by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
You may (or may not) remember the post I made in April about the Dallas Comicon and all I was hoping for with the upcoming convention. If not, you can read it here. The convention happened last weekend.
This I am bringing you 3 Blog posts about the 2011 Dallas Comicon. I will talk about the event itself, my experience, and what happened (sales wise). This is part 2 of 3. Click here for part 1.
After the event in the first Blog post where we went through all that mess to get into the new convention center we got our badges and got inside and setup. This new center is huge! The 'dealer room' is nearly 1/3 larger to 1/2 larger than the old one and it was sold out. I know this because it was full and several weeks earlier I had emailed Ben (the owner/organizer) and tried to procure any last minute tables that might have freed up).
I brought 4 large tubs, 4 small tubs, a box of 'light swords' and, another mid sized box. This was in the back of the truck with a large metal shelf lying across the top (to help hold all the lids of the tubs down). The tubs were filled with many items:
• Model kits (the majority) Macross/StarBlazers/Gundam
• Light swords (more on those in a minute)
• Miscellaneous toys
• Smaller shelf
The focus of my business are the anime model kits. I carry Macross, Stablazers, and a few Gundam kits. The light swords were an idea I got at the last convention when I saw someone selling them (adn selling them very well). I ordered them in bulk (54 of them) and put them as a side item up in the front of my booth. I would turn on a couple of them to attract attention. The blue glow was like a bug light and the children were like mosquitoes. I sold all of them with the exception of 2 that were damaged. It was a great seller and ensured I would at least make a couple of hundred during the weekend. I also had some miscellaneous toys like G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures that belonged to a coworker that I agreed to sell. I also had a couple of boxes of Highlander CCG cards (from back in the comic shop days) and three cases of CyberPunk CCG cards (on the off chance that someone would come by and want to buy the two and a half pallets I have left).
I setup the large shelf and the small one (in two pieces on the table) and placed model kits in the best spots and filled in the rest with the toys and cards. About five minutes before open I was ready for the 'VIP' crowd to come in. The VIP people get extra privileges at the convention (which they pay for of course) including getting in the dealer's room thirty minutes before everyone else. Not normally a huge deal but with the crowds I was about to discover outside the VIPs had a few moments before the madness to do some shopping.
Before they opened I decided to run to the restroom. I walked out to the main area and it was PACKED. I think it caught everyone off guard. I don't think anyone was expecting that many people to show up for the convention... especially the convention center staff. The Comicon people seemed to know that there would be a lot of people and they had a lot of staff. The convention had a lot of guests with the biggest being Leonard Nimoy, Carrie Fisher, and Stan Lee. Along with all the people waiting for the convention to open were the lines waiting for autographs for these headliners. I never saw the Leonard Nimoy line but the Stan Lee line had somewhere around three hundred people in it. I made my way to the restrooms and quickly saw that it was packed so I went to another one near the Tardis they had setup for photos. Little did I realize until I was hauling stuff out to my truck on Sunday afternoon that there was a restroom right inside the dealer's room and I could have avoided all the people as well as the door Nazis.
After I got back they opened the doors and the people came flowing in (after the trickle of the VIP people). I set all the model kits at 50% off with signs all over the table telling people so and that worked like a charm. Chris and I sold and sold as the crowds packed in. We panicked (well I panicked) when we started running out of small change. I didn't do a Kohl's or JC Penny 50% off sale where I jack up the price twice and then put it on sale for half, I really did sell the kits for half off. This meant that several of the kits were odd numbers (like half of $15, or half of $35). I did bring five dollars in quarters but we quickly ran out of them. I had to change the price on many of the kits (bringing them up a dollar) so they rounded nicely. I also panicked when we ran out of bags. I really underestimated how many I would need. I finally went over and bought some from Hank (you remember Hank, don't you)?
After a couple of hours I decided to go get something from the concession stand for me and Chris. There were 2 windows open and 3 lines 40+ people long. After a couple more hours I just decided it would be better to wait in line than brave leaving the center and getting back in without issue. It took 45 minutes but I did it. I wanted nachos but they were sold out so I had to do with some Nathan's "super over priced" hot dogs. $4.50 for a hot dog... really? Once again the long lines and few open concession windows show how unprepared they were for these crowds. Later in the show the Ben got on the PA and apologized for the traffic and parking issues so I guess there was more people overload than we knew about going on outside the dealer's room.
Join me next time for the final part of this THRILLING (no really) Blog series.