Conventions have been, in our limited experience, relatively good in generating additional revenue as well as allowing us to meet and advertise ourselves to our potential market. The Stargate Convention was considered to be a potential new con to do, and since it was in Vancouver and thus close, we decided to give it a go. The cost of hosting a table was about average for such an event, and with it being close enough to drive to, our shipping cost was quite limited. The only real ‘cost’ was the 4 days that we would have to be there.
We really should have taken notice of the first signs when the lack of co-ordination with us as vendors occurred. We were provided no follow up information on timing on the con, no confirmation of our table location or the schedule for the days. We literally had to e-mail them to request information a month before the con and were told to look for the information on the main website.
On the day, when we arrived, we found no vendor liaison, no actual vendor registration and they hadn’t even set-up our table for us. We literally had to steal a table to get ourselves set-up. Worst, the timing on the schedule was wrong- they had already opened up the ‘vendors’ room and were letting people in, so we had to set-up around customers.
Lastly, there was no scheduled closing time for the vendor’s room. It was a case of ‘close up when you want to’.
Still, we went ahead. We had paid for the table already, so it didn’t make sense not to go with it. The next 4 days could be described as a ‘tumbleweed assault’. While the convention had numerous con-goers, they were very focused on the various tours, photo ops and panels, so every time any programming occurred, we were quiet. And since there was quite a bit of programming… tumbleweed.
Now, the various lack of sales and lack of interest is just something that we could not reasonably have foreseen. Not the con’s fault in anyway, nor am I blaming them. It’s just a fact of business that you’ll make a mistake and just have to learn from it, which in this case is not to do any specific TV series / movie related conventions. Frankly, I’m glad we did this here and learnt the lesson on a relatively cheap convention.
Making a fuss
We could, possibly even might have come back, with a much more focused line of products for a variety of TV shows (board games, collectible and trading card games, miniatures and figures) but the lack of support and the fact that it seems we’re just not wanted by the convention organisers is a breaking factor.
Walking in on Sunday (half an hour early too) to find that they had opened up the vendors room to let in the milling hordes was a rather frustrating experience. In fact (something I learnt only later) they had done this on Friday once before and Alison had told them off. Not only was all our board games available for anyone with a pair of light fingers to pick-up, they hadn’t even tried to contact us to inform us that this was going to happen. This rather casual lack of respect for us and basic security is alarming, especially for an organisation that is supposed to do Cons for a living. Frankly, the fact that you had people watching my table for me when you opened early is not at all comforting.
Lastly, at 5pm on the last day, we had a lady come up to us and inform us that we had not paid for the Con as the authorisation on the card did not go through. She then said this was why nothing was set-up for us, and pretty much ignored my complaint about the vendor rooms opening early. Worst, when I then made calls to; first; confirm that we had not been charged via the credit card statements and secondly, that the amount she was quoting was correct, I was accused of ‘making a fuss’. Now, this was after we had received confirmation via e-mail that we would be contacted if our payment hadn’t gone through from her and secondly, never receiving any indication during our subsequent communication that we had not paid.
In many ways, the Stargate Convention was a great example of ‘how not to have vendors’. There is certainly no way in hell we are ever going to touch a Creation Con with a 10 foot pole as a vendor and as a lesson to ourselves, we’re going to be much more careful about the type of conventions and the organisers.
Final point – I should note that all the fans had a great time. I’m just making this post from the point of view of a vendor