LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — With online sales constantly on the rise, local businesses are getting creative to draw more foot traffic into their stores. Throughout July, over 24 businesses in the South Main (SOMA) and Heights neighborhoods are using a popular children's book to encourage community members to shop local.
His face is extremely recognizable. That is, if you can find him. Waldo, from the famous Where’s Waldo series, is hiding out in multiple neighborhoods across Little Rock. Local businesses and restaurants in the Heights and SOMA neighborhoods are holding a month long community scavenger hunt for people of all ages that starts at Wordsworth Books.
Lynne Philips, Assistant Manager Wordsworth Books said the two neighborhoods are coming together to draw more foot traffic into local stores.
“We hope this will encourage people to go into stores they might not normally stop in,” she said. “I think more people realize how important it is that small businesses are in the community and that money stays here so this is a way for people who are looking for ways to support us and other local businesses.”
The hunt is an easy, free process. People of all ages can go to Woodsworth and grab a passport. Inside, it lists all the businesses participating in the hunt. The more businesses you visit, the more prizes you could win in a drawing that will take place after the event ends.
“We’ve had quite a few kids come in who have already completed their passports,” said Phillips.
In every store, Waldo is hidden in a different location and sometimes that location change so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the search.
“It has been so much fun because the kids that come in get so excited when they find him,” said Philips.
Catherine Holcomb who owns the Toggery said they have been having a lot of fun hiding Waldo in unique spots amidst their big selection of toys. She hopes the fun initiative will encourage families to think local first.
“It sets the tone for customers and the community to show them we’re supporting this community and that were holding events for this community,” she said. “If we keep working to invest in the community we hope others will want to invest in us.”
Tammy Ward, General Manager of Community Bakery, said they've already seen multiple new faces in their restaurant all because of the Waldo hunt.
“We’ve had people coming in and saying it was their first time here and they were looking for Waldo,” she said. “We’ve had quite a bit of traffic.”
She's hoping the trend continues long after Waldo goes back into hiding.
“It’s better for everyone to help promote the small man and small communities,” she said.
Phillips said the initiative was started by Where's Waldo publishers. They do this every summer with selected independent bookstores across the country. This month long event goes until July 31st and afterward, Wordsworth will do a grand prize drawing and a Find Waldo party at the store.
For more details on times and dates for those, visit here.