Cash mob to hit New West

A cash mob is forming in New Westminster and it's set to descend on a Sapperton store March 2.

Social media sites have been set up to entice people to show up that afternoon ready to spend $20 at a local business to be determined less than two days before it happens.

"It's promoting a community activity, it's helping out local businesses and promoting shopping local and people getting to know their local shops rather than going to the big box stores," said Heather Corbett, who has an event planning business, Evenate Creative Group.

Cash mobs began in the United States in 2011, and there are conflicting reports on whether it started in Buffalo or Cleveland. They are a variation of the flash mobs created in 2003 that saw activities, such as dancing by large groups, happen on short notice through the magic of social media.

Corbett said New Westminster Chamber of Commerce executive director Cori-Lyn Germiquet brought up the idea to her.

"She thought it would be a good thing to happen in New Westminster, but rather than having the chamber or any business-oriented groups taking it on, it would be better to do it on a more local, grassroots level," said Corbett. "I'm an event planner and would like to grow my business so I volunteered to take it on, with the support of the business community, and getting the word out."

When the inaugural New West cash mob was announced at a meeting of the networking group NEXT New West earlier this month it got a good response. By the next day, the event's facebook site, CashMobNewWest, was reporting it had 26 people committed to going. It's also on twitter at CMNewWest.

"Everyone I spoke to about it was excited about it," said Corbett.

Participants will gather at Sapperton Plaza, between Knox Presbyterian Church and Starbucks on East Columbia Street, at 3 p.m. before going shopping at the chosen store, which for now is being kept secret.

"We're trying to build the anticipation and excitement of the event up until the Thursday before the event," Corbett said.

Once the shopping is done the custom of other cash mobs is to hit a local eating establishment to continue the fun.

If it's successful, Corbett envisions the event happening about once every three months or so because she feels doing it monthly would be too frequent.

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