Cash mobs grow in popularity

Flash mobs have been popular for a while, and now we’re seeing the emergence of “cash mobs,” mostly targeting small local businesses.

Andrew Samtoy took part in the flash mob that invaded the West Side Market one day in December 2010 and serenaded stunned shoppers with the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, evoking an ovation.

That experience helped fuel his dismay when, in June of 2011, a flash mob of marauding youths shut down the Coventry Street Fair. While Cleveland Heights imposed a curfew, Samtoy and friends devised an ennobling counter attack.

On Saturday, a wholesome grocer in Lakewood will become the latest local business swarmed by a “cash mob,” a new and calculated kind of flash mob. Dozens and maybe hundreds of people will descend upon Nature’s Bin on Sloane Avenue to spend money, meet new friends, and maybe feel better about their capacity to boost a local business and shape their world.

It’s that local, can-do quality of the cash mob that accounts for its success, Samtoy believes. The ability to harness grassroots energy helped an impulsive idea become a national sensation.

While an in-the-know crowd mobs the Bin, similar scenes will unfold at businesses in cities across the country. The first National Cash Mob Day illustrates the rapid rise and intriguing popularity of a phenomenon orchestrated from Cleveland.
Since November, when the first local cash mob trooped into a Tremont bookstore, the free-spending teams have mustered in more than 150 U.S. cities. London, England, recently reported its first cash mob, and new versions and varieties arise almost weekly.

“Something about it caught on,” said Samtoy, as surprised as anyone. “I thought it was a good idea but, look, I have a lot of ideas.”

Not all of them crescendo, nor are they usually meant to.

Another example involved a hardware store in Chagrin Falls.

This past Saturday, cash mobs descended on businesses all around the country.

It’s a great tool to help businesses that anchor your community, and the impact will likely go well beyond one day of sales, as consumers rediscover places they would like to frequent on a consistent basis.

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