Manzanita Cash Mob: Post-tornado retail relief draws hundreds

Manzanita got mobbed last weekend – in a good way.

By Ann Powers

Hundreds of shoppers turned out for the Manzanita Cash Mob, Nov. 12, to help the community heal economically after a tornado ripped through town last month, destroying and displacing several businesses. Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC) officials helped organize the event with Manzanita locals.

Shoppers turn out in full force for the Manzanita Cash Mob, Nov. 12, bringing relief from the post-tornado business blues. Photo by Kim Bergstrom, The Houses on Manzanita Beach owner.

“They’re our neighbors to the north and we wanted to show them a little love and support,” said TACC Director Justin Aufdermauer.

And even though Mother Nature’s wrath was the impetus for the event, more bad weather didn’t dampen its success in helping local merchants recover from the Oct. 14 twister.

“We were all a bit worried when we woke to rain and wind Saturday morning,” said Kim Bergstrom, The Houses On Manzanita Beach owner. “But by 10 a.m., we were blessed with a balmy, dry fall day in the mid-60s. Visitors were out in force and everyone was in a cheerful mood that signaled the start of the holiday season.”

‘Cash Mobsters’ were encouraged to shop in the small coastal community from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and bring their receipts, totaling more than $50, back to the Manzanita Visitors Center for a chance at some prizes.

Aufdermauer said 98 people turned in their receipts at the end of the day, which totaled more than $9,850 – or an average of $100.52 a person.

“That was just the total of those who turned in their receipts,” Aufdermauer said. “I have been contacted by other shoppers who told me they didn’t turn in receipts but spent more than $50, so the actual total spent that day is much higher.”

Wisteria Chic owner, Debra Smith-Stephens, helps customers during the Manzanita Cash Mob. Damage from the Oct. 14 twister shut down her store, but she was able to find a temporary location at 170 Laneda Ave. Photo by Kim Bergstrom, The Houses on Manzanita Beach owner.

Tspot, an eclectic boutique store, nearly broke its sales record and had “shoulder-to-shoulder” customers during the event.

“It’s a hard record to break and so to almost hit that record was huge for us,” noted Astyn Garvin, a Tspot employee. “Even for a holiday weekend, I don’t think we ever could have expected to do that much business on a Saturday in November without the cash mob. We would have considered half the sales we did to be a good day.”

Others said the mob also brought new visitors to town.

“We had a great deal of customers who had never been to Manzanita before and that is absolutely great,” said Aprilmarie Eckstrom, with Manzanita Sweets.

Eckstrom estimated at least half of her customers on Saturday were participating in the mob.

Brenda Smith added the store she manages, Salt and Paper, experienced a higher number of people purchasing items – rather than just looking.

“Usually on holiday weekends we get a lot of window shoppers, but the cash mob crowd was making purchases,” she explained. “The number of people we had in our store was quite a bit higher than usual and almost everyone was buying something.”

Sarah Simmons of Moxie Fair Trade sells gift certificates to Manzanita Cash Mobsters. Her business was forced to close after being hit by October’s tornado. She also has a Go Fund Me account to help her reopen her shop. Photo by Kim Bergstrom, The Houses on Manzanita Beach owner.

As an added incentive, most of the participating businesses offered discounts during cash mob hours.

“I think the shoppers really appreciated all the deals,” Garvin said. “Everyone looked like they were having a good time and seemed to enjoy the experience.”

Not only were participating merchants pleased with the success of the Manzanita Cash Mob, so were many shoppers who were entered into the $50-plus receipt raffle.

According to Manzanita Visitors Center Coordinator Dan Haag, the cash mob giveaway winners are:

• $15 gift certificate from Marzano’s Pizza – Susan Walsh
• One large pie from Sisters & Pete’s Coffee & Treats – Lauren Niemen
• $25 gift certificate from Manzanita Grocery & Deli – Michael Lehner
• $25 gift certificate from Sandune Pub – Julie Ferguson
• $25 gift certificate from Manzanita Fresh Foods – Carol Christensen
• $50 gift certificate from Longevity – Seth Ziemecki
• Five hours of cleaning from Sunset Vacation Rentals – Karen Martinek
• Grand Prize Winner of an iPad Mini – Jeff Wong

Aufdermauer said TACC intends to keep the positive cash mob vibe charged.

“We’ve seen what a success it can be and how it can make a difference on our small business community,” he said. “So stay tuned, because we will be organizing more in the near future.”