Ambush Locally-Owned Businesses With Support Via Cash Mob

Are you looking for a way to support locally-owned businesses that also includes the element of surprise, meeting new people, and alcohol? If so, consider putting together a cash mob for your city. No, not a flash mob: a cash mob. They’re groups of people, organized online, who pledge to spend at least $20 at a locally-owned business that gives back to the community.

Here, according to the original cash mob site, are the key rules. You are, of course, welcome to change them up to suit your own city.

1) The mob date must be announced a week in advance via Twitter.
2) The location at which to meet will be announced, but not the specific business to support.
3) The amount to spend will not be above $20, although people can spend more if they wish.
4) The business must have products for both men and women.
5) The business must be locally owned.
6) The business owner must give back to the community in some way.
7) The business owner must approve the CashMob before the mob is announced.
8) The business must be within one block of a watering hole.
9) Cash Mobbers must join us for celebratory drinks after the successful mob.
10) The cash mob will occur during the evening on a weekday or on a weekend.
11) Pictures will be posted to the blog after the CashMob.
12) Parking must be available.

Mobs in Cleveland and San Diego have already made the news. Will your city be next?

Want to Cash Mob? [Cash Mobs]


Edit Your Comment

  1. rpm773 says:

    12 steps? Sounds complicated.

    Here’s the plan I use to support local business;
    – get in my car
    – drive to the local business
    – spend my money at the local business

    See? 3 easy steps. And if I walk, I’m down to 2 steps.

  2. Jim M says:

    Spending money…and drinks with cool new people……I think I just found my new church.

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    watering hole?

  4. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Yeah, no supporting any local business that’s not within a block of booze, no matter what! Great rule!

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      Since you carry a flask your booze is always handy. I like how you operate man.

    • kc2idf says:

      I’d recommend that the watering hole also meet the locality criteria, and, if possible, either brew its own goods or buy locally-brewed goods. It gives the cash mob a little bit more meaning.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Why not suck a quart of Jack out of a paper bag in the partking lot?

  5. The Porkchop Express says:

    can’t the local business be a “watering hole”? that makes it much easier.

  6. Straspey says:

    Sounds like a great idea – oh, wait…

    1) The mob date must be announced a week in advance via Twitter.

    Umm…I don’t do Twitter, or Facebook – guess I’ll have to spend my $20 someplace else. Too bad really – because i would loved to participate in something like this.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      They also suggest putting word out to local news outlets – a quick e-mail press release should to the trick. And the Cleveland one has a blog.

      • Straspey says:

        Thanks for pointing that out Laura.

        Sorry if I was a bit edgy – but those of us who don’t do “social networking” feel as if we’re becoming more marginalized with each passing day.

        The NY Times just changed their comments system on their website. One of the changes regards receiving an invitation to become a “trusted commenter” – but in order to do that the Times says it needs to verify your identity via your Facebook page – and no – if you aren’t on Facebook then you’re out of luck.

        Of course, there are a number of other methods they could use to “verify” my identity – but obviously, the Facebook connection is commercially attractive to them, for many reasons.

        BTW – I live in an area with many local businesses and enthusiastically support them all.

        • Martha Gail says:

          Why are you so against social networks? I’ll give you the privacy issues, but there are settings you can tweak. It would seem this is the way the future of communication is going. It’s like you swore off telephones when they were just taking off and then got angry that fewer people wrote letters.

          This isn’t an attack, I’m just curious as to why you’re so against them.

        • FyreGoddess says:

          I don’t think that marginalized is the right word. I think you’re in danger of being left behind completely. Technology is progressing faster than humans can process it. I think that social networking is very much a way to ease people into the new Technology Age that we’re just starting to approach.

          Many of the innovators of this century are looking toward a much more open society, where our guards are let down and privacy is something that people aren’t concerned about. It’s going to change the way we function and you can see with these younger generations that they’re largely embracing it. The world moves faster now than it ever has before, and those of us born before 1990 can’t expect things to go back to the way it used to be. We need to catch up or be left behind.

