It was no multi-million-dollar government bailout for Riverhead's Main Street, but that's exactly what made such a success in the eyes of some.
"It's nice to see the townfolk recognizing that together, they can take the town in the direction they want to," said Steve Siegelwacks, owner of since 1990. "We can't wait for the governement to do it for us."
Siegalwacks thanked all his customers who came through the door Saturday morning, but those denoted with a smiley-heart sticker were particularly one of the roughly 40 "cash mobbers" who came to Main Street Saturday morning with at least one thing on their mind - spending at least $20 at a local business.
"We live in the downtown area and with the renaissance going on, we want to see it succeed," said Jerry Bilinski. Bilinski said he planned on spending his money at and getting lunch at . Owner Dee Muma put on a special for the cash mobbers: for $10, a choice of roasted tomato soup or good ground clam chowder, grilled cheese, and a small salad.
On the other side of Main Street, employee Lauren Zilnicki said they did a deal of their own as well, offering 10 percent off to any cash mobber. Zilnicki said they sold about $70 to $80 worth of flowers to those with the group, and "it was nice that they came into our shop, even just to come in and look around."
The idea for the cash mob started with iloveriverhead founder Nancy Swett, whose part-civic, part-marketing group focuses on keeping things positive on Main Street. Denise Civiletti of RiverheadLocal joined Swett in running the event, as the 40 or so participants split up into two groups with whistles and $20 in cash in hand.
Swett said that she had got the idea after reading about a cash mob in Bellport - which drew over 100 people - which occurred on Jan. 28. The turnaround to set up Riverhead's was quick, but in giving consumers an added incentive to come out, she wanted to organize the event before Valentine's Day.
Bruce and Nancy King came from Hampton Bays for the cash mob, patronized a shop or two, and ate lunch at .
"I grew up shopping in Riverhead," said Mr. King, whose wife works as a teacher at Riverhead Middle School. "What happens over here affects Hampton Bays - we're only eight miles away.
"But I thought I heard they were giving out twenty dollars at this," he joked.