Story & photos: Cash Mob takes to downtown Riverhead

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | A cash mob clasping $20 bills Saturday morning.

As snow lightly dusted downtown Riverhead Saturday morning, about 40 people — clasping $20 bills — gathered to start “mobbing” local stores, looking for Valentine’s Day deals while trying to add a boost to the local economy.

Riverhead’s first Cash Mob event, the brainchild of founder Nancy Swett, was soon under way, despite the messy weather.

Driven by social and traditional media, participants met about 11 a.m. in the riverfront parking lot, each carrying $20 or more in cash to spend on Main Street. Customers were free to spend their money however they liked, and were able to get special deals from some businesses.

Riverhead resident Jen Eager said before the event began that she was looking forward to scoring a good deal on home decor items.

“This is great,” Ms. Eager said about the cash mob event. “The snow doesn’t bother me. I love shopping for pretty things to decorate my home with.”

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The event is designed to show people the value of downtown businesses, Ms. Swett said. Earlier this week she said she had gotten the idea after a successful cash mob brought about 100 people to Bellport Village recent. Within a week, she had prepared an event was prepared for Riverhead.

“The weather probably hurt, but I think people who couldn’t come downtown will still look to shop here this month for Valentine’s Day,” Ms. Swett said.

Shortly after meeting in the parking lot, the participants separated into two groups. The group led by Ms. Swett first visited Pieceful Quilting.

Store owner Angie Veeck said that while her business wasn’t offering cash mob deals, mostly because her shop caters to a “niche market,” she said she had looked forward to meeting new customers.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” Ms. Veeck said as about 10 people entered the store. “I was hoping for this.”

Later, the cash mob headed over to the Riverhead Flower Shop, which was offering 10 percent off everything in the shop.

Store owner Peggy Kneski said that although she believed the weather hindered the event, she was still excited to be a participant.

“This is a great way to promote local business,” she said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.”

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