          I’m not saying you should immediately sign up for every social network and give up any hope of privacy, but I find “marginalized” to be an understatement of what it means to completely eschew social networking in this day and age.

          • Yomiko says:

            Dude, he’s gonna tell you to get off his lawn.

            In Straspey’s defense, I understand the appeal of staying out of the social media game, I just can’t resist its siren song…

          • Verdant Pine Trees says:

            Many of those innovators who expect us to give up privacy and not worry about it are themselves young people, like Mark Zuckerberg, who haven’t thought through (or don’t want us to think about) the long term implications. For one thing, the sheer amount of numbing crap that we wade through thanks to oversharing.

            I use social networking quite a bit, but I still take steps to preserve my privacy, as much for the people who are following me as for myself. Frankly, I don’t care what Wil Wheaton ate for breakfast – nor do I need to know it about my dearest friends and family.

    • Misha says:

      If you use an RSS reader, you can follow individual Twitter feeds using that, without needing a Twitter account.

    • DH405 says:

      Yes, we’re all proud of your anti-twitter moral stance. Great for you and all. I’m glad you save time otherwise connecting with people on Twitter and instead spend your time talking about how you’re not connecting with people on Twitter.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    That’s way too complicated. I’m supporting my local business owners by going to restaurants, getting meat from the butcher shop, and generally living my life normally. There are local businesses wherever you go; you don’t need to subscribe to a 12-step cash mob to do it.

  8. dolemite says:

    I like this idea. However, it sounds like politics get involved and make it complicated…

  9. Tokarev_Makarov says:

    Does this “cash mob” also involve “using local stores as Amazon Showrooms?”
    I don’t get this dichotomy – encouraging mass patronage of local stores, but also advising readers on how to help kill their profit margins?

    • aphex732 says:

      Just different facets of consumerism – would you like to support a local business, or be driven by frugality? Both are reasonable and should be represented here.

    • tooluser says:


      Whatever someone else tells you is true. Whatever you think of on your own is false.

      Independence is slavery. Free action is slavery. Do as you are told. Obey, and you will get a cookie.

  10. misterfweem says:

    Dammit. That’s it. I’m starting, if everything’s going to be social these days. Most of you on Twitter already know how this will go.

    One of’s convoluted rules will have to involve two-ply. . .

  11. ash says:

    Another thing these people could mention; use cash instead of credit, so more of the money goes towards the local business (no processing fees)

  12. tinyninja says:

    They’re leaving out service businesses by specifying products. They’re also likely too narrow minded to include locally owned franchises, which, contrary to popular belief, only turn a modest profit. *And* (this is the one that is pissing me off) the business must publicly give back to the community in some way. Many, many generous people give without fanfare or publicity. If you look at donation listings you will find the most “Anonymouses” correlated with the biggest gifts.

    • chucklebuck says:

      So start your own thing that allows services, franchises, etc. if you don’t like their guidelines. I just don’t see any downside to what they’re doing.

      • tooluser says:

        Yes, just follow the rules. The rules are there for your safety.

        You wouldn’t want to do something unsafe, would you? Obey.

    • Martha Gail says:

      The instructions say to change it how you see fit.

  13. Cicadymn says:

    My company always does pizza parties. (Not an easy task for 300+ people). We usually order pizza from a large southern pizza chain. It’s not very good, but they can get the number of pizzas we need out hot and fresh so we use them.

    So I told the girl who orders pizza about a local pizza place that I love, guy’s from New York and has moved to our small town to make pizzas. But most of all he’s super friendly and always goes out of his way to support the community and our local high school and their teams. She loved the pizza so much she told him about the pizza parties we have, and ended up working out a deal with him, it’s a little more expensive, but now we get awesome pizza’s and we’re supporting a locally owned business.

  14. jeadly says:

    Uh, wouldn’t this overload the business with customers all at once producing terrible lines and subpar service? I feel like the regular patrons would be pretty pissed.

