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Cash Mobs striking it big in Tampa

3:46 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Heard of the Cash Mob? It's a growing trend targeting small businesses across the country.

About six months ago, the mob made its way to Tampa with the help of Kim Kenney who saw a news report about a cash mob in Ohio.

"I was watching and I was like, why doesn't Tampa have one of these," said Kim Kenney.

She started the Secret Tampa Cash Mob with just three members, including herself.

We checked in with Kenney six months ago when the idea first came about. Read our story here.

By the time their first hit arrived, the Secret Tampa Cash Mob's secret group Facebook page had a few hundred members. 

The mob's first target in Tampa was Tate and Tilly in Carrollwood six months ago, helping to boost sales by 160%.

The concept was simple.  Kenney, the mob boss, simply asks her fellow mobsters to spend at least $10 at the designated store.

Each month, mobsters nominate a locally owned, small business and vote which business they'll "hit" that month.

Last month, it was Bayshore Market in South Tampa which sells locally grown plants, produce and locally made gourmet foods and soaps.

"I was shocked," said Tina Mastrona who was working alone at Bayshore Market when cars suddenly filled their parking lot.

She called in the owner, Linda Schobben, to help with this sudden influx of customers.

At the head of this mob of customers, was Kim Kenney who was armed with cash and a sign letting them know they've been "hit" by the Secret Tampa Cash Mob.

"It was absolutely amazing and we were joyfully busy, " said Mastrona.

Schobben had never heard of the Secret Tampa Cash Mob before, but she liked what she was seeing.

She calls Kenney an "angel on Earth".

"What it means is there's a mob of people sitting in my parking lot that are going in my store and spending their money to support me and that's just amazing, 'said Schobben, who opened her store in October. 

Schobben tells us sales were up 100 percent that day and they keep reaping the benefits of the hit.

"I think it has given us more exposure and new customers," said Schobben.

Just as the name states, the Secret Tampa Cash Mob is supposed to be a secret. The idea is to surprise the business owner on the day of the hit.

So far, they've hit six stores in Tampa from boutiques to wine shops to gourmet food shops.

"In doing this, it builds a community, we're all a community, we're all together, we don't want to see businesses fail," Kenney.

The mob has a hit coming up this Saturday...but, we can't tell you where since it's a secret!

If you want to become a member of the Secret Tampa Cash Mob, it's easy!

Log onto your Facebook account and search for the public Facebook group, Secret Tampa Cash Mob. Send a message and ask for an invite into the secret group and then...you're in!

As of this morning, the Secret Tampa Cash Mob secret group had more than 1,500 members.

They even have their own t-shirts and charities they raise money for with the help of sponsors Catania & Catania and PP+K.

There are many other cash mobs in the Tampa Bay area...St. Petersburg has one, as does Temple Terrace, Palm Harbor/Dunedin and Hernando County.

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