Kawa-kon is an anime convention held over the weekend of March 16-18, 2012 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet in St. Louis. Our trip to it was Interesting, and not in a good way. We had thought it was right after Who' Yer Con, and didn't check the calendar and the website to verify. So we arrived on Friday the 9th all excited about the con only to discover we had no reservation at the hotel. Thinking the reservation had been messed up, I ran into the business center and pulled up the con website, only to realize we'd screwed up, bad -- the con was indeed the following week.
So we had little choice but go back up to my folks' place and stay the week, since we were visiting some of my husband's family during the week. As a result, we ended up helping watch my nephew and niece while we were there.
The next Thursday we finally headed down for the correct weekend. It was funny when the desk clerk at the nearby cheaper hotel recognized us. At least this time we got in quickly and easily. Then we headed over to the con hotel to scope out the setup. It was a good thing, because there were two Sheraton hotels in the Westport complex, and we'd found the wrong one. Once we got directed to the correct one, we found the rooms and the loading dock.
Some anime cons let dealers load in the night before, which simplifies setup by relieving the time pressure for the larger merchants. However, Kawa-Kon's lack of such an arrangement turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since a line of thunderstorms rolled through on Thursday evening right when we would've been unloading.
Instead, we got up early on Friday to get there the minute the dealers' room opened for set-up and started loading in. Not only did we have to park right beside the pond and haul every cartload through the parking garage to the entrance, but we were also dealing with a strong slope that had a tendency to pull the cart in awkward ways.
Worse, the rain was still in the area, and as we were getting down to the last few loads, it went from a few drops to a total downpour. We finally just had to start setting up what we could and wait for a break in the rain to get those last few things in. Since we were experimenting with some new store fixtures, we had to take some extra time to get them set up.
By the time the dealers' room opened, we had the important stuff up, but we also had a bunch of boxes that we had to hurry to put under the tables or take back to the van. At least the rain had slacked up enough that we could get things out without getting them soaked.
After the initial rush of customers when the door first opened, we had lunch. By that time I was really hungry, so the food was welcome. Then we settled in to sell. At least the sales were pretty steady, although we did get some lull times later on when I could get my papers out and do a little writing.
In the evening after the dealers' room closed we headed back to our sleeping room. It was pretty late by then, so we didn't stay up long before turning in for the night.
On Saturday we got up early to get breakfast before the dealers' room opened. As it turned out, we arrived early enough that the doors weren't open and I even had a little time to make a beginning on my con report. But once we got in, we set to work getting more merchandise out and ready to go. We'd made several sales near closing time, so we had some gaps we needed to fill.
Once the doors opened for everyone, we had a fairly steady stream of traffic going through. In fact, there were even some times when we had people lining up to buy stuff.
During the afternoon, one of the security people came around to review safety procedures with all the dealers. Apparently a line of strong storms were moving through the area, and they had the potential to produce tornadoes, so the con staff wanted to make sure everyone knew what to do. A little while later there was a lot of thunder, but there were never any alarms and sales continued at a steady level.
By the time the dealers' room closed for the evening, the storms were through the area and the sun was even peeking through the clouds. We headed back to our room to have supper and take it easy for a while.
Sunday morning we had to get our personal stuff packed up and loaded out of our sleeping room so we could check out. After the previous days' storms, going out to the van to see a huge wall of black clouds in the west didn't exactly reassure me, so I hurried to get everything out. As it turned out, the rain was pretty much insignificant, but I was still glad to get everything in and head over to the main hotel.
This time we got into the dealers' room in good time and we got our tables open quickly enough that I could take a look around the dealers' room. Then the doors opened and the customers came in. Sales weren't quite as brisk as on Saturday, but they were still respectable enough that we didn't start packing until near closing time.
When the dealers' room did close, I went ahead and started loading stuff out while my husband finished packing. That way we were able to get the books loaded while we were finishing the packing. Even so, having to haul everything out to the parking lot through the garage took us three hours instead of the usual two. By the time we got on the road, it was getting dark. We headed across the state line and had supper at the first rest stop on I-55, then continued back to my folks' place for the night before continuing home the next day.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.