Helping Customers Adds Up for New York City C-store
BRONX, N.Y. — Lucky Candy convenience store in The Bronx, N.Y., is going viral.
At the beginning of February, cashier Ahmed Alwan began asking customers if they could solve a math problem while filming the scenario on short-form mobile media platform TikTok. If customers get the equation correct, they have five seconds to grab anything off store shelves for free.
"All I wanted to do was to help people," Alwan told CNN. "But I wanted to make it fun. So I made a TikTok and chose a challenge, asking them a math question. It's a way to entertain and educate people in need while putting a smile on their face, too."
After two weeks and 13 TikTok videos later, Alwan has gained more than 300,000 followers on TikTok and 17,000 on Instagram. In his videos, Alwan can be heard asking customers simple questions such as, "What's 5 times 5?" or "9 times 9 minus 5?"
"This changed our relationship with the community big time," Alwan said. "They're all showing me so much love and lining up at the store just for a chance to play. We have so many visitors coming to take pictures and say hi. But it's not about me. It's about the community."
Customers who answer correctly use their five seconds to scramble around the store and grab anything from chips and ice cream to speakers and hookahs. But no matter how much they grab, or how valuable the items are, their cost is always the same: free.
Alwan said he pays for everything out of his own pocket, and that his main concern isn't money, but helping low-income community members save for higher priority expenses, such as rent and utilities.
"It's great to see him do good and help out the community, and most importantly represent Islam," said store owner Saleh Aobad, Alwan's father. "It's impacting the business in a positive way, bringing awareness and attention to the store as well as spreading positivity throughout the community."
Alwan said he plans to continue making videos and is getting more creative with his questions. He started a GoFundMe to support the game and enable him to help more customers.
"The money will be going towards products and food that would be used for the challenges and even simple donations for customers in need," he told CNN, adding the goal of the GoFundMe is "to inspire others to always be kindhearted."