Cash Mob Draws Hundreds to Struggling Store

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio—It all started with an email, but little did Jim Black know how big his idea truly was.

"Of course, we've all heard of the 'occupy' terminology these days and used that in an email to get some attention," said Black, of Chagrin Falls. "I simply asked them to come into the store and spend $20, at least $20."

That idea of Black's: a cash mob.

He asked the locals--even the furry ones--to come together to support the Chagrin Hardware Company on Saturday.

"I hope we woke a sleeping giant and they support the local stores," Black said.

Residents like Matt Lofton heard about the buzz on the web and visited the store--twice.

"My wife came in with me and said, 'What in the hell? This is amazing,'" said Lofton, a Chagrin Falls resident. "I've been in here literally hundreds and hundreds of times, and I've never seen so much humanity in this place in my life."

The store owners expected to only see a few more people at its store on 82 N. Main Street, but they said it topped at nearly 500 people that day.

"It was just such a rush. Our credit card machine stopped three times," said Megan Johnson, whose mother is a co-owner of the store. "Hugs over here and over here. The family working together. It's an honor be a part of this family."

The constant flow of people and cash was unusual for the family-owned store, which has been a fixture in the community since 1857.

"This is the hardest times I've ever seen," said Jack Shutts, who co-owns the store with two of his siblings. "I've been here off and on for 40 years and I've never seen the economy--again, not just us, but anybody. I've never seen the economy this bad. It's very depressing."

Shutts said a strong number of people are visiting the store, and he hopes it'll stretch to other businesses that are also hurting.

"Things are bad all over, but we fortunately have a very caring community and we'll hang on as long as we can," he said. "Our parents built this into a local institution. I wish they would have seen it."