According to the Buffalo Cash Mob Facebook page, “In just the past year, cash mobs have occurred in 32 states, 77 cities, Canada, and various locations throughout the European Union.” That’s a wide-circle of influence that started with a local idea to support WNY area businesses.
WNY blogger Christopher M Smith is credited with starting the first cash mob using twitter, Facebook and his blog on WNYMedia.net to attract 100 people to the City Wine Merchant in Buffalo. That event helped to triple business for that day according to business owner Eric Genau.
Now cash mobs have sprung up around the country and Smith is getting the credit for starting this movement that helps out local businesses and encourages people to keep their dollars local. The cash mob concept has gotten coverage by NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Atlantic, plus many smaller newspapers, radio stations and blogs around the country and world.
What is a cash mob? The cash mob blog, https://cashmobs.wordpress.com, a cash mob organization out of Cleveland, Ohio says, “The general idea is to encourage people to go into small, local businesses and spend their money, en masse, to give the business owner a little bit of economic stimulus.”
The Cleveland-based group even declared a National Cash Mob day — March 24.
For a locally organized movement, social media is vital for organizing and maintaining the cash mob movement. Recently on the Buffalo Cash Mob Facebook page, Smith asked fans to help spread the word, “Everyone who is a fan of us here, please support the idea, spread it, suggest it to your friends, invite them to like this page,” wrote Smith. “It’s up to us to spread the word and invest in the businesses who invest in Buffalo.”
Smith said social media has been crucial as a means to build credibility and community around the idea. “In each city that hosts a cash mob, they do it their own way, it’s an open source idea which allows everyone to claim ownership,” said Smith. “Without social media, it just wouldn’t be possible to spread an idea this widely and this quickly.”
“However, the oxygen that traditional media coverage gives the idea makes it a movement. It allows a social media idea to cross into offline society and attract people who don’t actively use Facebook or Twitter as a means to consume information.”
So why has the cash mob idea caught on and spread? Smith says it’s because people want to connect to one another and help their local communities.
“People want to support solid local businesses, they want to endorse the idea of small– they enjoy the personal touch a one or two person operation can provide,” said Smith. “They like to tell their friends that they support local business and they want to be a part of something. In a world never more connected, it’s surprising how thirsty people are for public interaction. “
The latest cash mob was at Thin Ice, a gift-shop on Elmwood Avenue that carries items from local artists. According to the BuffaloCashMob Facebook Page, the store did “10 times its normal sales volume” and 100 people visited the store during the hours of the cash mob. Owner of Thin Ice, Therese Deutschlander, put the number of people visiting at 40 – 50 and confirmed that sales were “10 times” above their normal average. Since the cash mob visit, Deutschlander said she has noticed more online support for her business.
ArtVoice produced a video documenting the event, view it online: http://video.artvoice.com/artvoicetv.php?permalink=0000001601#.T0f0QLL2n6I.twitter