Cash Mob Wichita to debut this week to help local mom-and-pop businesses

Cash Mob Wichita founder Jill Miller (left), who has chosen Aimee McCarter's Junk in the Trunk Clothing as one of seven businesses to mob in Delano on Saturday.

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.”

The first cash mob will be Saturday – which happens to be National Cash Mob Day – in Delano.

“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.”

Sugar Sister Kelli Sykes to reopen Sugar Sisters Bakery in Delano

WICHITA — The Sugar Sisters are back.

Kelli Sykes is reopening Sugar Sisters Bakery, this time in Delano, with a little behind-the-scenes help from her sisters Kristine and Katie.

The sisters closed their original Sugar Sisters Bakery & Cafe near Central and Oliver in January after struggling financially and with service issues for three years.

“I learned from our mistakes the first time,” Kelli Sykes says.

“My sisters kind of gave up (and) wanted to pursue their dreams, but I still wanted to do a bakery,” she says.

“In high school I went to Kapaun, and everyone called me Betty Crocker (and) Mom. They all wanted me to open a bakery. That’s kind of where my dream started.”

The new business will be in 1,200 square feet at 917 W. Douglas just down from Club Billiards.

Joey Ritchie and Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal.

Sugar Sisters mainly will be a bakery but will have some lunch items as well and seating for about 10.

Sykes says her bierocks will be a staple.

“Anyone who’s had them has been instantly addicted.”

She’ll also serve chicken salad, quiche and some deli items such as cold pasta.

Since the other business closed, Sykes says she’s been doing special orders and has been receiving great feedback.

For instance, one drug rep orders about 100 cupcakes a week.

“She says every time she takes them somewhere people go crazy,” Sykes says. She says fans of the restaurant have “been going nuts since we closed.”

For those who weren’t fans or were disappointed by a previous experience, Sykes says, “I would invite them to give me another chance.”

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Sugar Sisters Bakery & Cafe is closing; wholesale business to open in new space

WICHITA — Sugar Sisters Bakery & Cafe is closing Saturday, but a new Sugar Sisters Bakery will soon be opening in a new space.

The 3-year-old restaurant has struggled financially and with service issues.

“After three years, we know where our strengths and our weaknesses are,” says Patty Sykes, who runs the business with her children.

“We want to continue doing what we’re doing, but we’ve just got to do it in a way that makes money.”

Sykes hasn’t signed a deal for new space, though she’s close.

She also plans to do orders through a new website, and she’s been talking to other retail outlets about selling her baked goods through them.

That includes traditional bakery items, such as cakes and cookies, and bierocks and quiches as well.

“We’re just going to do what seems like the smart thing to do,” Sykes says.

She’s selling half the equipment in the restaurant.

Overhead was part of the restaurant’s problem, Sykes says.

“It’s a beautiful space, and we really like it there,” she says. “It just didn’t seem to make sense.”

The bakery does well, Sykes says, so she thinks the new business will, too.

“It’s really more of a cost-cutting measure just so we can stay alive and competitive.”