Are Facebook Cash Mobs the New Flash Mobs?

Do the store owners a favor and don't wear your Guy Fawkes mask to the next one.

(Paul J. Richards/Getty Images)

“We’re from the Internet” can sound ominous but that may change if Facebook-based cash mobs really take off. Cash mobs are groups assembled on Facebook who pick a locally-owned retail outlet then at a predetermined date and time descend on the establishment with a mission to spend up to $20 there. The surprise element is that those who plan a cash mob wait until the day of the event to give the location.

Cash mobs aren’t simply a positive effort to support locally owned and operated stores, they are also a chance to actually meet and talk to real people. On a page detailing how to start a cash mob, the Cash Mobs blog states there are three overarching rules:

  1. Spend $20;
  2. Meet three people you didn’t know before;
  3. HAVE FUN!!!

The idea apparently began with Chris Smith, a blogger from Buffalo, who planned what was likely the first cash mob in the Summer of 2011 at Buffalo wine shop. Public Radio International interviewed Mr. Smith in February. He said he wanted consumers to “think once a month that you don’t have to go to Target for everything you need and everything you want.”

Then again there is also the added appeal of the social element, which may be good for local bars. After all, cash mob rule number 8 does state, “Cash Mobbers must join us for celebratory drinks after the successful mob.”

Are Facebook Cash Mobs the New Flash Mobs?