Hundreds of people participated in the Homestead Cash Mob on Thursday, and showed the local convenience store’s owners that they are an irreplaceable part of the community.
The cash mob, which has a large group of customers pledge to shop at a business during a certain time period, was organized for the Homestead Grocery & Deli after .
According to Homestead Cash Mob organizer Kristin McCool, the store had over 600 customers come in on Thursday to show their support for this beloved business and co-owners Ralph and Janet Melchionda.
Almost $7,000 was taken in the two break-ins, including an estimated $500 from a donation jar intended for local nonprofit SHARE. McCool said that they had already received that amount in donations early in the cash mob, and the rest went to the Homestead.
The burglaries left owners feeling uneasy and they may sell their business, but the customers that poured into the store on Thursday are urging them to reconsider. They waited in lines that steadily wrapped around the aisles, just to show the Melchionda that they are a valuable part of the Amherst community.
Volunteers helped run the store and maintain the steady stream of customers coming through the store. Members of Janet Melchionda’s family helped in the kitchen to meet the needs of a growing number of hungry customers.
The crowd included neighbors young and old, local students and Amherst town officials and employees. Members of the Amherst Fire Department pulled in their vehicles after their training that day to show their dedication to the Homestead.
“It is all about the community support,” said Amherst Fire Chief Mark Boynton.
The people are very nice,” added firefighter John Leonard. “They know your name and make it very friendly and relaxing. Just a great place with great people.”
Customers picked up snacks, beer, food and more to encourage the Homestead, and its owners, to stay in Amherst.
“I heard about this on Facebook and I just wanted to be supportive,” said Deborah Court. “I want them to stay.”
“We need a store like this,” said Homestead loyal Neil Parkhurst as he waited in line. “We need their friendship and support in the community. This is our one time we can support him, but they do it every day. We are here to say ‘thank you.’”
Even the younger generation pitched in to back up the Homestead. Kasey and Danny Leonard sold cookies and lemonade that day to raise money for the store and encourage them to stay. They raised a total of $15 and, as they say, every little bit counts.
Ralph and Janet Melchionda are hoping that police catch the criminals who burglarized their store, and give them the peace of mind they seek. Right now, they are touched by the outpouring of support from the local community and the lengths they are going to support their family.
“It is truly special what is going on,” said Ralph Melchionda.