By Christine and Alex Haider-Winnett
On December 20th, about fifteen people gathered in Downtown Oakland for the first ever Oakland Cash Mob. Most of the people at the event were our friends or friends of friends, but we also got a few new folks who had seen our facebook and twitter outreach.
For our first Cash Mob, we chose Marion & Rose’s Workshop, which features arts and crafts from local artists. We chose Marion and Rose’s for two reasons: first of all, we thought it would be a great place for people to buy unique and inexpensive holiday presents from local artists. Second, Marion and Rose’s is part of Oakland’s “Popuphood” project, where local businesses are given spaces in empty storefronts rent-free for six-months in order to promote community revitalization and the local economy.
Everyone had a great time at Marion and Rose’s buying Christmas ornaments, greeting cards, and local art. The people at Marion and Rose’s were really wonderful and appreciative. They said that while we were there they raised $500 in a half hour! Perhaps most exciting, in the half hour we were there about 5 people that weren’t ‘officially’ part of Cash Mob wandered into the store. The folks at Marion and Rose’s suspected that many of those people came in because the store was so full that it just looked like the place to be!
Afterward, about six of us went to Pacific Coast Brewing Company, a great local brewpub down the street. It was fun getting a chance to have everyone get to know each other more informally, and start to brainstorm ideas for future cash mobs.
Our friend Lauren Way from San Diego Cash Mobs put us in contact with a journalist from the Wall Street Journal. Alex and mobber Michelle Murrain were featured in their recent article. We were also lucky to have Suzi Spangenberg take pictures for us to send to media, put on our facebook page and use to promote future events.
We’re currently planning another Cash Mob in early January that will support a historic business in downtown Oakland that is currently facing foreclosure. We are hoping to make Oakland Cash Mobs a monthly event, and are looking forward to holding events at different kinds of businesses and in different neighborhoods. Anyone interested can follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.