Yesterday was amazing. Around 4pm, Kat (my incredibly amazing and talented Associate Producer) emailed me a heads up that she just posted the video up to reddit.com. Reddit is a popular website where people can vote on user-submitted links. The more votes and comments, the more you move up on the site. It’s sometimes called the “front page of the internet,” and many many videos that go viral get their start there.

Well. That’s pretty much what happened.

I was sitting in a meeting, and casually check the view count on the documentary. It was up 2,000 views from the day before. I refreshed the page again, another 1,000 views in what seems like a second. When I left work around 7:00, we had about 6,000 views total. When I got home at 7:45, we were up to 14,000. And that was just the start. (This morning I checked the view count and we were close to 250,000!!!)

As the views rolled in, so did the comments on the reddit thread. So many people wrote beautiful statements of love and support. It seems like many people have an Avi in their life, and this video encouraged them to give that person a little extra love the next time they see them. A lot of the commenters also touched on the things that make Avi so special – his love and dedication to Levittown, his incredible work ethic, and his warm and giving personality. The reddit community also stepped up to give back to Avi in a very tangible way – our fundly page has far surpassed our goal.

Redditors have a number of inside jokes that the frequent commenters use. One is talking about chopping onions when something makes them a little misty eyed. Needless to say, there were a lot of comments about onions. And as I read through the chain, it was like I had a huge stack of onions to chop too.

The entire “Cash Mob” team is just blown away by this outpouring of love and support from around the world. We are truly humbled by everyone’s generosity and kind words. We will update you soon with Avi’s reaction to all of this. But until then, I wanted to share some of my favorite comments from the reddit thread.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing Avi’s story with the world.

– Liz

There’s a man who knew what he wanted out of life and got it. We tend to make things too complicated these days. Our idea of what life is supposed to be like isn’t what it used to be. We forget that our ancestors were mostly like Avi… people just looking for a place to call their own where they could live in peace. Most American kids today would recoil at the idea of working 12-hour days in a convenience store for a week, let alone the rest of their lives. Yet most of them will never be nearly as happy or fulfilled as this guy.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. There’s nothing wrong with being rich or wanting to be rich. But you can’t forget that all the money, nice shit, and “status” in the world won’t make you happy. It won’t.
Great vid.

I dream of this someday. To be so content and happy with my job that working 12 hours doesn’t seem like a chore, but rather something to look forward to every day. You can really see the love he has for his job, to the point at which even when tragedy strikes, he feels the only thing he can do is to keep going to work to keep on moving forward in life with the support of his customers.

I am Indian and I know countless business owners like this. They all work so hard spend little time with family to make money and on top of that spread the love.
Just a reminder that the person behind the mask and desk has a story to tell and not get mad at them or make fun for a silly reason.
Jai Ho!

This video left me smiling throughout. I really hope Avi is able to get that lease and keep the shop running.

Reddit this is something more than something you post a ‘muh feelz’ picture to. This is pure humanity, free of malice and ill will. It’s a rare thing, because the world can be a very bad place. But when things like this happen, it makes absolutely everything else so much more bearable. These people did something beautiful, and thanks to this site I got to see it. So thank you reddit, for letting me have this experience.

Oh man this video touched a nerve. My family had been running a similar small shop for 27 years in the local community that sadly had to close this year due to a bigger chain buying us out and other legal issues. On the last day, the turnout of those who came and dropped cards and presents was phenomenal and it resulted in an extremely emotional last day. I just wanted to say to everyone here that you should try shop in smaller shops a little more. Sure their prices may be a tiny bit more expensive, but at the end of the day, it goes a long way and this video shows that perfectly.

Something about this video has instantly changed my perspective on things. I hope one day I can touch that many peoples lives and be that important to them. I wish Avi all the luck in the world and I hope his lease gets lowered a little next year!

