Reflections on Costco
Over the last couple of months, I've had a lot of book signings and other promotion.
Most of these signings have been at Costco, which is new for me. I've never before had a book at Costco. Some things I've learned:
Many staffers at Costco are the bomb. (South Ogden, Murray, and West Valley City especially rock. Love those guys.)
One Costco, however, has a total loser working the wireless phone booth. (Although he was delightful entertainment to listen to.) Based on a conversation with a coworker (fifteen feet from me, but apparently clueless that I could hear every word), he'll easily get married to a hot chick as soon as he gets a better job and makes more money. So he totally won't be single like, at 35. The hot chick doesn't need to know how to cook more than chicken nuggets.
Some people enjoy striking up the most bizarre conversations. One guy decided to tell me how much caffeine is in chocolate (way more than coffee, according to him, which not even almost true). Then he launched into a speech about how the "hot drinks" section of the Word of Wisdom was cautioning early Saints to not drink soup too hot, because a lot of people were doing that and burning their throats. (Call me crazy, but I'd like to think Joseph Smith and company were a bit smarter than that.)
Finally, he insisted that the only reason tea was added to the Word of Wisdom (except wait; wasn't it soup?) was a tit for tat. If the women hated tobacco so much, then THEY had to give up something too. And of course, ALL the women came from Liverpool (wait; including Emma, born in the STATES?), where they drink, yep, tea. That conversation left my brain going, "Wha-hahaaa?"
Some people forget a writer at a table is a real person with feelings. One woman leaned in, pointed at the book, looked my body up and down (yes, I could lose a few pounds) and tapped the cover, saying, "Don't you know that's fattening?!"
According to totally non-scientific reactions, the book might sell more if it were diabetic/gluten-free/dairy-free/fill in the blank. Since it's not, it's my obligation to write a version like that.
Utah is far more diverse than I ever knew. I expected to see a good Latino population, and I did (but in greater numbers than I expected). But I had no idea the Wasatch Front also had so many people of Asian, African-American, and Polynesian descent. It was downright fascinating. Maybe we aren't so pale and pasty after all!
I can now go into almost any Costco and walk straight to where they hide the table/chair/cloth and (sometimes) easel for book signings.
Most Costcos are set up almost identically. Except in Sandy. That one will totally screw you up if you're used to the regular layout. I got lost there. Twice. In one day.
A shocking number of women wear 4-inch heels to shop AT COSTCO. That's like walking a 5K with knives shoved in your heels. Worse, many of these women, balancing precariously on spikes, are very pregnant. Absolute masochists, I tell you.
One sweet male worker at a Costco I visited several times reminded me of Dori on Finding Nemo. Every time he passed by (several times during each of 3 signings at that store) he cracked the same joke as if it were the very first time he'd ever seen me or the book.
When the former president (George W. Bush) is coming to sign at the same store in a couple of days, a news station will show up, move you over to the clothing section, and interview the manager. It's hard to be offended by getting upstaged by the former president.
In spite of the giant poster with the book cover, cute layouts of the book, and the words "Author Here Today!" people will still assume you're a store employee.
Nothing seemed to be a sure-fire way to sell books. Sitting at the chair and talking to customers sometimes worked, but other times the table seemed like a barrier. Standing and approaching customers sometimes worked, but other times scared people away. I tried all kinds of things, and in the end just talked to as many people as I could, handed out a gazillion recipe cards, and hoped for the best.
(See THIS POST for a few things I just might have experienced over the last two months or so.)
An astonishing number of people previously bought lots of cookbooks but have collections that reached critical mass in 2010; they simply cannot buy one more. (Or they're totally lying to let me down easy.)
If a woman has nothing but bulk spinach in her cart and is so thin I could tap her with a finger and knock her over (and/or is wearing workout clothing, and/or I can see her ribs), chances are, she won't be interested in my cookbook.
A surprising number of elderly people no longer cook. A surprising number also live in assisted living centers. Yet they shop at bulk warehouse stores. A true mystery.
It's awesome seeing people from my past, even when neither of us remembers the other's name and the conversation starts out with stares and pointing and, "Hey, didn't you go to my high school?"
It's the AWESOMEST ever to see people who came specifically to see me and buy a book. Had lots of that and appreciated it every. Single. Time.
Thank you to every single person who came to support me (and those you came more than once). You rock!