San Diego Cash Mob’s Inaugural Event
Make Good In South Park Is First Business ‘Mobbed’
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
KPBS arts and culture reporter follows San Diego Cash Mob on it first event.
Last night San Diego Cash Mobs held its first event in South Park.
Bundled up on a chilly night, Lauren Way addressed the crowd gathering on the corner of Juniper and 30th in South Park: "Welcome Cash Mobbers, I'm so excited that you are all here. Thank you so much for coming to Cash Mob and being a part of this and supporting local business and making a real difference."
Last night Lauren Way found herself leading a group of more than two dozen people and three TV news crews to mob a South Park business. The exact business was kept secret until the mob gathered at 6:30.
"I'm sure you all want to know where we're going to go and spend money," Way said to the crowd, "So the business that we are going to is called Make Good, and what Make Good does is they have tons of stuff and they are all made by local artists so we are supporting a local business that supports local artists."
Way, whom I've known for a decade, never imagined herself as a leader. Her friend and former El Cajon resident Andrew Samtoy introduced her to the idea of Cash Mobs, which use social media to organize people to "mob" a small business with the intent of spending $20 each. She heard Samtoy talking on Marketplace about the Cash Mobs he was organizing in Cleveland. When the reporter said there was going to be one in San Diego, Way called Samtoy to ask who the organizer was. He said it was her. So she set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and began promoting last night's event. Standing on the South Park street corner, Way was thrilled by the turnout.
"It's overwhelming," says Way, "It's amazing, it's crazy. There are people and they are starting to show up, which is very exciting and that relieves some of my nerves and I'm getting really excited and I'm having fun and there's buzz."
Buzz that caused her Twitter and Facebook accounts to more than double their followers. The cold and difficulty parking may have kept some from coming out to show their support but those who came were excited.
"It's a fantastic thing to do at this time of year when so much gets given to the big corporations because of the Christmas holiday shopping season that at this time we take a minute and pay attention to the small businesses because I feel they are the backbone of our country and the backbone of our economy," says Cash Mobber Marshal Ouimett.
Ouimett and his wife plan to check out more than just the one business being targeted, including looking for a place to have dinner. That pleases Jerome Gombert, who owns the restaurant Vagabond just down the street from Make Good.
"I love the idea no matter what even if I'm not chosen," say Gombert, "I mean I love the idea of having a lot of people around and getting a little bit in place of course."
Inside Make Good you could barely move as the Cash Mobbers filled the small shop. Kailah Rose finally decided on her purchase.
"I found a really nice pair of earrings made from recycled plastic and sterling silver," Rose says, "I am dropping slightly more than 20, 28 at least plus tax. I feel good supporting the local business and the local artist that these came from."
Make Good owner Sophia Hall says most of the people spent more than the suggested $20 making her normally slow Tuesday very profitable.
"Confirmed: $718," Hall exclaims, "We don't, on a normal month, we do not do that on any days of our week so that was fabulous, hugely fabulous."
Business owners are asked beforehand if they want to participate in a Cash Mob event. When Way contacted Hall she says she was happy to participate. In addition to the one night influx of cash, Make Good may benefit from many of the Cash Mobbers coming back as returning customers.
"A lot of them said I have never been here," Hall tells me. "I didn't even know where South Park was, and I'll be back, so I loved hearing that, that helps everyone that has a business here in this neighborhood."
Novice leader Lauren Way is already planning the next Cash Mob, a coordinated event with LA and Orange County Cash Mobs: "And then we'll all have a cash mob, a synced cash mob, so every city is at the same time on the same day mobbing a different business in their city so that it's a whole Southern California cash mob."
Way is happy with how the evening had gone and how much fun everyone had supporting a local business. She's emphasizing the social aspect of social activism.
You can follow San Diego Cash Mobs on Twitter @CMSanDiego or on Facebook.