Don't worry ... it's a good kind of mob.
Tim Hudyncia, co-founder of LetsBuyLocal.org has organized Coventry's first ever cash mob — where residents mob a locally owned business and purchase up to $20 in merchandise all at the same time.
Essentially, a cash mob is a social network effort that pulls in shoppers to a specific location and does not cost the business any money to take part. In fact, many businesses have no idea that the mob is coming until the 'mobsters' walk in the door.
The purpose? To boost and support the local economy.
Coventry's first mob will be held on Wednesday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m. Participants are being asked to meet at the (2006 Nooseneck Hill Rd.) with $20 (or whatever they can afford) and from there they will travel to the final shopping destination that will not be revealed until that moment.
Hudyncia explained that there is no other group in Central Rhode Island that organizes these kinds of events, so LetsBuyLocal.org is at the forefront of the buy local initiative in RI. The grassroots organization that will soon be a recognized 501(c)(6) launched last November and already has 43 members and continues to grow rapidly.
"So far we are the only ones who have stepped forward to help local businesses in this way and we hope other people step up," said Hudyncia. "This is only one facet of what we do. It's not the solution, not the answer, but in combination with other things, it's brilliant."
There is not one set of rules that cash mobsters follow, but Hudyncia noted that the idea is to keep it as simple as possible. A day, time and meeting place is announced and set up as a Facebook event where people can RSVP and then they show up with cash in hand.
So far, Hudyncia has pre-screened about two dozen locally-owned businesses around the state to figure out when their slowest/busiest parts of the day are, when they are the most well-staffed and when they are capable of handling an unexpected rush, but businesses owners are not made aware of the mob ahead of time.
"We like to keep the whole thing very pure and very exciting. It's a blast," he said. "Hopefully we show up at the business and the owner is in tears. The element of surprise is a very important part of this."
One of LetsBuyLocal's unwritten rules is that the members want to be a vital resource for the community and to uphold this vision, cash mobs are always targeted at businesses that could really use a boost. Hudyncia pointed out that if a crisis occurs in a community and a strong need arises (for example a robbery, natural disaster, fire, etc.), the organization will make it a point to step in wherever possible.
"We want to be there to help," he said. "That's always going to be our approach."
Will you be there Wednesday? If so, RSVP on the event's Facebook page by clicking here. Coventry Patch will be there ... so look for coverage of the mob!