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Cash mob hits Readers’ Books

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 | Posted by

There are packed ballparks, crowded theaters and now, thanks to two Sonoma friends, at least one mobbed bookstore.

Some 50 people collectively descended upon Readers’ Books Saturday afternoon as part of Sonoma Cash Mob, a movement to support local, independent businesses.

The bookstore staff was “wildly astonished” by the noontime mob, all visiting on a cold, rainy day with the intention of spending at least $15.

The mob was organized by Cynthia Tarr and Janice King through social media like Twitter and Facebook, local media outlets and old-fashioned word-of-mouth tip-offs.

Although the women were hoping for 100 shoppers, there was no disappointment at Readers’ Books when the mob stepped through the bookstore doors, surprising employees and browsing Christmas shoppers alike.

“It was like a capitalist tornado that passed merrily through our portals, and we could not be more grateful,” bookstore owner Andy Weinberger and buyer Jude Sales said in a written thank-you statement.

King said it was tough selecting just one business for the cash mob. Ultimately, Readers’ Books was the favored destination, a well-kept surprise to the mobsters who gathered at the Sonoma Community Center to head out together for the shopping spree.

They knew only that they were going to hit a Sonoma business simply to support the local economy, a mom-and-pop establishment rather than a retail chain.

King said Readers’ Books was the top choice “because they give so much to the community.”

The 21-year-old bookstore is known as much for sponsoring literary events as it is for supporting local causes and community groups.

Sonoma Cash Mob is part of a global movement to encourage citizens to “shop local” and support businesses with strong ties to the community.

According to the national cash mob organization, every dollar spent locally has a 15 percent “more positive impact” on a local economy than the same amount spent in big-box retailers.

The cash mob concept comes from the flash mobs introduced in the early 2000s that gathered mostly for entertainment value: mobs joining in dance or song in public places and then quickly dispersing.

With cash mobs, not only do people assemble and disperse, they leave behind an economic footprint and goodwill all around.

Two businesses actually were mobbed Saturday. Murphy’s Irish Pub, another independent business, also saw some action: mobsters stopped by for food, drinks and discussion after opening their wallets at Readers’ Books.

– Dianne Reber Hart

  • ER

    That is awesome!

  • Deb

    It was a terrific success, mobbing Readers’. The tone was upbeat and fun, people spent money, some of us saw friends we’d not seen for quite a while. With the week’s terrible news, it was a welcome diversion. And thanks, Jude, for the suggestions.

Writer Spotlight

Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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