It’s one thing to create a product and sell it to the anonymous public. It’s quite another to bring it to real, live humans in a classic family event setting. On July 1, 2022, we set up an activation booth for CMHC Granville Island ‘O Canada Day’, a one day family fest that sees thousands of people come down to this classic Vancouver locale for a day of free fun and activities. We wanted to showcase our puzzle, (created by Unicycle Creative and Granville Island Delivery Co) offer families a chance to try it out, and extend the fun with colouring sheets and a contest. Here’s what we found out from our one day experiment with public participation.

1. People really enjoy good, old-fashioned analog activities.

It was so nice to see people of all ages sitting down to colour and build puzzles. We literally had every age group represented, including some TikTok generation teenagers who asked for more free colouring sheets. Our location, in the shady picnic pavilion, provided a welcome respite from the day’s heat and mayhem. We had parents and children sit, sometimes for over an hour, quietly finding pieces of the puzzle to fill in. And when the puzzle was completed (as it was three times!) the shared sense of accomplishment was magical.

2. People are really good sports.

Our contest was a somewhat obscure scavenger hunt, which required participants to visit a series of businesses across the Island (featured in the puzzle) write down code words and bring their entry back to the booth. We got a surprising number of entries, and several groups thanked us for giving them an activity to wrap their day around. Some people also REALLY got into completing the puzzle. To the point that they literally could not leave before finishing it. And yet, despite all of the craziness, our sample puzzle survived being assembled three times, sometimes by kids as young as 4 years old, without even a single piece going missing.

3. It’s worth taking the time to interact with the public.

Setting up an event like this is no small undertaking. From the proposal, to pre-printed colouring sheets, (how many will we need??) to banners, posters, signage, contest rules, insurance and clean up, it made for a few weeks of stress and a long day on our feet. We did sell some puzzles at the event, but seeing kids of all ages enjoy the artwork, and our product, was the real inspiration. Maybe that few hours a grandparent spent with their small child doing a puzzle on a summer day will be a cherished memory. Maybe some of the kids who ignored their devices for a while to draw and colour will be inspired to continue down a creative path. Or maybe we just gave some folks a shady break on a hot summer day. Whatever the outcome, we will definitely look at bringing our products to the people in the future. It’s one piece of the puzzle that falls right into place.

Glad I kept a digital version of the black & white artwork layer!
Want your own puzzle? Get one online from puzzle partner Granville Island Delivery Co. Or, if you are in the Vancouver area, visit MAKE on Granville Island and pick one up in person.

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