Eville-Con 2014 -- The Year of the Horse
EvilleCon is an anime convention held in Evansville, Indiana every year near the end of March. This year it was held over the weekend of March 28-30, 2014 at the Evansville Clarion Hotel. This was the same hotel that Contact 17 was held in back in 1999 (although at that time it was a Holiday Inn).
We headed down on Thursday to get things set up before the con actually began. The drive was a little more interesting than I would've liked. As i was carrying out the last few items, we started getting sleet. Not a lot, but just enough to bring back the memories of Visioncon and the awful sleet as we were loading out.
The first part of the trip went fairly well, since we were following a familiar path we use every year when we go to three different events at a private nature preserve and campground in Lawrence County. But then we left SR-37 and had to follow a very narrow, winding road until we got to the northern terminus of the south part of I-69 (they're building it toward Indianapolis to join with the existing part, but it's going to take several more years to complete). Once we got on the Interstate, we could drive a lot faster, but because the road is so new, there hadn't been much development along it. This is not good when you're in desperate need of a bathroom break.
Even so, we got to the con hotel before load-in began. We found the dealers' room after a little searching, and were alarmed to see there was no way we could get our full booth space the way things were set up. If we weren't able to adjust the tables, we were looking at a major problem.
Because I knew we'd have a smaller than usual space, I'd restricted my loadout to specifically anime-related goods and a few very popular sf t-shirt designs. Thus we were able to load in more quickly, especially once we had some helpers and a second cart. However, it wasn't exactly easy to deal with the wind, which had a tendency to want to push the cart and blow lids off boxes.
Once we got everything inside, we began the process of setting up. The constrained space made it more difficult to get everything out, and I made the unhappy discovery that the hotel didn't want weapons sales and I'd missed the memo, so we had stuff we couldn't sell taking up some of our space. With such constrained space, I also had to take time to load out the empty boxes and put them in our van, a task complicated by the awful wind.
Once we got everything pretty well set up, we headed over to the nearby Motel 6 where we were spending nights. Since we were under the impression that this con was fairly small and not likly to return us a lot of money, we'd wanted to economize, but this place was even more spartan than we'd expected. They didn't even have carpet on the floors. If I'd known that, I would've brought my slippers.
Friday morning we headed over to the main hotel to finish the last bit of setup before the doors opened. We were quite astonished to find a huge crowd in the lobby area, waiting for con registration to open. Maybe this con wasn't quite so small as we'd been led to believe.
Once the doors opened and the crowd flowed in, we were astonishingly busy. Of course it helped that we were able to sell ramune and pocky, because those items lend themselves to impulse buys. However, we also had a fair number of high-ticket items, including the big wall fans and calligraphy sets.
By the time we closed up shop and retreated to our sleeping room, we were quite pleased with our success. We counted our money and felt confident we were already in the black.
On Saturday we headed back and had a little difficulty parking because the lot was so full. We ended up having to park on a gravel lot, which made it interesting to pull the luggage cart with our personal possessions.
Once we got inside, we were surprised to discover that no one had opened the dealers' room for dealer setup in preparation for the day's sales. The concom was astonishingly laid back about the matter, and we were a little unnerved about the security implications of this arrangement.
Before I could look around at the other dealers' tables, I had to sort one t-shirt design that had become completely disarrayed. However, I did have enough visiting time to learn about some new product lines we wanted to add the next time we restocked.
Once the doors opened to the general attendance, we were so busy we scarcely could take breaks. It soon became obvious the dealers' room was too small for a con of this size. The aisles between booths often became so full that people could barely move through them, which is not conducive to a good shopping experience and willingness to spend money -- not to mention the safety issues if there were an emergency.
Worse, the music dealer was running his stereo way too loud. He was the same guy who had been right across from us at Kollision-Kon. The other dealers were annoyed at having to deal with his loud music, and several customers commented to us that it was too loud. Dealers and customers shouldn't have to bellow to carry on a conversation.
By the end of sales on Saturday, we'd sold so much that I was beginning to wonder whether we'd have enough merchandise for the con the following weekend. Because thee two events were so close together, there was no way any of our wholesalers could get product to us in time.
We also decided to go ahead and get gas in our van so that we would be able to leave immediately after loading up on Sunday. That done, we headed back to the Motel 6 to have supper and take it easy until bedtime.
Sunday morning we had to pack up and load our personal belongings to get checked out of our room. It didn't help that my husband was experiencing some intestinal upset. Then we headed over to the main hotel, where we were gratified to see that the parking lot situation had eased somewhat. We weren't able to get an ideal spot, but at least we didn't have to park on the gravel lot.
We found the doors of the dealers' room barricaded rather than locked, but when we got inside, we didn't find anything missing. Still, the continued casual attitude toward security didn't exactly leave us excited about the idea of returning in future years, even if we were making great money.
We got our tables opened and continued to do good business. However, with my husband not feeling well at all, and me dealing with a certain level of gut squirminess, I wasn't eager to eat lunch and risk getting sick. I did grab some trail mix, which had enough nourishment to sustain me without risking severe stomach upset.
By afternoon it was time to start packing. We began with the fiddly stuff like mugs and lucky cats, and then moved on to the t-shirts and the pocky and ramune. We ended up with a number of empty boxes, a sign of a successful con.
Then it was time to load out. I was able to move the van under the front awning, which reduced the distance we had to travel with each load, and thus the time it took to load out.
However, the volunteers we were promised failed to materialize, leaving us to haul everything out on our own. When we tried to recruit helpers of our own, we were told we couldn't, based on potential liability risks.
As a result, it took us about an extra hour to get everything loaded out and into the van. Not to mention that we were feeling even less inclined to ever return to this convention, as if the issues with security of the dealers' room weren't serious enough.
We decided to take a different route home, since part of the trip down had been on a very windy road and I wasn't sure how much I wanted to drive it in the dark. However, the alternative route took us a fair distance out of our way to the west, which meant we didn't get home until late that evening.
Copyright 2014 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated April 19, 2014.