SugoiCon is an anime convention held in the Cincinnati area. This year's SugoiCon was held over the weekend of November 16-18, 2012, at the Drawbridge Inn in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, one of the suburbs across the Ohio River. The hotel is a big, sprawling building that looks like a castle, so while it has a lot of charming eye appeal, it can be difficult to find one's way around in.
We arrived on Thursday and got checked in at the place where we were staying and got our personal belongings into our sleeping room. After an early supper we headed over to the con hotel to load in our merchandise. We had a sizable crew lined up to help, and we got everything in and set up in three hours, a really extraordinary achievement. We even had time to go back to our room and check stuff on the Internet.
Since we were already set up, on Friday we didn't have to be at the dealers' room the minute they opened for dealer setup. Instead we could catch up a little on sleep, which is always good at the beginning of a con.
When we did get over to the dealers' room, we had to rearrange some merchandise to allay some concerns about potentially dangerous items being in reach of small children. After that we had some time to wander the dealers' room and see who else was there.
When the dealers' room opened, we had a fairly good stream of foot traffic, since our display was right by one of the entrances. Sales were a little slower than I would've liked, but the first day of a con is often the time in which people look around and get a sense of what's available.
After the dealers' room closed, we headed back to our sleeping room, where we were happily surprised to see we'd made a decent amount, although we were still a long way from breaking even. We also got on our computers and checked stuff on the Internet before turning in for the night.
Saturday morning we got up early to get breakfast before heading back to the main hotel to get our dealers' tables open for business. Once we had everything set back up, including getting backstock up to fill in our displays and hanging up some of our more visually appealing t-shirts on the gridwall, I went around and talked to some of the other t-shirt dealers, asking them how their sales had been.
Then the doors opened and the business day began. At first, people were just looking, but after a while they actually began to buy. I wasn't sure just how much we were selling because we were having a lot of small sales, particularly of ramune and pocky. Thus we still had serious doubts as to whether we were even going to break even, let alone come out ahead.
One thing that I noticed was how we were getting a lot of very small cash sales -- one box of pocky, one bottle of ramune. That meant we were constantly dealing with one customer after another, but weren't making a lot of money for it. However, we did start to get t-shirt sales, which was a hopeful sign.
When the dealers' room closed, we headed back to our sleeping room to get supper and wind down. The WiFi at the Super 8 was down, so we couldn't get on the Internet, except for on our iPad through the 3G network. However, we wanted to save our 3G bandwidth for business purposes, so we ended up getting books out and reading for the rest of the evening.
Sunday morning we had to get our personal belongings cleaned out of the sleeping room and get checked out. Then we headed back to the main hotel. Parking was really difficult, but we did find a place in the reserved dealer parking and headed in to get our tables set up for the last day of sales.
When we first opened for business, things were really slow, but after about a half hour things picked up. From then on we were busy nonstop, especially once we were the only dealer who had any ramune left. We ran out of several flavors, but even the ones we had left were enough of a draw that we had a steady stream of sales.
As a result, we waited right to the end to break down. But with really good help we got everything out in record time, and were ready to go well before we'd expected. We decided to treat ourselves with dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant, but it turned out that they only have a buffet during the morning. Since we wanted to eat quickly rather than wait for an order to be prepared, we decided to look elsewhere, and ended up driving all the way back to Indianapolis and eating at a Chinese buffet we've visited many times before.
Overall SugoiCon is a pretty good event. However,their website really needs better maintenance to present a more professional appearance to potential attendees. Significant portions of the con website remained under construction right up to the con, which really damages the impression potential attendees get. I really hope this problem is corrected in future years.
Copyright 2013 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated February 1, 2013.