Where’s Waldo? On Main Street.
Somerville, MA — This July, 250 independent booksellers are joining together in a coast-to-coast celebration of Shop Local and the iconic children’s book character, Waldo’s twenty-fifth birthday. From Mendocino to Minneapolis, San Diego to Schenectady, Tampa to Telluride, and Oshkosh to Omaha, indie bookstores in all fifty states (and Washington, D.C.) will be hosting Waldo scavenger hunts while spreading the “Buy Local” message in their cities and towns.
As pressure increases for brick and mortar bookstores to innovate and acclimate to a new retail frontier, Candlewick Press, the Somerville, MA based children’s book publisher, has partnered with the American Booksellers Association in an impressive month-long consumer promotion that seeks to drive in-store traffic, strengthen local business alliances, and engage community members to spread the buy local message.
“Find Waldo Local” first originated with Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 2011, when staff brainstormed about how to capitalize on the increased summer foot traffic in their vacation community and create an interactive event that would literally bring tourists off the sidewalks of the scenic main street and through the doors of their store and neighboring businesses. Mini Waldos were hidden in nearby storefronts, and prizes were awarded to participants who found them all. The Waldo hunt was on. Not only did store traffic and book sales increase exponentially during their Waldo promotion, but their collaboration with other local businesses paid huge dividends. Word quickly spread to the other indie bookstores around the country. It was an initiative that begged to be replicated.
Upon announcing the nationwide initiative in January 2012 in conjunction with Waldo’s 25th anniversary, Candlewick was flooded with inquiries from stores interested in participating in “Find Waldo Local” and quickly filled slots for 250 bookstores before a waiting list grew. A virtual tool kit for hosting the month long event was posted on ABA’s member website, Indiebound.org, and ideas from bookstores started pouring in about all the creative ways they planned to integrate Waldo in their community events throughout the summer.
“Candlewick is thrilled to be able to partner with the ABA and hundreds of independent bookstores on a brilliant bookseller-created initiative that promises to increase foot traffic and sales during the summer travel season — mobilizing some of the smartest, most creative minds in small business to spotlight their local business alliances through the lenses of our beloved Waldo,” says Karen Lotz, President & Publisher of Candlewick Press. “Picture book sales have been one of the few bright spots for publishers and retailers alike though a very challenging economic period, and we think “Find Waldo Local” is a great way to keep that momentum going.”
What is Find Waldo Local?
It’s a month-long scavenger hunt for Waldo hosted by indie bookstores in all fifty states across the nation in July 2012. Bookstores will champion the Shop Local message by livening up downtown areas with a community-wide activity to which everyone — kids, parents, and Waldo-lovers of all ages — is invited to participate.
How does Find Waldo Local work?
On July 1, 2012, Waldo-spotters will set off on a hunt to find the elusive character hidden around dozens of downtown businesses on main streets across America. Anyone who wishes to participate can pick up a Find Waldo search list at a participating business and collect an “I Found Waldo” card for each Waldo they spot. Hundreds of eagle-eyed Waldo spotters will be eligible for prizes culminating on July 31 with a grand ceremony held at the organizing bookstores.
Waldo is the creation of Martin Handford, whose entertaining drawings of crowd scenes swept the world in 1987, and held the record for the fastest selling children’s book of all-time until Harry Potter. Since then, the Where’s Waldo books have held a cherished spot on bookstore shelves the world over. There are now over 56 million Waldo books in print worldwide and they’ve been translated into eighteen languages. An entire generation has grown up searching for Waldo and his cast of wandering companions. His official 25th birthday will be celebrated in the U.S. in September 2012.
About Candlewick Press:
Candlewick Press, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary in 2012,is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as M. T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Laura Amy Schlitz, and Jon Klassen; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ‘Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick’s parent company is Walker Books Ltd., of London, with additional offices in Sydney and Auckland. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com.
For inquiries about Find Waldo Local, or to be put in contact with the ABA or participating stores, for a potential feature story, please contact:
Tracy Miracle, Sr. Publicist
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
617-588-4404 * firstname.lastname@example.org