Indy PopCon is a brand new convention held in the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis over the weekend of May 31 to June 1, 2014. After the extraordinary success of Indiana Comic Con in March, the concom rented more space than they'd originally planned, wanting to make sure they didn't have to turn people away because of overcrowding and safety issues. Similarly, we wanted to make sure we could keep up with the flow of customers, so we arranged for some friends to come over and help us.
Two of our friends arrived on Wednesday, and we ordered pizza for everybody. We had a little trouble with the order, but we still had plenty of time to hang out and talk. I also finalized Chapter 2 of Holovideo and got it posted on JukePop Serials.
On Thursday we headed downtown to the convention center to load in. The skies were awfully gray, so we were really glad we had so many helpers and two carts to get everything in as rapidly as possible. Then we had to move our vehicles out of the loading dock, so I led the way over to a nearby parking lot my husband's old workplace had used. By that point it was actively raining, so I pulled out our umbrella and tried not to get too badly soaked on the walk back to the convention center. However, our friend who'd taken her car got pretty soaked in spite of my trying to keep her at least partly under the umbrella.
By the time we got back, our third friend had arrived, and we concentrated on getting our display structured assembled and merchandise arranged. We'd acquired a bunch of extra merchandise in anticipation of a truly huge convention, and with only two booths we soon ran out of places to put a lot of it. We had to re-prioritize and rearrange several times to get the most important things out.
While we were setting up, a friend from one of our wholesalers came by and commented that they had a lot of t-shirt dealers. She was very concerned about the projected attendance figures and whether the concom might have oversold the dealers' room, creating a situation in which too many dealers are chasing too few wallets.
However, with so many hands we got the work done in good time. We headed up to a Chinese buffet we really like and had a big meal before heading home to get a good night's sleep. I did a little work on Holovideo, trying to build a cushion of chapters ahead.
On Friday we got up and headed downtown for our first day of sales. Even after our business associate's concerns, I was still pretty excited about the event.
Because we were already set up, we needed only make a few last-minute adjustments to our booth. Then we could spend some time looking around the dealers' room and artist alley before the doors opened and the customers came in. We also went over to Penn Station to pick up sandwiches for everyone for lunch.
However, when the time did come I was sadly disappointed. Far from having a flood of customers pouring in, we were seeing only a trickle. We had a few large sales, but otherwise sales were pathetic. We spent most of our time talking to people, complimenting the cosplayers on their costumes (and getting more than a few pictures), and generally trying to drum up business.l
By the time the dealers' room closed, my good mood had pretty much evaporated. I was trying to keep up my spirits by telling myself that Saturday often sees a big surge in attendance, since a lot of people can't or don't want to take a day off work.
For supper we headed over to The Old Spaghetti Factory, a local Italian place with artisanal pastas. Afterward we headed back home, where I finalized Chapter 3 of Holovideo and got it posted.
On Saturday we got up and headed downtown, hoping that business would pick up as people who couldn't get off work finally arrived. However, sales remained stubbornly disappointing, and it didn't help that we had serious trouble with our lunch sandwich order and I had to go back and get two of them fixed.
In the evening we went to the Italian place in the mall. By that time I was really tired and miserable, so I wasn't happy to discover they were out of what I'd really like and I'd have to settle for something less appealing. After supper, we decided to stick around for an after-hours party at a local nightclub. However, one of our party had forgotten his ID, so I shepherded him back to the convention center to wait until the rest of the crew got tired of partying. I did get some writing done while I was sitting around.
On Sunday we headed back downtown with the van to load out our unsold merchandise. I was still trying to hold onto some hope for a strong finish, but as the doors opened and people continued to just trickle in, it became obvious this con would be a dog for us.
After the sandwich mixup on Saturday, I took written orders for lunch. That way I was able to make one trip do it, not that we were so busy that my absence caused any great trouble.
Because business was so slow, we started packing early. When it was almost time to close, I went over and retrieved the van, and our friend retrieved his car. We talked about the sales disaster of over-promising and underperforming, and how it would hurt the con in future years.
With so much good help, we got loaded out really fast. That was good, because we had rain coming in. However, I should've been suspicious that everything was fitting back into the van so nicely when we'd had such poor sales. Afterward, my husband commented that another dealer had dumped a bunch of trash right where we were staging our merchandise, and some convention center employees started cleaning it up before he could say anything. So he wanted me to pay close attention while unloading the van.
We finished loading out just in time, because it started spitting rain even as we pulled out of the loading dock. We headed back home to drop off the van, then piled into the car and headed over to the local Steak 'n Shake. It was a rather subdued supper, since we had nothing to celebrate.
The next morning I made breakfast for our friends to see them off. Afterward I went up to the storage unit and unloaded the van. At first it didn't look like we were missing anything, but the absence of a missing box is always trickier to notice than the presence of someone else's box picked up by mistake. Thus it was only at our next major event that I discovered we had indeed lost our boxes of chopsticks and calligraphy sets.
Worse, when I added up our sales, I discovered that we'd hardly had any more sales than at Lexicon the previous month. Because the people at Lexicon had emphasized that it would be a small first-year con, we'd come away from it feeling we'd done well for the situation. But IndyPopCon had built itself up as an event on the level of Indiana Comic Con, so we came away disappointed to have fallen so far short of expectations.
Copyright 2014 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated August 9, 2014.