October 04, 2013 - 4:24 PM
KAMLOOPS – A group of people learning about their community while trying to support local shop owners are preparing to mob yet another store this weekend.
Mobbers commit to purchasing at least $20 in products from the chosen store but don't get to find out where they are spending that money until a few minutes before they head over to the store from a nearby meeting place. Kamloops Cash Mob coordinator Richelle Head does give some clues leading up to the day but says she prefers the element of surprise.
“I don't want the mobbers to prejudge what the store has to sell,” she says. “So I keep it a secret to show people it's not what you think it is.”
Head has found people often form opinions of a store without ever having been in it and as a result a lot of people would probably opt out of the mob. By offering clues prior to the event she is able to give them a glimpse of some of the other items available at the store.
Most of the people taking part in the monthly mobs, four so far, have never been to the stores being mobbed either.
“Most are being introduced to new stores, so the point of the project is serving it's purpose,” Head says. “A lot of people don't know what we've got here in our community.”
While anyone in the group is able to add companies to the list of possible mob sites, Head follows a strict criteria for choosing mob locations-it must be local, must be an independent owner and they need to carry items around the $20 mark.
She admits the idea was not hers originally, she had a seen a provincial news broadcast about a group on the coast inspired by cash mobs in the United States. Sick of seeing mom and pop shops close, that group decided to mob a local store to show support. Thinking it was a neat idea she waited for someone to start one here. When that didn't happen she took the reins herself and within 24 hours of starting the Facebook group more than 300 people had joined.
“So many people are passionate,” Head notes, adding she just wanted people to entertain the thought there is a local business that offers what they might be buying in a big box store. "I'm trying to put a magnifying glass on local businesses.”
The mobs have had between a dozen and four dozen people so far but with 600 members in the Facebook group, the next cash mob could easily be in the hundreds. This has led to several stores actually turning down the opportunity to be mobbed. Head likes to contact the stores beforehand to allow them to properly prepare, whether it be special deals or more staff, and most have been receptive to the idea.
“They love it, they think it's a really cool idea but a lot of them hadn't heard of it,” Head says. “Mostly they love the idea of meeting new customer.”
The next mob is taking place Sunday at 12:50 p.m. The group will be meeting inside Sahali Mall by the Canada Post Office.
Credit: Photography by Taqueesha
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013