“Cash-mob” targets Grand Rapids small businesses

Dec 13, 2011

A organized crowd of people swarmed a local business in downtown Grand Rapids as part of an effort to buy local this holiday season.

Dozens showed up at the same store at the same time for the event, called a “cash mob”. It was organized by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Each person pledged to spend at least $20. Which store the cash mob goes to remains a secret until just a few hours beforehand.

“It’s a new spin on long time mission for the chamber of bringing exposure to local businesses,” said GRACC President and CEO Rick Baker. Baker says they heard about the idea from Cleveland.

The cash mob targeted retail incubator, MoDiv; a single storefront with nine generally new, small retail businesses inside.

Grand Rapids resident Clint Merrill took part in the cash mob. He bought flowers and edible goodies from the Kintchen Sinc. He says local businesses have high quality gifts that you can’t find in every town. “To be able to do anything to help someone out who may be a neighbor of yours or live in the same community as you it makes you feel good,” Merrill said, “It’s kind of a win-win.” Merrill says he’s stopped in the stores before but never spent any money.

Abbey Fowler owns 6.25 Paper Studio. It’s a custom stationary store inside MoDiv with lots of small gifts. “There will be hours where we’re here and its slower but I think once people start getting more aware that we’re down here than this will be more of a destination for retail,” Fowler said.

Fowler’s business is three years old but she’s only had the retail space for three months. She says on a normal Tuesday night, they’re “not very busy at all lately.”