A local mob is still adding muscle after its first year.
The RVA Patronage Mob, which recruits shoppers to bombard a different local business every three weeks, has helped drive more than $24,000 in sales to 20 retailers since kicking off 13 months ago. And now it has a bank at its back.
“When I first started, I kept thinking the hype would wear off and that it would eventually die down,” said Rainey Niklawski, the group’s founder. “That hasn’t been the case at all.”
Niklawski enlists members of the mob through Facebook. The numbers vary, but she said a typical event brings in about 50 people who spend an average of $20 each.
The mob has picked its next target: It will hit the gift shop at the Richmond SPCA on April 20.
Niklawski said the mobs started picking up steam last year after Virginia-based C&F Bank came on board. The bank donates $250 to every business the group mobs and helps with Niklawski’s marketing efforts.
“A lot of the owners have told me they see repeat business after, which is one of the main goals,” Niklawski said.
World of Mirth, a Carytown toy store, was mobbed March 30, marking the group’s 20th hit. General manager Thea Brown said the extra 35 to 40 customers helped the shop bring in double what in makes during a typical Saturday.
“That last day before Easter is usually pretty busy for us,” Brown said. “But our sales numbers were up about 15 percent from the same day last year.”
SPCA spokeswoman Caroline Radom said the shop is shooting for a 50 percent increase in sales.
“A lot of people aren’t aware we have a retail store unless they’ve adopted from us,” Radom said. “We’re hoping to change that.”
Farm to Family was the mob’s first target. The local market did a week’s worth of business in one day in February 2012.
Niklawski, who runs a day care out of her Chesterfield home, said she is in the early stages of launching an online local business directory and wants to amp up marketing efforts so more people know about the mob.
“I work full time, so it’s hard to find time to do everything I want to do,” Niklawski said.
At last count, there were about 140 cash mobs nationwide.
Niklawski said the RVA Patronage Mob is still the only one in Richmond.