Starting July 1, children will be looking for Waldo, the ubiquitous Candlewick Press character, all over 250 towns and villages. The beauty of this month-long hunt is about the community-building this will provide to the participating stores.
This idea began last year when Carol Chittenden, owner of Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass., designed a town-wide hunt for Waldo at local businesses. Her trial run was such a hit that Candlewick has designed its own contest for broader use. There are 250 stores participating and it promises to be a month of great fun. But what I love most about it is the chance to work with other retailers in my town to make this a great event.
Small-town retailers seem to really grasp the importance of working together. In my town we like to say, “Keep ‘em in town.” We need to give customers reasons why they can spend the whole day in the village and not want for anything. It is incumbent upon us to support each other. There is no better antidote to a big box store than a well-run independent store or restaurant. People seem to be seeking the personal shopping experience more and more. Candlewick understands this, and that makes this event really exciting.
Candlewick is asking stores to work with 19 other businesses on this Find Waldo Local campaign. I love this sort of event. It drives business to all the participants and that’s a great collaboration. Kids and families who might not go to other stores, or in the case of tourists, not know about them, will venture in to look for the small Waldos hidden within the store. Once Waldo is found kids will be given a I Found Waldo At card and then be entered in a drawing. There’s a grand prize drawing at the end of July with a ton of fun Waldo things and some of our partner stores are contributing small prizes, thereby extending their participation. The stores I’ve approached about this are very excited about the campaign.
I know I can be challenged when it comes to event planning, but Candlewick has made this so easy. There’s a dedicated website, a ton of promotional things that stores can copy and distribute (co-op covers the cost of copying), an amazingly detailed timeline, and even window display suggestions. If that weren’t enough, there’s even a press release template that we can use. This is what I call a publisher really working with indies to make a great event.
Admittedly, I’m a tiny bit behind (when will that ever not be the case?), but I feel ready for the fun to begin.