[In 2016] December 3 is Small Business Saturday (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com) What better way to support local independent retailers than to organise a cash mob. ‘What’s one of them?’ I hear you ask, well…
Last spring I learnt that a friend in Bedford had been organising something called a cash mob, I was intrigued. I’d heard of flash mobs and the cash mob idea is equally simple and attention-grabbing. Using social media and any other networks, you gather a group of people of all ages together at an agreed time and place in your town centre. The group chooses a local independent shop and, minutes later, mob members descend on the lucky retailer to each spend £5, preferably in cash.
The gains from this simple and fun activity are many. It brings like-minded people together to demonstrate how ordinary people can take direct action to support shops – by spending money in them! And if you go to the pub afterwards to make new friends and plan another cash mob it’s a further cash injection into the local economy. The delight of staff in the chosen shop leaves everyone feeling warm inside – as little as 10 minutes after first meeting up if just want to dip in and out. It’s a ‘good news story’ for the local papers and press publicity before and after the cash mob helps recruit mob members. To those who regularly complain in letters to local newspapers about car parking charges, empty shops, and the slow death of the high street while happily spending in the supermarket giants, it sends out a clear message – don’t complain, do something!
In Royston, we ended up organising three cash mobs – the first three in Hertfordshire – with around 6 weeks between each one. A sweetshop, stationers, market stalls, and local pub were the main beneficiaries with a total of over 100 people each spending £5 or more. A couple of add-ons to the event described above were the feedback forms we left in the shops to tell them what we each liked about them and to make suggestions for improvements. Also a deal with other independent retailers and cafes to make special ‘today only’ offers to cash mobbers – increasing cash mob participation and benefitting a wider range of local outlets.
[For more about the Royston cash mobs go to www.facebook.com/RoystonCashMob What are you waiting for – start planning!]
[ ] = updated information 22.4.16