Community to the Rescue

Josie Leavitt - March 21, 2011

It’s not every day that Kate DiCamillo comes to visit the store. And it’s not every day that finds me hosting an event this big while down four staffers: Elizabeth has to go to Phoenix for a funeral, one staffer has a long-planned vacation, and the other two have classes they can’t miss. I should say that we have seven staffers, so I’m scrambling. I’ve got about eight to-do lists going and I’ve found myself just about hyperventilating, so short of cloning myself, Elizabeth and I have put the word out for help at the store and on Facebook.
The response has been overwhelming. I’ve now got more help than I know what to do with, and that’s a lovely feeling. I asked a customer at the coffee shop if she could help, and she leapt at the chance to give people post-its and pens. We’re having the event off-site — we had to move it, we’ve got more than 200 people coming — and this adds to the need for help with set-up, break down and crowd control.
Also, there’s this pesky thing called the fire code. This means we cannot have more than 215 people, so we’ve got to have great help at the door. One staffer who’s very good with people will work the door, checking people in and ensuring that no one who hasn’t RSVPed sneaks in. We’ve even gone so far as to have walkie-talkies with me and Kelly who’ll be working the door. This gives us the ease of communicating problems without either one of us running around.
A customer used to do crowd control at her college events (one event was the annual Halloween event with the band Phish, so I think she can handle a bunch of excited readers), and she’s going to work seating and the autographing line. I’m relaxed knowing that Trina will do this. Competent help is a lovely, lovely thing. A great customer’s kids signed up for the events months ago, and they will be the runners for the microphone when audience members ask questions during the reading.  Another bookstore owner saw Elizabeth’s Facebook post and offered up her service. Becky Dayton, from Vermont Bookshop, will be helping me sell books before the event begins and then helping with the signing line. How lucky am I to have another bookseller helping out?
The thing that amazes me is how eager everyone has been to help. I’m more grateful than anyone can know, because now I can actually e calmly knowing that I’ve got enough folks to make the event run smoothly. The only thing left on the to-do list is write the thank you notes.

3 thoughts on “Community to the Rescue

  1. Eliwrites

    Since my Mom worked for years for different booksellers and set up many many media events like this, I have a pretty good idea what it takes to set up an event like this. I think it is amazing that you got the help you needed from the community! Barbara Vey has also written about the reading community recently. I have to say that I agree with you both that those of us that love reading really can get together and make things happen!

  2. lisa kusel

    Ladies of the Flying Pig; Thank you so very much for hosting Ms. Kate, an exceptional (not in order of importance) speaker/writer/woman. Loy got sick halfway through and really, what kind of mother would I have been if I’d left her alone in the car to whine…I was bummed to have missed even a minute of the talk. Bring her back next year, okay?


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