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AMHERST, N.H. -- The owners of one local store have seen the worst of people and now the best thanks to more than 600 friends and customers who turned out to support them after the Homestead Grocery & Deli fell victim to two recent break-ins.
The store sustained damage during the burglaries, cash and inventory were stolen and a charity fund-raising jar was emptied, according to a release from Associated Grocers of New England. In light of the crimes, resident Kimberly McCool spread the word throughout the community and the outpouring of support resulted in a "cash mob." Customers -- even some who never shopped at Homestead Grocery & Deli -- came through the doors willing to spend $20 in a show of support. Volunteers were called in to help and local police arrived to direct traffic and parking, AG New England said.
The customers participating in the cash mob left behind a signature board as symbol of their support. Homestead Grocery & Deli is a family-operated business owned by Ralph and Janet Melchionda. The owner's run the store with the help of her two sisters and their three children.
"We've gotten back to normal but I continue to reflect upon the outpouring from the community. We did four days worth of business in three hours -- quite a phenomenon," Ralph Melchionda said. "It was unbelievably heartwarming that so many people expressed their sincere support and appreciation of our little store. We hope they will continue to come in."
Ron Roberts, a store counselor for Associated Convenience Grocers, a division of Associated Grocers of New England, the stores supplier, echoed the owner's feelings.
"Independent stores have long been a community focal point in New England's cities and towns. Stores like this are much more than businesses, they are the fiber of the community and there is clearly a movement underway to shop local and support local retailers, and that was demonstrated here," Roberts said.