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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

Cash-mobbed garden shop revels in new interest

(Steven Berczynski; – For the Kane County Chronicle)
Noel and Delany Rooks, both of Batavia shop for flowers and strawberries during a "cash mob" Saturday at The Pure Gardner in Geneva. This was the first mob, which aims to help local businesses by organizing large groups of community members to shop together.

GENEVA – Though Saturday was cold and dreary, intrepid cash mob shoppers turned out to support the Pure Gardener in downtown Geneva.

Denise Fauntleroy of Geneva took the opportunity to study groupings of various lettuces.

"I'm working on my planters for the front of the house and these are micro-greens and lettuces I'd like to incorporate into my flower boxes in the front," Fauntleroy said. "They are pretty and you can eat them."

Nichole Leinbach Reyhle and Julie Johnson Hillery chose the Pure Gardenr to be cash-mobbed. Reyhle is founder of "Retail Minded Magazine" and Hillery is managing editor.

"Cash mob is actually taking place nationwide," Reyhle said. "Cash mob is a national movement to support independent small businesses. And it originated in Buffalo – the story goes – for a little wine shop, a local business that was going to go under. And they saved it through cash mob [by] bringing attention to it."

Reyhle said the Geneva event was bringing attention to shopping local at large.

"So we're here at the Pure Gardener today, but the movement is supporting local shopping in general," Reyhle said.

Hillery said they picked the Pure Gardener for their first cash mob for several reasons.

"We love this [shop] because it is a natural gardening type of shop and we think it adds such a great ambiance to downtown Geneva," Hillery said.

Another reason is Pure Gardener owners Craig and Annette MacLean donated thousands of dollars worth of flowers for the public flower beds when they ran the Geneva Greenhouse, another garden center.

"We thought, what a perfect thing, to start with him and help his business," Hillery said.

About 50 cash mob supporters came through the Pure Gardener from late morning to afternoon, but some came on Friday and have committed to coming Sunday, Hillery said.

"It's more about the movement in general," Hillery said.

MacLean said he was happy with the attention to his business.

"It was absolutely fabulous," MacLean said. "It's great for geneva that 'Retail Minded' has sponsored this. They are bringing it to town. There's a lot of worthy businesses in this town that deserve to be supported."

MaLean said the chilly damp weather was no deterrent.

"I would not have it any other way," he said. "The real customers come out on days like today, the tough gardeners."

MacLean's gardening business is located inside the iconic 1937 Pure Oil building, at  502 W. State St., but only until October when his lease is up.

"We are looking for another location," MacLean said. "Things have been brought to our attention by Realtors and other communities have expressed an interest … We are looking and want to stay local. We live in Geneva, our kids go to school here,  we'd love to stay here."

"Retail Minded Magazine" is looking for the public to vote on another business to be cash-mobbed next.  See cashmob.com/geneva-illinois-cash-mob to make suggestions.

Fauntleroy said she supports the cash mob idea.

"I think it's really important to support local businesses, particularly the local businesses that are one-of-a-kind," Fauntleroy said. "They are what make our town so unique."

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