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A Place to Create Community: How One CEO Wraps His Love of Feeding Birds Into a Gathering Event for His Stores
Wild Birds Unlimited CEO, Jim Carpenter, goes on book tour

Wild Birds Unlimited’s CEO, Jim Carpenter, isn’t a stereotypical CEO. Yes, he runs a large, mature franchise system that operates as any successful business does, but also, he’s a man who loves feeding birds. And he’s written a book about it.

The book, The Joy of Bird Feeding, was designed by Carpenter, to be the essential guide to attracting and feeding backyard birds. According to Carpenter, the book serves as a one-stop resource for both beginners and long-time hobbyists to learn how to choose the right feeders and quality foods and how to improve backyard set-ups. It also offers practical tips and solutions to attracting and identifying birds, offering the best foods for the birds his readers want to see, and explains how to deter unwanted guests from feeding stations.

The book’s outcome serves more than just the purpose of being the definitive read on bird feeding. As a brand, one of the company’s first goals is that its locations serve as a place for like-minding bird-feeding enthusiasts to gather in a community. Carpenter’s book tour this Spring aimed to facilitate that goal, with its CEO and book author talking to customers and signing books at each location on the tour.

“While signing books at 14 of our stores over the last two months, I have met and chatted with nearly 1,000 Wild Birds Unlimited customers. This experience has been very fulfilling and reassuring as these folks have shared with me how much they love their local Wild Birds Unlimited store, the staff, the owners, and our high-quality products. They share how much they appreciate that our food works so well and has no waste. They make a point of saying that they are enjoying the birds so much because of the expert advice they receive at our stores. And, they share that they very much look forward to every visit to our store so they can share their stories and learn more about the hobby of backyard bird feeding,” said Carpenter.

In addition to a community gathering event to celebrate bird feeding, local store owners have found multiple purposes for the book. Notes Joe Perez, owner of the Birmingham, AL WBU store: “I plan to give a book to each of my associates so that they can familiarize themselves with all of the details…it is an inspiring learning tool. I am also amazed at the depth of knowledge.”

Heather and Scott Lee, owners of the Evansville, IN WBU location, recently hosted Carpenter for a book signing. “We had 75 customers in the store and steady flow at the signing table. Jim actually never got a break until after 3pm.  He was amazing as always, talking and interacting with our customers. What a huge opportunity for them to meet him and have a few words.”

Carpenter will continue his book tour later this summer, but for now, the book continues to serve as a springboard for facilitating local owner and customer communication and feedback.

“I am pleased to see that many of our customers are reading my book in detail,” notes Carpenter. “They are putting tabs on different sections of the book for easy reference and are bringing in their questions about different aspects of the hobby. I feel that my goal of enabling bird feeding hobbyists to be more thoughtfully intense about their hobby will be a result of reading my book.”

The 16 stops on The Joy of Bird Feeding book tour included visits to Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, Texas and Illinois.  Plans to visit Wild Birds Unlimited stores on both coasts are in the works for later this summer.

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