How to do a Thrift Store Cash Mob this Holiday Season

Posted by PartyWeDo on Friday, December 7, 2012

Cash mobs will find perfect white elephant gifts

Times are tough for many small local businesses, so a cash mob can really make a big difference. During the holidays a cash mob in a charity’s thrift story could translate into a great deal of good for those in need. The bonus is that these thrift stores hold thousands of great white elephant gifts on their shelves, so shoppers get the bonus of finding the perfect gift swap present as well.
Thrift store cash mob for white elephant gifts

Because many have never participated or organized a successful cash mob event, we will share a few steps that will help you create an experience that will be both fun and beneficial at the same time.

What is a Cash Mob?

A cash mob is sort of a play on words from the Flash Mob events that have been chronicled on YouTube and other sharing sites.  Like flash mob, a cash mob brings large groups of people together for a “spontaneous” act. The cash mob gathers to financially support a business by doing purchasing at the merchants location. On average a “mobber” will spend $20 in cash at the event; multiply 20 by thirty or fifty and you can see the benefit of a mob.

The planning and organization of these “mobs” is critical in order for it to become spontaneously engaging and fun for all involved. The after mob activity is as important for this activity as is the shopping. So here are a few steps.

Cash Mob Organization

  1.  Create social media/network accounts for your mob event.

Social media and networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are key in planning a cash mob event. You need to get the message out quickly and to many people. Put the name of the city and the word “cash mob” in the account name of the sites. The profile will be recognizable to members if they see a tie to the community. Do this task weeks in advance of the actual event sot that you can build a strong following through social media. Like pages, gather friends that are in the area and make regular updates about the event to get people excited. As you are gathering members, educate them concerning cash mobs through social media Get the conversation started and then be social…

  1. Pick the local thrift store that you want to support.

Goodwill store for white elephant cash mob eventPick a thrift store that is connected to a charitable giving organization (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc). After you have decided on the location of your cash mob, contact the manager of the thrift store. This is an important step of the process because the store might need to staff extra workers the day of the event. Meeting with the manager prior to the mob will also allow you to set a date that will work with their schedule. Usually you can get a larger mob on a weekend or an evening.

  1. Choose a mob gathering spot.

With a date and location for your mob, you must choose a gathering place where all participants can meet 20 minutes before the event. Make sure the location is within a safe walking distance of the thrift store being mobbed and that there is plenty of parking. Publicize this gathering spot on your social media outlets, but keep the location of the store being mobbed a secret until the day of the event (remember spontaneous…).

  1. Spread the word of the event as much as possible!

Get as much free publicity as possible and go beyond just social media to spread the word about your event. Many do not use social media, so an email campaign or newsletter sent to them with updates and fun facts would help spread the word. Post flyers around town and let the local newspaper know what you are planning (keep the thrift store name a mystery). Do give the media your Twitter and Facebook names.

  1. Recruit everyone you know!

Family, friends, business contacts, church members, clubs and anyone else you can think of.  Promote the story that helping the thrift store helps the charity and the charity helps the community.  Make sure that everyone knows to bring money to buy things ($20 is an easy to remember amount).

  1. Reveal the thrift store!

On the day of the event, send out Twitter and Facebook messages revealing the name of the thrift store and location of the mob. Once everyone is at the gathering spot, explain any rules and then send everyone off to let the cash mob begin!

  1. Celebration event!

When the cash mob is over and everyone has purchased their white elephant gifts, all that remains is meeting up with the mob. You can reserve a restaurant or pub for the celebration party, or maybe a local church meeting hall would be available.  Make sure that you have someone stay behind to thank the thrift store manager and to get an idea of the total spend that the mob created. You will want to share the success with the group at the celebration event.  

     8.   Alternative activities!

White elephant gift exchange with a Cash Mob twistFor an extra engaging activity you could sit everyone down and conduct a right-left gift exchange using the Lefty the White Elephant story. This game will allow people to steal gifts and share fun banter within the celebration party.

Another alternative ending would be that everyone takes what they have just purchased and puts in a pile so that it can all be returned to the thrift store’s donation box, allowing them to sell it for a second time.

A thrift store cash mob is not that difficult to plan, but adequate publicity and preparation are key to success. By following a few steps you can ensure a safe, successful experience for all the mobbers and the local charity that you are helping.


more white elephant gift ideas

Categories: Party Resource File, White Elephant Gift Exchange Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply