Mob spends cash at E W Thomas

“We were opened for a few hours that day,” Thomas said. “We led shoppers around with a flashlight and one of our long-term employees, Phyllis Beckley, used her calculator to add up the sales.”

Thomas said after she thanked family members on Facebook for helping her clean out spoiled meat, dairy, produce and frozen food, someone must have seen it and got the idea for a cash mob.

Thomas said she didn’t even know Gina Elliott Proulx, who organized the event.

The point of a cash mob is to spend money at a small business in need of help. Shoppers are typically asked to spend around $20.

The place was buzzing with activity Saturday, July 7. Some were doing their regular shopping and had no idea about the cash mob.

Tracy Kilpatrick of Troy said she spent $80. She thought the place looked kind of busy.

“I thought, ‘now that’s a lot of people for a Saturday,’” Kilpatrick said. Pamela Bland said she shops at E W Thomas “every now and then.”

“I was on my way home and I wanted a watermelon so I thought, ‘let’s see what they have that’s nice,” Bland said.

Most other shoppers, however, knew about the event and made a point of shopping at E W Thomas as part of the cash mob event.

Fluvanna County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip and his wife, Kim Haislip, were paying for their groceries.

“I shop here two to three times a week anyway, since I’m so close,” Jeff Haislip said. “This was my first job in high school. I started as a bagger when I was 14.”

Thomas joked with Haislip that he must have decided to go into law when the grocery business didn’t work out.

“It’s on my resume,” Haislip said.

Dana Catlett of Fork Union picked out some produce from the fully stocked produce bins. She admits she only shops at the store occasionally.

“It’s my run-in-and-pick-up-milk kind of store,” Catlett said. She was on Facebook and saw the call for the cash mob. That’s when she decided to stop in and buy some fresh produce.

Cindy Anderson also got an invitation on Facebook. “E W Thomas has been such a wonderful support to the community so I wanted to support them,” Anderson said.

It seems many people did. More than 140 people RSVP’d on Facebook, Thomas said.

Others wanted to be a part of the cash mob but knew they would be busy Saturday.

“They’d come in and ask if they could shop right then,” Thomas said. “Of course they could. I had people who wanted to hand me money and I said, ‘No, I can’t do it. It doesn’t work that way.’”

It was clear the support touched Thomas deeply. She took her time explaining what it meant to her.

“I always knew we were part of the community but now we really know it,” she said, fighting back tears.

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