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Cash Mobs, the Anti-Groupon, Are Coming to a Store Near You

Flash mobs meet local business in solidarity with neighborhood merchants.

The Groupon-led daily deal craze has made shoppers eager to get as much as possible from local shops for as little as possible—even when that turns out to be a terrible deal for the businesses themselves. Now, a new movement in support of local business is turning the flash-sale concept on its head. Participants in "cash mobs" pick a store, then flock to it in droves to pay full-price to support a local business in need.

The cash mob concept debuted in Buffalo, New York last August, when local engineer Chris Smith organized an outing to a local wine shop. As media outlets picked up the story, local business lovers around the country ran with the idea. A Canadian woman organized 12 cash mobs in a row. A blog created by cash mobbers in Cleveland has turned into a forum for tips to organize a successful event (hint: Incorporate booze whenever possible).

“It’s not just about the money that comes in that day," Smith told PRI. "It’s about a real small business that doesn’t have a lot of money and a marketing budget. They get a little earned media coverage they wouldn’t normally get that allows them to establish themselves a little bit more." And just like with Groupon, the end goal is to turn cash mob customers into loyal supporters.

While groups in different cities tweak the rules to suit their needs, the basic principles stay consistent. Organizers use social media to nominate and select a business, participants agree to spend a certain amount (generally $20). Afterwards, celebratory beers are drunk.

Image via Los Angeles Cash Mobs

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