Geek.Kon is an anime and geek culture convention held in Madison, Wisconsin. This year's con was held over the weekend of August 22-24, 2014 at the Marriott Madison West in Middleton, one of the western suburbs of Madison.
Because it's a fairly long trip, we started on Wednesday and stayed the night at my folks' place in Illinois. It was good to see them, especially as my mother's medical condition continues to deteriorate and I have no idea how much longer we'll be able to go over there and visit.
On Thursday we hit the road right after breakfast. Rain was in the offing, and by the time we got to the rest stop on I-39, there were huge black clouds on the northern horizon, casting the windmills of the surrounding wind farm in stark relief.
As we drove through Rockford, we started getting spitting rain. By the time we crossed the Wisconsin state line, it was coming down hard enough that we didn't even stop at the rest area, just forged onward to Madison. I was really starting to worry about having to load in our merchandise in the rain. But just as we got to Madison, the rain slacked off, then stopped altogether.
We were staying in a cheaper place nearby, and we got checked in without any trouble. That accomplished, I went to the local WalMart to pick up some last-minute acquisitions. In the process, I discovered some road construction that would make it difficult for us to head back home after the convention.
We had supper, then headed over to the convention hotel. It took a little time to find the dealers' room, and they were still working on some problems with the layout (a familiar problem to us as conrunners). But once we could start loading in, we got things in quickly and even had a little time to do some setup before they shooed us out and closed the doors. We hurried back to the other hotel to get some sleep, a little disappointed to discover that the popcorn the hotel staff had been popping in the breakfast nook was now all gone.
On Friday we went down to the hotel's complimentary breakfast, which proved pretty solid. Then we headed back over to the con hotel to finish setting up. Then I had to run a bunch of boxes out to the van to get them out of our backspace.
I got done just in time for the doors to swing open to the general attendance. I'd been expecting a relatively slow convention, but was happily surprised by the level of foot traffic and sales. We even sold a couple of items that had been sitting around for ages taking up space.
When the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed back to the other hotel to eat supper. Then we headed over to the hot tub to soak out our aches and pains. They were actually keeping it hot, probably because they weren't the con hotel and didn't feel like they needed to make it undesirable to "those science fiction weirdos."
Since we'd missed out on the popcorn in the breakfast area the previous evening, I made a point of going down there and getting a bag. Then we took it easy until bedtime and I looked at some wholesale merchandise until bedtime.
On Saturday we got up and had breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel to get our tables opened and ready for business. I was quite surprised to see us sell out altogether on our Necomimi ears and fox tails, since they'd both been slow sellers for us at the last several cons. However, they were not actual anime cons, which may have mad a major difference.
We had a little problem with one set of Necomimi ears. A young woman wanted to buy them, but wouldn't have enough money until her mom arrived later that afternoon. Since we were already running low, she didn't want to risk losing out, so she put down a deposit and came back to pay the rest when her mom got there. Because she had a huge number of very small bills, including a bunch of singles, we had a terrible time getting everything added up.
I thought we'd gotten everything squared away, but a bit later her mother showed up very upset, telling me in a not quite accusatory voice that I'd shorted her daughter. I told her that since we had so much trouble getting the money to add up right, I was just going to take her word for it and gave her back the money in question. I figured it simply wasn't worth the ugliness of a fight over it.
In the middle of the afternoon we had a sudden bit of excitement when someone shouted for security. I thought one of the other dealers had caught a shoplifter, but I soon heard that someone had collapsed while shopping.
At first con security members with first aid training tried to assist the person, and I had to restrain myself from looking over there too often or long. I was worried about the situation, but I didn't want to cross the line from concern to voyeurism.
Soon the EMT's arrived and took the person out into the corridor. The atmosphere in the dealers' room remained very subdued even afterward, although we were getting some traffic. Later I discovered that they had blocked off the door to the dealers' room, so the only traffic we were getting was from the people who were already in the dealers' room.
By the time the dealers' room closed for the evening, the EMT's were gone, presumably to take their patient to the hospital. However, the spirit of the crowd had never quite recovered, so I have no idea what effect it may have had on sales. We headed back to the other hotel for the evening. Once again we headed down to the hot tub after supper and soaked out the aches and pains. We also got some more popcorn in the breakfast nook.
On Sunday we got up and got our breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel to get our dealer tables opened for business. People were still talking about Saturday's medical crisis and the importance of taking care of oneself during a convention. Especially when you're young and feel like you're bulletproof, it's easy to get swept up in the excitement of a con and completely forget about important things like rest and hydration until it catches up to you and your body reaches its biological limits.
When the doors opened, we continued to have good traffic and sales. However, because we needed to get loaded up as rapidly as possible after we closed, we had to start packing a few hours early. That meant carrying in the empty boxes from the van and starting to pack up merchandise while people were still shopping. No doubt we lost some potential sales, but with a loadout deadline bearing down on us, we couldn't afford to wait.
Once we got everything loaded out and packed into the van, we headed back to the other hotel. I was happily surprised at how early we got done, and we even had time to go down to the hot tub and soak out the aches and pains of loadout. I also spent some time working on restocking plans.
On Monday we had breakfast, then packed our personal possessions to get them out of the room. Just as we were ready, a thunderstorm hit, complete with pouring rain. I ended up running out to the van and driving it to the awning so we could load everything in reasonable dryness.
Then we checked out and hit the road. Driving through pouring rain was not exactly fun, and I had to do it all the way out of Wisconsin. As we got to Rockford, things finally slowed down enough that we could stop at a gas station and get some much-needed gas and a break.
After that we continued the rest of the way home in much better weather. We made a stop at Brownsburg to make a deposit at the bank before we actually got home, but we did make decent time and were able to go to a free community meal we enjoy attending..
Copyright 2014 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 7, 2017.