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Employees of The Hartford Host ‘Cash Mob’ at Blue Elephant Trail

Outside Blue Elephant Trail during the cash mob hosted by The Hartford. Photo credit: Gillian Hixson.

The Hartford, which insurers the Thai restaurant Blue Elephant Trail in West Hartford, hosted a ‘cash mob’ Tuesday where employees volunteered their time and money to support one of the company’s small business customers.

By Jackie Palermo and Gillian Hixson

Though it’s usually a slow business night, customers crowded the indoor and outdoor seating of the Thai restaurant Blue Elephant Trail at 7 South Main St. in West Hartford on Tuesday, May 23, for an event they called a “cash mob.”

A cash mob, as explained by The Hartford’s Kelly Carter, is a way for insurer to support their small business clients. “The goal is to raise visibility in the neighborhood,” Carter said.

Carter said that for anyone wondering what a cash mob is, exactly, it is simply employees of The Hartford insurance company coming together for one night, and spending their “cash” on food, drinks and a good time. The employees volunteer their own time and spend their own money.

The Hartford’s ingenious cash mob was a recent hit at a small business in Charlotte, NC. In that event, the employees showed their appreciation for a customer through a few fun hours of spin class.

The Hartford’s cash mob efforts – which they call “HartMobs” – started five years ago in Connecticut but now take place all over the country, Carter said. Last year there were 30 events, and many more are planned for the future. In addition to the cash mob in Charlotte last week and the one this week in West Hartford, one is planned in Sacramento, CA, next week, Carter added.

A sign outside Blue Elephant Trail during The Hartford’s cash mob event. Photo credit: Gillian Hixson.

“Small business is really big for The Hartford,” Carter explained, “and this is our way to say thank you.” This feeling of “thank you” and gratitude could be felt throughout the cash mob event at Blue Elephant Trail on Tuesday night.

Supporting Blue Elephant Trail was doubly meaningful since owner Soden Tek is a former employee of the insurer who worked in its annuity business from 2000 to 2005. Tek also owns Blue Elephant Trail Avon.

On Tuesday, the exterior of the West Hartford restaurant was decorated with red and white balloons and a red backdrop “step and repeat” where customers could stop for photos as they entered..

The interior was crammed with customers wearing “I love your small business” stickers on their shirts and carrying The Hartford swag bags. Everyone seemed excited and energized to be there.

Lauren Elliott, an employee in The Hartford’s small business division, took her parents, Susan and Bruce, to this event. Elliott had a unique perspective on this event.

She spoke about the importance of small businesses in the economy, the community, and business in general, but Elliott also said this event was important as an “employee morale booster.”

“The majority of employees don’t get to interact with customers on a day to day basis,” Elliott explained. These cash mob events allow those employees who sit at a cubicle all day to “put a face to the name,” Elliott said.

The Hartford’s cash mob brings business to the business and builds trust in a partnership, all while simultaneously stimulating the other businesses in the area.

Once you set foot in West Hartford Center, you cannot help but stop for ice cream, or explore the other business that characterize the community. The Elliotts admitted they were thinking of stopping by Ben and Jerry’s down the street after their meal at Blue Elephant Trail.

“All we did, from The Hartford perspective, was find a customer,” Carter said, “Hopefully this event generates ongoing customers.”

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Gillian Hixson

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