Locals ‘mob’ store, up profits
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 02:04
Newark residents swarmed a local music shop last week, spending their money as part of national trend to stimulate the profits of small businesses.
Approximately 20 Newark residents took part in the city’s first “cash mob,” an event that encourages local residents to spend money at one particular business, according to RelyLocal manager Stephen Orens. The inaugural cash mob descended on Rainbow Music & Books on April 10.
RelyLocal is a national company that promotes commerce at local shops and restaurants through events like cash mobs. The events are part of an international trend, and were celebrated by people in American and European cities on March 24, which was recognized by many as National Cash Mob Day.
“These cash mobs are another way to get the word out,” Orens said.
Orens said cash mobs are derived from the idea of flash mobs, which occur when a group of people meet at a specific location to perform a specific action simultaneously, such as dancing, improvisational acting or singing. He said many flash mobs have damaged businesses where they were located and some participants stole merchandise, but called cash mobs positive events.
“[Flash mobs] became somewhat violent and counterproductive to the businesses they were at,” Orens said. “[Cash mobs] actually gives us an opportunity to give back to the community.”
Newark resident Ken Grant, who has participated in flash mobs in the past, attended RelyLocal’s first cash mob because he wanted a proactive approach to dealing with current economic issues by supporting local businesses.
“It’s easy to sit and mope and complain about things like the economy,” he said. “It’s another thing to turn around and say we’re going to do something about it.”
Orens said his company used various social media platforms to tell people to meet him at the Main Street Galleria for him to unveil the location of the first cash mob. Once everyone assembled, he said they crossed the street to Rainbow to begin shopping. He said the patrons were required to spend a certain amount of money in the store.
“We told them to spend $10, but the average sale was about $15,” he said.
Rainbow owner Chris Avino said the cash mob contributed to about 30 percent of his store’s business that day. He said his store, which sells books, CDs, movies and music memorabilia, was an appropriate location for the city’s first cash mob because of its diversity.
“[Orens] wanted to satisfy a variety of tastes,” he said.
Newark resident Stephen Wright, 41, used the cash mob as an opportunity to find some books to read during this summer. He stated in an email message that the event helped him rediscover the store because he had not visited it since it relocated from Main Street to an adjacent alley. Avino leased out Rainbow’s storefront last February to help cover the store’s overhead costs.
“Honestly I thought they went under, so it was really cool to find them again,” Wright said.
Wright said he was happy to become reacquainted with the store and plans to continue shopping at Rainbow. He hopes to return once he gets a turntable to buy records.
“I really like what they’ve become, a perfect niche shop for a college town,” he said. “[It] reminds me of shops you find up in Philly.”
Orens said he was pleased with the outcome of the cash mob. He plans to continue the trend and choose a location at least once a month for residents to shop at.
Although it was the first time Wright ever attended a cash mob, he said he plans to attend future events because they give him a break from his typical day.
“Life can get so routine and to do something random like this reminded me of my college days in art school,” Wright said.