A “shop local” twist on the flash mob concept encourages people to gather to spend money in an independent business. And one hit Tacoma. Cash mobs were the idea of an attorney in Cleveland. Since the first one last year, the idea has spread across the nation, including Tacoma. The first of 10 planned shopping actions took place on April 1 at Teaching Toys in Proctor District.
Tacoma resident Katy Evans said sweet pea Flaherty, owner of King’s Books, was the catalyst for the effort locally. He told Evans about cash mobs in other cities, which inspired her to start one here.
A Facebook page for Tacoma Cash Mob has generated more than 800 likes since it went online March 14. Evans has enjoyed reading the messages posted on the Facebook page. “It has been fun,” she remarked.
Participants were simply told to meet at a corner on North 27th Street at 2 p.m., but were not told which nearby business they would be patronizing. By participating, they agreed to spend at least $10. After the group assembled, they were told to walk down the street, enter Teaching Toys and begin shopping.
Valla Wagner and Melissa Tennille are co-owners of Teaching Toys. “This is not our invention. We are just the lucky recipients,” Wagner said.
While the shoppers did not know what business they would go to, Wagner was informed ahead of time that her store had been selected. She doubled the number of employees she would have on a typical Sunday afternoon so things would run smoothly.
Wagner went to other businesses in Proctor District to obtain items for a gift bag to give to the cash mob shoppers. She also held a raffle, with free tickets, to give away three items.
Evans said people nominated a number of businesses on the Facebook page. There are plans for cash mob activities at nine other businesses over the next few months. The plan is to hit businesses in various parts of town. She said it could be beneficial to businesses that could use more interaction with potential shoppers on the Internet. “A lot of businesses in Tacoma do not have a presence on social media,” she remarked.