The Central Ohio Chapter of Credit Unions has locals on the lookout for the next cash mob.
In a bid to encourage members to buy local at area small businesses, cash mobs play off the flash mob concept as groups of individuals come together to spend at least $20 within a certain time period to help spike sales while supporting the local economy.
“We saw success with cash mobs in other markets, different organizations around the country, and we as credit unions are small businesses ourselves, so we thought it would be a good tie in,” said Allyson Tate, marketing specialist at KEMBA Financial Credit Union and chair of the chapter’s marketing committee. “What better way to bring attention to other local small business merchants?”
A kickoff event was held last month at Weiland’s Gourmet Market in Clintonville, Ohio. The family-run store celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and according to proprietor Jennifer Williams, the invitation to be a part of the inaugural event was a welcome surprise.
“My husband and I had just read about cash mobs in Cleveland and California, so when Allyson dropped off the information and called us, it was almost too good to be true,” said Williams, whose father founded Weiland’s in 1961. “It was kind of like having a party. We offered samples and beverages we had on hand, so we didn’t have to do anything other than welcome new friends. I can’t tell you how honored and humbled we were to be chosen to kickoff the cash mob. To have a third party like credit unions, help out a local business has been great and means a lot.”
Williams was pleased with the turnout during the event and the exposure it generated, from local papers and television stations.
“I would say about 30 to 40 people showed up, and even my dad said there were a lot of new faces in here, which is great,” said Williams. “Overall, I think it was a nice gesture for any small local business and it gave me an idea to maybe do one customer appreciation weekend a month.”
Tate added that store sales were up 18% compared to last year.
“It went off really well. I think for credit unions to come together to support local businesses in this way gives us a lot of visibility within the community that we’re doing what we can to help other businesses grow,” said Tate.
Plans are underway for each credit union in the chapter to select a business to host monthly cash mob events every third Thursday.
The monthly cash mobs will be marketed across all participating credit unions via websites, social media, newsletters, flyers and in branches. According to Tate, the monthly events will be simpler than the kickoff, as it will be a smaller scale.
“All we do is encourage members to visit the featured business during a specific time period and spend $20. It’s not an overly complicated process as the promotion is really a grassroots effort,” said Tate. “The individual credit unions decide which business to showcase. It can be businesses they have relationships with or a way to reach out and find new businesses to partner with. It’s really exciting and different because this is something all credit unions regardless of size, community chartered or SEG-based can participate. Promoting and helping local businesses succeed is a good opportunity for us as an industry.”
“We spent under $500 and that was because we chose to give away reusable grocery bags which listed each chapter credit union and the cucashmob.com website,” said Tate. “We did that because we had the money for it but you don’t have to do that. The possibilities are absolutely endless and up to each credit union."