By the time Bristol's West End Pizza was ready to open its doors on Saturday morning, there were a dozen patrons already outside, waiting to get in. You may have heard of a flash mob. Well, this is a financial version. The family owned pizzeria was the target of a "cash mob," which is essentially a group of people joining forces to give a business a really good day.
Mark Walerysiak works for Renaissance Downtowns and is the master developer for the revitalization of Bristol. "What the whole cash mob is about," he said, "is spending dollars locally, and the benefits of what those dollars do when they are spent locally."
Walerysiak said studies show as little as ten cents of every dollar spent at national chains get recirculated locally, but as much as 70 cents of every dollar spent at a local business go back into the home economy. While he does believe there is a place for national chains, he said, "In reality, you have a lot of great local places that are really the lifeblood of what creates a unique environment."
The grassroots marketing arm of Renaissance Downtowns, Bristol Rising, was created to foster that unique environment. This is the third cash mob Bristol Rising has organized. They see it as a key ingredient in the revitalization of the city, and as the eventual success of a planned multi-use development downtown.
Dory Green was the beneficiary of the last cash mob. She opened her Artist Tree Tea House and Gallery last November, and showed up as well to support West End Pizza. Green said her business just about tripled the day she was cash mobbed, and the positive effects continued into the winter. "I was still getting trickling-in cash mob people coming through January," she said. "They would say, 'Oh, I didn't make it to your opening, but I'm getting down here now.'"
The owners of West End Pizza weren't sure how much of Saturday's business came specifically from cash mobbers, but they said it was a great day, and they loved the community's support. They've never taken out a single advertisement during the 39 years they've held down the corner of Divinity and Park Streets, and they didn't ask to be cash mobbed, either. They were recommended by the community, and selected by lottery from the pool of 600 votes cast by Bristol Rising supporters.
Two more businesses were selected in the lottery as well, and they'll be be cash mobbed in July and November.