“You’re being mobbed. How does it feel?”
Those were the words Dr. Tim Hudyncia said on Tuesday evening to one of the co-owners of Anything Goes, a store that sells original art made by 55 Rhode Island artisans, as he and 30 other people made a surprise visit as part of a “Cash Mob” adventure.
“I was so excited,” Annie Johnson said moments later. She co-owns the store with Pam and Henry Goes.
The mob met at the Park and Ride at Route 117 at 5 p.m. and traveled to the store at 1161 Main Avenue, each with $20 in their pockets to spend.
The founders of “Let’s Buy Local,” a grassroots, community-building initiative started in November by local business owners Dr. Timothy Hudyncia and Lea Knepley, spearheaded the event, which marked central Rhode Island’s first “Cash Mob” and the second one for the state. At 5:15 p.m., everyone got in their cars at the Park and Ride and unexpectedly showed up to Anything Goes.
“I’m a big supporter of Let’s Buy Local because it’s important to remember small businesses and I think they are doing amazing stuff,” Johnson said.
Goes agreed. She said not only does shopping within the state help the economy, it also helps her fellow independent business owners.
“We want to support each other,” she said. “Business owners are your next door neighbor and the people who live, shop and work in the community. You are paying for quality and not sending dollars overseas or to a faceless corporation. Some of the coolest businesses that I’ve been to are small and independently owned.”
Knepley, who co-owns Knepley Therapeutic Massage at 5784 Post Road in East Greenwich with her husband, Andy, said people often receive better service at small businesses.
“When you walk into a big business these days and you want to talk to an owner or manager, they’re nowhere to be found,” said Knepley. “We started this as an idea as a positive action to take. Instead of complaining about something, choose a positive step to change it.”
Local business owners who attended the mob said they love the idea and look forward to taking part in the next adventure. Christine Foisey, the business manager at the House of Hope Boutique at 3188 Post Road, is one of them.
“It’s a great way to support local businesses and an exciting way to see a store you’ve never seen,” said Foisey. “I’m excited to find out where the next one is.”
Amy Soucy of Olivia Greene Photography said the concept is awesome because it gives everyone a sense of community, while Keri Hostetter, RVT, CSAMT of Petted Bliss, an animal massage therapy that specializes in post-surgical and elderly pets, is important because it supports the passion people have for starting their own businesses.
Kelly Guertin, owner of Bellani Maternity at 1276 Bald Hill Road, as well as Linda Marini, who owns a bookkeeping company, Linda Marini Bookkeeping, feel the same.
“As long as it’s a local business, I’m happy to be supporting it,” Marini said. “Rhode Island is not a state that is open to small businesses. The tax structure is too difficult and the unions are pushing their agenda. People should be encouraging local businesses to stay.”
Laura Winward, owner of Waves of Creation, LLC at 271 Main Street in East Greenwich, gave H the idea to do the “Cash Mob,” as he noticed a post she made about taking in part in one last week. She believes local businesses make the character of the community unique.
“They give the cities and towns their own feel,” she said.
Hudyncia said he was pleased with the turnout and is already planning the next event. In addition to being a co-founder of Let’s Buy Local, he’s a chiropractor, Warwick Rotarian, Chamber of Commerce Member and co-owns Nature’s Lather at 3055 West Shore Road.
“Small businesses are really going to rally behind this,” he said. “Our mission is to help people understand that the way to have a vital local economy is to purchase products in Rhode Island.”
Since it’s inception in November, Let’s Buy Local has acquired more than 30 members. They are focused on reminding people to put their money where their house is and that for every dollar spent in a local store, 75 cents stays in the locality. In contrast, shopping at chain stores only 30 cents stays local.
To take part in the next “Cash Mob,” visit the LetsBuyLocal.org Facebook page or call Hudyncia at 401-862-8616.