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A visit from the mob | Kitsap Week
BREMERTON – It’s a mob hit any business would welcome: 20, 30 or 40 people flood, or mob, a business, committed to spending $10 to $20 each within a set period of time.
It’s Kitsap County Cash Mob, a growing social movement to help local businesses. “Cash mob” takes its name from “flash mob,” described as a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of artistic expression, entertainment and satire.
The Cash Mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a local store, spend $10-$20 each, then disperse, for the purpose of giving a local business a financial shot in the arm.
Kitsap County’s movement has taken off thanks to a network of local Facebook administrators. Robin Henderson of Cash Mob Bremerton said the Cash Mob phenomenon started in November in Cleveland, Ohio, an outgrowth of the “Shop Local, Buy Local, Support your Local Business” campaign.
It caught on. And how.
Cash Mob Bremerton started March 6, Kitsap County Cash Mob (www.kitsapcountycashmobs.com) formed shortly after. They are separate groups, but support each other, Henderson said.
Donna Chambron, a mobber and owner of The Soap Crate in Kingston, described mobbers as “a ragtag group of volunteers and businesspeople trying to support each other.” Ten people manage Cash Mob Facebook pages in their communities — Bainbridge, Bremerton, Brownsville, Gig Harbor, Kingston, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Port Gamble, Silverdale and Suquamish. Those administrators meet periodically and decide which location to cash mob next. They then spread the word via social media. That simple.
Since March 24, there have been cash mobs at Jaks Cafe & Espresso in Poulsbo, CJ’s Evergreen General Store and Catering in Bremerton, Clever gift store in Kingston, The Grub Hut in Kingston, Naturally for Paws in Silverdale, and Garguile’s Red Apple Market in Bremerton.
“It was phenomenal,” Red Apple owner Tim Garguile said of the response. “It was a nice day, people were in a good mood.”
Garguile’s store saw an extra 200 people and a 30 percent increase in sales.
“We put on five demos because we knew we were chosen. We wanted to put our best foot forward.”
Mobbers got a free lotto ticket for every five bought. They sampled Williams Family Salsa, Boatshed Poppy Dressing, and other locally produced products.
“We tried to promote local goods,” Garguile said.
Connie Obee, a Kingston Cash Mob administrator, said Clever saw an increase in business of about 74 percent compared to the same day last year. “It was just a wonderful time,” she said.
Upcoming cash mobs: April 28, noon to 4 p.m., Nancy’s Green Garden, 25960 Central Ave., Kingston; April 28, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Brownsville Deli, 9790B Ogle Road NE, Brownsville; May 3, 2-4 p.m., Bella Luna, 18408 Angeline Ave. NE, Suquamish. Visit www.kitsapcountycashmobs.com for ongoing calendar of upcoming mobs.
Cheryl Estep, co-owner of Brownsville Deli, is pulling out all the stops to accommodate the Cash Mob that will visit her: She’s emailed fliers, posted a notice on Facebook, will hang a banner, and has scheduled additional workers.
She expects 50-100 people.
“We’ll be running happy hour all day, and wine tasting. And hopefully my Brownsville boys will play,” she said, referring to local jazz and rock musicians.
“I can’t wait, I actually participated in the Kingston mob and it was so much fun. It’s wonderful to talk with another business owner who has the same struggles. It’s very helpful and a great networking tool.”
It’s also a lot of fun.
After the CJ’s cash mob, the group met at Rachel's on the Eastside to socialize. The Grub Hut wasn’t scheduled for a cash mob, but it was “hit” when participants in the mob at Clever decided to grab a bite to eat, en masse.
Businesses get into the act. Clever gave certificates of appreciation to participants. Brownsville Deli will have that all-day happy hour, wine tasting and live music. At Bella Luna in Suquamish on May 3, all cash mobbers get 25 percent off – and that spectacular view of Agate Pass.
By checking the online calendar, you can pick which mob you want to participate in. And you can nominate a business you’d like to see cash mobbed.
“It’s super addictive,” Chambron said. “Doing good works is always fun, right?”
Anyone can join the mob. “We ask for a spending commitment of $10 to $20 per person, more if you can afford it or want to. But if you can’t spend that much, come and participate anyway. It’s a fun thing,” Chambron said. One participant had $3 or $4 to spend. Doesn’t matter — every dollar helps.
If you’re a small business, the idea of 20-30 people showing up all at once can be overwhelming. Cash Mob administrators will give local businesses advance notice so they can prepare, and will spread the mob over a longer period of time.
Chambron really worked it to kickstart Cash Mobs on the north end. “First, I went around to all of the local businesses — we prefer they be independent, privately owned — and took fliers around and said, ‘This is something we’re trying to get started here, would you be interested?’ If a business said, ‘Sure, cash mob me,’ I put their name on the list.”
Why would a business be opposed to the idea? “Part of it was the concept was so new. They wanted more information, or they wanted to check us out and make sure no costs are involved to the business, there are no ulterior motives, no political affiliations.” And there was the worry about being overwhelmed, which administrators have worked out.
“It’s a small economic boost. And it’s fun. You find a new store to shop at and possibly bring repeat customers to the business. It’s a really good thing.”
Estep hopes the cash mob movement continues to spread.
“I have over 200 e-mail addresses. My goal is to get ‘Cash Mob’ out there. When I pasted it on my Facebook, I wanted them to get involved as well and help keep businesses alive.”
Garguile added, “I think it’s great people finally understand that the independent business in their community is important. For every dollar you spend with an independent business, 63 cents stays in town, compared to 42 cents with a chain store.”