Mob descends on Camden bookstore
Camden — The Owl and Turtle Bookshop was the destination for the inaugural Cash Mob Camden event Monday, Aug. 20.
The veteran Camden business — under the new ownership of Nancy Borland — recently relocated back to Bay View Street from the Knox Mill location where they set up shop in 2003. The bookstore previously occupied the original Bay View Street storefront since 1970.
About 30 people gathered in the Camden Village Green shortly after 4 p.m. Camden Development Director Brian Hodges and Administrative Assistant Beth Doan were on hand to distribute buttons identifying Cash Mob participants. At 4:30 p.m. Hodges went through the four identifying clues he released on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the event before revealing a typed sign bearing The Owl and Turtle moniker.
Borland said she was enthused when Hodges first approached her about having the Cash Mob visit The Owl and Turtle. She said she has read about successful Cash Mobs in other regions and appreciates the opportunity for added commerce.
"Probably there isn't an independent bookstore anywhere that's not struggling for survival," she said.
In addition to offering a 10 percent discount to Cash Mob participants, Borland also sent each mob member on their way with a 15 percent off coupon for use on a return visit.
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. After about 30 minutes of shopping most participants headed to Fromviandoux where an after-party was underway. Each participant was invited to enjoy a special "Fromviandoux Flash" cocktail at a one-per-person price of $1 a drink.
Janet Doherty of Camden said she read about the Cash Mob in The Camden Herald and called Camden Town Office for details since she does not have a Facebook account.
"It sounds like a terrific strategy — get the bucks, put them in the stores," Doherty said. Doherty's friend, Steva Parkman, also lives in Camden. She said she learned about the Camden Cash Mob "from Janet [Doherty]" and also received an invitation from another friend via Facebook.
"I think it's fun, I'm hoping it will build interest in shopping locally," Parkman said.
State Senator Chris Rector — owner of Camden Cone on Bay View Street — invited Cash Mob participants with a taste for ice cream to enjoy their cone purchase with toppings on the house.
During a Tuesday, Aug. 21, telephone interview, Hodges said he was "pleased with the turnout" and said he thinks the Cash Mob was "a definite success." He said he counted 35 participants.
"There was really good energy," he said. "It bodes well for another event in the very near future."
Hodges said he's received lots of "great feedback" and suggestions for the next business to be visited by the Cash Mob. He hopes a second cash mob will be scheduled for the "middle or latter part of September."
Hodges said the diversity of participants — elected officials, business people, CEOs, and residents of Camden and beyond — was pleasing.
"It was a nice, broad representation of the 'think local, shop local, buy local' movement," he said.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.