Monday, October 08, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and the Geek.Kon

Craig and I set up a table at a first-year con held on the UW Madison campus, Geek.Kon. Overall, it was a success for us.

The convention was held in a part of the Humanities building on Park St. There was no real loading area, and the vendor room was at the opposite end of the hall from the entrance. So, bringing stuff in and out was a process. Once we got into the room, we were surprised to see it was basically one classroom with 8 8X3 foot tables in it. The tables were set up oddly, and it was extremely difficult to move around in there since the room was maybe 500 square feet max. Once we were all set up and people came in, the room became very crowded and difficult to move through. It was also very difficult for any vendor to leave their table without crawling under it. But, the con people say they are working on getting larger rooms next year!

The nice thing was with only 8 vendors there wasn't a ton of people selling the same things. When you walked in there was a table right in front of you with people who make hats with fox or cat ears and tails and sleeves that are hip with manga/anime fans. To your left was a woman who made dice bags while you watched and also had catnip loaded dice for cats who like to play with dice. Once you were inside there was a table with lots of hand made items like pins and cards featuring popular anime and manga characters. Turning the corner was a table featuring voice changing software from a Madison local company, Screaming Bee. People loved that booth because he was handing out coupons for free trials and letting people play with the voice changer. Next to his table was ours. We had lots of manga, some anime figures as well as Star Wars and Dr. Who figures, and some other fun stuff just thrown in for fun. You can kind of see Craig in the picture - look to the back of the picture and up against the dark chalkboard you see some grid racks and colored banners (Harry Potter banners) and off to the right of the last banner is Craig with his head turned. I was too short to be seen over the grid rack and was just a voice from somewhere trying to talk to people- but my forehead is to the left of Craig in the picture. In front of our booth, on the other side of the isle, was a guy selling games. He had lots of RPG's as well as some other stuff. Next to him was a guy selling tons of used books for a buck or two each. And next to our booth, around the corner, was another costume company selling hats that looked like cats, bunnies and other manga/anime characters. They mainly do costumes for cosplay people - and their pictures and stuff looked really good, but they sold a ton of those silly hats!!

No one in the vendor room had duplicate items, which was great. The book guy had manly novels, and we had manga. The game guy had a bunch of stuff, but not the Heroclix and Halo ActionClix that we brought. Even the two places that had anime hats and stuff, while they were selling similar things, each had its own unique style. If they have the con again next year and decide to add more vendors, I hope they still stick with having only one of each kind of thing there because it really kept everyone busy making money and not having to compete with each other for customers.

All of the vendors seemed busy. There was a good, steady flow of people most of the day. We made the bulk of our money early on, as is typical, because all of the good stuff sells out right away. The convention was keeping the vendor room open from 9 am - 11 pm, which was WAY too long. Most of us packed up at 6 pm and left. Three of the 5 stayed, and two of those three said they were only staying because they didn't want to have to take everything out of the room and then bring it back the next day, so they were staying until 11 pm when the con people locked the room up for the night.

We had Kelly Ann set up to work again on Sunday, and planned on making the early morning trip back out to Madison to work again the next day. Sunday the con was going from 8 am - 4 pm. We had our items under the table and Craig was taking some stuff to the car. When he came back he said, "Take everything down. Tim (his best friend who, thankfully, lives in a Madison suburb) is coming to get us. The car won't start." This is, of course, the new used car we just bought last Tuesday. On Thursday and Friday it was starting a little slow, but it still started. However on Saturday it wouldn't start at all. When Tim arrived he took us to the car and called a towing company - we were on the top floor of a parking garage and I have no idea how a tow truck would even get up there without getting stuck, but that's a different topic. Anyway, Tim called a towing company he was familiar with and had the guy listen while Craig tried to start the car. The towing guy said without hesitation, "it's the battery, you need to jump it. Unfortunately neither Tim nor us had any jumper cables. So, we went first to Shopko and then to Sears where we found a set of jumper cables. Then we grabbed some dinner and headed back to the parking ramp to see if we could get the car started. Sure enough, once we jumped it it started up and got us home. The next day it didn't want to start again - so no trip back out to Madison (we had the place where we bought it put a new battery in the car this morning).

This con was quite an experience! TONS of people dressed in costume. Mostly anime and manga character costumes - I saw at least 6 Narutos. But there were some Harry Potter characters and other fantasy characters. I didn't see too much sci-fi, but there were a few Star Wars characters present. A guy was there who makes "life size" Dalek characters (Doctor Who). There were men and women of all ages and sizes supporting their various fandoms in costumes or just with pins or bags or with their purchases. A steady flow of new people flowed into the con throughout the afternoon and into the evening. We even saw a few of our customers out there. The con was on CNN and our local news, plus it had lots of newspaper coverage too.

Overall, the con was good - good attendance (the con counted over 1,800 people attending), good price of FREE, good publicity, good costumes, good sales at the table. The bad - the car problem that kept us from going back with more of the stuff that we'd sold out of on Saturday, and the overcrowded con room that was scheduled to stay open way too late on Saturday night. If they have it again, we'd definitely set up a table! Congrats and a pat on the back to those folks, many of them UW Madison students, who put this con together. GREAT JOB GEEK.KON GANG!!

In fact, we're even considering doing Odyssey Con next April in Madison. Maybe some other, more local, sci-fi and anime conventions too, if we can find them.

photos courtesy of the site Since I forgot my camera.

1 comment:

Meaghann said...

I was wondering how that went. We've had fliers in our store for quite a while and there seemed to be interest. Glad it went well. :)