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The West Concord 5 & 10 is a crammed-to-the-gills, family-run institution, the place you go for what used to be called notions and sundries — and for anything you have tried and failed to find anywhere else.

But the 5 & 10 may be on its last legs as a result of long-term changes in shopping patterns and the collapse of a supplier that gave credit.

A cash mob was organized for today, and the faithful turned up in droves, promising to spend at least $20. Whether the show of loyalty can save the business for the family remains to be seen, but it must have warmed the cockles of their hearts.

Nancy Shohet West’s article Thursday in the Globe West helped to get the word out:

“According to [store manager Chris] Curtis, his main supplier, Arrow Wholesale Inc. in Worcester, which had provided quirky inventory to small, dime-store-type businesses all over the country for generations, went out of business. That loss, coupled with the decrease in business facing small neighborhood shops everywhere, as more consumers flock to malls, super­stores or online, was draining the lifeblood out of the West Concord 5 & 10.”

Organizer Polly “Stadt said she and her 13-year-old daughter, Emma Hill, agreed that this was awful news. Browsing the shelves for inexpensive, amusing, or useful items was a tradition not only among adults in the community but among children Emma’s age as well. They decided something had to be done, and then Stadt remembered a tactic to save a local business that a friend in Texas had told her about: a cash mob.

“In a cash mob, according to the website www.cashmob.com, committed supporters ‘come together to shop in a locally owned establishment to support their favorite local business and support the area economy. Each ‘mobber’ spends an agreed-upon amount, usually $20.

“Stadt and her daughter said they decided a cash mob was just what the West Concord 5 & 10 needed, providing an influx of money and, more importantly, bringing attention to its plight. They talked to Curtis, chose a date — the first Saturday in March — and started putting out the word: Emma on Facebook, and her mother by e-mail and word of mouth.”

Now I’m just hoping we didn’t strip the shelves so customers in the weeks to come find nothing to buy.

More about a wonderful store and about how social media may help save it.

saving the 5&10

West Concord 5&10

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