Brevard city council takes a 'mob approach' to saving small businesses

'Cash Mob' concept comes to Central Florida

Published On: Jul 19 2012 11:00:31 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 20 2012 12:01:00 AM EDT
MELBOURNE, Fla. -

It's only 9:30 a.m. but the sun is so bright it feels like noon. 

Still, the heat is not enough to keep a group of around 65 from gathering in front of a restaurant loved by locals.

As they take their seats, they feverishly wave wads of twenty dollar bills in their hands.

These people are part of Brevard County's first "Cash Mob", a concept city council member Greg Jones saw on television and decided to bring to the quaint downtown.

"It just seemed like a really unique idea to help small businesses get attention to themselves," said Jones who plans to hold the events every month.

News about cash mobs are spread through social media or just word of mouth. Participants are asked to show up at a predetermined location with cash in hand that they are willing to spend at a small business.

The name of the business is kept secret until the day of the event.

Jones selected the Chandelery, a candle and gift shop, for the city's first mob event because they are locally owned and operated and offer a selection of products that are not gender specific.

The store's owners were given advanced notice so they could have enough staff available to accommodate the rush in business.  To return the favor for being selected, The Chandelry agreed to give everyone who was part of the mob a 10 percent discount.

In one hour, the business racked up $2500  which is the biggest single day sales figure owner Caroline Caudill has seen outside of the holiday shopping season.

"It was exciting, it was almost like being with a group of kids, which is what I'm used to," said Caudill, who has run the shop with her husband since 1994.

Melbourne's mobs also incorporate sponsorships and non-profit groups.  Jones was able to get Waste Management to donate money to Children's Home Society and to the mobbers.

Jones raffled off fresh $20 bills for participants so they had even more money to spend.

Caudill also donated a portion of her sales to the Children's Home Society, which runs the Hacienda Girl's Ranch

Jones is still in the process of setting up the next cash mob which will take place on August 4.  Check the mob's Facebook page for information about how to participate.