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'Mobs' may have run their course

Last August, Forest Grove artist Helvi Smith wanted to protest the then-new Dream Girls Espresso stand, whose scantily-clad servers, she felt, weren’t quite family-friendly.

But instead of picket signs and chants, Smith brought purses and change.

“I thought, ‘What can I do to protest in a positive way?” said Smith. “I’d heard of cash mobs before, and as a small business owner I know that even $100 in a day can make a big difference.”

Smith brought nine friends with her to Tami Doner’s Sugar Shack coffee kiosk on Main Street — and protested Dream Girls by promoting another business. “People had more clothes on there,” she said.

The Sugar Shack was only the start; Smith and her friends formed a Facebook group and proceeded to “mob” one local business a month for nearly a year.

Businesses on their list included tea-shop HippocraTeas, women’s clothing store Tory’s Place and Middle Eastern restaurant Izgara. Over time, the mob became less protest-oriented and more business-promotion focused.

“It’s brought first-time customers in to businesses where they’ve become regulars,” Smith said.

Lack of attendance at the last few gatherings has caused Smith to re-think the mobs, however. “I would like for it to keep moving because I still think it’s a great idea,” she said. Smith can be reached on helvismith.com.

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