Cash Mobs - The Anti-Groupon

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We've all heard of daily deal sites like Groupon, and many of us, especially those of us who are looking for a job and trying to stretch our budget, have even bought into a few of these deals. When the idea of crowdsourcing discounts was first introduced, I signed up and started looking for great deals in my area. Some of them sounded great and I even bought a few of them. If you aren't familiar with the process, basically a local business offers a severely discounted price on a particular item or service. For example, you can get $30 worth of food at a local restaurant for $15 or something like that. The only catch is that you have to pay the $15 upfront and print out the coupon. The problem I always ran into was that I would buy the deal, print out the coupon and then forget about it until it had expired.

Which is exactly what a large portion of other daily deal buyers do. At first, it worked out well for the local businesses, because they were able to reach new customers and even though they offered a deep discount, many people never came in to claim them. Now, however, with the wide variety of Groupon-esque deals around, customers aren't buying them as frequently and local businesses are finding that they end up losing more money than it was worth.

With both businesses and shoppers growing disillusioned with the daily deal, a new crowdsourced way of shopping is on the rise. This one, however, is completely different. It's called Cash Mob, and it's becoming a big deal.

The idea of Cash Mob is to provide a way for people in a community to support their favorite local businesses. In this economy, times are tight for all of us and small businesses are no exception. Almost anywhere, there are small business owners struggling just to keep their doors open. In fact, in my small town, the local, family owned grocery store that has been in business since 1948 has been practically begging the people in the community to spend just $25 dollars a week there so that they can stay in business. It would be a shame to see the small grocery store fail now. With Cash Mob, the community picks a store and everyone makes a point to go there on that day and pay full price for something.

The Cash Mob idea began in Buffalo, New York last August and the first business selected for the mob was a local wine shop. The cause drew some media attention and has been catching on across the globe. In Canada, one woman has organized over 12 Cash Mobs and there have even been a few instances of this in Cleveland.

According to Cash Mob supporters, the event isn't just about raising the business's income for that one day. It's more about getting the community involved, giving the small business some advertising and promotion and ultimately, give the business the chance to turn some of the participants into new, repeat, customers.

Since there is no official Cash Mob organization, people can tweak the rules to suit the business and their communiity's needs. Traditionally, a Cash Mob has a set price minimum, typically $20, and each participant agrees to spend at least that much during the day.

I don't know about you, but I think that Cash Mobbing is a great idea. Not only does it help a struggling business, but it's a great way to show your support and it's also a great way to share your favorite local places with the community at large.


Have you heard of Cash Mob? Do you think it would work in your area? Why or why not?


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