Monday, March 10, 2008

Sluggo's Vegetarian Parking Lot: Pensacola, FL

Saturday improved drastically once we drove into Florida. The sun came out, we started to warm up a little, and we all knew that Ryan Salisbury's great mustache and stoked attitude was only miles away.

Ryan took care of us from the moment we drove into town, setting us up with showers at his house while he ran off to grab a hot lunch for us. We had a moment to collect ourselves, and then it was off to Sluggo's. This was our second time at Sluggo's, so we knew it was going to be interesting to see how this event differed from last year's. Our event in 2007 was only Books On Wheels' second official event ever, so we were still trying to figure out how to market ourselves. I realize that this sounds funny, but there really is a science to figuring out how to give away things for free. We were lucky enough to have a small article in the Pensacola daily newspaper, but our only other means of publicity was MySpace. Still, we ended up having a steady stream of people come through, and left having made some great friends.

This year, there was no larger media attention given to us, but Ryan had gone across the neighborhood with posters, and Sandy, one of our biggest fans anywhere, had been posting notices of our return on-line for the past few weeks. Their efforts paid off in full! When we drove up to the parking lot, a man named D was waiting for us with his bike next to us. He had seen a poster just the day before, which was great for him since his tires had just gone flat. While Erin serviced the wheels and tuned up the rest of the book, he told Ward that he had been walking to work since his bike broke and was looking forward to saving some commute time. Then, as if we would challenge his claim, he pulled out his ID. "Today's my birthday. I thought it was too good to be true. This is a great present." He really said that! An unpaid endorsement! We have it on tape!

Meeting D and working on his bike was a great omen for the day. For the next 3 hours, we had a constant stream of visitors, both people coming to avail themselves of our services and those coming to make donations of bikes and books. Sandy came through with friends, but her son was in camp for the weekend. A local landlord brought us a great box of bike parts he had accumulated from past tenants. Ryan's roommate Steven, an as-of-this-morning unemployed bike mechanic, came with tools and worked on bikes throughout the afternoon. The sun was out, the company couldn't have been better, and the event was a total success.

And the night just got better once we packed up and headed into Sluggo's for dinner and a show. Sluggo's is the kind of place that just makes you happy the minute you see it. They are a combination vegan restaurant/show space and is always full of great people. We were happy to see that they had expanded their space and had since gotten a liquor license. The food was, of course, superb, and the show was great. Really, there is no reason to be in the Panhandle if it's not to hang out at Sluggo's!

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