Shelling Out

Buy-local advocates are rallying mobs--to shop

One recent morning in Richmond, Va., in a half-vacant strip mall, a mob began to form in front of a modest variety store. You might assume that Upscale Flea Market owner Forondo Holmes would feel a twinge of panic, or at least puzzlement, about this highly unusual event: like many other businesses these days, his bazaar has struggled. But he was all smiles. Happily for Holmes, his shop was about to be hit by a cash mob.

The cash mob is gathering steam across the nation as a bona fide social phenomenon. But unlike its forebear, the flash mob--a pointless bit...

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