While construction and road work may have slowed things down, business in downtown Jonesborough is picking back up with the help of weekly cash mob events that highlight the importance of shopping local.
“It’s been a really good eye-opener for a lot of people, especially for a lot of locals. It’s been all of the locals that have really embraced it. I think it’s really opened their eyes to shopping local and to what Jonesborough has to offer and a lot of the people that have come every week have said this has been great for me because I didn’t get downtown very much and I didn’t realize what the stores do have and what they offer,” Jonesborough Project Coordinator Melinda Copp said.
So what exactly is a cash mob?
It’s an event that features a particular store in downtown Jonesborough. For a few hours each Saturday morning, the store will offer refreshments — and sometimes special deals — as customers peruse their shelves.
For every $20 that is spent, the shopper’s name is entered into a drawing for a $50 prize from the featured store. When the cash mob has ended, the store owner draws a name for the prize.
At the end of Jonesborough’s cash mob series, which has been going on for about nine weeks, all of the names that have been entered at past cash mobs will be put into a drawing for a grand prize, including season passes to the International Storytelling Center Teller-in-Residence program, season passes to the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, season passes to Wetlands Water Park, gift certificates to downtown restaurants and more.
“The more cash mobs you attend, the more money you spend, the more chances you’re going to have,” Copp said.
The cash mobs are part of the “We Dig Jonesborough” initiative in which shopping hours are extended at downtown businesses on Friday nights as a way to help merchants increase their cash flow as they have dealt with road work that has slowed business.
The cash mob events have helped several shop owners get through the month, as it’s provided a much-needed boost to their cash flow.
“It was supposed to start at 11 (a.m.) and there were people here at 10:15 on a Saturday and it went great. It was fun,” said June Beck, Boxcar Betty’s Eco Depot owner. “There were so many people here. All I had to do was stand here and just process people and check them out.”
Janet Browning, owner of Hands Around the World, was the first business featured in the cash mob series.
Browning was so surprised by the turnout, she has since attended every other cash mob as a way to help her fellow business owners.
“I was just surprised at how many community people came in and I was really touched by that, because I felt supported,” she said.
The next cash mob is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at The Jonesborough Regional Fine Art Gallery. Downtown shopping hours also will be extended tonight until 8.