As a small child, there were two things I loved most about Halloween. The first thing of course, was the candy. There was a lot of candy. It was mine and I did not have to share it with my siblings or my parents. The second was the realization that Thanksgiving was right around the corner. As far as I was concerned, Thanksgiving was the greatest holiday ever.
For many years our house was incredibly popular with the Trick or Treaters. The reason was simple: We gave out comic books. As mentioned in other posts, my dad was the manager of a magazine, book and newspaper wholesaler and as such, my family had very easy access to almost any sort of reading material available. We got to see bestsellers before they were bestsellers and premier issues of magazines before they hit the stands. In our house, if you wanted some fresh reading material you checked the stairs to the second floor after Dad came home from the warehouse.
Of course, none of them had covers, but that was the price we paid for early access.
Comic books were another story. The company didn’t have to return covers of unsold comics so he often brought home a few boxes to hand out on Halloween. We no doubt heard complaints of “But I wanted Batman!” or, “My sister doesn’t read Spiderman!” and I’m guessing a lot of trades happened further down the street.
I still love Halloween even though our kids are too old for it now and we no longer know most of the kids in the neighborhood. But I love handing out the candy, seeing all the costumes, and waving to the parents. I really love seeing the change in the neighborhood.
A few months ago, I began to work with a childrens’ publisher and as I do with all clients, I asked to be put on their comp list for two copies of each issue of each magazine they publish. So you can imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, a large heavy box was tossed onto our porch by the local UPS guy. I opened it to discover 50 copies of the latest issue of the publishers’ SIP.
This does happen sometimes and when it does, the magazines either get donated or make their way to the recycling bin. But this year, with Halloween so close, I thought I’d take a page from my childhood and see what the response from the kids was.
You know. Kids. The ones who supposedly spend their lives in front of screens. The ones on You Tube who are recorded trying to tap the page of the paper magazine and are frustrated when nothing happens. You know, todays kids don’t read.
We still gave out a lot of candy last Friday. Our neighborhood borders a very popular park and a busy street so even in bad weather (which we had in spades), we got a lot of traffic.
So how did these pre-screenagers respond when I said, “Hold on, I’ve got one more thing for you?”
Every single girl under the age of 10 was thrilled to get the magazine. About half of them recognized the title and were very happy to get this along with their pick of candy.
About a quarter of the boys under 10 said, “No, thanks” to the offer of the magazine. I’d estimate that about 25% of those who refused were way too focused on the candy selection and getting off the porch as fast as they could so they could get on to the next house. I’m guessing, but have no proof, that the rest of the boys were serious gamers. They just had that gamer look to them.
So, is this a scientific survey? Of course not.
Does this reinforce the idea that people like free stuff and the magazines were just the topping to free candy? Well, as the kids say, “Duh!”
But it does tell me that at least within my own community, children and pre-teens still recognize magazines and are willing to accept them. This was a great example of a value add, I think.
If this were more of a real world test, I would have loved to have handed out significantly more of them in more neighborhoods and had a unique sub insert card to track any post Halloween sign ups. Maybe there could have been a special url for the parents to go to.
So that must mean that next year I’ll need even more (and better candy) and a lot more boxes.