Our first “Megacon.” By “Megacon” I am
referring to a convention larger than 10,000 people. I know that in many ways there are larger
conventions such as San Diego Comicon, Otakon, Anime Expo, and the like. Having staffed some and attended others I
found that over 10,000 the shows actually become very similar in feel and
attendee behavior. Although, attendance
at shows seems to be teetering towards destructive to the venues.
Let me start by saying that this was our largest booth to
date. We had a 10’x20’ space, which was
two vendor’s spots. It was also the
first event we ever rented a van to carry our merchandise. I went into this show as a “make or break”
for Megaroad Toys and Entertainment. I
put every penny, and then some, the business had into Katsucon. My business partner and I knew going into
this that if Katsucon fell flat we would cut our losses and part ways amicably,
knowing that we did the best we could at making this a go.
Now that I have the introduction covered I will say that
most of the event I was nervous about the show.
Friday started a little slow, but ramped up to a pitch I was not
expecting. It felt like black Friday all
afternoon. Now, from a sales perspective it was amazing; from a personnel point
of view it was hell. My staff was busy
from open till close and I had a rough time getting any of them a break. I did manage to do so.
I have to thank my vendor friends Rick, Clint (http://aliciasanime.com), Jarred
(http://mugentoys.com) , and Pete (Anime Fan Zone) for giving me some much
needed assurances that I would do fine. Which,
we did. I admit at times I have some low
self-confidence, and the slower start on Friday made me very nervous.
Saturday, from a business standpoint was terrifying. There was an electrical fire in the building that
caused an evacuation into the frigid cold. I was in my typical con attire
(T-shirt, shorts, and sandals). This
meant I was shooed out into the cold with not much on. I understand what girls that wear skimpy
cosplays feel now. We went out back to
the loading dock, which was nothing but a wind tunnel. A number of us vendors were in there swapping
stories, people that come to mind was Charles Dunbar
(http://www.facebook.com/studyofanime), Pete from Anime Fan Zone, and the nice
lady that owns Cutiepie Kawaii Shop (http://www.cutiepiekawii.com).
The rest of the people in there I was unfamiliar with. This led to the vendors’ room being closed
for two hours. My confidence in Katsucon
being a success fell, but at the same time I was excited.
Why was I excited?
That is a simple thing, scheduling.
There was two ways the return to operation was going to happen. First
option, everyone would leave the con for the day and go back to their various
hotels and party. Second option,
everyone would come back to the con, because of the gazeebo, and hang out
because scheduling was a mess. If the
second option happened, besides hanging out at the gazeebo they would be
looking for something else, a constant thing, to do. During the con, there are only a few things
that are constants. They are: Gaming
Rooms, Artist Alley, and Vendors. Gaming
has a limited reach because there are people who just aren’t into gaming.
Artist Alley and Vendors have one thing that everybody can enjoy,
shopping. Shopping they did. After a half an hour slow start, the
attendees came. Boy did they come. It was wave after wave of attendees coming in
because they didn’t have much else to do, or couldn’t figure out what was going
on. I do not blame Katsucon’s staff for
this. Actually, I want to thank them for
the chaos in scheduling that occurred.
The vendors’ room was at capacity the rest of the night. The room could have stayed open another hour
and I would have been incredibly happy.
The staff of Katsucon decided against it. Again, I do not blame them for
that decision. If I had to wrangle all
the vendors and the attendees and get them out of the building safely and
quickly; I would want to close at the normal time just to relax and collect
myself for the next day.
Enough with the wordy commentary about the show. Let’s look
at the booth and look at my analysis of what I did and didn’t do right. This was the first booth that I drew out
plans for in advance. Now, when I got to
the show I forgot to look at them, but somehow ended up with my drawing
anyhow. If I would have followed my
drawing, what was a multi-hour set-up of second guessing could have been done
in 3 hours.