Cash mobs are descending on Twin Cities stores. Unlike flash mobs, cash mobs are not spontaneous or disruptive. The group democratically selects a local business and, on a given day and time, participants visit the store, aiming to spend around $20 each. Cash mobs are a form of social activism, encouraging support for small businesses such as St. Paul Corner Drug, Harriet Brewing, Moss Envy, and Goddess of Glass. In addition to spurring local shopping, the group encourages socialization.
Cash Mob Minneapolis organizer Bret Fierce explains, “By supporting a person and their business, we can keep more money in our community, and real people benefit.” Not only has Fierce made new friends, but he has also discovered dozens of local businesses through the process. “I now shop at some of them regularly,” he reflects. While the first mob, at Harriet Brewing, featured a handful of Fierce’s friends, the concept has grown with each outing. Fierce counted 30-35 attendees at the March 11 mob that visited Moss Envy in Minneapolis. He also stresses that, while the group’s name singles out his current city, “we are by no means limited to Minneapolis.”
The mobs haven’t been just a short-term boost, either. The publicity generated has a trickle effect that continues to boost business. Ryan North, who co-owns Moss Envy with wife Tina, observed that it was a mix of regulars and first-time visitors at his store.
The phenomenon is gaining momentum and awareness. March 24 was designated as National Cash Mob Day, and Cash Mob Minneapolis voted to spend their money at Goddess of Glass to mark the occasion. Where the mobs stand to improve, notes Moss Envy’s North, is participation. While nearly a thousand people have voted on a location, the actual attendees have been far lower. Still, North appreciates the group’s ambition, noting that he and his family have attended subsequent mobs.