A Mob of Help
I love to dance. Until this darned ankle slowed me down (which is still giving me grief since I fell about five weeks ago now), I’d prance around like a fairy looking I’m sure ridiculous, but having fun. In fact, before the end of the 2011, I had signed up to take part in a flash mob dance performance.
Flash mobs are groups of people who assemble quickly in a public place to give a seemingly impromptu performance then disassemble. Oprah Winfrey was “flash mobbed” at the opening of her 24th season in 2009 to the song “I Gotta Feeling” being performed by the Black Eyed Peas. You can check it out at http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Oprahs-Kickoff-Party-Flash-Mob-Dance.
I wasn’t able to take part in the flash mob dance performance in November and until my ankle heals completely, I wouldn’t even attempt it at this point. However, I would consider taking part in ‘cash mob.’
Coined by KFI radio talk host Bill Handel, a cash mob converges on an ailing business to infuse funds to help it through a rough patch. The first cash mob was Tuesday and the store was the Corona Del Mar toy boutique, Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat. The store, a long time fixture in the community, was having trouble making rent.
I had a chance to talk to Bill about how the first cash mob went. He said that, though the economy is down, he wasn’t surprised “in the least” by the huge turnout. He attributed the success to the reach that KFI has in that market plus the people there believe in the concept.
We also talked about how deep an impact an event like this might have. He acknowledged that the one time cash infusion was of course welcome by the business, but that another important purpose was to raise the visibility of the business. It was really up to the community to take the reins in providing ongoing support. He noted that the community taking those reins is more possible for stores like Toy Boat because small businesses are more community-friendly. Bill added that he thinks the community is prone to rally around someone they see at community events unlike the CEO of Target or Walmart who is not typically found at local functions.
The response to the initial event has prompted the entire Clear Channel cluster – of which KFI is a part – to look for opportunities to reach out to small businesses in their markets. Bill said that they are actively seeking suggestions by local folks who know of businesses in their own neighborhoods that need a helping hand. When he first spoke on air about the search for a business to benefit from the first cash mob event, he said that the emails suggest Toy Boat “three-to-one.”
Bill also invited the Crescenta Valley community to email KFI at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for a cash mob to be sent to a struggling local business.
Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat reminds me of many of our local retail shops and restaurants. The CDM community pouring into the little shop, cash in hand, ready to buy, also reminds me of the Crescenta Valley community and our willingness to help each other out.
While we maintain a pensive, but hopeful, posture that the economy is going to improve, we need to also look for opportunities to take part in a cash mob, even if it’s just a crowd of one.