Cash Mobs are a good tool for small towns. It’s all about getting your people out to support one business in order to get the message across: local businesses matter and you matter to local businesses. But if that’s all there is to it, you miss the chance to build on their success. Laura Meadows, Executive Director of the Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau, agreed to share how her small town was using cash mobs successfully, and how they are building on the cash mob idea to make a lasting difference in the community.
Guest Post by Laura Meadows
Buckhannon, West Virginia, is much like other small neighborhoods and towns. Local citizens and business leaders are searching for ways to make our community a unique, desirable place to live and visit.
A local group, Create Buckhannon, has been a fundamental part of the community discussion – the grass-roots group is a gathering of public officials, community members, college students, organizations and business owners who want to see our town move forward. Create Buckhannon’s weekly, community discussions have largely revolved around how do we effectively get our message to the public – how do we tell our story?
The concept of hosting a Cash Mob had been brought up before, but we didn’t identify how to start. Then Create Buckhannon heard of the struggles the local art gallery. The Main Street Gallery is home of over 30 West Virginia artists in a storefront on Buckhannon’s Main Street, relies largely on volunteers, and was struggling to generate sales. Create Buckhannon dedicated an entire afternoon to discuss the problems and obstacles facing the Gallery, and what local citizens could do to support the business.
We had a lot of ideas – a lot. We identified the need to place Main Street Gallery in the spotlight while getting people to spend money. Cash Mob Buckhannon started as a solution to their problem. Within a month, we created a social media blitz through Facebook and email blasts. We created a funky, colorful flyer and had anyone and everyone share the concept. Over the course of one month, we had the community organizations, local businesses & citizens talking about the first Cash Mob. We had local newspapers and TV stations covering the event. We made Cash Mob Buckhannon a priority, because we all saw the value of the Main Street Gallery.
In the end, Main Street Gallery’s Cash Mob Buckhannon was a success. The business saw record sales as the community patronized the little shop. The event also created an opportunity to further support Main Street Gallery. Those who helped promote the Gallery’s Cash Mob are now involved in an ongoing committee to discuss ways to make the Gallery a focal point in Buckhannon.
And Cash Mob Buckhannon continues! Create Buckhannon has ‘Cash Mobbed’ once a month for the past four months, and each is a success. We learn as we go, and act when we see a need. We maintain a consistent message and an inclusive atmosphere – if anyone has an idea for Cash Mob Buckhannon, we listen. We recognize that the simple art of ‘doing’ generates attention. Continual, small steps are effective as others want to be a part of Buckhannon.
Cash Mobs are just one of the tools in our newly-updated Shop Local Campaigns for Small Town ebook.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.