Halloween is serious business at both locations of the University of Alaska-Anchorage Bookstore! Not only is it the staff’s favorite time of year, it’s also an excellent excuse to plan fun events, play dress up and get rid of some “dead” merchandise. While many of us only get one day for a treat-eating, costume-wearing celebration of the spookiest holiday of the year, at these stores, Halloween is a week-long event that includes pumpkin carving, giveaways, a special sale and pint-sized trick-or-treating.
For the last four years, the store has held a pumpkin carving competition which is open to students, faculty and staff. Participants have about four days to create their masterpieces and the first 10 to sign up even get a free pumpkin! Once the finished pumpkins are submitted, pictures are posted online and it’s up to the store’s Facebook fans to choose the design they “Like” best. The first prize winner receives a sweatshirt of their choice and second place gets a T-shirt of their choice.
The Dead Merchandise Sale is the perfect opportunity to clear out some clearance items. As Bookstore Director Penny Kimball explained: “We put together all of our clearance merchandise in a display (complete with a pretty convincing coffin our student workers created) and offer an additional 25 percent off the clearance price.”
Another yearly event is the Employee Costume Contest. “A lot of us here – student and staff alike – really get into dressing up for Halloween,” Kimball said. “The Bookstore covers two floors of our building, but the third floor houses Parking Services, our Copy and Print Center and the Mail Room. Each year we have a costume competition just for employees of any of these departments. We dress up on whatever day Halloween falls (Friday if it falls on the weekend) and usually I go around and take pictures of anyone who wants to take part.” Again, it’s up to the store’s Facebook community to choose the winners, who will receive gift certificates to the store.
The staff also gets to hand out treats to little visitors from the nearby University day care. “Each year the kids get dressed up in their costumes and go trick-or-treating around different departments,” Kimball said. “We all line up at the entrance in our costumes when they parade through the Bookstore and we hand out things like crayons and coloring books, small toys and popcorn.”
An equally well-received event revolves around the smaller secondary store across campus. Since they have a coffee counter, they can reward their customers with the chance to win free coffee! The staff hides little paper Perk Pumpkins (one per day) throughout the building. Whoever finds it gets a free 16 oz. beverage of their choice- a very popular incentive since that building houses 75 percent of the University’s administrative staff.
What did your store do to celebrate? Let us know in the comments!