Mall needs ‘mob’ mentality

June 19, 2017

Ronni Druitt’s ‘‘cash mob’’ concept is all about helping retailers in her new hometown.

Shepparton needs you.

Apologies for plagiarising a mythical British World War I slogan and even though our circumstances maybe differ (thankfully), Shepparton, and whatever community you consider home, still needs you.

The slogan, apparently never actually used for recruitment during the war, became known about and mythologised later, had, at its heart, the idea of encouraging societal engagement.

And so there is nothing new under the sun.

Communities everywhere pine for engagement from those among their number, but those offering to help, must first struggle from a psychological morass thickened by clash of values.

The predominant market system ensures the enrichment of just a few by encouraging individualism and celebrating a status that equates with consumerist behaviour.

Conversely a stronger, a more successful community is one that adjusts its value hierarchy to ensure communitarianism supplants the modern ego-fired, and market system inspired idea of ‘‘doing your own thing’’; a twist on narcissism.

An example of engagement and a positive response to the call from Shepparton for help came recently when about 30 people turned out for the city’s fourth ‘‘cash mob’’.

Led by Ronni Druitt, this enthusiastic band of ‘‘city helpers’’ headed, on this occasion, for the Maude St store of Collins Booksellers, all with the intent of spending at least $20.

The cash mob descended on the store and within minutes the cash registers were pumping out sales receipts and so the work of the ‘‘mob’’ was done.

What ended, so to speak, in Shepparton’s Collins Booksellers on Saturday, began in 2011 in the American city of Buffalo, New York.

Oddly, it was a relative newcomer to Shepparton, and Australia, Ronni who initiated the cash mob in what has become, in just several years, her home town.

Ronni met her Shepparton husband-to-be while travelling and their first home as husband and wife was in New York, until a deteriorating US economy drove them to pack up and move.

Eager to do something to help her new hometown, and having always worked in Shepparton’s CBD, Ronni, encouraged by her husband, and inspired by an idea about cash mobs she saw on television that had been used to support businesses whose trade had been slowed by rail crossing works in Melbourne, brought the idea to Shepparton.

What she is doing epitomises how Shepparton can be helped, in a practical sense, but Ronni quickly and freely, admits that her cash mobs will not save CBD businesses, but they bring people to the precinct and exposes them to what is available, encouraging them, hopefully, to return.

Yes, Shepparton needs your help. Ronni is helping, as is her cash mob and now the responsibility falls upon the rest of us.

A Tatura friend who has no reason to shop in Shepparton’s Maude St mall, visited recently and bought a simple item and has the view that if everyone shopped, or visited the mall, just one extra time each year, it would become more viable, both economically and socially .

However, the cash mobs bring us to a strange philosophical and practical contradiction for they are about the maintenance of growth-based economy and true sustainability is about de-growth; a dilemma of more complexity than those presently faced by the city generally.

Rob McLean is a former News editor.

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