, here are the Happy Hour Specials that we’re getting at ABC tavern:
Full Sail IPA
All Well Cocktails
Smutty Nose IPA
New Holland Mad Hatter