Conclave XXVIII

Conclave was held over the weekend of October 17-19, 2003 at the Holiday Inn South in Lansing, Michigan. We arrived Friday morning after staying with family along the way. However, a mundane convention was still using the function spaces and wouldn't be finished with them until the mid-afternoon, so we used the time to get a good soak in the hot tub before time to start loading in. We also called in a pizza, since we knew the dealers' room would be open late to compensate for starting so late.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that we'd arrived early. When it did come time to start loading in, several of the other dealers were talking about the enormous backup on I-96, in which there were numerous police cars and even a police helicopter, but no sign of an obvious wreck. Some people were speculating that it might be some kind of crime, maybe a drug bust. In any case, it had traffic completely stopped.

Once the dealers' room was finally ready, we started loading in. We were able to secure a second cart, which speeded up the loadout process. About halfway through, we were also able to get a gopher to help carry in, which further sped things up.

Once we got everything in, we had to get organized and set up. We had a lot of stuff and it took a while to get it all arranged, and to stow all our backstock under the tables. By the time we were done, people were already coming in to shop.

I also had to get my art on the art show. I also wanted to touch base with someone on programming and make sure whether I was on panels. As it turned out, they'd had some problems and had to replace their programming person, and all my communications about being on programming had been lost, so I didn't have any panels.

By that time it was late enough that we brought down the pizza and had supper. Then I pulled out my writing and got some work done while waiting for customers. We did make a few sales, but not that much. By the time the dealers' room closed at 9PM (to make up for not being able to set up until late), we just wanted to get to bed. However, we did make a point of stopping at the Penguicon party and touching base about the dealers' room situation there. We also learned that they're changing hotels because the Van Dyke Plaza is closed indefinitely for renovation and may not reopen.

On Saturday we got up and went down to the con suite to get breakfast. They had a fairly good selection of food, including quick breads and fruit. After breakfast, we headed down to the dealers' room to get our tables open for business.

Sales continued to be slow all day Saturday, and I had plenty of time to work on rewriting my novel. I also had little or no activity in the art show, whihc left us really despairing about making money. By the time we closed the dealers' room in the evening, we didn't even have enough money to pay for our first night's hotel stay, let alone enough to cover all our expenses.

We were going to go to a nearby Chinese buffet in walking distance, until we got off the elevator at our floor and saw several people about to get on with plates loaded with food. A little asking revealed that the con suite had sandwich fixings, so we decided to get our supper there rather than run up additional costs by going to the Chinese place.

After supper, we headed down to the hot tub for another soak, trying to work out the knots that were still lingering from loading in the previous day. However, the hot tub wasn't quite as hot as it had been the previous night, although it was reasonably warm, not the disgusting bathwater-temperature water we've seen in some hotel hot tubs.

After resting for a while, we went to the parties. We made another visit to the Penguicon party and verified that we would indeed be able to get memberships at the reduced rate with dealers' tables when the information did come out. Then we went to the ConFusion party, where we spent some time talking with a young woman who works in a daycare facility with a totally assinine policy that doesn't allow them to discipline the children because that's "confining" them. This policy is apparently based upon some political correctness run amok in Michigan's child-care lawmaking, which forbids daycare providers from doing anything, but punishes them if anything goes wrong.

Then we went to the Columbus in 2007 Worldcon bid party, but then were running late, so we went back up to the con suite to kill some time. When they did open, they had some pretty interesting food. We were also able to get some information on probable dealers' room arrangements. After that, we headed back up to our room to get some sleep. We were getting tired enough that I was already starting to fade in and out at the Columbus Worldcon party.

Sunday morning arrived way too early, along with a bill from the hotel that included a charge for the hotel restaurant, where we'd never eaten. We quickly called down to the front desk to dispute that. We went straight to the con suite afterward, so that the crowd wouldn't have already gobbled up all the good food. After breakfast we went back to our room and got our personal stuff packed out.

When we got down to the dealers' room, we discovered that one of the doors from the lobby area to the meeting rooms was barricaded off. Apparently the transom window over the door had broken and it wasn't safe to use.

The dealers' room wasn't open yet, but the art show was, so I went to get my art checked out. It turned out that two of my pieces had sold after all, and since both of the purchasers were members of the convention's sponsoring group, I was able to get my check at the convention.

When the dealers' room finally opened, we went in and got our tables ready. However, sales continued to be miserably slow, so we started packing early. We had a few last-minute sales, but nothing spectacular, so we started carrying things our an entire half-hour early. Since we got two gophers to help, we were able to get everything out by 4PM.

We did go up to the con suite one last time, but they just had picked-over remnants of the snackies left, so we decided to hit the road. Since sales were so bad that we didn't even make the cost of our room nights, we'll probably not be coming back for several years, if at all.

Copyright 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.