MACHIAS Maine — The Machias Revitalization Committee’s first “cash mob” descended on Parlin Flowers and Gifts in Machias on Wednesday, leaving behind more than $1,000.
Residents and business owners were encouraged to show up at the Dublin Street shop, which has been in business for 70 years, between 5 and 6 p.m. Wednesday. Those attending were asked to spend at least $20 as a means of infusing a burst of cash into a local business.
The revitalization committee is planning on staging cash mobs at least once a month to boost the local economy and to benefit local small businesses.
“Nationwide, the cash mob movement to support local, family-owned businesses is huge,” said Sharon Kiley Mack, secretary of the revitalization community.
“Parlins’ owners estimated $1,000 in sales from the cash mob,” Mack said. “Some people came in earlier in the day but indicated they were there for the cash mob. Probably 30 to 40 people were there between 5 and 6, when the store stayed open an hour later for the mob.
“The Revitalization Committee was thrilled with the turnout,” Mack said. “Forty people came out to show their support for a local business. Winters are hard for retailers in Washington County and even if someone only bought a cookie at Parlin’s on Wednesday night, they were saying loud and clear that these mom-and-pop, locally owned businesses are the heartbeat of our communities.
“They are important, not just to our cultural quality of life but to our economic growth,” Mack said. “Everyone who crowded into Parlin’s did so with a smile on their faces, knowing they were impacting a local business. Friends greeted friends, neighbors greeted neighbors. It was great fun.”
The next cash mob site will be decided in March, when the Revitalization Committee meets again.
Mack said she knew cash mobs were popular in other parts of the country and thought the phenomenon could help Machias’ economy, which tends to suffer in the winter with no tourists to do the heavy economic lifting. The rest of the revitalization committee, she said, jumped on board
“Just by your presence in the cash mob, you’re saying you support the business,” Mack said.
Rhonda Reynolds, owner of Parlin Flowers and Gifts, said that people seemed excited about the event.
Parlin Flowers and Gifts started as a florist shop, Reynolds said. When the business moved in 1995 to its current location across Route 1 from McDonald’s into a building that had housed a restaurant and a bakery, she decided to combine the florist business with the bakery. Given the extra space, she also decided to have a gift shop. The shop now has around 20 consignors, who receive 70 percent on the prices on items for sale at Parlin’s.
Jennifer Tuell, who works at Machias Savings Bank and is treasurer of the revitalization committee, was at Parlin’s on Wednesday, buying her grandchild’s first Valentine’s Day bouquet.
“It’s a nice thing to get people out into the businesses,” she said.
Kim Bagley, who joined the cash mob on Wednesday, said she first heard about it on Facebook.
“I’ve shopped at Parlin’s ever since I was a little girl,” Bagley said. “They deserve it.”
The cash mob is only one of the strategies that the Machias Revitalization Committee has in mind to boost development. Other cash mob locations will be discussed at a listening session at 9 a.m. Friday, March 1, at Helen’s restaurant.