BANGOR, Maine — When Audrey Slade, Chris Rudolph and Emma Pope-Welch heard about last week’s burglary at Sweetest Thing Weddings on Columbia Street, they knew they had to do something to help their friends, owners Amber Small and Kathryn Ravenscraft, get back on their feet.
According to Small, someone made off with $4,000 worth of cash and electronic equipment — including an iMac desktop computer, iPods, iPhones and accessories that were crucial to the boutique and event designing service that opened on Columbia Street in late 2010.
Small said she and Ravenscraft have not yet been able to replace the equipment because they still are working with their insurance company. Because of the losses, the boutique has been closed for the last week.
Within hours of learning of the break-in, the businesswomen’s friends were beginning to put plans in motion for Bangor’s first “ cash mob,” a recent movement that involves getting shoppers to a selected locally owned business or group of businesses, Slate, Rudolph and Pope-Welch said Thursday.
Word of a cash mob “hit” is spread through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. The idea is to get people to spend their cash at local businesses.
Slade, a former Old Town and Bangor resident who moved to Washington state a year ago, flew back home this week for the event she helped organize.
Slade has some experience in organizing cash mobs. She has planned three in Issaquah, Wash., over the past three months, she said while waiting for the Bangor event to begin.
After her move to the West Coast, Slade started a group called Young Issaquah Professionals, based on the Fusion: Bangor model. The Washington state group has organized three cash mobs so far, injecting $6,000 into the local economy there.
When she learned of the burglary at Sweetest Thing, she decided to enlist the help of her social networking buddies to hold one here.
In addition to spreading the word through FaceBook and Twitter, she and her Maine connections enlisted the help of other downtown merchants who provided more than $1,000 worth of merchandise and gift certificates for a raffle that was part of the event.
Rudolph, a bartender at Paddy Murphy’s who is involved with Fusion, the KahBang festival and Green Drinks, said when he learned of the cash mob he was happy to help.
“Bangor is exceptional when people need help,” he said, adding that more cash mobs will be held in the future.
Deb Neuman, Maine’s deputy commissioner of economic and community development and host of the radio show Back to Business on WVOM, was among the roughly 30 people who dropped by.
“I think this is just great. There’s so much community support here,” Neuman said. “It’s terrible what happened [to the businesses owners] but I think what came out of it is wonderful.”