The growing popularity of so-called cash mobs has helped keep cash flowing to downtown businesses as they face greater competition from Walmart and other retailers.“I think it's more important to do it now,” said Main Street Gardnerville Program Manager Paula Lochridge. “As the community grows in other ways, the cash mobs show there is still passion for locally owned businesses, the mom-and-pop shops.”The Main Street revitalization program started the campaign in October. “Right after the wine walks, we wanted to do something to create excitement to bring people back downtown,” Lochridge said. “Our first one was that first Saturday in October at Fresh Ideas.”The seeds of the campaign were originally sown online. Locals were asked to join the Facebook group, “Main Street Gardnerville Cash Mob,” and then invite their friends to do the same. Mobbers showed up at a predetermined location with the intent of spending $10-20 each.They hit Candles 'N Crafts in November, Country Carousel in December, Rack'd Clothing Exchange in January, and Frontier Antiques and Collectibles on Feb. 2.“Though it's only been a few months, it seems to have taken off,” Lochridge said. “It's starting to spread. We have more people on our Facebook page: 403 cash mobbers. People are finding a way to get together with their friends.”The effects are not insignificant. Large mobs armed with cash can dramatically boost sales in one day. “Most everybody spent money. Sales were double for a Saturday,” said Gary Allen, owner of Frontier Antiques. Allen said the turnout for his cash mob was about 85 people. “When you get people into the area it's a good thing,” he said. “I'm perfectly happy with the program, and I will support whoever does the next one.”Businesses are selected each month through a random drawing of more than 30 Main Street members. “As long as businesses want to participate and shoppers want to come out, shop and support us, we are going to keep doing it,” Lochridge said. The next cash mob is scheduled for March 5. The location will be selected later this month.For more information, call 782-8027 or email email@example.com.