The Daily Shakedown


UPDATED: Attack of the "cash mob"

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by Thom Fountain

A group of San Diego Cash Mobsters hold up their Jacksons that are about to be spent at a local business.
A group of San Diego Cash Mobsters hold up their Jacksons that are
about to be spent at a local business.

While the economic downturn has certainly been bad news for small, local businesses, it did seem to produce a recent push for love and support – including national efforts like Small Business Saturday and local campaigns like First Fridays in downtown Eau Claire. The most recent of these is "Cash Mobs," which combines our favorite things: community organizing, Facebook, and going out for drinks.

The idea of the Cash Mob is similar to a Flash Mob, except instead of dancing you dish out some cash and bring some exposure to a local business. No, but really, it still sounds fun. The process starts with community members orgainizing on Facebook or Twitter and suggesting businesses that do a lot for the community and may need some extra support. The organizers then secretly choose a business, contact them to make sure it's alright and warn them that they may be swamped, then tell members of the group a neutral location to meet.

When the members all meet at the neutral location they agree to spend $20 at the business they're being sent to. Then the organizer reveals the business and the spending begins. After this, most organizations encourage participants to go out for a drink or two to get to know the people they were shopping with. At many mobs I've seen, the organizers also contact the media to give the business even more exposure.

According to the blog by Cash Mob inventer Andrew Samtoy – which serves as a resource and forum for mobsters around the country – there are three simple rules at a Cash Mob: Spend $20, meet three new people, and have fun.

The phenomenom, which started in Cleveland but is now present in scores of cities around the world including Kenosha, has been covered by the New York Times and MSNBC.

If the trend keeps growing, maybe we'll see an Eau Claire or Menomonie Cash Mobs page start up in the  future. Think this is something that could thrive here?


Looks like a group in Eau Claire is taking the lead on local cash mobs. Website. Facebook. Twitter.

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