Cash Mob Exceeds Expectations

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   May 14, 2020

It was the little idea that could: born out of a mid-April brainstorming session – via Zoom – with Montecito business owners, stakeholders, and MJ CEO Gwyn Lurie and COO Tim Buckley.The overarching question from all: “What can we do?” Do to survive, do to help, do to show some love to the local businesses that make Montecito, Montecito?

Piggybacking on an idea that came to fruition following the 1/9 debris flow, the “Cash Mob,” originally orchestrated by local mortgage broker Jeff Bochsler and then-executive director of the Coast Village Association Sharon Byrne, an idea was had to hold another “Cash Mob,” but this time, for obvious reasons, make it virtual. Immediately a large team of people went to work to make it happen, including Lurie and Buckley, and reps from the Coast Village Association: board president Bob Ludwick, board administrator Jason Copus, social media guru Rachel Rock, and board members Kevin Frank,and myself; Montecito Association executive director Sharon Byrne; and upper village mainstay Sandy Stahl. A quick partnership was born with the 93108Fund founder Ron Blitzer, who assembled his own team of people to build the web infrastructure, most notably Eric DelaBarre, who put in countless hours to perfect the site. Innumerable details – legal, logistical, and more – had to be ironed out before launching on May Day, May 1. We enlisted multiple media outlets to help us get the word out, hoping that the virtual event, which was originally planned for just three days, would be a success.

The morning of May 1, we all sat by our computers with bated breath, waiting for that first sale. Click by click the sales came in, from $50, to $1,000… and beyond. By 8:30 that first morning one incredibly generous customer had purchased $3,500 worth of gift cards; $250 a piece for 15 merchants. By 9 am we hit the $10,000 mark. From there the generosity of our seaside town exploded, bringing in $230,794 by the end of the weekend; $66K of which was donated to the 93108Fund, which has been disbursing funds to Montecito’s hourly workers – think servers, retail salespeople, and others ­– since the pandemic shutdown began.

On Sunday, May 3, a special Zoom happy hour was held, emceed by Billy Baldwin and featuring the musical talents of Zach Gill, Johnny Irion, Tina Schlieske, and Sofia Schuster. Baldwin raffled off spectacular prizes donated by Coast 2 Coast, Beau Joie, Whiskey & Leather, hairstylist Edward Anthony,Botanik, Mountain Air Sports, Viva Oliva, Robitaille’s Fine Candies, artist Jordan Pope, Marcus, and Riviera Towel Company. Winners, who all spent $500 or more during the Cash Mob, include Martin Gore, Elizabeth Perry, Devon Nielsen, Kathleen Lavidge, Sally Holbrook, Shelley Badat, Brian Frons, Steffany Hall, Hal Saunders, Joseph Freeman, Penelope Bianchi, Susan Lichtenstein, Rand Rosenberg, Debra Geiger, and Hal Conklin.

Due to the great success of the Cash Mob, and the huge amount of work that went into planning it, it was decided that the event would be extended through Sunday, May 10. More and more sales came in, bringing the final total to $270,405. Of this, $87K is earmarked for the 93108Fund, and $183K was spent on Montecito businesses, by way of nearly 1,600 gift cards!!

Friday of last week, 114 checks were distributed to Montecito businesses for the first weekend of the Cash Mob. Six members of our Cash Mob team walked Coast Village Road and the upper village, happily handing out checks to the shop owners who bring life to our village on a daily basis. We did our best to deliver to all the merchants, but there were several who were not yet open for business, so we are in the process of getting ahold of those vendors.

In just the first weekend, our merchants sold a whopping 1,551 gift cards. While this is an INCREDIBLE number, and we are so grateful, it does take some time for the gift cards to be issued. Some of our restaurants sold nearly 100 gift cards! We encouraged all merchants to reach out to their customers as soon as possible to arrange pick-up of the gift cards. Customers should watch their emails carefully for these instructions. Most vendors plan on having the customer pick up the gift card, while a few said they would prefer to mail them. The next round of check disbursement for gift cards purchased between May 4-10 will take place this week.

On behalf of the team of people behind the scenes of the Cash Mob, we want to extend a huge thank you for all those who participated in showing our merchants how much we love them. The success of the event exceeded every expectation, and every merchant who benefited was truly touched by the generosity.

Here are some photos of the recipients receiving their checks.


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