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Starting in June, Millersburg will be getting a visit from the mob.
The Cash Mob, that is.
Meeting at 5:15 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at either The Hotel Millersburg or Bag's Sports Pub, a Cash Mob composed of community members will converge on a local business to shop. Each individual agrees to spend $10 in the cash mob location. Afterward, the mob will meet at a local restaurant, opposite of the pre-mob meeting, for food, drinks, networking and fun.
"It's going to be a social gathering, it's something that's going to be fun," said Historic Downtown Millersburg Executive Director Tara McCulloch. "We want people to realize that being in the downtown and supporting local businesses and being part of the community is a fun activity, it's not something that feels like an obligation. There is a lot down here, we have a lot to offer and we really want people to rediscover what's here."
As a trend that is sweeping the country, cash mobs strengthen small businesses and encourage residents to buy local, said McCulloch, and are a fun way keep Millersburg's economy alive as part of a buy-local initiative.
Here, the Millersburg Cash Mob guidelines are modeled after the national Cash Mob rules, but adapted to suit the local demographic and types of businesses. Rules include each member committing to spend at least $10 and that the participating business be locally owned, a member of HDM and within village limits. Mob locations will be drawn at random before each event.
In addition, mobbers must meet for a pre-mob and post-mob social and networking gathering at either The Hotel Millersburg or Bag's Sports Pub.
"You can have a drink, you can have an appetizer and it's right after work, you can tide yourself over for a little while. Once the mob has gathered, we'll announce the business location that we will be mobbing," explained McCulloch. The pre-mob location will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, the HDM Website and on the Commercial & Savings Bank sign at the corner of Jackson and Clay streets. If a participant misses the pre-mob meeting, mob picketers will be located outside the mob location with balloons and signs.
After the mob is complete, everyone will meet at Bags or the Hotel, whichever is opposite of the pre-mob location. The rules stipulate that mob members have fun and try to meet three hitherto unknown people, and that photos of the event will be posted to social media.
"This is supposed to be fun and it's a great way to meet people in the community that you might not have had a chance to meet before," said McCulloch. "The after-mob is to celebrate a successful mob and to celebrate the fact that you've just supported local businesses, that you've taken part in something that is going to help preserve your downtown and your community, because Millersburg is a place that matters."
The national Cash Mob premise is that "We each do a little, but we all do a lot." With this in mind, the commitment to spend money at a local business can make a big difference in the Millersburg economy, said McCulloch.
"If I spend $10 and you spend $10 it doesn't amount to much, but when there are 50 individuals spending $10, that becomes a huge deal for one of our downtown businesses, so we're really pumping life into the economy of the downtown," she said.
McCulloch hopes to see hundreds of people participating in the mob.
"It's such an easy way to support local businesses and it's also an excellent way to go into stores you've never been to before," she said. Plus, stores might contain untold treasures.
"You might not know that these things that you like to buy or that you need are downtown; The downtown can be the first place you go to look for the things you need, not your last choice. You don't need to go to the big box stores," said McCulloch. "You'll find exactly what you need, get incredible service and support your local economy."
HDM asks Cash Mob participants to register for membership.
"We'd like to have a good way to get a hold of you so that everybody knows where we're meeting," said McCulloch.
Once registered, mob members will receive a membership card which is punched by the business owner each time the member participates in a Cash Mob. On the sixth punch, the membership card becomes a gift certificate worth up to $10 at any of the Cash Mob locations.
Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.