ABA Member Bookstores Prepare for Sixth Annual Find Waldo Local

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    ABA member bookstores are gearing up for the 2017 celebration of Find Waldo Local, sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association. The sixth annual shop local event kicks off on Saturday, July 1.

    Waldo struts his stuff outside of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan.
    Waldo struts his stuff outside of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan.

    Find Waldo Local invites customers to visit their local bookstore to pick up an event passport, which guides them on a scavenger hunt through their downtown business district in search of the iconic picture-book character, who celebrates his 30th anniversary this year. The challenge ends with a finale celebration at the host bookstore at the end of July. Each of the participating bookstores receives an event kit valued at $325, which includes everything they need to launch a Find Waldo Local event.

    “Over 250 indie bookstores from 46 states are hosting Find Waldo Local this year. In general, stores seem more excited than ever to be involved,” said Elise Supovitz, executive director of independent retail and Canada sales for Candlewick. “Because it’s the 30th anniversary of Where’s Waldo, stores are especially pumped up when they open their event kits to find all the extra-special 30th anniversary swag. And there have been many positive comments about this year’s addition of Waldo’s friend Wenda to the search.”

    In Traverse City, Michigan, Brilliant Books, owned by Peter Makin, welcomed the 9&10 News channel to the store last Tuesday to film a segment on the store’s upcoming Where’s Waldo? challenge; the piece aired the following day on “Michigan This Morning.” Brilliant Books’ web editor and social media coordinator, Caitlin Marsh, said the news channel learned about Find Waldo Local through the Brilliant Books website and the store’s social media promotions.

    “The local news crew wasn’t something we’d expected, though of course we were thrilled,” said Marsh, who appears in the segment. “It was a great way to feature the local businesses in our downtown district and to encourage visiting families to explore a little.”

    This is the store’s fifth year doing the event, which they hold in June rather than July because Traverse City is inundated festival-goers during most of the month, making it difficult to run additional events, said Marsh. This year’s challenge involves 20 local businesses; about 30 kids have completed the challenge so far, and even more have gotten to the halfway mark.

    “Since it’s also the 30-year anniversary of the Waldo books, there’s a little bit of nostalgia to the event this year, and we’ve seen some parents getting as engaged as their kids,” said Marsh. The store’s grand-prize drawing will also be broadcast live on Brilliant Books’ Facebook page on Thursday, June 29.

    The Find Waldo Local wrap-up party at Fort Thomas, Kentucky’s Blue Marble Books will feature prizes from several local merchants, as well as a giveaway of $150 in the form of 10 $15 gift certificates to commemorate the town’s 150th anniversary.

    Manager Dave Richardson said the store, which is owned by Peter Moore, has been participating in Find Waldo Local since the program’s national inception in 2012. Blue Marble will be kicking off this year’s celebration with a local children’s book author signing, where participants will also pick up their passports. Richardson said the store will likely also include a Waldo standee in the town’s Fourth of July parade.

    “It’s a small town so the kids just get on their bikes and ride from business to business, or they walk it,” said Richardson. “The town is about five miles wide, and most of the businesses are on the main strip. It’s a small-town kind of thing.”

    Gathering Volumes, a new bookstore in Perrysburg, Ohio, that opened in June 2016, will be combining the kick-off for their first Find Waldo Local event with the store’s upcoming local art party on July 1.

    Owner Denise Phillips said her store has local artwork displayed on the walls, which is swapped out for work by other local artists every three months. This is the store’s second time hosting a local art party, but the plan going forward is to have another party each time the art is switched out.

    “It just so happened that July 1 was the planned date for the swapping of the artists so we decided to put those two together,” said Phillips. “I’m learning that if I combine things, I get more of a response. We’ll also have a live band, food, and the seven local artists will be in the store that night.”

    According to Phillips, Gathering Volumes enticed 25 local businesses to participate in the store’s very first Find Waldo Local challenge.

    “We actually had to turn businesses away after we hit 25. They’re really excited to have a shop local event in the summer, so getting businesses to participate has been easy,” said Phillips.

    Questions about the Find Waldo Local program should be sent to findwaldolocal@candlewick.com.