This July, 250 independent bookstores will participate in the fifth anniversary year of Find Waldo Local.
The month-long shop local campaign, which is co-sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association, draws customers to small businesses in communities around the country on scavenger hunts to find Waldo, the ever-popular, red-and-white-striped picture book character.
“In our fifth year of Find Waldo Local, we thank ABA stores for their continued support and enthusiastic involvement in this evergreen promotion,” said Elise Supovitz, executive director of independent retail and Canadian sales for Candlewick Press. “Two hundred and fifty indie bookstores will be hosting Find Waldo Local events next month, including over 30 bookstores participating for the very first time and over 85 who’ve hosted for all five years.”
This year, in addition to the Find Waldo Local scavenger hunt, Candlewick is sponsoring the Color Waldo and Win sweepstakes to celebrate the June 14 publication of Where’s Waldo? The Coloring Book. Find Waldo Local participants who color in a Where’s Waldo? coloring sheet and post their art on Instagram using the hashtag #ColorWaldoandWin will have a chance to win one of five Waldo prize packs valued at more than $150 each.
Participating bookstores across the country are putting the final touches on their creative plans for this year’s celebration, as excitement ramps up within local business communities.
Stefani Snead Kelley, owner of The Book Nook in Brenham, Texas, said, “We have participated in Find Waldo Local every year since it was rolled out, and every year we have more participants. It has become a ‘must-do’ event for local kids around here in the summer, and many local grandparents also bring their visiting grandkids.”
“This will be our fifth year participating, so we wanted to do something a little different to add to the fun,” said Kelley. “Our Waldo hunt is perhaps a little different from other stores’ since all the Waldos are hiding in our historic downtown shopping district within walking distance of our bookstore, so most people power through the whole hunt in one day.”
Kelley said she’s also asked the four participating restaurants if they could come up with some sweet treats to offer for sale with a red, white, and blue Waldo theme. This year, Waldo hunters can stop and take a break partway through the hunt and grab a Waldo-themed sundae or cupcake. The sundae, created by local ice cream shop Must Be Heaven, will feature Rockin’ Blue ice cream from Blue Bell, whipped cream, and strawberry sauce topped with a decoration Kelley made from an old Waldo book.
Jane Knight, children’s buyer at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, said her store, which is owned by Claire Benedict and Rob Kaslow, teams up with the local library to promote Find Waldo Local, and it’s also featured on the store website as well as on the downtown association’s Facebook page.
In addition, Knight said, “[a community member playing] Waldo always rides his unicycle in the town’s July 4th celebration.”
This year, Candlewick has once again provided bookstores with a toolkit loaded with essentials for launching a Find Waldo Local event in their communities. The kit includes a notepad of coloring sheets for Color Waldo and Win participants, 25 mini Waldo standees, 25 window clings, 125 prize buttons, eight Waldo prize books, reproducible passports, $1 coupons, party activities, posters, and bag stuffers, a sample pitch letter and press release, and social media assets for Facebook and Twitter.
Celebrations will culminate in a closing party at the organizing bookstore, and Waldo hunters will be eligible for prizes throughout the month of July at participating businesses.
Booksellers participating in the event who have questions can contact Candlewick Press at email@example.com.