UPDATED — Flash mobs have descended upon Wichita before, but now the city is going to experience what appears to be its first cash mob.
That’s when groups of people visit selected local businesses en masse to offer an economic boost.
Wichita business consultant Jill Miller, whose specialty is working with small businesses, had been mulling how to better help local mom-and-pop businesses when she decided to ask some Facebook friends what they thought about doing a cash mob.
They thought it was a great idea, so late last week Miller issued something more formal to Facebook users.
Within 36 hours, she had about 1,500 people join Cash Mob Wichita.
“Jiminy Christmas,” Miller says. “I had no idea. I thought there’d be, like, 200 people or something, and it’s just blown up.”
“It’s just rife with small business owners that need support,” Miller says.
She’s chosen seven businesses that cash mob participants are invited to visit. They’re encouraged to spend at least $10 at one or more of the businesses.
Those include Auntie Mae’s Attic at 1301 W. Douglas; Junk in the Trunk Clothing at 728 W. Douglas; Bluebird Arthouse, which is a client of Miller’s, at 924 W. Douglas; Buy the Book Used Bookstore at 805 W. Maple; Sugar Sisters Bakery at 917 W. Douglas; and Pour Haus Restaurant & Tavern at 1021 W. Maple. The new Flying Stove — Gourmet Street Cuisine also will be in Delano to serve mob participants.
Miller says some business owners were confused about the concept when she approached them. They thought she was trying to sell them something. Miller says it’s they who will be doing the selling.
“The impact that it’s going to make to these business owners I think is going to be huge.”
That’s why she wants to choose only a few businesses to mob at a time.
Too many businesses “spreads the money out too much.”
Miller hopes to hold two or three cash mobs a month.
“This is something I want to do to help our community,” Miller says. “Being a consultant that specializes in small businesses, I see my clients struggle.”
The first cash mob will be a daylong event – from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – instead of only a couple of hours so businesses aren’t overwhelmed.
Miller hopes cash mob participants will meet at a local watering hole or eatery after each event to help support one more business. This time, it will be the Pour Haus at 6 p.m.
“People in Wichita want to support local business,” Miller says. “I have been completely blown away by the response.”