Capricon XXXIII

Capricon XXXIII was held over the weekend of February 7-10, 2013 at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, Illinois, one of the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Capricon is one of the Chicago area's big three conventions, along with Duckon and Windycon. The very first convention I ever attended was Capricon XV back in 1995, and I always enjoyed attending. However, we'd stopped attending for a number of years, due to poor sales and some interpersonal difficulties with someone who no longer holds significant responsibilities on their concom.

This year we thought that our t-shirt line might add enough sales to make the con economically viable, so we decided to give it another try. Since we were going to another convention the weekend afterward, we went to my folks' place in the Bloomington-Normal area on Wednesday, then continued to Chicago on Thursday. Unfortunately, the weather turned for the worse on the way up. By the time we arrived, the rain had turned to sleet, which made load-in particularly nasty.

We had to take every cartload up a ramp that was so slick we could hardly get any traction. Worse, the flatbed cart was wet, which meant the bottoms of our boxes got wet too. By the time we got everything in, I was seriously concerned about damage to our merchandise. It didn't help that one of our volunteers got shirty with me when I requested she load the merchandise in a particular way to protect it. If any of our volunteers at Anime Crossroads got like that to one of our merchants, that person wouldn't be volunteering any longer.

Then we had to get everything set up. We were already running behind because load-in took longer than usual, so we got done just in time for the brief sales period that evening. By this time I was hearing some really scary news about the road conditions. We almost wished we'd stayed in the main hotel in spite of the greater expense.

When the dealers' room closed for the night, we took a look around the parties in hope of buying a little time for the road crews to do their work. There weren't many parties, and finally we had to brave the roads back to the hotel where we were staying. It was very slick, to the point I had to just creep along. I was very glad to get back to our sleeping room and turn in for the night.

On Friday we were able to sleep in a little, since the dealers' room didn't open until noon. The late start also gave road crews time to work on the roads, which meant the drive back to the con hotel wasn't quite so hairy.

However, sales were slow, which meant I had plenty of time to work on a story. I also had time to go over to the con suite to grab munchies several times. Capricon has a really nice con suite with lots of good food, including nightly surprises such as pizza or chili nachos.

By the time the dealers' room closed, we were both feeling rather disappointed by the sales levels. However, we were willing to allow that the weather might have delayed some members' arrival.

At least the drive back to the other hotel was more manageable on cleaner roads. We spent some time on the Internet before we turned in for the night.

On Saturday we headed back to the con hotel, hoping to see some serious sales as people got in. However, the first several hours we were open proved disappointing. A good bit of it we spent just sitting and waiting for things to happen. I got a bunch more work done on that story, but we were seriously questioning whether we wanted to come back in future years, especially given the high probability of foul weather.

During the last few hours, sales did pick up, but not to the levels we really wanted to see. Thus when we closed up and headed back to our sleeping room, we were quite disappointed in the con. We had a pretty serious talk about whether we'd even be able to consider coming back to sell another year.

On Sunday, we packed up our personal belongings and got checked out of our sleeping room. Then we headed back up to the con hotel for our last day of sales. Because the dealers' room wouldn't open for almost an hour, we hung out in the con suite, eating bacon and talking with the dealers' room coordinators of some other area conventions.

When the dealers' room finally opened, we headed over and got our tables open for business. We talked to some of the other dealers, who all agreed that sales were slow for them.

Right after the doors opened to the general membership, sales were pretty slow. I got my art off the art show, but there'd been some problems with the hanging fees, so they were going to have to redo the check. I was supposed to go back and get it later, but that was about the time we finally got busy. After that, I was too busy between dealing with customers and packing merchandise to do anything else.

Once we had everything packed, I moved the van to the loading dock area and we started hauling stuff out. At first we had fairly good weather, which meant that we were able to get the books loaded before the rain started in earnest. However, once it moved beyond sprinkles, things got difficult, and it didn't help that several times things came out in the wrong order due to communication problems and I couldn't put them into place until other things arrived.

However, things finally all worked out and we were able to get on the road. We were rather late by the time we got back to my folks' place, but I was still glad to be able to turn in for a much-needed good night's sleep.

Copyright 2013 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated March 4, 2013.