A local business owner got a welcome surprise when her store suddenly became packed with customers bent on spending some cash.
It was a slow weekday morning like any other March 15 until a “cash mob” spilled in through the doors of Fruits of Our Spirit near Mainstreet and Victorian Drive. The mob, assembled by local-business advocates Rely Local Parker and Parker Power Partners, had the register ringing at the decor and home furnishings store.
A cash mob is a somewhat-spontaneous event organized by a small group of people who intend to bring attention and a sudden injection of revenue to a local business. Rely Local Parker blasted the location out to followers a few hours before the event and everyone was instructed to arrive at the same time and spend at least $10.
Becca Casarez, owner of Fruits of Our Spirit, was completely caught off guard and later said she was surprised that the visit — the first by a cash mob in Parker — was kept secret by her large network of friends and colleagues.
“I had no idea,” she said. “It’s been a great surprise. It’s like Christmas.”
Many mob members were Parker business owners who wanted to show support and solidarity, even those who don’t know Casarez.
Rely Local Parker community advocate Michael Harrity said the cash mob visit was his first time stopping by Fruits of Our Spirit. The groups are trying to help businesses that might be struggling. Fruits of Our Spirit was nominated by a member of Rely Local Parker.
The store first opened in 2007 just as an extensive reconstruction project on Mainstreet was getting under way. The ongoing work kept customers away, then the economy dipped severely in 2008. Casarez said last summer was her slowest yet and money has been tight during the post-holiday lull.
“I swear it could not have come at a better time,” said Casarez, who is planning to move her store to the more visible location on Mainstreet that used to house Mountain Man Nut & Fruit.
The cash mob event afforded an opportunity for another downtown Parker company to showcase its stuff.
Fika Coffeehouse owner Josh Rivero said he could not pass up a chance to get involved by giving out free coffee to mob participants. Casarez is a regular customer at Fika, and Rivero believes the push for mutual support among businesses is an encouraging trend. He said the town is “big in a sense that there are 40,000 people,” but not in the tight-knit small business community.
The cash mob not only brings exposure for the targeted business, but also shows people outside of town what is happening in Parker, said Harrity, who invited a television news crew to film the event.
Harrity said redirecting money to businesses in Parker keeps it circulating and provides a significant boost to the local economy. He said an estimated 68 cents out of every dollar stays in town, as opposed to 14 cents out of every dollar spent at big box stores.
The business-backing groups in town plan to have a cash mob once a month.