A cash mob has “hit” a local restaurant in Oshkosh, Wis., courtesy of CitizensFirst Credit Union.
The event was a first for the $384 million credit union’s NextGen program, which combines financial education and community outreach as a way to experience rather than just talk about the cooperative nature of credit unions.
More than 40 NextGen members ages 15 to 25 spread the word and surprised the staff at Lara’s Tortilla Flats on their slowest night. Each of the cash mob members were given $10 to spend at the local eatery and were joined by members, credit union staffers and their families.
According to Bryce Roth, director of marketing at the Wisconsin credit union, the event served as a perfect example of the cooperative principles taught as part of the program.
“We know some of our younger members have allowances or are in college and don’t have the discretionary income to normally do something like this so that’s why we gave them each $10,” said Roth, who handed out $10 to a few restaurant regulars as well, who had to wait a bit for their order.
“The cash mob is something new here and ours was a first for Oshkosh,” Roth said. “Our young members built the buzz around this. It was really great to see them tweeting, checking in and even commenting on Facebook that they didn’t realize what they could do as a community. I don’t think it was real to them until we put the $10 in their hands.”
As an added bonus, local television and newspapers were quick to cover the news.
“It exceeded our expectations,” said Roth, who admitted he was nervous about the logistics of holding it in a restaurant rather than a retail store.
“Lara’s has been a local family-run small business for 38 years that offers great food. This was the right thing to do and good way to show support for the community,” he said. “This sort of experience is what credit unions need to do more of.
“We’re going to continue to be focused on ideas that deliver high impact and get people talking about the good credit unions do, whether it’s ours or the ones down the street. It’s important to stop just talking amongst ourselves and do things that will get others talking about what we’re doing.”
Since launching the NextGen program, developed by its marketing CUSO Chatter Yak, CFCU said, it has been opening an average of a little more than 80 new accounts each month for members who are 34 years old or younger.