You heard of flash mobs? Now there are cash mobs.

Flash mobs have gotten a bad name when they've turned into riots, but cash mobs are all about supporting the community. They are a way to give back to a small business by making purchases of at least $20 during a cash mob event.

"Cash mobs have definitely evolved from flash mobs," said Suzanne Obzanski, director of marketing for, "except members of a cash mob show up and mob a store with cash. It is a grassroots, community-led movement that inspires community members to shop in locally-owned stores instead of big-box retailers."

One was held Thursday in Ardmore. Karen Toole-Ebbert, a community volunteerism enthusiast from Belmont Hills, called Sherry Tillman, owner of Past*Present*Future, a high end craft and hand-made items gift boutique, to see if she was game.

Tillman was ecstatic to be chosen as the recipient of Lower Merion's first cash mob.

"I was mobbed, baby!" Tilman said. "I was thrilled to be the business selected. It brought a lot of people in at one time, creating a fun shopping experience.

"Many of the 'mobsters,' told us they had never been in my store," she said, "which was exciting for me as a small business owner. ... Just to feel that people out there care about your business and want to help you is heartwarming. It's so hard to be in business sometimes, and having something like this happen reaffirms my continued desire to be in business."

Toole-Ebbert enjoyed it, too. "I was glad to be able to help a local Lower Merion merchant. Cash Mobs are simply people trying to make a positive impact on the businesses in their communities, and have fun while doing it."

Toole-Ebbert, who said the next cash mob will likely be in Narberth, used Facebook to get the word out. It brought about 30 people into Tillman's store, and some people later posted what they bought on the Facebook page, available here: