At one minute after five last Thursday, a small group of people gathered under the Rotary Clock in Squamish at the downtown intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Winnipeg Street.
At the very least, most people were loosely acquainted if not long-time friends.
Each gathered for the same thing: Squamish's first ever Cash Mob.
Finally, at 5:02 p.m., Amy Fast broke the tension. She introduced herself and announced she knew the secret Cash Mob location.
"We're gonna to head on over to Climb On over on Second Avenue," Fast said to a chorus of cheers.
A Cash Mob is similar to a Flash Mob, the popular social networking phenomena that sees a group of people organize themselves in the online world then show up at a location to seemingly spontaneously participate in a group event.
The Cash Mob in Downtown Squamish was organized to promote shopping local in stores owned and operated by Squamish residents.
Cash Mobs are simple. A group of shoppers gather at a pre-determined time and location to learn the name of a store that is going to be mobbed. Once the store is identified, the shoppers descend on the store with a commitment to spend $20 or more and meet three new friends. The third rule set out by the organizers of the Squamish event was a strict order to have fun.
Climb On is primarily an outlet that provides camping and climbing equipment to people who climb the many rock pitches in the Squamish area.
Owner Dan Butler said he was given early warning that his store would be mobbed. He said it was a good thing he knew in advance because when the store is quiet at the end of the day he sometimes leaves a little early so he can climb before the light of day gives way to the dark of night.
"Its a chance for the customers to develop a personal relationship with the shop owners," said Butler as customers mingled in his store. "It puts sort of a face to the bricks."
Many of the Cash Mob customers weren't climbers but they found items for purchase. Tara Franz bought her son a hat, while Nicole McRae found a piece of climbing equipment she said she wanted.
Butler said his business is very weather dependent and with the mainly cloudy and wet weather the last few weeks' business has been slow.
"The cash mob was a welcome addition to the bottom line," Butler said after calculating how much extra business was generated through the Cash Mob.
The Cash Mobs in Squamish are expected to happen once a month. Organizers have assembled a list of stores that fit the criteria of being locally owned and operated, and another store will be secretly chosen for the next event, scheduled for July 26.
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