AUBURN — Angie Lafrance can’t imagine a better way to show support for local businesses than to have crowds of people showing up clutching $20 bills.

“It’s been a hard time economically, but I think things are starting to turn around,” Lafrance said Monday. “I think there’s a positive feeling but I think we need to work to push it along. This is a way of doing that.”

Lafrance is spear heading the Twin Cities first cash mob, scheduled for Saturday, June 2.

A cash mob is a buy-local version of a flash mob — a crowd is instructed via social networks like Facebook or Twitter to go somewhere and perform some sort of an act.

But instead of shouting something or doing some random stunt, cash mob participants show up with money in hand ready to buy. They troop to a locally-owned business, spend a minimum of $20 per person then go to a local watering hole to celebrate.

“One of the main rules for the event itself is to have fun, but also to meet new people,” Lafrance said. “So, during the event, each participant is supposed to talk to three people they don’t know. So it’s a way to help a local business, but also a way to build community.”

The Twin Cities effort is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 2 in the Center Street Plaza parking lot. Participants will be given the target location there. It’s a closely guarded secret at this point, Lafrance said.

As of May 14, the L-A effort has picked up 94 friends on Facebook, and that’s only through word-of-mouth marketing and friends talking it up. Lafrance is hoping for a lot more, but if only 90 show up and spend $20 each in the target business, that’s a $1,800 windfall.

“That’s good sales day for any small business,” she said.

Lafrance said she heard about the trend on the news last month and investigated it on the Internet. A blog, http://cashmobs.wordpress.com, keeps track of the events around the country and Lafrance said she contacted them.

A sales associate for Uncle Andy’s Digest, she asked her coworkers if they thought sounded like a good idea.

“They said it sounded awesome,” she said. “It’s such a great idea, and it’s so simple and it’s unbelievable the response we’ve had.”

Lafrance said she understands local business. Her parents own a small sign shop in Lewiston-Auburn.

“It’s really hard being a small business owner today,” she said. “Back in the day, everyone went to the local hardware store for the hardware and the local butcher for their meat. Now, we just go to Walmart and buy all of it. The little guy has a really hard time competing. Everyone talks about it, but they are just trying to survive.”

She hopes it becomes a regular event.

Anyone interested in being part of the mob or of having their business mobbed in the future should subscribe to the Facebook page or send Lafrance a message there.

“This is how it starts, I hope,” she said. “I hope it turns into a ripple effect with more and more people in local shops.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.