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Cash Mobs

Today, March 24, is National Cash Mob Day. Begun last year, cash mobs organize flash mob participants to meet and spend $20 at a local store, supporting homegrown businesses. Cash mobs have spread to dozens of cities around the country and are popping up overseas. While a boost of $800 in the lucky cash register is good, the true value is in raising awareness about the importance of spending locally.

Why does spending more of our money locally matter? It builds a more robust, resilient economy. It spreads the wealth.

In 2002 a small coalition wondered about the impact to Austin, Texas, when Borders wanted to plop one of its bookstores right down at the same intersection as Book People (one of my favorite local  bookstores in the country) and Waterloo Records (my sons would drive 10 hours from Little Rock just to go there). The city was considering more than two million dollars in incentives to help the chain with its new location when an economic impact study found that of $100 spent at Borders, $13 stayed in the local economy, while of $100 spent at Book People or Waterloo, $45 stayed in the Austin economy.

And what of the other impacts had Borders driven these two great stores out of business before it went bankrupt itself?

Find out more about cash mobs in a recent US News and MSNBC report.

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