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TJ Jerke, Grand Forks Herald , Published June 13 2012

Cash mob hits downtown Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS - It’s called a mob, but the group that met Wednesday night in downtown Grand Forks was only out to do good.

The Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals brought the “cash mob” concept to town. The idea is to encourage individuals to buy from small, local businesses by gathering a large group and having them purchase items from one store.

“This is just another way to give back,” said Patrick McRae, organizer of the cash mob. “All money generated is going right back into the community.”

McRae asked the group of five mobbers to try and spend a minimum of $20. He said before each mob, he plans to provide background on the concept itself and the business. Mobs are planned for every three months.

Nicole Johnson and Tessa Hiney, owners of Kittson & 3rd, a women’s apparel store, were hit by the first Greater Grand Forks Cash Mob.

“To get the opportunity to have a surge in business, especially as a younger business, always helps,” Johnson said.

The two opened last November wanting to offer a unique store with personal customer service, both qualities McRae wanted for the first mob.

“We wanted to make sure the first one was an up-and-coming business, one that isn’t really established yet,” McRae said.

Stacey Heggen, executive director of the young professionals group, said stores will be the first targets, with the possibility of branching into restaurants.

“We know local businesses are an important part of any community,” Heggen said. “By supporting them it’s a big cycle, which is an important part of keeping the community strong and vivacious.”

The cash mob concept was developed in Buffalo, N.Y., in August 2011 by blogger and engineer Chris Smith. It has turned into an international phenomenon with cash mobs being organized across the United States and Canada.