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Witching hour at Armchair Books



At midnight on Friday night most eight-year-olds are tucked safely in their beds, dreaming the dreams of eight-year-old kids.

But sleep wasn’t an option last Friday night for eight-year-old best friends Sarah Anderson and Rachel Warner. Dressed like all Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry students, these girls were getting more and more excited as the witching hour fast approached.

They’d been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Now here they were, just minutes away from getting their hands on Whistler’s first copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the Armchair Books midnight release party.

"I’m not tired at all," declared Anderson, pushing up the brim of her pointed witch’s hat that her mom made for her.

"I’ve been waiting for this all day."

It’s been a long three-year wait for all Harry Potter fans who have been desperate to read for the fifth installment in the series since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released in 2000.

The fans in Whistler joined a long line up snaking through the corridor outside the bookstore and through the glass doors. At the front of that line 13-year-old Iain Carson-Higgins and his 11-year-old brother Evan knew a thing or two about waiting for Harry Potter.

They had camped outside the bookstore for two hours before the books went on sale.

Though they were hopped up on Cherry Coke, they probably could have kept going all night on sheer excitement.

Along with 11-year-old Connor McGillion, the boys started a loud countdown as midnight approached.

Then, as soon as the clock struck midnight, the three-year wait was all over.

The line up pressed on towards the cash register for a full 45 minutes before it petered out. A quick count showed that 80 books had been sold out of the 200 that were ordered.

"That’s the most we’ve ever done by far," said Armchair Books owner Dan Ellis.

"I thought that was going overboard (when I placed the order)."

He’s never seen anything like the midnight buying frenzy in the 20 years his family has owned and operated Armchair Books.

"I was in awe of the whole thing."

Harry Potter wasn’t just breaking sales records in Whistler. Throughout the world books literally flew off shelves in record-breaking numbers.

An estimated 5 million copies were sold in U.S. on the first day alone.

Though Ellis was surprised by the overwhelming response to the book, he admits that author J.K. Rowling has tapped into a special thing with mass appeal.