by Laura Winward
Wakefield, Rhode Island
I had never heard of cash mobs until a friend posted the WSJ article about them on his facebook page. I thought, “Brilliant! Why aren’t these happening everywhere, everyday?” I forwarded it on my facebook page and sort of waited for someone to take up the charge.
And I waited.
And I waited.
And no one was doing it. I know what it’s like to not see a customer all week and to have people think that since you haven’t gone out of business, you must be doing ok, and all that time you know that you look solvent because you keep taking money out of your pocket to keep those doors open. It was on me to get the ball rolling. I love our merchants. We all have great ideas, but we all find excuses not to execute them. This was something I figured I could handle doing.
First I drove around surrounding towns to see who was new or who I thought could use the help. I discovered a bunch of new businesses I didn’t know about! Then I solicited ideas from my facebook friends. That’s how the location was chosen.
I picked a date and a time based on when my store was closed, because A) I didn’t want it to be about my store, and B) I could only do it if I wasn’t working. I gave myself about a three-week window because I figured it would need some time to build momentum. I don’t tweet (although I have a twitter account), so it was done totally through facebook. I created a facebook page and sent it to about 40 invites to friends and posted on some walls of businesses or people I thought would pass it on. And boy did they. By they day of the event over 650 fb invites had been sent and it was being talked about on pages over and over.
Our local papers are really good about supporting local businesses. The town paper ran a “pre-article” about a week before to let people know it was happening. The local patch.com website put it on their calendar and promoted it. I sent it to our three local tv stations, and one ran a small segment the morning of the event.
I picked a large parking lot close to the business to meet in. I used my sandwich board to mark the location so people were sure they were in the right place. The rest is sort of history. They came. They spent. They had fun. Most importantly, they talked about it….a lot! The two local papers and the patch.com were there. They spent and they interviewed and they are writing follow ups.
When I announced mine, Tim (the one who mentioned it on the blog) jumped right on the band wagon and organized #2 in his town of Warwick for next week. Another business owner from the town of Westerly who also has a store in my town is talking of doing one there. After our event, another business owner who has a store in our town and in Providence said he was probably going to organize one up there.
Today I started a new facebook page on the suggestion of a friend called Rhode Island Cash Mobs to be a central location for getting the word out about cash mobs occuring all over the state. I’m hoping it keeps its steam and happens all year long. If I don’t see another creep up here in town within a month, I’ll twist some arms until it happens.
I wouldn’t say anything went poorly. I think if we where able to have it on a weekend, we likely would have gotten higher attendence, but we did pretty darn good even with it being in the afternoon on a weekday. I also would have given the business owner more advanced notice. I didn’t get hold of her until a day before, so she only had one other person on staff. I ended up stepping behind the counter and helping out (or getting in the way, not sure which!) so really I wasn’t in the crowd feeling the energy. I wish I had been. Other than that, it went pretty seamlessly and was really easy to pull together.
I’m excited for the next one!