Since 2012, Cash Mob Edmonton have organized flash mobs to flood locally owned independent businesses with support. In advance of their next event on Oct. 7, which was created as a collaboration with The Local Good, we caught up with Cash Mob’s Tommy Kalita and asked him to share the details.
TLG: What’s the story of how Cash Mob Edmonton came to be? What was the need you saw in the community?
TK: Two friends and I wanted to find a way to put a spotlight on locally owned businesses. It’s easy to forget locally owned businesses with our marketing-saturated world. We saw the success some groups were having hosting Cash Mobs in the US, and thought we could do something similar in Edmonton.
TLG: Why does this work in Edmonton?
TK: Edmonton has a long history of supporting locally owned businesses. People want to do their part to help the local economy and keep as much money invested in our city as possible.
TLG: How does it work?
TK: We pick a deserving locally owned business based on recommendations from the community. We then reach out to the business and ensure they’re willing to host us. If they say yes, we organize a time and date for mobbers to show up — the business is a closely guarded secret until the event begins. The mobbers show up with $20 (or what they can afford), a reusable shopping bag and a few friends. We make the announcement and then the mob begins! We arrive at the store, spend the money, and hopefully share the experience on social media. While the event creates short-term sales for the business, our hope is that sharing on both social media and on the news allows for a long-term boost in sales.
TLG: How will this Local Good x Cash Mob Edmonton event differ from the usual?
TK: By pooling our resources, we are hoping to make this the biggest and best Cash Mob yet! While The Local Good and Cash Mob have close ties, this is the first time we’ll be hosting the event together. Needless to say, I’m excited as this looks to be the biggest event we’ve ever held. In fact, we’re hoping to make this the biggest Cash Mob in Canada!
TLG: What’s your advice for first-time participants?
TK: Just show up and check it out. There’s no pressure to buy anything and you’ll get a chance to meet some great people that share similar values. It’s always a lot of fun and you get to be exposed to a locally owned business you may have never heard of before.
TLG: What’s the response been so far, from participants and from the selected businesses?
TK: Everyone is excited. This event seems to be coming together more smoothly than ever before — we’ve even got a few surprises up our sleeve for those in attendance! The business is one that I am particularly excited for, so I can’t wait to unveil it to everyone on Oct. 7.
TLG: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the past two years of running Cash Mobs?
TK: Just like many of the mobbers, the Cash Mobs allow me to be introduced to incredible locally owned businesses that I often haven’t heard of before. It’s difficult to run a small business and the marketing budget can often be tight. I’ve learned to spend more time looking for the local alternative when I do my shopping, as the experience is often way better.
TLG: After the collaborative Cash Mob on 104th Street on Oct. 7, what’s next for Cash Mob Edmonton?
TK: We’ll have to wait and see. I hope to get back onto a regular schedule and continue to put a spotlight on Edmonton’s great locally owned businesses.
TLG: If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved, what should they do?
TK: Feel free to contact me on twitter (@TommyKalita) or any representatives from The Local Good. We’d love to hear from you!