This was the best thing I’ve seen in a while. You can just sense how genuine he is, and how much he shares his love and kindness on a daily basis. I teared up a bit and I don’t even know him, the impact he’s had on his local community is extremely profound

People like Avi are what we need to think about when we spend our money at big box stores and on Amazon. By saving small amounts of money, we are killing everything that makes America great. We should stop worrying so much about how much we save on small items and on free shipping. Go out and shop local.

I have a corner market owner named Louie. He’s owned his shop for 30 years in my neighbourhood, working 12-14 hours a day. He’s always there for small talk, sellin’ me my smokes, beers, snacks. We have running jokes about messing with my landlord (who also owns many buildings on the block), and he’s an indispensable aspect in the 3 years I’ve lived in my neighbourhood. This video makes me want to go into my corner market and give Louie a hug.

THIS is the America I want to see.

Wow. That was awesome! Just when you start getting so jaded with the pain and anger in society, something like this comes along to remind you of the peace and beauty. Thank you for sharing. And thank you Avi.

The ability for a town to rally in support of someone in need is truly amazing. Rather than spending their money on something else, they decided to spend it on helping one man continue his dream

I live in the town next to this one and I must admit that this man is a very good soul. I had no idea that he was loved by so many people in our community but I knew there was something special about this man. The first day i stepped in that store as I was just passing through the town and needed a drink. It was a very hot day and I needed to keep hydrated. When I went to give him my credit card for some reason it was declined and so when I had him swipe it again. It was declined for the second time. I grabbed the drink and went to put it back and Avi told me that this one was on him. Iv never walked into a store for the first time and received this kind love. yes it was only a drink, but the simple fact that he was willing to help me out and he didn’t even know me meant the world to me. The next day I went back to his store with 20 dollars and put it on the counter and said thank you for being such a nice person and proceeded to tell him how I wish there was more people in this world like him. Its really nice to see the community come together to help this man out. I live by the motto, Spread Love Show Love and this man demonstrates that to the fullest! Thanks Avi~!

I’m next to my house outside because the WiFi doesn’t reach the garage and I’m standing here just bawling and laughing and crying …I’m a grown ass man… My neighbor just asked me if everything was ok. And the only thing I could say was “beautiful”….. I think he might think I’m crazy

I live in Levittown – moved here from Manhattan about 4 years ago when we had a baby. The town is by and large a working class bedroom community close to NYC, so it took one hell of a beating during the Great Recession. A lot of people are hurting and you can feel it. At first glance, the dynamic of that situation is not always pretty and the town’s image suffers for it. But now that I’m deep in it, I’m proud to say this video is the most accurate document of the people here I’ve ever come across. I see kindness like this many times each week (not on this scale of course, but it’s kindness of the same magnitude nonetheless). I also see some nastiness on occasion, but that’s just a normal part of life I suppose. But the amount of everyday kindness here is absolutely not normal. It’s also absolutely beautiful.


What’s happening with Avi now?


It’s been almost four months since we gave Avi the surprise of his life, and he’s still reeling from the shock of it all. When he and Bharati watched the final cut of the film last weekend, it brought back all the overwhelming emotion from the day.

“It’s like a small poem. It brought tears to my eyes,” Avi says. “I was unable to breathe.”

We were hoping the film and cash mob would give Avi both a new lease on life and literally a new lease. While we definitely succeeded with the former, the latter has proven to be a bit trickier. Despite his customers remaining loyal more so than ever – many will buy breakfast at the deli next store and then walk to Center Lane to buy the morning paper, for example – Avi is still struggling.

This week, he’ll be sending a letter to his landlord to see if he can cut a deal on cheaper rent. If not, he’ll likely be out by December’s end.

He’s not so hopeful the plea will work, but if he’s really honest with himself, he’s welcoming a new change and a chance to cut back on his 85-hour work week to spend more time with his wife.

“I want to live a new life. I want to live with Bharati. I really miss her. I used to come home, sit and wait for her outside, and we’d chat about our day,” he says. “I want to have those moments back.”

