Once again we participated in the Find Waldo Local campaign from Candlewick this summer. This was the second year the event was run and it was even more successful than last year. The whole event was started by Carol Chittenden of Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass., as a way to keep shoppers in her town during the summer. It’s a brilliant idea: work with as many local stores as you can and get them to hide a Waldo cut-out in their store. Kids try to find the Waldo. After a month of hunting for Waldo, kids come back to the bookstore for the raffle and give things away. It’s genius.
Candlewick has made it so easy for us to do this. Admittedly, we signed up late for the Waldo event (somehow we just missed seeing in the trades), but we still had plenty of time to get the event going. Every store received a Waldo kit that was full of everything you needed. Computer files that could be personalized and printed out as needed were very handy to have. These files created a passport for the kids with a list of all the Find Waldo Local stores, with addresses, and a spot for the stores to mark up the passport. Then when all the Waldos had been found, the kids either returned for the party or turned in their passports if they knew they weren’t going to be here for the grand prize party.
All the stores who participated last year did so again this year. Everyone was excited for the additional foot traffic in their stores. And, many shopkeepers had more fun just moving the six-inch Waldo standee every day, so the kids wouldn’t know from their friends where he was. The hardware store was heavily into making Waldo very hard to see. It’s funny how many kids forgot to look up when they were looking for him. I loved gently suggesting where kids could find Waldo in the bookstore. We talked strategy with some kids and other kids learned that “look up” doesn’t mean tip your head up at the ceiling.
The beauty of this event was really about community. Getting kids excited about going to all the shops in the village is really a great thing. I heard from families how much they loved discovering shops they might not have gone into were it not for the Find Waldo Local event. This makes me very happy. And it was tons of fun to see kids streaming out of our store and racing through town, off in search of the next shop with a Waldo.
The moment the event ended, we had shopkeepers and kids asking we could do it again next year. That’s music to my ears.