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'What Would You Do?' Toys With Thinka Dinka Shoppers

The hidden camera show filmed at the East Broad Street toy store two weeks ago. The episode will air at 9 p.m. Friday on ABC.

If you saw a mom leave two little girls at a toy store to go on a job interview would you speak up? What if she left them to go on a date? Would you mind your own business or intervene?

That's the ethical dilemma producers posed to customers two weeks ago when ABC's hidden camera show 'What Would You Do?' filmed at the East Broad Street toy store. The episode will air at 9 p.m. Friday, May 18 on ABC.

Co-owner Connie Van Epps said she and partner Ronald Tuchman were contacted by the crew from 'What Would You Do?' to see if they would be interested in having the show, hosted by John Quinones, film in their shop. Van Epps said she and Tuchman agreed it would be a fun experience.

"The premise was a woman comes in with two children and leaves them at the Thomas the Tank Engine table and says, 'You're going to be safe here. You have food and a drink. I have a job interview and I'll be back in two hours,'" Van Epps explained. "The woman was dressed in business attire and, clearly, this is a small store so voices carry."

The crew set up cameras all over the store and then waited for a "mark" or a customer who would overhear the scenario unfold, and then watched from the basement, Van Epps said.

"It was unbelievable," she said. "They filmed all day for a segment that may run 15 minutes."

The girls in the skit were trained actresses and when they were approached by shoppers they readily offered their mother's phone number.

Most of the women who entered Thinka Dinka and offered to assist the abandoned children were Westfield moms, Van Epps said. 

"The reaction was terrific," she said. "Everyone wanted to help. That really says a lot about this community. Nobody walked away."

As the day went on, the scenario changed slightly and rather than going to a job interview, the actress playing the mother of the girls changed her attire and told them she was going on a date and, again, would return for them in a couple of hours. 

Van Epps said the women overhearing this were "dumbfounded." To find out exactly how the Westfield moms handled the situation, tune in Friday night at 9 p.m.

This isn't East Broad Street's first brush with fame. In mid-March, Style Network's reality show  filmed at . The episode is due to air in June. ESPN was expected to film a commercial for its new smart phone app at this week but due to lack of permits the shoot was canceled. This marks the third occasion in which a Westfield business was selected as the location of choice for the hidden camera show known for putting people on the spot. In February,  also served as the backdrop for 'What Would You Do?" and in 2010  was used to stage an episode about homophobic parents.

"The producers said they've had very good experiences working with businesses in Westfield," Van Epps said. 

Debbie Abrams Kaplan May 17, 2012 at 01:04 PM
And last summer, Good Morning America shot a "Sneaky Teacher" episode at the Town Book Store, Alan's Orchard and Savory Spice. http://vimeo.com/28801920?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=cliptranscoded&utm_campaign=adminclip
Elizabeth Alterman May 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Hi Debbie, thanks, I didn't know that. I appreciate it!
Ricky L. May 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Sounds like Westfield has become a favorite for these so-called hidden camera set ups, which should make people suspicious. By now, if anything unusual seems to be occurring at a local business, it's probably just a set up. I liked it better when they just filmed commercials, movies and "Ed".
Rusty Cut May 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM
They also filmed at Rock-n-Joe's. Same show - about a son coming out of the closet to his mother and her not accepting him.
Elizabeth Alterman May 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Hi Rusty, thanks, that's noted at the bottom of the story. Thanks, Liz

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