NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Cities across New Mexico are going virtual to save their small businesses. They’re doing Facebook Live “cash mobs” — kind of like a support-local flash mob. Some now want the social media trend to take off around the state. When small businesses in Raton had to close at the beginning of the pandemic, the city’s MainStreet program got the gears turning.
“When the pandemic hit, we decided we needed to take action and try to do them virtually,” said Brenda Ferri, Executive Director of Raton MainStreet. “We knew that it was going to be up to us to save our small businesses in town.”
The city often did cash mobs, where volunteers hold limited-time sales and auctions for a different business each week to help their sales. This spring, they took them to Facebook Live, raising around $40,000 in just three months.
“The best things was to do a show with the business owner and then by the end of the show, they would just be in tears and couldn’t thank us enough,” said Ferri. “None of our businesses had to close permanently because of this.”
Las Vegas saw Raton’s cash mob and trained with them on how to put together the virtual show. They brought it to their community around June and are seeing success from the virtual showing of support.
“It’s gone gangbuster since then and we’ve done 14 cash mobs,” said Michael Peranteau, Executive Director of MainStreet de Las Vegas. “We raised about $45,000.”
Now, the virtual cash mobs are taking off in other cities around New Mexico. Tucumcari is starting to do cash mobs and Clovis is starting a series called ‘SOS – Save Our Stores.’ Peranteau says as of this week, even Silver City is thinking about starting one. The state’s existing cash mobs hope the remainder of New Mexico’s 28 MainStreet programs get these going in their own communities.
“This is a way for people to feel like they’re doing something to help,” said Peranteau. “Everyone’s trying to keep their local businesses alive.”
Ferri says the cash mobs can help with any finances the businesses need during the pandemic. As for any communities thinking of starting up a cash mob, Las Vegas and Raton say they’re ready to train.
“Whether to pay their rent for the month or their taxes or whatever they need to pay, their utilities, we did it and we helped them,” said Ferri. “If people want to call us for help, we’re willing to help.”
The Raton Cash Mob temporarily stopped their Facebook Live shows as businesses reopened. However, they plan to bring them back for the holiday shopping season.