Organizers say the week dedicated to promoting the Waynedale area and its businesses was a success! Due to the pandemic and safety of guests, the “SHOP Waynedale” event was held in place of the traditional summer community event A Walk In Waynedale (formerly The Waynedale Community Picnic/ EMBARK) to not only give residents in the area something to do, but at the same time, to help the businesses in our community after the shutdown and during this time of economic decline.
The idea was simple. Distribute the Gamebook with two games, “The Waynedale Scavenger Hunt” and “The Passport To Waynedale” that people could play during the SHOP Waynedale week, August 23-29. The plan was to create community awareness and help local businesses by driving customers to them. It would give the community more exposure through news and social media buzz of turning the experience into a game where participants could win prizes. The week before the event, thousands of people in the area received a book with their newspaper and anyone else who needed one after that picked it up at a participating business.
Leading up to the event, the media was a-buzz with TV features on Insight on ABC21, interviews by Jeff Bowman (ABC21) and Kent Hormann (Fort Wayne’s NBC), mentions in Fort Wayne Newspaper’s The Journal Gazette and, of course, articles in The Waynedale News. With hundreds of thousands of readers, viewers, and listeners reached, it was clear that the most talked about community in Fort Wayne was Waynedale!
As the SHOP Waynedale week went on, organizers say that they received many positive comments from people playing, because they were getting so into the games. One player said that while trying to figure out the Scavenger Hunt she drove “Lower Huntington Road from Smith to Tillman/ Fairfield bridge and Bluffton Road from Airport Expressway to Broadway bridge EACH about a dozen times… and I had some serious fun this weekend.”
From a survey taken after the event, participating businesses responded that they had more people in their door than before, however, they didn’t see a high increase in direct sales. But, most businesses said that they would do it again and one business owner said, “We loved this event and would love to work together again, maybe you can do this event more often.” Another business owner said, “…we anticipated a lot more traffic. This is a weird time for everyone, so we’ll definitely do it again next year and try again when things are normal.”
Although the direct sales and resident participation was lower than hoped, organizers still say that the event was a success. “We really didn’t know what to expect from this event, but we wanted to get people out and about in the community. I think we accomplished our goals of 1. encouraging people to take notice of the businesses that are here, 2. promoting the community to those inside and outside our area, and 3. Giving people something to do and more of a fun way to celebrate our community.” Camille Garrison, Event Chair continued, “It was free for businesses to participate and for people to play. It was really a win-win. As a first-year event, all of us volunteer organizers were very happy with the results!”
As of the publication of this article all winners of the SHOP Waynedale games have been drawn and contacted.