Article by Who We Are Now and Brenda Ferri
Recognized across the Southwest region and nationally, Raton Cash Mobs has created an economic solution to helping sustain small businesses during COVID. As a result, organizations and volunteers have begun implementing the Cash Mob idea in their own cities and communities raising upwards of over $40,000 in months. Hear what Raton MainStreet Executive Director Brenda Ferri has to say about it:
“The kids are watching us, they are. I think they're proud of us, that we got out there, and we decided, we've got to save our town.”
We’ve been doing cash mobs here in Raton since 2010, when Lynette Simpson first suggested the idea. When COVID hit and our downtown stores were closed, we knew a cash mob, a really big, sustained one, was needed more than ever. It’s always been an in-person event, though, so we had to figure out how to do it online.
We decided to do it as a two-hour Facebook Live show, twice a week in different stores. A few of us went into the store and showed off the products, almost like a QVC show. We had a great, great following. Each night, we had an average of 100 people watching. We did this for 12 weeks and the result was terrific. Some of our businesses made $3,500 in two hours. And for a small business, that's a lot of money. Some of the businesses also have gained new, lifetime customers after being featured. So that’s really exciting.
In total, the Facebook Live Raton Cash Mob helped 31 different businesses in our community and generated more than $40,000 in sales revenues. This meant the businesses were able to pay their utilities and their rent and, you know, stay open even though they were closed to everything except curbside online sales. Another benefit was that the businesses learned how to use online payment platforms which are, you know, the wave of the future. So, a lot of stores are using them now.
Everybody in town got involved, even some of the students. One of the hosts, Melissa Unger, has a son in the Navy who was watching from Florida. He told his mom there was an easier way to track the sales. So these young kids, they all came up with Google Sheets, Google Forms as the method. They would be at home, watching the live Facebook feed and tracking who bought what. So by the end of the night, we could hand it to the business owner and say this is what sold, this is who bought it. Now you can invoice them through your Square or PayPal or however you're going to do it, and set up either delivery or pickup options with them.
It occurred to me during one of the shows that the kids are watching. The kids are watching us, they are. I think they're all proud of us, that we got out there, and we decided, we've got to save our town. Three of the young people who were helping don’t even live in Raton right now. They all have a love for their hometown, just like we do, and they really wanted to help us out.
You see this rock that says ‘YOU’ on it? It’s my ‘YOU ROCK’ award for helping it. Best award ever.”
- Brenda, Raton MainStreet.
The Raton Cash Mobs are now promoting their next phase of Facebook live videos for the holidays! To join over 1.6K Cash Mob followers, go to Facebook.com/RatonCashMob