Cash Mob (noun), as smugly defined by the Wall Street Journal: "Part of a national movement that has shoppers descending en masse on designated local stores, where they show their support by spending lots of money. Afterward, they go out for a drink."
It may come as no surprise that one of these puppies recently hit Park Slope. After all, our neighborhood is chock-full of money and mom & pop stores. A combination of Cash Mob Facebook posts and Tweets recently led to a gathering of guerilla shoppers at the Tea Lounge, where local CM leader Amy Cortese gave the order to storm the Park Slope Community Bookstore. The whole thing kinda went over like a limp dick.
And because Park Slope is a neighborhood full of juicy gossip -- a place where debates on bike lanes and Food Coops get international attention, a five-man film crew from TBS Tokyo was there to capture the experience.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
"The mobsters displayed their purchases for the Japanese TV crew. David Foster Wallace was a favorite, as were books on food and financial justice. And in the spirit of buying local, they purchased each other's books. Entrepreneur Jason Punzalan snapped up Ms. Cortese's 'Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It.' Jezra Kaye signed her 'Kicking: Love Poems' for fellow mobster Kerry Gendron."
Even with the enthusiasm and the social networking bombing and the Japanese coverage, the total amount spent at the Community Book Store was a mere $750. For comparison, in Bellport, Long Island, one cash mob spent over $2800 in a gift store. In Cleveland, Ohio a mob spent $9,000 in a health food store. Cash Mob national Spokesperson Andrew Samtoy did say that Park Slope's mob did stand out from the rest in one way: the $40 that each person spent was nearly twice the national average of other cash mobsters.
Should Park Slope be chided for it's efforts? Of course not. Samtoy says, "Cash mobs do best in cities where indy businesses are an endangered species. In towns like Cleveland, the chains have pretty much taken over: 'We struggle to avoid Arby's and Pizza Hut,' he says. New York, in contrast, still doesn't have a Wal-Mart'." This makes total sense, as most Park Slopers support local businesses as less of a statement and more as a way of life.
Of course there are those who say Cash Mobs are bullshit, like Ira Davidson, Director of Small Business Development at Pace University. From a dentist chair (what?!) he told the WSJ: "Cash mobs will make a bunch of naïve, starry-eyed liberals have fun and feel good about themselves, and have no economic consequence whatsoever." Mr. Cranky was clearly prepping for a root canal.
Personally, I would give my left-arm to see the TBS Tokyo coverage of our local Cash Mob.