NORWAY — Encouraged by the success of similar efforts in other towns, the region is holding its first “cash mob,” an event encouraging people to spend money at locally owned businesses.
Tim Dillmuth at W.J. Wheeler insurance said he wanted to do a local cash mob because he felt, “We have a really good buy-local spirit. A really good community spirit.”
Growing from the “flash mob” phenomenon, where people organize on the Internet to gather in a certain location seemingly at random, “cash mobs” encourage people to shop at a predetermined local business all at once. Participants are asked to spend about $20.
The event will be at 6 p.m. July 19. Participants are asked to arrive at the parking lot behind the Fare Share Market, where they will be given the names of a local business and invited to shop there.
The name of the business is kept secret from attendees, Dillmuth said, but the business owner has been warned so they'll be open and can have adequate staffing. Some businesses will be open especially for the cash mob.
Dillmuth said the idea is for the event to feel spontaneous, even though it's been well planned.
Dillmuth said he and other organizers have chose a local business for the first cash mob, and expects they'll have to develop a system for choosing businesses in the future. While the business chosen for the July 19 mob is in the Oxford Hills area, the event is called the Western Maine Flash Mob to allow it to expand to businesses across the region.
After the cash mob, there will be an after-party at a local eatery, also secret, for participants. Dillmuth said Oxford Federal Credit Union is paying for food and drinks for anyone who was part of the cash mob. He said there will be giveaways at the after-party.
“We thought if we asked people to spend $20 in a store and then to spend more money at an after-party at a local restaurant, that might be too much for a lot of members in the community,” Dillmuth said. He said it's similar to a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours meeting, but for the community.
If the first cash mob goes well, Dillmuth said they plan to hold another one in August.
The event is sponsored by W.J. Wheeler and Oxford Federal Credit Union. For more information, visit westernmainecashmob.com.
Note: A previous version of this story said several businesses will be "cash mobbed." It has been edited.