On July 31 radio talk show host Bill Handel and the KFI Street Team swarmed into Toy Boat, Toy Boat, Toy Boat in Corona del Mar, followed by hundreds of fans of the store, both old and new.
The goal was to bring exposure to a locally owned family business that had fallen on hard times and possibly revive it. Did that happen? The answer is an emphatic, “YES!”
The store has been an iconic landmark for more than 50 years, but the last few years have been challenging for Toy Boat as it has for many others. You can review the results of that day at newportbeach.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-kfis-cash-mob-sheds-light-on-need-for-biz-reinvention#photo-10827981, but what has happened since then?
Today the business has a new web site tbtbtb.com, new and expanded inventory, but more importantly, a fresh approach and new insight into competing in today’s difficult economy.
Bringing in a new audience was just an outward first step, but that overture of support allowed the owners, Mike and Lori Curtin, to renegotiate their lease, replenish their shelves and gain exposure through many other channels as well. Most local media covered the July 31 Cash Mob, but in addition, the store received national exposure in conjunction with American Express OPEN in honor of Small Business Saturday, another strategic partner of KFI radio.
Lori shared her thoughts of how this event impacted their store: “It was huge! We captured, and continue to capture customers who had never heard of us or even thought to shop in a specialty toy store. From August through September, we had at least one person a day who heard our story on KFI & just wanted to show their support. That picked up again in December and just recently we saw at least three customers for the same reason. It's amazing and we continue to be extremely grateful!!! It also brought many people to the beautiful Corona del Mar community who had not visited this area in years! It reminded people the importance of shopping local and even though we had recently closed three stores, we were still afloat in the original location that has been here for over 22 years. It truly saved the store!”
I asked if during the past six months they did anything differently than prior to the Cash Mob, and they replied, “We are doing much more regarding social media i.e., Facebook. Our 'likes' have doubled since the mob and continue to grow each week. We stay current with our mailing list and continue to update customers regarding new items, in-store promotions and events. We continue to think 'outside the box' and launched products with some new, local vendors. We also launched our website in December and promoted Toys for Tots and became a 'drop off' site. We felt it an important way to give back since so many people have supported us over the years. It was amazing!”
The July 31 event was brought about by a barrage of requests from Toy Boat fans that asked KFI to do something to help them. It landed on Program Director Robin Bertolucci’s desk and resonated and within days she marshaled the station to show up and promote the event. She shares, "Hats off to the KFI audience which jumped into action when they heard Toy Boat was in trouble. They're responsible for saving a very worthy and special local business.”
The success of that was a pleasant surprise to everyone.
“KFI is proud to support great local businesses in Southern California that need a little help- that's what neighbors do for each other and we're proud to be a part of this great big Southern California neighborhood," Bertolucci said.
The 50,000 watt media giant plans to do more Mobs throughout the year and are actively seeking qualified businesses to host Mobs and are committed to continuing this program.
The next Ca$h Mob is set for Wednesday, Feb. 20, from noon until 3:00 p.m. at Zlaket’s Market located at 12921 Main St., Garden Grove, CA 92840. KFI host Bill Carroll will be there with his team and will broadcast during that shift.
For more information on hosting your own Ca$h Mob, please review parts one and two of this Crowdsourcing phenomenon. You can attend the Concordia “Helping 100 Businesses for 100 Days” event which KFI is sponsoring and submit an application.