AYER -- A small mob took to Main Street last Wednesday ready to wreak some havoc -- but the good kind.
With cash in hand, about 25 people swarmed Kelley's store looking for something to buy among the trinkets, charms, cards and other gifts that the small business offers.
The store was the scene of the first "cash mob" hosted by the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce. The term borrows the excitement of a spontaneous dancing "flash mob," except people instead come together to spend money at a designated store. Throughout the country, cash mobs have been used to boost local businesses.
Chamber CEO Melissa Fetterhoff said the goal was to bring business to a fellow chamber member and remind people of the store.
"It has a lot of stuff that you can choose from," she said. "Rather than going to a big-box store, maybe go to downtown Ayer and get a card."
Participants pre-registered, but did not know where they would be gathering until they received an email revealing the surprise location that morning.
During lunch, Town Hall employees and other chamber members wandered around the store looking for items to purchase.
Candice Oxnard, who works at J&S Business Products on Main Street, said it was nice to come in and support Kelley's.
"It's a small store, and a lot of people end up stopping at other places to get cards, so it's nice to be reminded that this place is here," she said.
Jose Banchs, co-owner of J&S Business Products, said anything that the chamber organizes is great for business. The store is also a member of the chamber.
"It's hard to get people through the door, so these events bring people together and you get a lot of face-to-face contact," he said.
Tom Gibbons, a NVCOC board member whose law firm is also a corporate sponsor for NVCOC, said he hopes the chamber organizes more cash mobs.
"It's great to have a group of people do it all at once," he said. "The chamber is all about bringing businesses and customers together, so I think this is a great example of that."
The crowd brought a boost of life to Kelley's during a tough year. Co-owner Gloria Robson said business has been "very, very scary slow."
"The economy isn't as good as they say it is, at least not in this area," she said. "But, hopefully, it will pick up and after this word gets out, things will get better."
Robson said that when the chamber contacted her about having a cash mob in the store, she didn't know what it was.
"I was kind of excited -- not really sure what to expect it to be," she said. "But it was very good."
The steady, 30-minute stream of customers brought in more than $370, which Robson said is about triple the amount that the store had made in the last few days. She said the cash mob "brushes away the winter cobwebs."
"I think it'll kind of refresh people's memories to what is here," she said.
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