Alongside the chainstores, pubs and restaurants, Bedford has many thriving independent retailers. They’re what makes our town unique and we’re very proud of them. One person who is really passionate about Bedford’s indie retailers is Kayte Judge – and she’s putting her money where her mouth is.
Kayte has been co-ordinating Cash Mobs in Bedford since the end of last year. She simply asks people to meet her at a specific date and time with £5 in their hand. An independent retailer is chosen at random and all members of the Cash Mob then head to the shop, spend their fiver, give the shopkeeper some feedback and everyone’s happy. The premise is remarkably simple, yet the difference it can make is huge.
Kayte attracts around 30 to 40 people to each event and has worked with other local business people to offer incentives to Cash Mobbers (eg: money off vouchers, free drinks) so the financial impact is spread even further around the town.
Kat Allen, owner of boutique Rose Tinted Vintage, was the first person to be Cash Mobbed and explains what it felt like when 27 people descended on her shop one Saturday last year. “It was slightly over whelming and a bit emotional to be honest,” said Kat. “The longer-term impact is that the feedback forms allowed me to identify trends and I couldn’t have got that feedback in that volume in any other way. Using the Cash Mobbers’ feedback we adapted our stock and added more accessories and jewellery. People who came to the Cash Mob began liking us on Facebook and following on twitter so it also had an impact on our marketing. I know that these people are from Bedford and will make an effort to spend money locally.”
The Cash Mobs encourage people to make a date to go into Bedford. They encourage people to meet up with friends (old and new) and they encourage people to spend time off the beaten track. Cash Mobs create a social event out of shopping and make us re-think the traditional shopping environment. And for that we salute you, Mrs Judge.
To find out about future cash mobs, follow Kayte on twitter
By Erica Roffe, editor of The Bedford Clanger, an independent arts/culture/listings newspaper