A recent author signing organized by Page & Palette in Fairhope, Ala., drew 1,000 customers and raised $10,000. The event, for Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, was just the most recent fund-raiser put together by P&P owner Karin Wilson to support her charitable foundation. Established three years ago, the Page & Palette Foundation has funneled more than $100,000 to Fairhope schools and education programs.

Most of the charity's funds are generated through author appearances, like the Flagg signing. At that event, which raised money for Baldwin County Schools and L.I.F.T. (Learning Involving Fairhope Teachers), a $35 ticket netted fans a copy of Can't Wait to Get to Heaven and admittance to a Heaven theme party with Flagg at a private castle. Thirty area restaurants donated desserts and a local Chevrolet dealership helped to underwrite the event. "It was Fannie's only event for the book, and we drew people from as far away as Tennessee and South Carolina," said Wilson, who promoted the appearance in Alabama newspapers and in Southern Living magazine.

"I look at all my big events as an advertising expense," said Wilson. "Establishing the foundation was something we had to do to attract attention to ourselves from all the big-box stores in the area." Using the foundation as a draw, Wilson has been able to entice other authors for exclusive appearances. Jan Karon wanted to do only one event to promote her new children's book, Violet Comes to Stay, and chose Page & Palette. Tickets for that event, November 9 at the Daphne Civic Center, cost $5; the money will go to First Book, which has committed to sending five million books to children along the Gulf Coast.

The foundation also raises money with an annual street party, dubbed "Dancin' in the Streets." A $25 ticket gets you all the wine, beer, and dessert you can eat. This year's event, on October 28, has a '70s theme. Last year's DITS netted more than $26,000 for the Fairhope Educational Enrichment Fund.

Wilson, who bought the 38-year-old, 5,000-sq.-ft. store from her grandmother in 1997, started her charity after realizing that "so many nonprofits raise money, but you never see where it's distributed. Since I run it and all the work is volunteer, I have no overhead and, as a consequence, can give more away."