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Cortland/Ithaca

"Cash Mob" aids vandalized store

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: "Cash Mob" aids vandalized store
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A local merchant sees the best and worst of a community all in one short weekend. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about the an Ithaca store that was vandalized, and the friends and neighbors who came to the rescue.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- For store owner Katie Spallone, last Thursday would prove to be a sleepless night.

"About 12:20 in the morning, Friday morning, I got a call from the Ithaca police department and they told me I had to come back in."

Owner of Evolution 102 on Ithaca's Commons for the last 12 years, Spallone would arrive to a disturbing scene.

"There was glass all over," Spallone said. "The complete front window had been shattered. There were huge shards hanging down from the top. We had a real cleanup."

Police on scene had taped off the area and spoken to witnesses.

"They said they heard that two guys who had been at the bar next door had been fighting and one of them had pushed the other one into the window," Spallone said.

The suspects fled, and Spallone was left to pick up the pieces.

"The first thing I thought of was 'How am I going to pay for this window?'"

Even with insurance, the night's fiasco would cost this small business owner about two thousand dollars, an expense she didn't know how to cover.

"The out of pocket expense was a lot for me right now and we just didn't have it," Spallone said.

But just hours after the vandals ran off, friends Eliza Van Cort and Joey Steinhagen stepped in.

"He had the idea for a flash mob, but he called it a cash mob, where people would come in and spend money to help me offset the cost of the window," Stallone explained.

The facebook effort found a community eager to help. The traditionally slow weekend for the store saw four times higher than normal sales.

"We never were dead," said employee Nicolien Herlihy. "It just kept going and everybody was in great moods, great spirits. It was awesome. All ages coming in because they saw this on facebook or heard about it there."

"People I knew, people I didn't know. Customers I hadn't seen in years," Stallone said. "I got letters of encouragement, text messages, facebook messages. So it was pretty incredible. The community support was outstanding."

Enough to help repair the damaged window, and restore the owner's faith in the community.

Police are still investigating the crime, and the store has offered a reward for information.

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call Ithaca police at (607) 697-0333.

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