Darrington businesses are ready to be ‘mobbed’

DARRINGTON — Business leaders from the other side of Snohomish County plan to bombard Darrington shops, restaurants and breweries with their first ever “Chamber Mob” on Friday afternoon.

Modeled after a cash mob, where participants flock to spend money at a local business in need, the Chamber Mob is geared toward bolstering Darrington businesses after the March 22 Oso mudslide that took 43 lives and buried a stretch Highway 530 between Arlington and Darrington.

The highway is open and the weather has been sunny, but it’s still a tough time for businesses in Darrington, said Monroe Chamber of Commerce Director Una Wirkebau-Hartt, who worked with Darrington business owners to coordinate the Chamber Mob.

“They’re healing and we want to help them heal,” she said “We still understand they’re going through a hard time and it can take a long time for things to get better.”

Darrington’s economic development has been a focus for local and state leaders after the mudslide. A state-funded advertising campaign is promoting local festivals and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Stillaguamish Valley.

Wirkebau-Hartt said chamber members on the east side of Snohomish County wanted to find a way to help. She and former chamber director Annique Bennett, who is currently working for Snohomish County to promote tourism in Darrington, coined the term Chamber Mob and started recruiting. Wirkebau-Hartt invited people from Monroe, Sultan, Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Arlington and Granite Falls. As of Tuesday, 14 people had signed up to participate.

A bus is scheduled to leave Monroe around noon Friday, and a couple of seats are open, Wirkebau-Hartt said. People can contact her at director@monroewachamber.org or call 360-794-5488 to claim a seat. The group on the bus plans to remain in Darrington until about 8 p.m.

People also can drive to Darrington on their own. Anyone is welcome to join the mob between 2 and 8 p.m., she said.

Afternoon plans include a tour of the Oso Fire Department, eating lunches from the Darrington IGA at a local park, meeting with Mayor Dan Rankin and shopping at Darrington stores before settling in at a restaurant or brewery for dinner. There may be an opportunity for a mill tour, rafting trip, hike or a tour of downtown guided by Rankin, Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Darrington business owners know people are on the way and plan to be open extra hours if necessary, she said.

“The concept is we’ll go inundate the community, spend money and create a buzz while we’re up there,” Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com.

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