Archon 37

Archon 37 was held over the weekend of October 4-6, 2013 at the Gateway Center and the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville, Illinois, one of the St. Louis Metro East suburbs. It is one of the larger annual conventions in the Midwest.

We started our trip that Wednesday and went to my folks' place in the Bloomington-Normal area to stay the night. Their local high school was having their homecoming that weekend, so we went to watch the parade. It brought back memories of my own high school days, and the homecoming parades in our small town.

Thursday morning we hit the road for Collinsville. We made some pretty good time in spite of a fair amount of road construction on I-55, and we got checked into the hotel. However, we made an unhappy discovery when we checked out the hot tub -- it was shut down and drained. We asked at the front desk and were told that it had been shut down permanently because it couldn't be made compliant with ADA accessibility requirements. I was a little surprised and did some research, and discovered that the ADA rules were supposed to apply to new construction, and existing installations that couldn't be retrofitted at reasonable expense would be grandfathered in. So a ham-fisted interpretation of the law meant that a nice thing was taken away for everyone. We were really disappointed, since we'd been looking forward to soaking out some aches and pains.

After supper, we headed over to the convention center to get our badges. I might've gotten my art on the art show, but I'd forgotten and used the art box to fill a space when I was loading our merchandise, and it was pretty well buried.

In the evening I did some writing. We also made contact with the couple who would be sharing our room.

Friday morning we got up early and had breakfast before heading over to the convention center to load into the dealers' room. We had some really good help and were able to get in quite quickly, which was good because it was unseasonably hot and humid, which made the process miserable. Setting up in air conditioning was much nicer, just time consuming. Because of some trouble we'd had with our big t-shirt display at Worldcon, I reinforced it with some PVC pipes, and it seemed to be holding up better when we started loading it up with t-shirts.

Once we were set up, I headed over to the art show and got my art set up. Then I had a little time to look around and see what other sellers were offering.

Once the doors finally opened for business, I noticed that sales seemed to be coming more slowly than I would've expected. I had some time to write, or at least make some notes. There were a few spurts of business where we had several customers at once, but nothing to the level of similarly-sized anime cons.

After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed over to the artists' reception. It was already in progress, but there was still a reasonable amount of food left. I took a look through the art show and was gratified to see a bid on one of my pieces. I also saw two very nice Cthulhu-inspired majolica-ware ceramic jars with very reasonable starting bids. I would've liked to bid on them, but with the poor sales we'd experienced in the dealers' room, I didn't want to commit myself to the purchase of either one.

After that we headed back to the hotel to do a little catching up on the Internet before turning in for the night. It had been a very long day, and I was ready to get some sleep.

Saturday morning came way too early, and it didn't help that I'd been dreaming about driving through Oklahoma during our Worldcon trip. We had breakfast and then headed off to the convention center to get our tables open and do business.

At first, sales were so slow that I was fighting sleep. But plenty of caffeine and some lively conversation with fellow bibliophiles perked me up, and by the time I needed to get to the David Weber signing, I was actually starting to feel alert. While I was standing in line, I made a pretty good start on my con report.

When the signing started, we were warned that he had an old wrist injury that was prone to giving him trouble, and that he might not be able to sign for everyone. As it turned out, the line wasn't that huge and he ended up getting everybody's stuff. His wife was helping get books ready so he could sign one after another.

After the signing, I headed back to the dealers' room. I'd been thinking about checking in at the art show to see if anything else had sold. However, as I went by, I saw they were closed for auction setup.

When the dealers' room closed for the evening, we debated on whether to come back for the parties or to just stay at our hotel room. We took a look at the weather radar and didn't like the look of the rain to the west of St. Louis. so we just stayed put after supper and I did some writing.

As we discovered the next day, it was probably a good call. At breakfast another fan was telling me about various activities he'd participated in, and mentioned that he didn't enjoy the parties because there were so many cops hanging around, like they were just waiting for an excuse to crack down. Then, as we were packing to leave, our roommates mentioned that the parties were wilder than they felt comfortable with.

Once we got our stuff out of our room and got checked out, we headed off to the convention center. We were running late, so by the time we got our dealer tables open for business, there wasn't much time to look around.

At least the sales started picking up, but not really enough to let us feel confident that we'd made money. Soon it was time to start packing, which meant I had to go out and get our empty boxes from the van. At least I was able to move to a parking spot closer to the loading dock, which would speed things up.

We had good help in packing and loading, and we were able to snag one of the convention center's big flatbed carts. Our biggest problem was not always having the next thing I needed to load out, but I was able to improvise enough to keep things flowing while other things were being broken down and packed.

Once we had everything loaded into the van, we hit the road back to my folks' place. While we were stopped at one of the rest stops on I-55, we encountered some other fen returning home from Archon. We talked briefly, then continued on our way.

We made good time to my folks' place, and stayed the night. On Monday we continued the journey and made it home in good time.

Copyright 2013 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 6, 2013.