Oct 23, 2023 - News

"Teal ticket" winners get a behind-the-scenes tour at ThriftBooks processing center

Winners of ThriftBooks' "teal ticket" giveaway tour its processing facility Friday. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

A handful of lucky ThriftBooks customers from across the country came to the Valley last week after winning a Willy Wonka-esque contest for a tour.

Driving the news: For the company's 20th anniversary, ThriftBooks awarded "teal tickets" to five customers for a behind-the-scenes look on Friday at its largest processing facility in Tolleson.

  • Some of the customers had received swag boxes containing teal tickets after placing orders, while others won through a Facebook group for fans of the bookseller.
  • Each winner was allowed to bring one guest.

Zoom in: The winners and their guests got to see the 190,000-square-foot warehouse, which contains about 2.4 million used books and employs 226 people locally.

  • William Shelton, the facility's director of vintage, walked them through the sorting, shelving and shipping processes.
  • They also got to see the collectible room, which includes treasures like a Rosetta Stone-style book of languages from the 16th century, vintage cookbooks and a first-edition copy of "Charlotte's Web," which happens to be the first book ThriftBooks ever sold.
  • Everyone got to rummage through huge boxes of books and take home whatever they wanted as well.

What they're saying: "You know when Belle walked into the library in 'Beauty and the Beast' and she was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is the best thing ever?' That times 10. All these books are just amazing," winner Heather McNevin, a pilot and air traffic controller from Northfield, Minnesota, told Axios Phoenix.

  • "As we started going down the main aisle, I said in the zombie apocalypse, this is where I'm coming," she added.
  • Kathy Forrestser, of St. Augustine, Florida, said, "I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to come to see, but this was overwhelming. I've never thought about what goes into those orders. I'll never look at the envelope ever the same again."

Between the lines: Some of the tour winners were longtime ThriftBooks customers, but Lesley Northrop, an engineer from San Diego, said she won a teal ticket after placing her first order, a batch of 13 graphic novels for her 9-year-old daughter, who accompanied her on the tour.

  • "I had no idea there was even a contest. It was a really awesome experience," she said, adding that she's now a loyal customer who's placed about five subsequent orders.

Meanwhile, Rachel Mariani, of the Philadelphia suburb of Springfield, not only loved the tour, but got to check out some playoff baseball with her 8-year-old son.

  • She said they attended Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Diamondbacks and Phillies on Thursday, and planned to go to Game 4 on Friday as well.

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