News

Cash mob gives helping hand to downtown grocer

Ava's Downtown Market and Deli saw a spike in business last weekend when it was visited by an organized "Cash Mob" which socialized and spent money in the store.

Owners Ann and Juan Origel say they saw a 20 percent increase in business on Saturday during "International Cash Mob Day," a variation on the flash mob phenomenon designed to bring attention and revenue to deserving mom-and-pop businesses.

The store's gradual transformation from a mostly Asian market has been impinged by a lack of funds for many improvements, including a $300,000 refrigeration system and a deli counter to bring in lunchtime traffic.

While the event didn't bring in a tidal wave of money, Juan Origel said he hoped the event would help raise awareness about the store and its improvements.

"What a phenomenal community," he said after Saturday's event. "It motivates me to keep going, really."

The event was organized by resident Marn-Yee Lee who read about the grocery store in the Voice.

Reflecting on the event, organizer Lee said, "I found meeting other members of the community while shopping there on Saturday was a reward in itself. It makes Mountain View feel more like home, like a small, tight-knit community, a less anonymous place."

Since buying the store in October of 2011, the Origels have found allies among neighborhood residents who have wanted a "neighborhood serving" grocery store downtown for years and have seen several proposals to subsidize one with city funds fail. On Saturday many of them showed their support.

"It's super convenient and Juan is a really nice guy," said downtown resident Jeff Segall. "I hope the city does what it can to encourage it."

"My husband and I really appreciate the convenience of the location," said downtown resident Deb Henigson. "It's within walking and biking distance for us. It's a great resource for the neighborhood."

Explaining why they supported the market, many pointed to the availability organic foods, including grass-fed beef, and locally produced foods, including Crunchfuls cereal and Whole Grain Connection pasta, made by Mountain View-based companies, and Acme Bread baked in Mountain View. And they have Marianne's ice cream from Santa Cruz, Henigson added.

Downtown resident Carter Coleman said he hoped that Ava's could become like San Francisco's popular Bi-Rite market, which markets itself as "a neighborhood market feeding our community with love, passion and integrity."

"We're just as cool as they are, right?" Coleman said of Bi-Rite's customers.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jen
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

What an incredibly great idea to help support a local business you want to see survive. Would love to know how Marn-yee Lee organized this cash mob. Is it just telling a few friends and hoping they do the same?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shay
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Now we just need a group do to this every weekend!
Kidding aside, I love this newly imagined grocery store. (I did, however, purposely stay away from it this past weekend because I thought the cash mob might spur my claustrophobia and that the shelves might be empty anyway when I got there!) I will continue to frequent this store, however!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

It's more than just telling a few friends, although that's part of it. She worked at it, set up a web site Web Link and put it on her Facebook page, informed friends, got it written up in the Mountain View Voice, etc.

Kudos to all who went in spite of the rain!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Deniece Smith
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Juan and Ann were unbelievably kind in helping my husband and I find a rare sake and ordering it for us happily. We are happy they are transforming the grocery store and look forward to their success.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marn-Yee Lee
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:22 am

I would love to organize more of this to bring more awareness to our local businesses, and to build up a close-knit community. Please email me at cashmobmv@gmail.com if you're interested in seeing certain businesses supported, would like to help, or have any other suggestion!


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