But on 6/17/11, I appeared at the Wegmans in Sterling, VA, for 365 Things to Do Before You Grow Up, which I’d pitched the grocery chain as a register impulse buy.
The store prepared a great setup for the event and even used my suggested sign wording verbatim (though it looks a lot wordier on the sign than it did on my screen):
The event had a few things going for it:
- It was deliberately scheduled just prior to the store’s popular weekly movie night.
- The book is a portable, affordable parental secret weapon on summer road trips.
But the event had much going against it:
- It was a book signing.
- It was on a Friday night, when people typically don’t do their weekly food shopping.
- It was at a supermarket, where people typically don’t go for book signings.
- It was on the second floor of a supermarket, where people typically don’t go period.
- It was a sunny summer evening, when people often prefer to be outside.
- I did not write Fancy Nancy.
And sure enough, the turnout was not outstanding. I’d planned to run two food-related activities from the book with the kids, but there were never enough at any one time to do them.
The first activity: #46—Learn to Use Chopsticks. I converted this to a game: race to see who can be the first to transfer 10 grapes from one plate to another…with chopsticks. So I laid out all this for nothing:
The second activity: #250—Run a Taste Test. The store generously provided four types of food that many kids don’t regularly eat (or have never even tried): mangoes, dates, blackberries, and kiwis. I was going to blindfold competitors and see who would be able to identify more of them by taste only. This, of course, would double as a mini-lesson in healthy eating, but by making it a game with prizes at stake, kids wouldn’t be as alert to that.
(Given that it was summer and that we were inside, I couldn’t do my favorite activity from the book, #288—Go Sled Bowling.)
One boy asked me to sign a book while his mother was not right next to him (though she had given permission). Moments later, she came over to my table, laughing. She said her son’s name is Nathan, not Antonio, which is who he’d asked me to sign it to. Turns out Antonio is the name of Nathan’s favorite character at the moment (a Power Ranger, I think?). I offered to do my best to fix it, but she laughed again and said it’ll be a funny memory.
Wegmans was wonderful to take a chance on this, especially since books are not their primary focus. They even invited me back for the fall, when attendance for such things tends to be better.
In the end, I considered the event to be a success: Wegmans kindly asked me to sign every copy of the book they’d ordered.