Brianna Bailey is a reporter with The Journal Record newspaper and was the first reporter to cover Norman Cash Mob. Many thanks to Ms. Bailey for reporting on the important topic of shopping locally-owned small businesses and the power of cash mob! We are including the text of her piece here since it costs money to view the article online.
An Offer They Can’t Refuse
NORMAN – Armed with smartphones and $20 bills, groups calling themselves cash mobs are popping up around the country to support small, locally owned retailers in their communities.
Norman resident Marilyn Koop took to Twitter and Facebook to organize local, mob-style shopping expeditions after hearing a news story on NPR about the original cash mob in Ohio.
“The appeal for me was the direct, immediate and tangible effect it could have for a local business,” Koop said, “so I decided I am just going to do this.”
The idea behind the cash mob is simple: A time and address of a local business is announced to members of the group via Twitter and Facebook. The cash mob then shows up at the business en masse. Members spend at least $20 each. The group then celebrates a successful mob over a drink at another locally owned business.
Koop said she hopes that people in other communities across Oklahoma will start their own cash mobs.
“Whether you live in a town of 500 people or 1 million, there are local businesses that people can support,” she said.
Koop was one of several people from across the country who have contacted Cleveland Cash Mob organizer Andrew Samtoy over the past month to ask him about organizing similar events in their own communities. Samtoy, a Cleveland attorney, came up with the idea during a meeting of a local club for young professionals.
The concept has since spread rapidly across the country – even to Canada and England – since Samtoy organized the first Cleveland Cash Mob event about a month ago.
“I thought the first one would be a success if one person who wasn’t one of my friends showed up,” he said.
Samtoy is tracking cash mob groups forming everywhere from Oakland, Calif.; Boston; Muskegon, Mich.; Calgary, Alberta; and London. He said he’s lost track of all of the cash mobs that have formed.
“It’s an idea that seems to have resonated with people,” he said.
The Norman Cash Mob had its first gathering Dec. 1 at the Wild Hare Beadery, a locally owned bead and vintage clothing shop at 319 White St. in Norman’s Campus Corner district. The group has another gathering planned at 6:30 p.m. Friday at another, yet-to-be announced local business in Norman.
About 25 people showed up at the first Norman Cash Mob and spent about $1,000 at the Wild Hare.
Sales from the cash mob helped Wild Hare owner Reese Truesdell make his rent payment for the month, he said. Massive after-Thanksgiving sales by big-box store companies like Wal-Mart siphon off much of the holiday shopping business for Truesdell and other small retailers, he said. Business has been particularly slow at the Wild Hare over the past year. He blamed the downturn on uncertainty in the economy.
“It’s really disheartening to see your day-after-Thanksgiving sales go out the window,” Truesdell said. “The cash mob really boosted our spirits and gave us something to pay our bills and reinvest into the store, instead of just trying to scrape by.”
For information about the Norman Cash Mob, visit Twitter.com/normancashmob or normancashmob.wordpress.com.
By Brianna Bailey Oklahoma City reporter – Contact 405-278-2847 Posted: 06:18 PM Tuesday, December 13, 2011