Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Improving Your Signature Holiday Events: Cookie Tour Keeps it Simple and Local

Every year the Joy of Cookies, Cookie Tour in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh brings thousands of visitors to neighborhood. Local business owners say that Cookie Tour weekend is the neighborhood’s busiest shopping weekend. Here is what we love about this event...

  • Simple - The concept is simple. During the Tour, which runs the first weekend in December, participating businesses put out plates of unique kinds of cookies along with recipe cards for visitors to collect. 
  • Steady - The Tour has been going on for the past thirteen years. Many visitors said they've gone every year and have the recipe cards to prove it.
  • Getting around -Visitors are provided an itinerary in the form of a colorful map that merchants give out.
  • Fun signage - Each stop along the places a numbered gingerbread man in their store window. 
  • Strategic - Many of the businesses put trays of cookies in the back of their store or at the register, so guests browse and shop as they snack.
But the event is not without its challenges - which are probably familiar to many of you charged with planning events in your district. As a volunteer-run event, its success depends heavily on the time and energy of event organizers, who themselves manage their own businesses. Therefore it is critical to grow event revenue through sponsorships and fundraising, without losing the local feel that makes this event so unique. Another issue is keeping costs down for participating merchants (baking enough Cookies to feed hungry visitors from Thursday though Sunday is expensive!) in order to encourage increased participation from merchants.

In the coming weeks, our team will work closely with event organizers to tackle these, and other challenges related to growing, while at the same time maintaining the character of this successful community event. So stay tuned - and in the meantime, enjoy these great pictures from the Cookie Tour!

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