Monday, October 1, 2012

Maneki Neko Con Report

Final Preparations

Friday night on the way home from work I stopped at The Container Store to find something to display yarn in. I ended up with two collapsible fabric boxes by Reisenthel, the people who make the cool fabric and aluminum market baskets. I also got three small collapsible mesh cubes to display knitting needles and possibly small tools in.

The storage boxes I got, btw, are off-white, not khaki. There's a metal frame in each end to hold them open. The Container store had some other fabric basket-like things, but they were too slouchy.

When I got home we made sword hangers, then packed up the tools, and at that point were about ready to go. Ron and Robin had hooked up the trailer before I got home.

Our First Anime Con

We took 53->290->294->80/94 to get to Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, because it was the most direct/fastest route. I should have checked on construction, it was an issue. But we still got there 8:30-ish, which gave us an hour and a half for setup.

The person in charge of vendors was queueing up people to use the driveway next to the loading dock to unload, but thanks to the power of the road cases, we didn't have to deal with that. I think we hurt some gopher brains, though. On the plus side, Taz, who does logistics and operations for various conventions, approved of the road cases.

Vendors were set up in the atrium of the main (only?) building. It was an interesting location. The atrium tile walkways around somewhat irregularly-shaped carpeted island areas (which I think usually contain furniture). The walkways stayed open as walkways, and vendors were on the islands.

Remember last week when I said even vendors who graduated kindergarten still push? Yeah. I'd reserved two spaces, but they'd run out of 8' tables, so we get three 6' tables. No complaints. Our island was roughly triangular in shape, and we were supposed to share it with another vendor (who never showed). We kinda expanded, setting up the gridwall out from one end of the run of tables, and the yellow bin around a corner. But we did leave a good fair half of the island for the neighbors. It was a long stretch to watch, but there were three of us.

We'd set up things to maximize gridwall use, thinking we were going to have trouble getting everything out. The gridwall was full, but I actually had to go back and spread some of the stuff on the tables out, and all the pouches were laying flat. So plenty of room.

The morning and early afternoon were depressingly slow. We sold one tail. We wondered if we'd made a mistake doing the convention. And the sun moved to come in through the windows at the top of the atrium and trying to cook us.

Eventually business picked up. We sold . . . little bits of lots of things, proving that the more we have the more we sell.

Vendors closed at 5:00. We actually got everything into the road cases and bin for stringy bits. The only exception was the tails, and that was on purpose.

We took 80->355->53 home, which was something like 5-7 minutes slower according to Google Maps, but was just generally a better route - no construction, less traffic, no crazy interchanges, yadda yadda.

Got home 8-ish? and went to bed. Ron had been up since 3:30 am, and I hadn't slept the best, either. Xap stayed with us of trying to make the hour-ish drive home.

Even when business was looking dismal we'd decided to do the convention again (if it's held again), since a first year can be really iffy. Next year there should be even more people, and people will know what to expect. I heard that a lot of the attendees had never been to any kind of convention before.

The members of the anime club, however, have been making slave labor of themselves at various cons over the last year or two, learning how to do things. They did a good job. Rooms were spread out, but I'm guessing that wasn't necessarily under their control. There were some other bugs, but nothing that can't be written off to being their first run.

Chicago Heights is a bit of a haul, and while the campus and immediate neighborhood seemed nice enough, that part of the south suburbs has got some rough neighborhoods. So not sure what we'll do if/when Maneki Neko Con goes to a multi-day thing. Cross that bridge when we get to it, most likely.

When looking for sales venues I think we've shown that we can do decently at conventions with a good cosplay contingent - most of our sales at CodCon were to the cosplayers. I don't think we're going to be doing Anime Central any time soon (the cost to get into the ACen dealer's room gives me sticker-shock), but I need to look for smaller events like CodCon and Maneki Neko Con.

Stay Tuned For...

I've gone on long enough, so stay tuned for:
  • Costume Ruminations
  • New Merchandise Analysis
  • Old Merchandise Analysis
  • Costume/Cosplay Reflections
  • . . . and . . .
  • It followed me home, Mom! Can I keep it?!?

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