Since July of 2012, the Concord Downtown Development Corporation’s two new shop local programs pumped more than $1,100 into downtown Concord businesses.Since forming in 1990, the organization has partnered with hundreds of local businesses to host dozens of events annually. Last year, events and promotions lured 14,000-16,000 visitors, shoppers and diners to downtown Concord, said Diane Young, executive director of the CDDC.The organization’s marketing and promotion budget is $55,000 per year, which is garnered through area businesses the CDDC helps promote. No tax dollars fund its programs and the majority of its budget is spent at local businesses. Two of the latest events hosted by the CDDC include Small Business Saturdays and the Cash Mob, each held the fourth Saturday of every month.Upcoming events include Concord on Canvas -- an initiative that promotes local artists and the downtown landscape. Proceeds from the art auction will support school art programs and 22 students from nine high schools this year will produce original works of art along side six area professional artists. The CDDC’s wedding show, held the first Sunday in March, feature downtown businesses as a one-stop shop to plan a wedding. They host three family-friendly 5K runs per year, a Candy Crawl for Halloween, a soup-tasting tour and the Runnin’ Hot Festival -- a 5K run, chili cook-off and homebrew competition -- which kicked off in November 2012. It’s annual Spring Into Arts Festival and Union Street Live concerts are also part of the line up.“We don’t do this because downtown Concord is hurting,” said Young. “This is what we do. But when the economy did hit rock bottom, we ramped up our promotional calendar.”CDDC’s mission, and role as the management office of Historic Downtown Concord, is to promote and market downtown businesses. “Part of our marketing is educating the community on the benefits of supporting locally-owned, independently-owned businesses,” said Young. “We are continually developing new methods and new events to do just that, and these two promotions are a result of our work. They are not a response to a sluggish economy, they are two opportunities that have been added to a very active annual calendar of events as part of our overall strategy to promote downtown Concord.”Here’s how the new programs work: Anyone who makes a purchase of any amount in a participating shop, restaurant or gallery during Small Business Saturday can register for a chance to win $100 in Downtown Concord Dollars. The dollars can be spent at participating businesses. The CDDC reimburses downtown businesses when they receive a Downtown Concord Dollar. Cash Mobs – a group of people who commit to spending at least $20 at a downtown business – have generated anywhere from $125 to $500 during the hour-and-a-half-long event.All “mobsters” are entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate offered by the establishment being “mobbed.” The mob starts at a downtown restaurant at 9:30 a.m. then moves to the mob location, which is announced at 10 a.m. Generally, the events are finished by 11 a.m. “Cash Mobs and Small Business Saturdays serve to not only generate sales in our locally-owned businesses, but also to help educate the community on the importance of spending dollars locally,” said Young. “Mobbers enjoy shopping in downtown Concord and love the fact they begin their Saturday making a direct impact on a locally-owned business. And business owners love to be mobbed. Within a 45-minute window on a Saturday morning the mobbed establishment kick-starts their cash register.”Young said if she had a dime for every time she heard the phrase “I had no idea all this existed in downtown Concord,” she probably could retire.“When you spend your dollars in a local, independently owned store, a greater percentage of those dollars remain right in our community,” Young said. “The shop local efforts have also brought shoppers to downtown Concord who otherwise might not think to venture onto Union Street. And once someone visits downtown Concord, they are hooked.”Mari Shepard, 53, lives just off of South Union Street. She said the Cash Mobs are a great way to visit all the shops downtown, instead of dashing into one shop on the way home after work. She also eats lunch during mob events.“I think I went to the very first Cash Mob and actually won the $25 drawing,” she said. “I think this is an excellent way to show our support for downtown businesses. I have gone to at least four sessions, brought friends with me twice and, last month, I brought my daughter and she won the drawing.” Kathleen Reeder, owner of The Bead Lady, summed up the Cash Mob response as exciting. She has attended the Mobs since they began.“It is very exciting to see how many people show up and know that the money stays local,” she said. “Anytime you have a bunch of people show up in your store to spend money is very exciting. It is also about showcasing our unique one-of-a-kind shops in downtown. As a merchant we are excited about possibly being mobbed.”
Friday, Jan. 25, 2013
Mobs aim to support Concord businesses
CDDC’s monthly Cash Mobs generate interest in buying local
"Cash Mobsters" Anna Lu Wilson and her daughter, Rori, at a recent Cash Mob event in downtown Concord.
Nate Ernst, left, and his family were first-time mobbers who participated in a Cash Mob to benefit Gifts and Garden by Angela.
Tim Mills is the owner of Chef’s Choice Gourmet Pastries in downtown Concord. All Cash Mobs begin at a downtown eating establishment before the store location is announced. Mills hosted the first Cash Mob event.
Past and Present employee Lauren Pfeifer (left) and "Cash Mobster" Jessica Garmon, owner of Trashed, A Creative Recycling Studio, share an exchange during a recent Cash Mob.
The September Cash Mob started at Carm’s Café. Chad Tarlton and his daughters and friends attended and each girl had $5 to spend.
Learn more: www.concorddowntown.com.