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Cash mob idea spreads on Long Island

The Huntington Chamber of Commerce participated in a

The Huntington Chamber of Commerce participated in a cash mob, where patrons gathered to visit Value Drugs, where they spent money to support the local business. (Feb. 17, 2012) Credit: Handout

At least three Long Island communities have held successful cash mobs so far, and many more are expected.

In Bellport, where the first cash mob was held in late January, organizer Terri Hall rallied residents for another mob this past Saturday. Participants gathered on the Village Green with $20 in hand and walked together to It's Only Natural, the Main Street store they spent money in.

This time around, Hall added a twist. She partnered with Bellport’s Christ Episcopal Church, which runs two food pantries, and cash mob participants had the option of either buying something for themselves or buying something to give to the pantry.

The Huntington Chamber of Commerce has also jumped on board. On Feb. 17, a group gathered at Honu Kitchen and Cocktails before marching on to Value Drugs, where about 150 people shopped at a 20 percent discount.

Pat Grant, a member of the chamber’s board of directors, said a board member had read about cash mobs happening in California and brought the idea to the table. She said the chamber promotes an ongoing Buy Local campaign, so the cash mob seemed like a good way to further that.

“We thought the cash mob would be a great opportunity to remind our village members of that goal and have the community support each other,” she said.

To make its next cash mob a festive event, Grant said participants to the March cash mob should wear green for a party at Finnegan’s before shopping at Life is Good on Main Street. The group will also be led from the restaurant to the store by a bagpiper.

The group will meet at the restaurant at 5 p.m. on March 15.

With Bellport’s success in mind, Jamesport resident Nancy Swett, founder of civic group I Love Riverhead, organized a mob in downtown Riverhead to coincide with the group’s February shop local campaign, called Love Our Local Businesses Valentine’s Month.

About 40 people attended that event on Feb. 11. The group spread out through the downtown rather than mob just one store -- a model that Hall found interesting and possibly more sustainable because of the small number of stores in some downtown areas.

Bellport will also do a cash mob around the whole downtown on March 24. Hall said that day was being planned as a national cash mob day, but it has become an international cash mob day.

Hall said she follows cash mob groups on Facebook and Twitter that are listed on every continent except Africa and all are planning to mob that day.

“It’s become a much bigger community,” she said. “We’re supporting each other to keep it moving and make a positive continuum.”

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