90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

‘Cash Mobs’ Give A Boost To Locally Owned Stores

You’ve heard of flash mobs, where people appear to randomly gather and break into elaborate song and dance routines. But now, a new phenomenon, called “Cash Mobs,” is spreading across the country.

Instead of breaking into song, members of Cash Mobs break open their wallets to spend money at locally owned businesses.

The idea is the brainchild of Buffalo blogger and engineer Chris Smith. He says Cash Mobs are sort of a reverse Groupon. Instead of offering people bargain-basement deals, people pay the regular price to support retailers in their communities.

Smith says the Cash Mob is also a chance for business owners to begin building a longer-term relationship with customers.

He also wants consumers to rethink the value of locally owned stores.

“[I want to] make them think once a month that you don’t have to go to Target for everything you need and everything you want,” Smith said.

Since he launched the first Cash Mob back in August at a Buffalo wine shop, the idea has caught on.

In Warwick, R.I., Annie Johnson of “Anything Goes” says about 35 people came to her store for a recent Cash Mob.

“It was a total surprise to me,” said Johnson.  “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this is really happening.’ ”

Her store features the work of 50 local artists, and Johnson said the Cash Mob exposed new customers to their goods.

“We’ve already had people return,” Johnson said. “We’ve had people who couldn’t come to the original Cash Mob come into the store because they want to support the concept of Cash Mobs.”

Johnson said a local business group hopes to organize one Cash Mob a month to build awareness for the local business movement.

A group in Cleveland started a website with “Mob Rules” to help other communities get started. And they’ve even declared March 24 as National Cash Mob day.

As for the original Cash Mobber, Chris Smith says that he hopes to do something of a mash-up next time, where he infuses some of the music from Flash Mobs with the shopping from Cash Mobs for a whole new experience.

Guests:

  • Annie Johnson, co-owner of Anything Goes in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Chris Smith, creator of Cash Mobs and blogger for ArtVoice in Buffalo, New York

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 25 8 Comments

Lightening Up Traditional Thanksgiving Fare

Our resident chef Kathy Gunst has created lighter versions of listeners' favorites, from mashed potatoes to green bean casserole.

November 25 Comment

U.N. Envoy Calls For ‘Firing Freeze’ In Aleppo, Syria

Staffan de Mistura says limited and localized ceasefires in this historic city could serve as a model for the rest of the country.

November 24 25 Comments

Jose Antonio Vargas May Soon Become Documented Immigrant

The activist and journalist is one of the undocumented immigrants expected to receive protection from deportation.

November 24 7 Comments

Doctor: Hard-To-Abuse Painkillers Won’t Fix Overdose Crisis

There's a question of whether the new technology of addictive painkillers will help stem the epidemic or help fuel it.