As soon as Terri Hall learned about cash mobs, she knew they would be a success in Bellport.
After a few weeks of planning, Hall showed up to the Village Green last Saturday preparing to lead a group of about 40 people to “mob” a local business with their patronage, each person agreeing to spend $20.
“My husband was a nervous wreck,” said Hall, a Bellport resident. “A lot of people were worried about people not showing up. I just had this peace about it. I just felt like everything had come together so well.”
People showed up -- more than 100, in fact.
“I thought 40 people was a success,” she said. “When people just kept coming out of the woodwork, more and more people were walking across the parking lot, it was beyond my wildest dreams.”
And Bellport residents weren’t the only people to show up. The syndicated news program “Inside Edition” got wind of the event and sent a crew to Bellport for the evening. A spokesman for CBS, which distributes the program, said the air date for the segment was not yet available.
Andrew Samtoy, a Cleveland resident who co-organized the original cash mob last year, drove in to participate in the mob, as well.
The television crew did interviews with Samtoy and Hall and stayed for the entire event, including the mob at the Variety Mart, owned by Carolyn Holtz, and the post-mob gathering at Porters on the Lane.
Holtz, who grew up in Bellport and has owned Variety Mart for 17 years, said the store took in about $2,800 during the mob. She said normally it would take about three weeks to turn that of revenue during the winter season.
Holtz said there was also a great sense of community in the store, and she’s hoping the idea will carry on.
“Hopefully it won’t just be the day,” she said. “People will be reminded what I carry, how important a downtown is and that we’re part of their lives.”
The idea has already spread to at least one other Long Island community.
After hearing about the Bellport mob, Nancy Swett, founder of the community action website iloveriverhead.com, said she’s gauging support for a cash mob there in February.
“It’s slow in the winter months,” she said. “I’m hearing rumblings that different businesses really could use this little cash infusion. It really does strike a chord.”
Hall said during Bellport’s mob, the entire village seemed to buzz.
“Every restaurant was busy that night,” she said. “Any store that was open, people were going in and out. I think the entire downtown benefited.”