Cash mob pumps bucks into Ava's market
Organized shopping spree boosts business at Ava's
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 produce a tidal wave of money, Juan Origel said he hoped the support 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 companies, and Acme Bread baked in Mountain View. Also, 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 calls itself "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.
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