A Los Angeles radio host’s “cash mob” held today at Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat drew hundreds of shoppers to the store, which has been in danger of closing at then end of business today because of financial pressures.
“I’ve never seen a long line like this — not even at Christmas,” said Lori Curtin, who owns the store with her husband, Michael Curtin. “Everything is selling.”
The Curtins’ announcement last week about the possible closure of the store at 3331 East Coast Highway brought customers through the doors, they said. It also caught the attention of Bill Handel of KFI radio, who announced he would attend a cash mob from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Cash mobs are a trend that began about a year ago and involve a push for shoppers to spend cash at local businesses to support them.
“So far so good,” Handel said about an hour into the cash mob, when dozens of people were jammed in the store. “Seems like a nice group. What a neat way to keep the business in the community. It (Corona del Mar) is a big listenership for us.”
Handel autographed photographs of himself for fans, some of whom traveled from other cities to see him and to shop.
“We’re from Belmont Shores,” said Steve Nott, who was buying an aromatherapy kit and a stuffed animal with his wife, Martee Nott. The couple — big KFI fans — said they would donate the toys to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, adding them to a large box overflowing with donated items. The Notts said after shopping they planned to visit Sherman Library & Gardens and have lunch there.
“We’re having a nice little stay-cation,” Steve Nott said.
Other businesses also were supporting the effort, the Curtins said.
“They just showed up with 20 cases of water and four platters of cheese and fruit,” Michael Curtin said, describing how a Bristol Farms delivery arrived before the crowds. “They said, ‘Where should I put this,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t order it,’ and they said, “Oh, I know.’”
CdM Yogurt, next door to the toy shop, had an increase in business because of the crowds, said employee Catherine Tomares. The yogurt shop would donate 30 percent of today’s profits to help Toy Boat, she said.
“They’re our neighbors,” she said. “We want them to stay in business.”
The Curtins said their rent has been increased by 40 percent, and even though their landlord has been patient and is working to help them, they needed to come up with more than $10,000 to pay rent and order more toys.
Special orders arrived in time for today’s event, they said, with some vendors donating extra toys for them to sell.
The owners said it was too early to know if the cash mob was successful enough to sustain the business, but they hoped to have an answer later in the day. Since last week’s publicity, they said, business has picked up, with one woman buying almost $600 worth of toys and others offering to donate to save the store.