BIZ BUZZ • BY JAMIE LEE
Not many businesses would welcome a mob. But Now and Then is one of those places. On Friday, June 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., a cash mob will invade the store on Laurel Avenue.
Rules include spending or donating at least $20 and bringing or meeting at least three new people. Afterward there will be a meet up at another local business, The Olive Lounge, featuring happy hour specials.
“Our goal is to help keep the idea of supporting local businesses, and by extension keeping jobs, services, and taxes in the community plus residential property values up, by having a vibrant main street or town center,” manager Elizabeth Brinkama said in an email.
Cash mobs started in 2011, though there is some debate as to how the idea came about. Blogger Christopher Smith organized one in Buffalo, N.Y. on Aug. 5, 2011, and attorney Andrew Samtoy held another in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 16 of that same year. Both initially thought they were first. Regardless, the grassroots strategy aims to support independent, local businesses.
Brinkama first heard of it when she read an article in The Wall Street Journal and then later heard a piece on NPR. The idea has rapidly spread beyond its humble beginnings. While this is the first cash mob in Old Town Takoma, it’s not the first effort to unite the neighborhood and remind residents of the liveliness in the area.
Brinkama mentioned “Ladies Night” at Ace Hardware, which was held in October of 2011 to bring the community together and also publicize their presence. There are also “Open Mic Nights” and “Fantabulicious Thursdays” at Capital City Cheesecake, which will continue through June. “This [cash mob] is another great way to bring friends and neighbors together, introduce newcomers to your business so they can see what you have to offer, and just have a plain old good time!” said Brinkama.
It also comes at a time when the economy is still in a recession. “Events like these are reminders that, when possible, think of your community business first. The relationship between customers, residents and businesses is that of a partnership. We are all working together towards a more vibrant and thriving shopping and dining district.”
While Old Town Takoma is already known for its quaint charm and neighborliness, additional efforts like this cash mob are put in place to keep this energy going.
Now and Then specializes in craft items and gifts, and their most popular item is cards.“We carry virtually all occasions and run the gamut from funny to emotionally heartfelt,” Brinkama said. “A great number of the cards we feature are designed by truly inspiring artists, using the finest of environmentally-friendly materials.”
Laura Barclay and Patty Baker, co-executive directors of the Old Takoma Business Association, have assisted with press by putting a blurb on the Main Street Takoma Facebook page and tweeting it out, too. To read more, visit Main Street Takoma.