When I learned that Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt had been selected for the first Sam’s Club Book Club, I was so excited! I had read an early copy of the novel, and knew that this warm southern story deserved a big spotlight – this connection with Sam’s Club would help do that. I emailed my niece, Nicole, who lives near Atlanta, and rambled on about the novel, the debut at the Marietta store, and asked if she could possibly go to meet Beth and to pick up signed copies for each of us. Nicole said she was up for an adventure, and that she’d ask a girlfriend to go with her and to make a day of it.
Here is her story, and what an outing it was! It involves a big chicken, fancy dog food, a quick resolution of a customer service issue, a lovely spot of tea … and … Beth Hoffman and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. And, yes, I know that Nicole gives me far too much credit for influencing readers, but I’ll take a little ego boost when I can get it !
This is Nicole’s story, Beth Hoffman herself blogs about the day here (but she doesn’t mention the big red chicken!)
I wanted to share with you my girls’ adventure Saturday that included visiting Sam’s Club to get a signed copy of Beth Hoffman’s book, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. The Sam’s Club sits at the 11 o’clock if Atlanta’s perimeter was a circle and I live around 3 o’clock. It’s a little distance away from where I live, so I asked a friend, Leslie, if she wanted to go and check it out with me and we made an afternoon of it.
I didn’t bring a map or directions to the store, because Leslie had her GPS and plugged in the address; unfortunately, the GPS wasn’t working and connecting to a tower or such. We planned to stop along the way and would ask directions or call 411. I noticed a Trader Joe’s as we drove up to to a fancy boutique pet store. My friend shows dogs and likes to get a specialty dog food for her dogs. Although one of the big-box stores just started selling this brand of dog food, she would rather support the smaller businesses, even if they are a little distance away.
We asked the owner if she knew where the Sam’s Club was and she started giving us directions. … “up the road about 4 miles, and then onto route 40, you know where the chicken is? you turn there..” where the chicken is? huh? “oh, you’ve never been way, just look for route 40 and you’ll see the chicken, you won’t miss it.”
okay, so we were off…. and to see the chicken? We drove up the 4-ish miles and we saw the chicken!!! Leslie and I were laughing and laughing, it was hilarious! Fortunately, we hit one of the many red lights around Atlanta and Leslie was able to snap a picture or two. We turned and found the Sam’s Club.
Sam’s Club is a club, right? so do you need a membership to get in? Well I wasn’t even thinking and just walked in, no problem; I later noticed the ladies checking membership ids. I looked around and saw the balloons and author set up, but I also noticed that everything had “member price.” Does that mean that there is also a “non-member” price. I asked one of the people working if I could just buy a book from the author signing if I wasn’t a member? And I couldn’t. Sooo… I back-tracked to customer service and saw the 10 people in line; would it be better to find a bookstore and come back? Leslie and I went and stood in line… and waited. We were talking about how it’s neat to buy in bulk, but neither of us have kids or the space for the ‘stuff,’ grabbing 1 or 2 extra when they are on sale at the grocery store works for us.
Finally, we were at the front of the line and I asked if I could get a day pass, because I was only there for the author signing and I just wanted to buy a book for the signing. “No, we only have yearly memberships.” … okay, well I really wanted to get this book for my aunt; and I might consider just getting the membership because I might use it, but that really didn’t make sense. I said again that I was only there for the author signing, could I perhaps ask a manager?
His manager wasn’t behind the desk, but ‘over there’ and he would go and ask, but he sounded quite negative. I told him that I would go along, perhaps we could do something…? He told me that I could wait there as he quickly walked in front of me a distance away nearer to the book signing. Well, even if I couldn’t get the book right off, I would be back, so I wanted to say hi to Beth as my Aunt Dawn’s niece. Aunt Dawn let her know that I might stop by. Well I said hi and introduced myself and Beth was soo enthusiastic and delighted that I came by, she gave me a hug and told me how sincerely she adores my aunt. Since Aunt Dawn posted the review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth has had 100+ more followers on Twitter overnight and the New York Times are “picking up the book.” Beth’s enthusiasm and energy was contagious, she was raving about Aunt Dawn and told me how much it meant that I did come to the signing… oh, but wait, how was I going to buy and have a signed book? I began to tell Beth that I had a little problem and would have to come back. She gave me the quizzical look and asked, what? When I started to tell her that I don’t have a membership to Sam’s Club and would have go to a bookstore and come back, someone stepped in, sort of between Beth and I, and handed me a card while telling me that I could use their card. I was surprised and taken aback. Thank you…!!!
I picked up a couple of books and stood in line at the counter right next to us… Leslie joined me and told me that the cashier that went to talk to the manager was leaving with his head down because he and the manager realized that it would really bad PR if I couldn’t buy a book especially seeing that Beth was giving me a hug and soo enthusiastic with us meeting; it was actually the manager that stepped in and handed me her membership card to buy the book. =)
Beth and I chatted some more. Beth sold her part of a design business that employeed more than 8 employees after having serious health problems. This was her first book and she was so thrilled. She told me how Aunt Dawn’s review meant soo much to her and she couldn’t wait to meet my aunt. While we were talking there was a PR person snapping a few pictures. I handed him my camera so I could have a picture for my aunt. … well I have to say that it was really, really cold that day and I probably should have kept my winter hat on; the picture of me, ikes! The PR person snapped what seemed to be a few more pictures; however, I later realized that he was having trouble with my camera and 4 of the 5 pictures were out of focus. There was one that would have been soo nice of Beth sitting at her book signing table with the books, flowers, and signs. I’ll send the picture to my aunt and tell her to imagine the picture taken through frosted glass =)
With a few veggies and treats in hand we were both talking about book blogs and how someone reviewing a book could have such an impact. We left Sam’s Club with such a positive feeling. Beth has such a ‘presence’ with her positive energy and, knowing that my aunt loved the book (and my aunt reviews A LOT of books), I strongly feel that Beth is going to be a success…. and, importantly, I also have a signed book!!!
Leslie and I continued our afternoon adventure to Trader Joe’s. We sampled their freebie coffee, wandered through the aisles and looked at some of the ’different’ stuff they sell. I picked up plantain chips to try and Leslie found a couple of bottles of wine. We continued next door to the Nike store looking for a sale rack. Noticing no sale rack at Nike, we headed back towards Leslie’s area of town, around Atlanta’s 2 o’clock, and planned to stop at a tea shop.
The tea shop is just like a coffee shop, but had tea instead. We split a pot of tea and a quiche snack. We girl-gabbed and relaxed on the comfy couches. Leslie was hoping that her husband had finished painting a room by the time she got home and I had no plans that evening, perhaps finish that book I borrowed. Funny enough, in the corner at a long table, there was a book club sitting there talking. What a fun day.