    Also, it’s not much of an ambush if the business owner agrees to it a week beforehand.

    • Draskuul says:

      I would imagine that’s one reason why one of the rules is to have the business owner agree to the mob beforehand.

    • dolemite says:

      “John…we want to get your opinion on something. We want to do something special for you, next week on your birthday. I can’t say what it is, but do you think you could leave the front door unlocked, and move the furniture into an arrangement that could conceal 22 people? Also we’ll need you home no later than 6:30 that day.”

    • tooluser says:

      It’s crony capitalism. They’re thick as thieves, these leftists.

  15. jsweitz says:

    I stopped reading at “gives back to the community”. That implies that something WAS GIVEN to the business in the first place. The business owner invested a lot of their own time and money (or that of a bank or other investor) to get the business started and maintained, but nothing was given to them.

    I’m all for supporting businesses that give to their community. At my company (~40 people) we’re actually given time off and paid to volunteer for 8 hrs every year. We’re also designing a road and bridge in a park for free because the county is so broke.

    Don’t cheapen the charity done by businesses by implying that they owe it to the community because they were given something in the first place.

  16. JeremieNX says:

    Sounds like an awful lot of rules and stipulations… Where I live parking is scarce but everything is accessible on foot and few people would drive anyway. I also cannot think of one local business that caters to both men and women, is within 1 block of a bar, and has plentiful parking. I could list many businesses that meet at least 2 of those three rules that are all within 3-4 blocks of each other :P

  17. dush says:

    or just use the local store as a amazon discount mob

  18. SabreDC says:

    What’s the etiquette for supporting small, locally-owned businesses that use large warehouse stores for supplies? I know some business owners who use Sam’s Club for things like paper products. Since my support of their small business is ultimately contributing to Walmart Stores, Inc., what’s the best way to go about this? Do I ask small business owners for a list of their suppliers before supporting them?

    • tooluser says:

      You are smarter than average.

      I often see the owner of a small local catering outfit buying food in the GIANT NATIONAL CHAIN grocery store next door to his business.

      Leftist thinking is shallow.

      Think for yourself. Ignore most everybody else.

      Vote the bums (i.e. everybody) out.

  19. caj111 says:

    It doesn’t sound any fun if the business owner(s) already know that the mob is coming beforehand.

    Also, the one block of a watering hole rule sounds a little harsh. I can walk an extra block or two if necessary.

  20. aleck says:

    Seems complicated. You really think you can have more than two people agree to all these rules?

  21. quirkyrachel says:

    I love the idea but they lost large portions of major cities by requiring parking. Just sayin’.

  22. Not Given says:

    No watering hole in the entire town and only one liquor store. I guess local business is screwed, not that there are many.

  23. DragonThermo says:

    Wow, what a demanding bunch! So many requirements, just to spend $20. The requirement that got my blood hot was “the business owner must give back to the community”. The business owner is paying taxes (read: “giving back”) to the community. That is plenty. How about just spending $15 at the business, and “give back” your own $5 to a charity of your choice?

    Aaaaand the business owner has to provide parking for your mob? Why not just require the business owner to provide valet parking?

    What are your requirements for “locally owned”? Could it be a national franchise owned by an area resident?

    • tooluser says:

      Even better would be that all participants give $20 to a local charity and stay home all day. Maybe all year.

  24. tooluser says:

    Parking must be available? Parking? Available?

    What kind of leftist website is this? All proper leftist activities involve no parking, no availability, and no planning.

    But I understand the authoritarian “must”. Go Democrats. Go go go. Enslave enslave enslave. Make your lives better at others’ expense.


  25. kittylauper says:

    Just because a business is “local” doesn’t mean it treats their employees well. In fact, smaller businesses can usually get away with not following labor laws, for example they usually don’t pay overtime. You’re still giving your money to a boss, just differentiating which boss you give it to. Try a flash tipping mob, go in to a restaurant or coffee shop and tip your server with more money than you give their boss. This supports the worker, not the bourgeois asshole exploiting them.