Cash mobs are spreading

Wednesday , March 21, 2012 - 10:34 AM

Betty Lin-Fisher

AKRON, Ohio -- An international movement to support local businesses with a spurt of sales called a "Cash Mob" started in Cleveland last fall and is spreading.

Cash Mobs are different than "flash mobs," which sparked a phenomenon with people meeting at a public spot and performing a choreographed dance for unsuspecting onlookers. They're also different than the nemesis flash mobs, which turned into groups of people robbing stores.

The Cash Mob was the brainchild of Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy and Marty Mordarski, who came up with the idea when they were in Bridge Builders, a leadership class in Cleveland last September. Samtoy said while the first Cash Mob was done in Buffalo two months before the first one in Cleveland in November, Samtoy's website, http://cashmobs.wordpress.com/ has been credited with setting up events around the country and the world.

Each Cash Mob can have its own rules, but Samtoy offers suggested rules on his website, which include meeting at a specific place before going to the business. Some mobs are told before and some aren't of the intended place.

The idea is to spend at least $20, go to a place that is locally owned where the owner gives back to the community in some way and then celebrate with refreshments somewhere that is also locally owned. Samtoy suggests that Cash Mobs organize only occasional events, because if it becomes a weekly mob, people will lose interest, he said.

Samtoy, who said he makes no money off his Cash Mob phenomenon, noted there are now more than 100 cities on the blog with their own Cash Mobs on every continent except Antarctica and Africa.

"Some have organized five, some have organized one. There have probably been 400 to 500 cash mobs" since November, he said.

Samtoy tries to keep track of the various Cash Mobs and said some of the largest initiated by community members have topped 800 people.



Most of the groups are gearing up for what is being called International Cash Mob Day on Saturday. Samtoy said he believes there are at least 200 Cash Mobs planned.

"Cash Mobs do have points. We had a specific one in mind -- to spend money at a business and support it. The old flash mobs used to have really good points. The new ones are to rob. The dancing at the mall was good creativity. We just wanted to spend money and support local businesses," Samtoy said.

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