Friday, March 2, 2012

Looking at Conventions

Our neighbors at the event last weekend (Betsey and Warren of Traditional Treasures), suggested some conventions we should try selling at: Reenactor Fest (RF), CyPhan, and C2E2.

We did do the second local-ish RF (it is/was also held in the Gettysburg area), which was at the Starship Hilton in Arlington Heights. There were capital-I Issues at that time, but some of them were hotel-specific, and Betsey said that the others have also been resolved. Part of the problem at that time was that I felt we didn't have historically authentic enough merchandise, but the Urbiks think we'll do fine - it sounds like the attendance has broadened.

This year RF had, as I understand it, all of Pheasant Run's convention-type space. In addition to vendors there was space for people to set up day camps, and what sounded like a big display of WWII vehicles, all indoors. Sounded pretty cool, in fact. The Urbiks said it would be back at Pheasant Run again for 2013. Pheasant Run is another few miles south of work, but from my one trip there on a Saturday morning for the Stitches Marketplace (vendor hall for a stringy bits convention), the commute was about the same as my commute to work. So pretty much by definition within commuting distance.

Currently the 2012 RF website is still up (it was in the first half of February), so I sent mail asking for vendor information for 2013 when available. Unless it falls on the same weekend as Capricon (IIRC RF is usually a week before Cap) I think we'll be giving it a try. Ron and Xap are running the Capricon Cafe again next year, and I'm kinda committed to working the Cafe myself.

CyPhan is by the same organizer as RF, and it looks like this is year three. I think I skipped it the first year because of a timing conflict with DucKon? Maybe something else? Last year we didn't do much of anything. This year I'd see if I could still get in, except that it's the weekend before MuseCon. It's also in Rosemont, a town I despise for that sort of thing (parking, getting there, union fees, yadda yadda), but the date conflict with Muse is the killer. If there was one week between I might have a case of lost marbles and consider it, but not back-to-back.

Betsey described C2C2 as being similar to Comic-Con. Aah, here we go: (whodathunkit!), The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, April 13-15, McCormick Place. I think Betsey had said they're full, and I don't think we're quite right for it, but I checked out check out vendor information for grins . . . Erk. No prices for a basic booth listed, which to me is a bad sign in that "if you have to ask, you don't want to know" sort of way. What's interesting is the stuff there is information on - load-in/load-out rules depending on vehicle type (anything larger than a van gets shuffled off to a marshalling yard), trade-show-type booth furniture rental, and the trumpeting of "you can do things yourself now!" - as is, I can set up my own displays, not pay union rates for riggers, etc. to do it.

A while back, mostly for amusement value, I checked out the vendor information for some of the other local Ginormacons - ACen (Anime Central), MFF (Midwest FurFest), and Chicon Mumble (7? Whatever - it's this year's WorldCon, which is in a different city every year).

MFF 2011 was in November at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, in Rosemont. It had the least painful pricing, but still high compared to smaller cons like Cap and Windy. Yes, Cap and Windy are small, comparatively. OTOH, you're also paying for all the traffic of a ginormicon, so not so bad, really.

ACen is in April, same hotel as MFF. The prices for vendor booths seemed terrible at first, but each space also comes with a generous number of memberships/badges. ACen has got, hands down, the most complex pricing, although they do a decent job of explaining it. You pay for your base booths, then you do upgrades for premium spaces/locations. And then there's the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Complexity - there's rules for when you can get assisted load-in and load-out (for a fee!) vs. DIY, trade-show-type booth furniture rental, yadda yadda. Interesting reading, if nothing else. I don't know that I have the right merchandise, but I can see that the cost can be worth it.

Chicon is at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The vendor booth prices are even higher than ACen's (although they appeared cheaper until I read a bit farther), as they don't include any (pricey) memberships.

Interestingly, Chicon and the MFF vendor information include nothing about load-in/load-out, booth furniture rental, etc. which is found for ACen or C2E2. I wonder if it's a venue difference, in that they've got vendors in space that isn't a big "convention center" ala Stephens (formerly Rosemont Horizon) or McCormick Place.

Yes, looking at these ginormicons is why I was amusing myself yesterday by trying to fit everything in a 10' x 10' space - I don't expect to be at a convention like one of those any time soon, but it got me thinking.

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