They came. They shopped. They left.
A mob of 20 Campbell County residents descended upon two Gillette Avenue stores Wednesday morning, rifling through clothing, slinging handbags under their arms and removing lids to inspect Tupperware bowls.
Armed with their merchandise, they swarmed cash registers, dropping $1,085 in about 30 minutes.
Then they left. Just like that.
It was the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce’s first “Cash Mob,” which is like a “flash mob,” but instead of dance, the choreographed movement was the opening of the wallet.
Participants were asked to spend at least $20 each.
“I need a Butterfinger caramel apple because if I don’t bring something back to my associates, I’m in big trouble,” said Bobbie Rognmoe as she was rung up at Avenue Mall.
Her total came to $30.17.
“I really believe in supporting our local businessmen,” she said. “They are the core of our community. They employ a lot, if not most people in Wyoming.”
The chamber didn’t reveal the shops — Avenue Mall and Country Elegance — until the last minute, shortly before the group marched from chamber headquarters to the businesses, which are in the same building.
Throughout the last two weeks, chamber staff posted small clues on Facebook — a photo of a sunglasses display, handmade soaps and a rack of denim.
“Normally, I don’t come in here,” said Tori Bell, as she was looking at beaded jewelry at Avenue Mall with Tami Maher. “It’s nice to be forced to go somewhere and check stuff out.”
Cash mobs are a national movement to boost local businesses. In Gillette, the chamber plans to host them every month or so.
“We’re just trying to pump up a local business,” said Mary Kelley, when another shopper at Country Elegance who was not part of the mob, asked her what she was doing.
The only man to mob, Jason Tystad, laid down $22.35 for a Denver Broncos grill spatula.
“I don’t know if I could get it greasy and dirty,” he said. “But it’s pretty cool.”
The chamber has had several initiatives to encourage Campbell County residents to shop locally. During the holidays, it had a campaign that gave away $400 in gift certificates to local stores. Studies show that for each $100 spent at locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.
“Anytime we have a customer, it’s good,” said Sherryl Lindblom, owner of Country Elegance. “We’re thankful. This is a great idea.”