'Cash Mobs' Strike Again

Like the popularized “flash mobs,” cash mobs aim to draw attention to small businesses in need of customers

By Lauren Steussy
|  Monday, Feb 13, 2012  |  Updated 3:37 PM PDT
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Cash Mob Shows Up, Spends in South Park

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Cash Mob Shows Up, Spends in South Park

A crowd of people made a strong statement about small businesses on 30 Street in South Park Tuesday night. Tony Shin reports.
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For the third time in its short history, the retail trend Cash Mob will return to a local San Diego retailer Monday night.

Cash Mobbing is an organization of social media-users and do-gooders around the city. Coordinators pick a shop in secret.  Participants meet up nearby, rush into the selected store and spend at least $20 on merchandise there.

The idea originated from a play on Flash Mobs – the sudden public performances used to bring attention to anything from corporate greed to new video games.

Lauren Way coordinates Cash Mobs in San Diego. She recently announced the location for Monday night's flash mob on the group's Facebook page: In Old Town, mobbers will meet at the entrance of Fiesta De Reyes, on Juan St. between Wallace and Mason St. The meet-up time is 6:30 p.m.

The most recent Mob "attacked" a Hillcrest bookstore called Bluestocking Books. About 40 people came, bringing in about $900 to the store. Cash Mobbers spent about $700 at the previous Cash Mob in a South Park store called Make Good, Way said.

Though the money helps stores, the mobs are more about changing the way people view local businesses.

She said this will perhaps create a miniature culture-shift in which consumers are inclined to consider shopping where more money will make to the hands of their neighbors, as opposed to larger corporations.

Now that more people are learning about Cash Mobs, Way and her fellow organizers feel they are closer to reaching their grand vision of the phenomenon. Mobbers will return to the stores they first mobbed, and first-time patrons who hear about the event may get the idea to go to the stores.

"More and more people are shopping locally, and thinking about where they are buying things and where they are spending money," Way said.

Among the criteria for picking a shop to mob, the group typically patronizes stores that give back to the community in some way -- and they have be near a local watering hole, for socializing afterward.

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