CROWN POINT | Liz Messing almost didn’t come in to her business, The Artful Garden, on Saturday morning, but she needed to unpack some new shipments of art pieces while her sales associates worked behind the counter.
A shop full of customers chanting Cash Mob greeted her as she walked through the door about 10:20 a.m.
Her hand flew to her mouth as she surveyed a dozen women wearing pink Cash Mob buttons and purchasing a variety of items.
“Shop!” Messing responded exuberantly when her friend Carol Dragsga explained the event that plays on the “flash mob” phenomena with a special twist.
The Artful Garden at 611 Indiana Ave. was the first locally owned retail business to be visited, and surprised, by the newly formed Cash Mob, a group of book club friends who decided to support local businesses by showing up to shop.
“This is a way to stimulate the local economy. It’s a way to show our purchasing power,” said Dragsga, a Crown Point city council member. “It’s not sponsored by the city. I’m a member of the book club that started this.”
The group’s first stop Saturday was The Golden Apple Restaurant and Pancake House, where they enjoyed breakfast. At 10 a.m. sharp, the Cash Mob walked into The Artful Garden, surprising Lexa Evans, a sales associate and a self-described “Jill-of-all-trades."
Keeping the plan secret took some maneuvering, Dragsga said, because Messing is a member of the same book club, and all the planning was done by email.
Nancy Anglis, of Crown Point, saw the idea on the Internet and suggested it as a book club activity.
“They’re doing it in New York. I thought, ‘New York? Crown Point?’ Why not?’ Small businesses are the backbone of the United States economy,” Anglis said as she carried a ceramic bunny to the counter.
“We pick a different business every month. The Artful Garden is the phoenix out of the ashes,” she said referring to a fire on Feb. 27, 2010, that destroyed the original building.
Messing decided to rebuild on the original foundation and reopen in August 2011.
Dragsga and Anglis said they encourage other groups to form Cash Mobs with their friends in their communities.
“The group can be two to 20 people,” Dragsga said. “It’s a local effort to support the local economy.”