A few weeks ago I wrote about planning for a third attempt at wooing educators en masse to the bookstore for a special event. I’m happy to report that we hit an all-time high attendance, had great sales, and started some promising new relationships with teachers.

The 19 people who sent an early RSVP were treated to free tote bags pre-filled with ARCs, posters, and other goodies suited to the grade(s) they specialize in. There were tables full of more freebies, but we put most of the grade A swag in these totes as positive reinforcement. (Thanks to our reps, especially at Macmillan Kids and Hachette, for coming through with extra totes.) There was a door prize drawing for a package including a bookstore gift certificate and, thanks to two neighboring businesses, free gourmet popcorn and a free massage. And we also arranged for teachers to get a free scoop of ice cream at another neighbor’s business.

But the real draw may have been the wine. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the many pearls of wisdom I collected from other bookstores involved offering free wine. And by George, it seemed to work. One RSVP included a note “I may be a little late—just be sure you don’t run out of wine!” In actuality, our guests only went through half a bottle of rosé and half a bottle of white, but I do believe the offer of wine helped lend more of a party atmosphere, and there was definitely more lingering and mingling at this event than at our previous two attempts.

All in all, it was a success and I’ll definitely plan to make it an annual event now that I seem to have found the winning formula of start time, prizes, and libations. One miscalculation on my part, however, was how much food to have on hand. Even with the advantage of most attendees having sent an RSVP, I way, way overdid it. What do you usually expect to nibble on with wine? Cheese. So I ordered a lovely platter of fruit and cheese from a grocery store down the street that was supposed to feed 18 to 25 people. I ordered it online and it looked reasonable enough, but when my party helper Rosemary went to fetch it, it was being re-made because it was so heavy the deli staff had dropped the first platter they made for us. Suffice to say, this platter would have fed 18 to 25 people cheese-only meals for a solid week. Of course, one of the material perks of bookstore life, in addition to ARCs and free tote bags, is divvying up the leftovers after a store event. There will be no shortage of fromage at our homes anytime soon.

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