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The Green Life: Green Biz: What's a Carrotmob?

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February 24, 2010

Green Biz: What's a Carrotmob?

Carrotmob In 2008, K&D Market, a small liquor store in San Francisco, found itself with an unusual problem: too many customers. A line for the lone cash register spilled out the door and around the block. The overflow came courtesy of Carrotmob, a recent form of activism focused on patronizing businesses that promise to improve their environmental efforts.

Carrotmob creator Brent Schulkin believes consumers can employ "organized spending" to influence business practices. He approached 23 San Francisco liquor store owners with a proposal: Using the Internet, personal contacts, and publicity outlets, he'd rally a burst of customers to the store that pledged to divert the largest percentage of a day's profits toward ecofriendly improvements. K&D won, with a promise of 22 percent.

The store grossed almost $10,000 in three hours, more than five times its typical single-day revenue. True to their word, the owners overhauled the lighting system and replaced refrigerator gaskets.

Since then, dozens of Carrotmobs have played out at nightclubs, cafes, and grocery stores across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Schulkin plans to spread the movement to mass-market corporations by influencing large-scale consumer choice.

--Katherine Lonsdorf

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