This year marks the 30th anniversary of Gold Coast Hobby, a small shop next to the Glen Head LIRR train station, at 8 Railroad Ave. While the store has been a good investment for owner Charles Gonder, the economy has changed and the store is not as profitable as it once was. Therefore, Deborah Gordon of the Glenwood Glen Head Business Association has organized a cash mob for the store on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“A cash mob is a group of people who assemble at a local business to make purchases,” said Gordon. “The purpose of these mobs is to support both the local businesses and the overall community. They may also serve a secondary purpose in providing social opportunities. They are a form of flash mob and are inspired by them.”
Gordon has organized cash mobs for several other North Shore businesses since 2013, including Jack’s Shack, Village Wine Merchant, Peace Soap, Twisted Frozen Yogurt in Glen Head, Guardian Angel Thrift Shop, JW’s Public House, Don Lorenzo’s and Santosha Tea Room in Sea Cliff. The rules for these cash mobs include choosing a local business that is independently operated and must have items that cost less than $20. Participants are not expected to spend more than $20, although people can spend more if they wish. Businesses that are having difficulties are given priority. Also, she said, the business owner must give back to the community in some way.
Gonder, a 40-year resident of Glen Head who now lives in Glen Cove, fits that profile. He is active in several veterans organizations, including the American Legion and the VFW, and is also a member of the Glen Cove Angler’s Club. Every Election Day, he closes the shop and volunteers at the polls with his wife.
That sense of integrity and commitment to family and community was instrumental in getting him to the place he’s at today.
“One day my job asked me to do something illegal, so I quit,” said Gonder. “I packed up my wife and kids and went to California for a month and we decided what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives.”
The outcome was Gold Coast Hobby and is a decision he doesn’t regret.
“I got to see my kids grow up and got to see other kids grow up,” said Gonder. “It was just great.”
Also, he said he was able to give more attention to his wife, who was recovering from a second neurosurgery. They have now been married for 48 years and though his sons are grown, he finds joy in helping other children with school projects.
“I believe in hands-on, creative projects,” said Gonder. “When you build your own models or trains, you have a sense of accomplishment.”
He does carry collectible items in his shop, but prefers the more constructive models.
“I go to extremes to have robots. They can be built, programmed, or the ultimate is to design a robot,” he said.
Not surprisingly, his customer base is male-oriented, though he does get a mix. He carries everything from model trains to dollhouses. Also not surprisingly, his biggest competitor is the Internet.
“I don’t know how to combat it,” he said, noting that his business began steadily declining after 9/11 and seems to have reached a plateau. “I specialize in customer services and you can’t get that through the Internet.”
Visit www.facebook.com/groups/NorthShoreCashMobs/ for more details.