Emery's 5 & 10 store owner Ron Emery was mobbed a couple weeks ago -- cash mobbed.
“It was wonderful. Spectacular,” the Knoxville, Tennessee, discount retailer told HLN on Friday.
Started in August of last year, the retail movement -- which has shoppers patronizing a business en masse on a set day and time -- is taking off in different cities across the United States and Canada. More than 100 cities in four countries have plans for upcoming cash mobs, according to the website CashMobs.wordpress.com.
“We were hoping to have 200 people, but we had 700-800,” Emery said. “And the thing is it really built this sense of community. And that was real American. That was really touching.”
Spread by social media and backed by a community’s economic good sense, cash mobs have exploded recently in response to the ever-expanding corporate reach of big-box retailers who have choked out of many mom and pop stores in American cities and towns.
An homage to the “flash mob” craze of recent years, the cash variety has been a boon to struggling local businesses.
Paul Hickman, owner of Urban Ashes, a Ann Arbor, Michigan, photo frame manufacturer, said he and a small group were planning three cash mobs Friday on the city strip known as "Resale Row." The event was organized on the Ann Arbor Cash Mob Facebook page, which Hickman helps run.
He said the aim of the cash mobs is two-fold: “To give a little shot in the arm so to speak to local owned and independently operated businesses that are struggling against the chains and on line stores. We hope to help raise the awareness of where you’re spending your money and how it impacts your community. And two, many of the locals still have never been to some of these areas so this is a way to get them to see what’s out there. And it’s just a fun thing to do in supporting our unique community."
HLN readers, what small businesses in your town could use a cash mob in the coming days?