“Mob” Aims To Improve City’s Economy

Posted at: 09/12/2013 11:27 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- As large international corporations threaten mom and pop stores across the country, one area town is adopting a mob mentality to try and protect its local economy.

On Thursday night, a small mob of about 30 people gathered behind Stewartville City Hall for the city's third “cash mob.”

A cash mob works much like a flash mob, with a group simultaneously crowding one store and spending money as a kind of mini-stimulus for the local economy.

“Anytime you shop locally within your small businesses, they keep those dollars within the community,” said Beth Schmidt of the Stewartville Chamber of Commerce. “Whether it's property taxes, or they're paying it forward through the different non-profits and booster clubs, things like that, it then gets recycled back into the schools."

Back in April, Catch My Thrift was the site of the city's first cash mob, with around 60 people spending about $20 each.

The store's owner said the event raised the shop’s profile within the community and created a number of returning customers.

“They tell their friends, their friends tell their friends, and pretty soon we have a big network of just that little group,” said Stacy Hanson, the store’s owner. “And I didn’t have to spend anything on advertising.”

On Thursday, the mob headed down the street from Catch My Thrift to C&M Screen Printing and Embroidery, a clothing and personalization store.

Workers there said they were more than happy to see shoppers staying in town.

“It’s hard when you're in competition and 8 1/2 miles from Rochester,” said Curt Mrotek, the store’s manager. “We need to help support ourselves, and we need to shop in town."

Store workers also said they want to see the cash mobs continue because they know it's not just about their store, but about improving the entire community's economy overall.

“You’ve got to stick behind your other businessmen no matter what,” Mrotek said. “It's not good to see a business fail in town. We want to support each other. Everybody wins that way."