NORWAY — The region's first "cash mob" enticed about 135 people into the downtown and raked in $2,800 in revenue for Books N Things on Thursday.
Attendees were asked to bring $20 to spend at a local business but weren't told where they'd be asked to shop. At 6 p.m. Thursday, they learned the answer at the gathering point behind the Fare Share Market.
Customers streamed out the door and into the street, and the inside of the bookstore was soon packed. Michael Newsom, president of W.J. Wheeler, sponsor of the cash mob, said they were hoping for about 50 people.
In recent cash mobs in Lewiston, Portland and Bangor, 30 to 80 people has been the norm, so more than 100 in the small town of Norway was a major victory, Newsom said.
Janet Brogan of Paris and Wendy Penley of Norway each left with two books from the George R.R. Martin fantasy series “A Song of Fire and Ice,” the basis for the HBO TV show “Game of Thrones.”
Brogan said she'd started watching the show and was reading the first book on her iPad, but wanted to read it on paper instead. She said she was happy for Books N Things. “There's over 100 people, and I'm so excited for them.”
Brogan and Penley had stopped by the store on the way to the cash mob, where they were informed quietly that the store was about to be mobbed. They came back to make their purchases with the “mob.”
Afterward, shoppers were treated to food at Ari's Pizza and Subs, courtesy of Oxford Federal Credit Union and W.J. Wheeler Insurance. They received vouchers at the checkout at Books N Things.
According to event organizer Tim Dillmuth of W.J. Wheeler, Ari's made about $400.
“I'm so grateful to the community for the support of our bookstore,” Books N Things owner Erica Jed said.
Organizers plan to hold more cash mobs in the future with different businesses and ending with refreshments at different eateries.