American Independent Business Alliance

Your Guide to Cash Mobs

“Cash Mobs” are grassroots events where people agree to patronize a specific local independent business on an appointed day and time. This not only has a positive impact on the business but also allows people to have fun while spreading public awareness about local businesses and their positive impacts in the community.

How to organize a cash mob

Mobs may be coordinated by a single volunteer, an Independent Business Alliance, or other local groups. Ensuring participants meet new people and have fun is key to the event generating repeat interest (most mobs strike once per month). It’s a community event, not merely consumer activity. Some choose a retailer or service provider and then have an ‘after-party” at an independent pub or restaurant.

Is there a spending limit?

Some mobs ask participants to spend a minimum sum while others leave it entirely to participants’ discretion.

Tips for Effective Mobbing

Choose Your Targets
Use group input to choose one or two independent businesses to be your “target(s)” for the day. Consider the most beneficial timing for the type of businesses you’re considering (ask them!). For example, January is likely a great time to feature a local florist, chocolatier or wine shops. The week before Valentine’s Day? Not so much.

Use Your Resources
Talk to your target business owners to get their ideas and input on what days/times work best.

Get Your Local Media Involved
Contact local newspapers, TV and radio stations with a well-crafted press release.

Build Excitement
Before the event promote on email, social media (build a facebook event), and distributed fliers.

Plan for Food
Ask nearby food service providers, caterers, or food trucks to provide food and beverages — perhaps donated in return for being featured as a sponsor in your publicity. Food and drinks attract people and encourage them to stick around and converse with others.

Market Yourself
Set up a table and aim to chat with participants. This is a great opportunity to collect cell numbers and/or emails for future events.

Have a Stamp Cash station
Offer a table where folks can stamp cash to spread the pro-local message long after your event has concluded (or have pre-stamped currency ready to exchange).

Click on Abe Lincoln to view two different money stamp options!

“Love Local” stickers and decals are great quick sales at your cash mob!

Options to Amplify Your Impact

Donate to a Charity
Ask your chosen mobbed businesses if they would be willing to donate 10% of their proceeds from the event day to a local charity. That charity, and their followers, will become another source of promotion and support.

Offer Prize Drawings
Consider offering a prize drawing for everyone who makes a mob purchase. Ask your chosen mobbed businesses if they would be willing to donate an item for the cause.

Document the Event
Take photos, video interviews, and Facebook Live videos with participants and business owners/employees for use on your website and social media.

Start a Group
If your community does not yet have an Independent Business Alliance/Local First group, cash mobs can be a great venue to recruit interest.

 

The mobs have been great for raising awareness among residents to look to buy local first. Many people buy gift certificates – even if they don’t need something from the business themselves – sometimes donating them to local charities!

Jeanne Budnick

Owner , Pepin Lumber

Creating a festive atmosphere by inviting a local busker to play and decorating the site. It adds to the curb appeal and passers-by will wonder what’s going on.

Franzi Charen

Director, Asheville Grown

We not only instigate cash mobs but also give each bank employee cash to spend at the designated local business! Employees also snap and share photos on the bank’s social media (and often their own). The mobs have generated positive media coverage and helped position Citizen’s Bank as a champion for local businesses.

Citizens Bank of Edmond, Oklahoma

 

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Additional Resource for AMIBA Members and Affilliates
Cash mobs were the topic of an AMIBA conference call (log-in to member resources, then click link to hear mp3 recording) that covers recruiting participants, organizing the event and partnering with other organizations to execute a successful event. You’ll also hear from both new and well-established local Alliances about their goals and experiences with cash mobs.

Dozens of how-to guides for events and programs that help local businesses are available to groups affiliated with AMIBA. Learn more.

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  1. “Buy Nearby” and Independent: Mason Area IBA | AMIBA - […] expand and deepen their work to promote local independent business. “We had organized ‘cash mobs‘ for over a year and…

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