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Buffalo Cash Mob helps to bring new business to local wine shop

It wasn't exactly a mob scene Friday that descended on Eric Genau's Main Street business.

But the wine merchant did enjoy a steady flow of customers all day, thanks to a new social media called the "Buffalo Cash Mob."

The idea was the brainchild of local blogger, Christopher Smith, a regular contributor to the online website, as a way to promote local businesses. His goal is to organize 100 people to "flash mob" a local establishment and spend between $10 and $20 on whatever goods and services the business offers.

"Times are tough in the economy," Smith said Friday at Genau's business, the City Wine Merchant.

"And those of us who have a few dollars to spend and want to support local business, we should come out and try to show them that we appreciate that they've made an investment in the community. We value their presence, and we want to support them," he added.

Nominations for what businesses will be selected for "cash mob" treatment are solicited online, and then the votes are tallied. For this first such event of its kind locally, 300 nominations were submitted, and City Wine Merchant, 715 Main St., received more that half of the votes cast -- some via Twitter and others, Facebook.

"To me, social media -- Twitter, Facebook and those sorts of things -- should be about building off-line communities as much as online communities and try to bring people out to meet each other. I think that's the City of Good Neighbors for you: Let's come out and support each other," Smith said.

"Next week, it might be a bar or a restaurant. You never know. I wanted the people to make the call on who got the support," Smith added.

The Buffalo Cash Mob will be a weekly event and will include businesses both in the city and surrounding suburbs.

Genau, who is president and wine director of City Wine Merchant, learned about what Cash Mob planned for his business via Twitter.

"It's kind of a neat thing to support local businesses," he said.

Genau handpicks the wines he sells from outlets around the world. Prices per bottle range from $9 to $90. Genau also offers a full line of glassware, for picnicking and informal occasions, as well as other wine accessories.

"We're more of a boutique wine shop than pretty much any other [similar] place in town. We taste everything that we bring in," Genau added.

Friday, customers, including Linda and Peter Herr of Lancaster, got to sample some of the wares. For Linda Herr, Frascati wine, from Italy, tempted her taste buds.

"I didn't think I was going to like it, but this is a keeper," she said.

The Herrs heard about the Cash Mob through and Twitter. Even though Linda Herr works downtown, she and her husband were first-time shoppers there.

"I hope it works," said Linda Herr.

"I mean, it would be nice to see people down here on a regular basis and find out what's here. I never knew this was here. So this is a great opportunity to find something new," she added.

"It's a cool idea for local businesses. I don't get the impression that we're going to do Cash Mobs at Applebee's," said Peter Herr.