His plan is to work at a lower-stress and better paying job for another five years, and then retire when Bharati does. He’s been gradually telling customers about his potential plan, which has been difficult for both Avi to say and for them to hear.

“I go to the store, I talk about home. I come home, I talk about the store, ” he says. “The customers are my family. What is going to happen with them?”

But the Levittown community isn’t going anywhere. If they’re not trying to convince him that he’ll still be at Center Lane in the new year, they’re giving out their information to stay in touch and offering to help him find a new job. One prospect, to be a Hindu translator and liaison for parents at a nearby Hicksville school, has caught his attention so far.

Whatever may come in the next few months, you can be sure Avi will never forget Levittown – its people, places, and course, the cash mob.

“That doesn’t happen to people like me. That was a miracle in my life. I tell you, I never dreamed I’d be a situation like that,” he says. “I can die happily now.”


Love Letter to Levittown

You might know all about Levittown if you’re a history buff or are from the Tri-State area. But if you don’t, here’s a little something I wrote for Huffington Post that explores my long distance relationship with the town I grew up in.

Dear Levittown,

I’ll be the first to admit: Our love hasn’t always been a Billy Joel song.

In our early years together, I loved to spend my days swimming at your pools and hanging out at block parties and eating as much as I could at pancake fundraisers for high school sports teams. But my favorite thing? It was easy for me to find the bathrooms at all of my friend’s houses. I liked how they all looked and felt the same.

Then I got older and your sameness started to make me feel weird. I sabotaged us. I stole bras from your department stores. I toilet papered your manicured lawns. I smoked pot in the sump behind the village green. I made out with boys on baseball fields and ruined pitching mounds.

I got restless. I needed more than a drive-thru dairy mart called The Cow and a patch of grass behind the bowling alley called The Field to hang out at. So I left you.

While I was gone, I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I’d wake up in the middle of the night craving a chicken parmigiana hero from Portofino’s. I longed for your thick, tough accent. I’d give anything to sing karaoke at Faddy Malone’s.

I missed you. But I knew you weren’t healthy for me.

It’s true you’ve changed over the years, although people hear your name and still think you’re as plain as the potatoes that used to cover your fields. They stereotype you for being the first planned suburb.

I know you’re more than that. I know you secretly love that there’s now a Colombian restaurant where the oyster bar used to be, and that saris and turbans that can now be found among Jets hats and Islanders jerseys. I know you’re getting a kick out of all the new additions on your Capes and Ranches.

I will never return to your arms, but I just can’t seem to let you go. It’s because of you I cry whenever I hear a Journey song at a wedding. It’s because of you I can’t eat a bagel without feeling disappointed. It’s because of you I understand that the men and women who sweep dust and install phones and pick up garbage may appear gruff, but are as soft and sweet as the inside of a cannoli.

You were my first lesson in tough love. And after all these years fighting it, I can finally say I love you for just the way you are.


‘Cash Mob For Avi’ premieres Weds 10/1

Last Sunday, Avi and Bharati invited us to their home for a barbecue. It was a wonderful evening filled with great stories, and of course, Bharati’s amazing food. At the end of the night, we sat down to show them the final cut of the film. As Avi and Bharati watched the 10 minute documentary about that beautiful day, I kept watching them. At one point I think I saw a glimmer of tears in Avi’s eyes.

Avi and Bharati watching the film for the first time.

Avi and Bharati watching the film for the first time.

At the end, he bolted up and gave me the best and biggest hug. Needless to say, it looks like we got the Avi seal of approval.

So, with that final step checked off, I’m so excited to officially announce we will premiere ‘Cash Mob For Avi’ on Wednesday October 1st.

Check back soon for the film!

– Liz

Coming soon to the Big Apple Film Festival

We got some exciting news the other day! “Cash Mob For Avi” was accepted into the Big Apple Film Festival. We can’t wait to screen this film on the big screen at the famous Tribeca Cinemas.


Thursday November 6th – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM 

Tribeca Cinemas – 54 Varick Street New York, NY 10013 (one block below Canal Street)