Cash Mob after-party spot revealed, clues continueMobbers to gather at Village Green Aug. 20
Camden — As Camden Development Director Brian Hodges finalizes plans for Camden's inaugural Cash Mob scheduled to take place Monday, Aug. 20, his excitement is palpable. In keeping with standard Cash Mob procedure he's remaining tight-lipped about the downtown business where Cash "Mobbers" will shop; though he's been steadily divulging clues via the Camden Cash Mob Facebook page and has revealed the after-party will be hosted by Fromviandoux, located on Washington Street.
Hodges launched a Facebook page for Camden Cash Mob on Friday, July 27; by the following week the fan page had received more than 100 likes. Hodges said July 31 that he was "pleasantly surprised" by the out-the-gate momentum for Camden Cash Mob. Aug. 8, Hodges announced the first cash mob would take place Aug. 20.
A Cash Mob is classified as a group of people who take a small business by storm, typically spending about $20 cash on goods or services offered at that business in a short period of time. Cash Mobs help create an influx of cash and generate interest in a local business. Hodges previously said the trend is increasingly popular nationwide and Cash Mobs in Portland and Sanford have been successful. As part of the Cash Mob model participants are invited to attend an after-party at a local venue. The gathering is intended to encourage mob attendees to show off their purchases and socialize.
The gathering is "really social" Hodges said, although he anticipates that there will be some discussion of the Cash Mob experience.
"The first [Cash Mob] will be a learning experience," he said. "We're open to any and all input."
Though the Camden Cash Mob is a first for Hodges, he said he is eager to try the outside-the-box business-boosting strategy in Camden. As the kickoff event approaches, Hodges said the response from "citizens and businesses" has been "just excitement."
Rockland Development Director Audrey Lovering was in Camden on Monday, Aug. 13, as Hodges revealed the after-party location. Lovering regularly meets with Hodges, Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kitteredge and Rockport Planner/Community Development Director Tom Ford. She said the monthly meetings provide a forum to discuss regional development strategies and ideas, as well as foster support between the neighboring communities.
"We work very well together," Lovering noted.
Lovering said Rockland Main Street has been discussing hosting a Cash Mob of their own aimed at boosting business during winter months. She has been working with Hodges as he prepares for the debut of Camden Cash Mob.
"This is exciting because Rockland Main Street has been exploring this for the off season," she explained. "I get to come see how it works in Camden."
While the busy summer season may not seem like the ideal time, Hodges explained the event is an opportunity to "enhance the spirit that is in Camden." Lovering pointed out that Camden was recognized as a Maine Downtown Network Community by the Maine Downtown Center in May and that designation has generated "a lot of positive energy."
Hodges surmised that the "spirit" in Camden now is "optimistic, open-minded and willing to look at new opportunities."
Hodges said he approached Fromviandoux about hosting the after-party and owners Ryan and Alyson Flemming readily agreed. Hodges said one of the things that can be accomplished by organizing a Cash Mob is to "get people into less visible areas" of downtown and foster increased foot traffic to those areas. The Flemmings said they've been welcomed in Camden and initially met Hodges while participating in the work group meetings to develop the Camden Downtown Master Plan.
"I think it's great," said Alyson Flemming. "We're up for that kind of stuff."
Flemming said Fromviandoux will serve a specialty cocktail in honor of the Camden Cash Mob, though the formula for the "Fromviandoux Flash" — like the mob's target business — remains under wraps. Flemming said participants will have the run of the restaurant lounge space and part of the platformed dining room. The restaurant's full menu — designed for sharing — will be available for those wishing to order food. The "Fromviandoux Flash" will be offered at a discounted price to Cash Mob participants older than 21.
Hodges said participants will gather at Camden Village Green at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 20. He'll distribute buttons — intended to be reused — with the Camden Cash Mob logo and lead participants to the designated business. The buttons will help staff at the selected business — and later at Fromviandoux — identify Cash Mob participants so special incentives exclusive to the group can be extended on the spot. Hodges said incentives will be "varied."
"I left a lot of that decision-making to the business," he explained.
Hodges declined to divulge whether the business is a new or tenured storefront, but said there will be many opportunities for other businesses to host the Cash Mob.
Hodges said he expects around 30 participants — on the low end — he has set up an event accessible from the Camden Cash Mob Facebook page and is encouraging people to RSVP via Facebook. Tuesday, Aug. 14, the event had 15 confirmed participants with an additional three "maybe" replies. 40 invitees had yet to respond. Hodges said an RSVP count will help him get an idea of how many participants will be joining the Cash Mob and assure that the business and Fromviandoux are prepared for the influx as both places will be open for business as usual during the event. Fromviandoux recently decided to open for business on Mondays, having previously closed for service. Alyson Flemming smiled as she told Hodges she would inform Fromviandoux dinner guests about the Cash Mob crowd expected Aug. 20 and said, "it's going to probably be loud!"
Hodges said Cash Mob participants are encouraged to make use of the free parking lot behind Knox Mill, as it is convenient to Fromviandoux and has no time restriction. Additionally, he said he'll continue to post clues via Facebook.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.