A Community Effort Leads to Positive Retail Ripples

Flash Mobs versus Retail Cash Mobs

cash mobsMost of us have seen those really cool videos of flash mobs in Union Station or in the middle of a grocery store aisle.  Everyone is smiling, happy, and entertained by this spontaneous outburst of song, dancing, or music.  The participants, the viewers and then all of us viewing the videos are glad to witness such an event.

Well, a cash mob is different.  Cash mobs bring smiles to the participants and to the small ma and pa retail business owners experiencing the cash mob.  But a cash mob has a more lasting impact than a flash.  Other faces that will be smiling as a result of cash mobs are the residents, the Mayor and the entire community.


First, if you’re not familiar with the cash mob concept, let me explain it.  Cash mobs are based upon the premise that of we each do a little, we all do a lot.

Andrew Samtoy in Cleveland, OH started cash mobs and it has mushroomed into an international effort.  Andrew has kept the idea simple with just three rules:

  1. Spend $20 with a local retail business;
  2. Meet three people you didn’t know before;
  3. HAVE FUN!!

Positive Ripples

But the real beauty of a cash mob are the positive ripples it has on a community.  Yes, it can inject a small retail business owner with a $2000 day, which is always great.  But there is so much more.

1.  A simple $20 expenditure, once a month, results in millions of dollars for the entire community.  I checked out RelyLocal and discovered that if every resident over the age of 18 spent $20 a month with small business owners in my community, it would result in over $5 million back into the city.  That would make a nice dent in the proposed new library building or in the road repair budget.

2.  Cash mobs are better for a small retail business than are those of the various daily deal companies like Groupon, Living Social or even Amazon.  Why?

Two reasons.  First, the store owner didn’t have to give up a percentage of their profits to get these people in the store. That’s nice.

Second, most retailers who have participated in a cash mob find a healthy percentage of cash mob participants return and become more loyal customers unlike the daily deal coupon crowd who are just there for the “deal”.

3.  Cash mobs can keep little communities and even small neighborhoods alive and vibrant.  I’ve seen small towns die.  It is depressing for all who live in the community.  This is why I am a strong believer that the little ma and pa stores are what give a community its personality, it’s heart, its soul.

If you are interested in finding out more about cash mobs and how to identify small retail businesses to target, check out the video below and you can also visit Andrew’s blog, CashMobs.

If you’d like to find out how much revenue a cash mob effort could make in your community, visit RelyLocal and input the population of your town and city.  It uses 2010 US Census data.

I’d probably add a fourth rule for cash mobs.  Make a pledge to spend at least $20 each and every month to support the small business owners in your community.  Spread it around.  You’ll be glad you did and so will your community.

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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