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Posted on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor Cash Mob plans spending crawl on Saturday in downtown Dexter to support businesses

By Lizzy Alfs


Gary Winters, manager of the Busch's grocery in Dexter, pushed around a cart with donated water in the Huron Farms neighborhood after the tornado.

Angela Cesere |

The Ann Arbor Cash Mob is hosting a “Tornado Relief Cash Mob Crawl” in downtown Dexter on Saturday to support businesses after a tornado swept through the city March 15.

The purpose: give back to the many businesses that donated time, money and other products in an effort to help rebuild the shaken community.

The event begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the Monument Park gazebo in downtown Dexter. As a group, participants will then descend upon downtown businesses, spending money along the way.

“No single business will be singled out,” according to a release. “All the businesses have pitched in and should be supported.”

Paul Hickman founded the Ann Arbor Cash Mob earlier this year following a trend of cash mobs popping up nationwide. Typically, the mob plans a monthly visit to one retail store and one restaurant on a specified date to boost a local business’ sales.

The Ann Arbor Cash Mob has already visited Acme Mercantile, Morgan & York, Encore Records, Jerusalem Garden, Old Town Tavern and Fraser’s Pub.

But for the Dexter event, Hickman said it was too difficult to choose a single business to support.

“What became apparent right away, particularly to all those people who live in Dexter, they didn’t want to pick one [business],” he said. “They felt they needed to support everybody because all the businesses supported them.”

Hickman said the mob crawl will give people a chance to see business owners face-to-face and thank them for supporting the community by “re-infusing cash back into their businesses.”

“It’s supporting businesses that don’t see the financial aid the homeowners get via the state or the insurance or the donations,” he said. “But they’re the ones who were immediately out there giving their own dollars and products for free to the homeowners.”

At the last Ann Arbor Cash Mob event -- which supported Encore Records and Jerusalem Garden -- Hickman estimated roughly 30 people showed up throughout the day.

For the Dexter event, he’s hoping at least 50 to 100 people will join at 10 a.m., with even more people trickling throughout the downtown area the rest of the day.

“The homeowners in Dexter,” he said, “I think we’ll get a huge outpouring from them. That’s my hope.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Paul Hickman

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

At 10 a.m. at the start of the Ann Arbor Cash Mob Crawl for Dexter Tornado Relief we had over 60 people. They gathered at Monument Park in downtown Dexter to hear the stories of those who were direct victims of the tornado and how the business community poured out to support them. As the day progressed many more people came into town to repay those same businesses. Last we heard at 7:30, those businesses still open were still seeing record numbers of people. One store owner said she had not seen traffic like this on a Saturday for many years. I am guessing we broke our goal of 100 people who came to Dexter specifically because of the Cash Mob. It was a great day for Dexter. Thank you all who came out and gave back to the Dexter Business Community.

Paul Hickman

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

The Cash Mob will indeed be making strong announcements to all Mobbers to make sure they hit those outlying businesses, particularly the ones around the Dexter Crossing Shopping Center such as Buschs, La Fontaine, Foggy Bottom Cafe and Polly's Country Market... to mention a few. This is right next to where the tornado touched down and took out most of the houses. We will do our best to spread the "mob" all over the Dexter business community so come on out and join us.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

The Cash Mob is GREAT! Let's also not forget all of the generous businesses that also provided addtional significant support that are not located downtown like Busch's and the other businesses in the Busch's shopping plaza. Hopefully some of the mob will make their way to these businesses as well.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

Many Dexter businesses were helping out in numerous ways. Busch's was trucking water, fruit, hot dogs and snacks to many locations that were being serviced by volunteers, Hackney Ace Hardware has been sharpening chainsaw blades for free to all those that were helping to clear the thousands of felled trees, Zingerman's supplied lunch to hundreds of workers in the Carriage Hills subdivision, and the list goes on. I hate to leave enyone out, but don't have the space to list them all. The most common thing I heard for a week was, "What can I do to help?" It was humanity at its best! Thanks to everyone who helped and is helping in every way.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

People can't afford to buy water so they are giving it away?? Wow. They are much worse off than I thought.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

These people have $200,000 - $300,000 houses. They have insurance. My insurance will give me immediatley $1,000 per person for clothes and yes water too if you want. Talking to one person one was effected by the storm, he said he doesn't need any help. They are in an apartment (yes the insurance covers the cost). And they have there checks from the insurance for clothers. If you really want to help somebody donate money to St. Judes hospital or the Ronald McDonald house. They really need the help. I do.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

After approx. 65 hours of volunteering in the last week and a half helping people to clean up their property or finish tearing down their home, a cold bottle of water was one of the best things I could have received after or during a long exhausting day! It seemed no matter how much I brought with me to drink each day, it was never enough. I was never a fan of Busch's grocery before but the way they and many other businesses stepped up to help us, I certainly look at them in a new light now! If that is hard for you to understand, perhaps you should get out here, volunteer and do something for someone else, and see if you get thirsty and have the same gratitude for a bottle of water a stranger hands you!


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Think that this is a great thing. Don't know if it helps those organizing the activities, but I also saw the UPS Store van (from the store by Busch's at Main & Ann Arbor Saline Road) driving around Dexter and giving away cardboard boxes to help those who were gathering their things.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

A big hug for whoever thought to do that.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

Long, long ago we were told "As ye give, so shall ye receive". It's still true today.