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Cash Mob

Francisco Ramirez, right, organizer of the Hanford Cash Mob, stands with L.T. Sue Co. Tea Room & Emporium owners Steve Banister and Arianne Wing on Wednesday. The tea room will be the location of a Cash Mob event this Saturday. (Apolinar Fonseca/The Sentinel)

HANFORD — On Saturday, the L.T. Sue Co. Tea Room & Emporium in downtown Hanford could have the largest crowd it’s ever seen, with an overflow line snaking around the shop into China Alley.

Not that anybody is complaining. Far from it.

Everybody is hoping that the event, organized by a Facebook group called Hanford Cash Mob, will breathe new life into a downtown area that continues to struggle.

“What I tell people is, we buy local, we stay local,” said Francisco Ramirez, the event organizer. “All the tax dollars ... will help the community in general.”

The first goal is to get large numbers of people. There have been cash mobs in Hanford before, but they didn’t bring in huge crowds. The Hanford Cash Mob Facebook page had 40 people going, 29 who might come, 592 invited and 4,071 likes on Wednesday afternoon.

Ramirez is hoping for 300.

Steve Banister, co-owner of L.T. Sue Co. with Arianne Wing, is hoping that people spread out from 11 a.m. to closing time at 6 p.m. The longtime downtown promoter is excited about the possibilities of cash mobs in drawing new crowds to the downtown area.

“I think it will not only benefit the specific businesses they are targeting each time, but I think it will benefit other businesses because once people are downtown ... they might want to go shopping [elsewhere].”

Cash mobs have been tried before by Steve Rogers, a Hanford lover who started a group called The DownTowners last year.

Rogers hopes that Hanford Cash Mob, with the 20-something Ramirez behind it, will start bringing a younger crowd into downtown Hanford, maybe paving the way for it to become a weekend destination like downtown Visalia.

“If he’s the younger generation, that helps bring a whole new wave of people downtown,” Rogers said. “I hope when [Ramirez] walks away, he’s encouraged to do another one.”

Ramirez said he’s already upbeat about the buzz Hanford Cash Mob is generating. He has plans to do it again — if Saturday’s event turns out to be a success.

“It really does help the business in general,” he said. “Anybody can do this for a cause.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 or snidever@HanfordSentinel.com.

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