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Cash mobs offer sales booms

By Oregon Small Business Association

Small, locally-owned businesses across the country are getting a boost from a new phenomenon called cash mobs which have found their way to Oregon. The economic counterpart to flash mobs, cash mobs are mass runs on a local business for the purpose of buying products and generating income.

Started in 2011, cash mobs have been organized in 32 states across dozens of cities. Through Twitter or Facebook, participants nominate businesses over a period of several days. The field is democratically narrowed to one final candidate. Once a business has been selected, individuals are given the location, an estimated time of arrival, and are encouraged to spend at least $20.

Lane County, Oregon, created a Facebook Fan Page for its cash mob events—the first of which was held for El Taco Express, an immigrant-owned Mexican restaurant in Springfield known for its low prices and exceptional food. The cash mob craze officially made it to Portland this yearas an area businessman, inspired by success in other cities, organized an event for Etcetera, a locally-owned novelty shop. Within a couple of hours, more than a hundred people signed up to participate. The event was considered a huge success by organizers and area businesses have agreed to promote a cash mob event each month.

American Express held an event late last year called “Small Business Saturday.” American Express cardholders were given a $25 credit if they shopped at small retailers the day after Black Friday. Hundreds of thousands of cardholders registered for the event.