Updated at 9:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 2013
You’re a La Mesa liquor store that needs a big turnout on a sunny Saturday in late February. Who ya gonna call?
Driving down from his L.A. home, the Canadian-born movie and TV star cheerfully posed for photos, signed skull-head liquor bottles and all manner of memorabilia and chatted with an estimated 600 people at BevMo!
The first in line came at 6:30 a.m. for the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. event, said Larry Franey of BevMo! By 9 a.m., 200 were in line, said store associate Matthew Omler, 23, who added that the Mission Valley outlet supplied some of the 20 people staffing the event.
Aykroyd stayed until about 3:30 p.m., store staff said. Almost all of the remaining signed bottles were sold out by 6:30 p.m.
The store near Grossmont Center—a regional hub—hosted the TV and movie star promoting his vodka brand, with many fans dressed for Ghostbusters or Blue Brothers roles. Many heard about the event on local radio or Facebook. Some were on an email list.
Stocking 100 cases of 750-milliliter bottles and 40 cases of the 1.7-liter ones (with six bottles per case), “We have plenty for everyone,” said BevMo’s John Palmatier, overseeing things from regional headquarters in Anaheim Hills.
Only a few miles from the organizational home of the San Diego Comic Convention, the long queue for the minute visits with the star had the feel and sound of Comic-Con, with Ghostbusters music heard on portable players.
Hundreds of Crystal Head Vodka bottles—sold in tiny, medium and large sizes for $10, $50 and $90—were signed and on display.
The parking lot quickly filled up and spilled over into the Best Buy lot down the hill—which also filled up.
Eric Eseke of Casa de Oro had a special place to park, however, avoiding the bottleneck. He parked his replica Ectomobile, a 1959 Cadillac hearse, near the front door.
Eseke, 38, is an electrical engineer for General Atomics Aeronautical who said he became a fan as a kid and has met Aykroyd earlier—who has signed the dashboard of his Ecto1-plated car, whose sound system cranked out soundtrack music.
La Mesa native John Hudson, a 1978 Helix High School graduate, wore a Blues Brothers necktie and carried a photo of himself with Aykroyd when he visited the Sheriff’s Department, when Hudson worked there.
Now a state employee with the Emergency Management Agency, Hudson hoped to get the star’s autograph on a ballcap made for a Blues Brothers promotion, bought from the wife of one of the film’s producers, Robert K. Weiss.
Steve Powell of San Clemente, dressed in a dark suit and watching traffic in the parking lot, is the director of field operations for Young’s Marketing Co.—one of BevMo’s major suppliers.
Powell’s reaction to the skull as bottle?
“If you think about it, it’s just Dan—very eclectic,” he said. “He’s an out-of-the box kind of thinker.” He said fans think: “Wow—it fits the brand pretty well.”
“Fans understand he’s the man behind the brand,” said Powell, who figured Aykroyd does four or five such events a year in California.