By Barbara Van Reed
“There are lots of people who say shop local, but this is actually doing it,” said David O’Connor, founder of the Webster Cash Mob. “Actually doing it” means a group of people “mobbing” a local business at a specified time and spending a minimum of $10 on goods and services, giving the business a bit of economic stimulus.
Loyal 2 Local is the Mob’s mantra, first put into action earlier this month at Booklovers’ Gourmet, where 35 people descended on the East Main Street store on a Saturday afternoon. “I was nervous about it,” said Dave, “I was afraid people wouldn’t come or think it was canceled if there weren’t a lot of people there.” But 15 showed up at the appointed time, and then more and more came, making it a very successful afternoon for store owner Deb Horan.
The Cash Mob concept originated in Cleveland, where its inventor Andrew Samtoy held the first mob event in November of last year. In a short time the idea to boost local business spread to all parts of the country and internationally. Webster’s cash mob is the first in Central Massachusetts; there are nine in Boston and surrounding communities.
The group has no agenda except to support local businesses. Many of them have been around for 20-plus years, and some of them are struggling, Dave said, and we want to help keep them in business.
Dave first heard about Cash Mobs in the spring when he saw a Chronicle segment on TV about a Cash Mob group near Boston. At the time he was active in the Webster Residents Forum on Facebook, and the tone there could be negative at times, he said. He wanted to do something positive and remembered the Chronicle story.
He sent an invitation out on the Webster Residents Forum Facebook page, and got an immediate positive response from 70-80 people. The idea sat for most of the summer, but finally he decided, let’s pick a day, and someone suggested Booklovers’ as the first stop. Dave himself had never visited the bookstore and coffee shop. “What a great place,” he said, “I'll be going back there.”
The Webster Cash Mob has grown to over 210 members and Dave is hoping that many more will join. He felt the group should have its own Facebook forum, which you can find at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/webstercashmob/.
Next on the agenda for a mob visit is The Gift Gallery on South Main Street on September 15 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Take 2 Consignment store is scheduled for October. For now, Dave plans to hold the events monthly, though many shops want to participate, and he’s sorry to have to push them so far out.
He invites retailers to tell their story, explaining why they’d like to be mobbed, and of course he welcomes more participants. “This idea wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for the people who participate and spread the word,” he said. He wants to make it a great experience for everyone involved. We’re asking our members to spend just $10 each, but that $10 from a lot of individuals can make a real difference for the retailer, he said. “Deb Horan had a big smile on her face when we left.”
After the “mobbing,” participants get together to celebrate at another local establishment, giving it a business boost as well. Dave wouldn't divulge the location of the next celebration. It's to be a surprise.
Individuals from other, nearby communities have asked him about starting their own cash mobs, and he's happy to give them advice.
Dave does have a life apart from Facebook. The Webster native works as a property damage claims representative for Mapfre’s American Commerce Insurance company in New York and New Jersey. He’s also a freelance photographer and designer, and you’ll see his wife Melissa and little daughter Anna in the Webster Cash Mob pictures.
We’ll be announcing the Mob targets in The Patriot in advance, and we’ll be publishing photos of the events afterwards. Of course, all you need to know is available on their Facebook page as well.
Oxford Annual Fall Festival
This is another opportunity for local businesses to sell their goods, products, and crafts to individuals dedicated to shopping locally. The Oxford Lions Club will host its third Annual Fall Festival on Saturday, September 22.
- Wednesday, 29 August 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor