It's hard not to recoil at the very mention of anything having to do with a flash mob. Once a quirky little happening, they went on to become both a cause of violent looting and rioting and also one of the world's most annoying ways to propose to someone. But now, finally, there might be a reason to love them again. We're talking about "Cash Mobs," which are one step up from a flash mob, since some actual good is done.
The idea is that, like a flash mob, people organize themselves so that they "spontaneously" converge on the same spot at an appointed time, but here they're arriving at a locally-owned stores to spend their money there. They were first organized by Andrew Samtoy, of Cleveland, who gathered 40 or so people at local book shop, where they spent each spent an average of $40 in just 30 minutes. The store's owner, Dave Ferrante, said of the event: "We are kind of slow in November so I wasn't going to turn it down." He said it resulted in him making about eight times what he'd make on a typical day. Not too shabby.
It's a concept that has gotten some notice, and this weekend the first International Cash Mob day was held. There were apparently about 200 mobs in the U.S. and Europe, and each attendee had the goal of spending at least $20 at whatever business they mobbed. Of course, you don't need to be part of a mob to spend your money at a local business. Still, these kind of events do provide a nice boost to companies that often don't have big marketing budgets, and you don't necessarily meet other people if you go shopping on your own. Just you wait, in a few years, there are going to be people telling the story of how they met: "We met at a Cash Mob… No, it's like a Flash Mob, but it involves money… Nope, that's the Cash Cab. Oh, nevermind, we met at a bookstore."
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