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Cash mobs invade, hit Tacoma first

It begins with an address and a request. Bring $10 or $20, cash, and be prepared to spend it.

You’ve heard of flash mobs where people show up at the same location and do a choreographed dance or perform in some way in a public place, of course capturing it to put on YouTube. Those stunts have evolved into something to support small businesses – cash mobs.

They started last fall in Cleveland and have spread to cities around the world. The rules of a cash mob are simple. First, choose a local store, coffee shop or restaurant. Organize a shopping trip through social media. Let the business know when you’re coming. And spend up to $20 at the location.

The first cash mob in our area happened Sunday at Teaching Toys and Books in Tacoma.


Photo by Kate Swarner of the Weekly Volcano

Store co-owner Valla Wagner says on a typical day her 1,500 hundred square foot store has about 5 or 10 shoppers at one time. The cash mob brought in 70 to 80 people.

“Everybody was having a lot of fun,” she says. “It was very different than just going shopping. People were talking with each other and introducing themselves to each other.”

They were buying too. Wheely bugs, puppets, marble mazes, Ugly dolls, and more.

“I took a comparison from the same Sunday last year and we did four or five times the business that we did the previous year,” says Wagner.

It was a boost at a time when small businesses are hurting. Nearly 40-percent say a decline in customer spending is the biggest challenge to their survival, according to a recent report from the National Small Business Association.

Wagner says she will support mobs at other stores in the community, and cash mobbers have already identified 10 other stores they plan to hit in Tacoma.

Related links:

Tacoma cash mob on Facebook

Find a cash mob near you


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