Doc’s Note: I am happy to introduce Jeremy “Mr. Yoyothrower” Meugens from www.MrYoYoThrower.com. Jeremy is a great writer and a long time yo-yoer dedicated to his local Vancouver skill toy community, a school teacher, and an all around good guy. Today we try out a new column called “So You Want To….” which will… well I think you get it. Enjoy!
Ack! How I start a yoyo club???
There are 3 things you need. Time, time, and…time!
Yo-yoers are much like cats. It’s easy to catch their attention, not so much to get them to keep coming back. To have a successful club, you need a location, and someone to be there, at a specific time, on a regular and consistent basis. If you love to yoyo, and want to find some yo-yoer friends, then this needs to be you! Once you have that, finding (or creating) yo-yoers, and building a community of them becomes simple.
Location can be tricky. I’m going to use the Vancouver club as an example, as it is what I have experience with it. When I joined the club there were three or four guys that met once a month or so in a local mall. I joined up, and in the exuberance of learning a new skill started pushing for weekly meets. This caused a problem: mall security didn’t agree with our agenda. Luckily I found a kind-hearted mall cop who suggested I go talk to mall management and see if I could work out a deal. I did, and, we did! We had achieved a steady time and position, which made it possible to tell anyone we spotted with a yoyo to “come to the club, we meet every Saturday”. Every Saturday for 2 years I appeared at said time in said location to maintain our presence and be there for the club. It may sound like a lot of responsibility, but really it was a blast.
If your local mall doesn’t have agreeable management, or it’s the case that you don’t really dig on throwing your-yo in a mall, take a look around your community. If your mind is drawing a blank, here are just a few starter ideas:
-A member’s house,
-Sometimes elementary schools will let you use their gym (say hello to increased membership by welcoming the students)
-Community rec centers (again, offer demos or lessons)
-Undercover parking garages
-The empty bandstand in the park
-Local toy stores (offer a weekly demo for customers)
-The covered area near the local skate park (skaters and yo-yoers are a good crossover, but you may run into issues with language if you draw younger kids)
As you can tell, for a hobby like yo-yoing there are more than a few potential locations, something I need to keep in mind as currently the Vancouver club is between venues. Our amicably managed mall is under construction. In the meanwhile we are meeting in a park, but I’m hunting for a new location which will be more suitable when summer is over and rain season begins anew.
A final note on location, some venues have liability concerns; offer to sign a waiver. If they don’t have one, message me, I’ll forward you the one we use.
Location and time accomplished? Excellent, next spread the word.
Facebook, forums and poster in public libraries inviting people to join are a great places to start. By hunting around dollar stores, you will find at one that carries yo-yos that beginners can cut their teeth on which aren’t complete garbage. Buy twenty, and then go hang out in a park and invite people to come try. At this point you can give your dollar store yo-yos away, sell them (if the city by-laws allow it), or tell people where to buy them.
It’s the twenty first century and your new friends probably have access to the internet, so if you find yourself with some keeners, print off cards with links to information about your club and a site to learn beginner tricks (www.mryoyothrower.com, hint hint). If you want to be fancy, there are plenty of online sites that will print you business cards for free (plus cost of shipping), or just print on regular paper, cut them out, and glue them to construction paper.
A few things that the Vancouver Club has done to build its yo-yo community are:
Attending local Farmer’s Markets: If you talk to the management and offer to come entertain for free, the are usually happy to let you. I have never left a market with less than ten people who are over the top excited about the prospect of learning to yoyo. Often the markets will offer to pay you, or let you sell your beginner yoyos.
Starting them young: If you have free time during the week, start talking to Elementary Schools and offer to come in and do a demo, or run a lunch time club. This worked beautifully for the Vancouver Club.
Go where there are already communities, make them your own: Offer to do a demo at local community centres, cultural centres, after school care centres, churches, and just about anywhere else that people come together. Most of these types of places are desperate for events, I’ve even received the occasional bit of money as a thank you for doing this.
The best ‘trick’ of all: Carry a beginner yoyo with you everywhere and let people try it out, isn’t that how you started?
It can be hugely rewarding to build up a yoyo club. Having somewhere to go on a weekly basis where you are surrounded by people smiling, having fun and being positive is a wonderful thing. Its a good feeling to think you helped create this community of hobbyists. It’s also a fair bit of work, but then most things worth doing are.