AniMinneapolis is an anime convention held in the Minneapolis area in the summer. This year it was held over the weekend of June 27-30, 2013, at the Doubletree in Bloomington, Minnesota (the same hotel as ConVergence).
Because it is such a long drive, and setup begins on Thursday, we started our trip on Tuesday and went to my parents' place in central Illinois to stay the night. We got most of the way without trouble, but shortly after we passed Champaign-Urbana, we ran into a ferocious storm with heavy rain and high winds. I could feel the wind trying to grab the back end of the van and whip it around. We had decided we'd stop at the rest stop and ride it out, but before we got to the rest stop, the rain slacked up, and we had relatively easy driving the rest of the way. I was still shook up enough that I was glad to get in safe.
The next day we had the longest part of the drive, and the weather was still promising rain. We had fairly good driving until we got to Eau Claire, when we hit another horrendous thunderstorm. It was made even worse because the road was under construction and wasn't draining properly, so I had to drive through standing water. But once we got across the state line, the weather cleared up and we had no trouble getting to our hotel.
We got ourselves settled in and had supper, and thought we were going to take it easy for the rest of the evening. Instead we get an e-mail from a friend in Indianapolis, telling us she won't be coming to the event the following weekend. There have been credible allegations made against the con chair who runs both events, and the police report is publicly available. Worse, this individual has been accused of blacklisting people who try to get the word out about the incident.
This was not the most encouraging information to get the night before the con. However, at this point we were already committed to the event and couldn't really bail out. So we both discussed safety precautions, while agreeing that nothing excused the alleged criminal actions.
The next day we headed over to the Mall of the Americas to shop. We'd been given some gift cards with the express intention that they be used to buy us some new clothes, ours having become rather worn. We were able to get a bunch of stuff on sale at Sears. Then we took a little look around the mall, although neither of us was really up for a full exploration of all the levels.
That done, we headed over to the con hotel to hang out until it was time to load in. I got a story out and did some work while I was waiting.
When the time approached for load-in to commence, we headed up to the dealers' room, only to find everything in disarray. Our plan had been to have the first load on our cart and ready to carry in the minute the doors opened, but the staff was still trying to sort out the layout. As time slipped by with no progress, one of the dealers' room people told us to go ahead and start carrying in, but just pile everything in a corner until the layout was finalized and we got our location assignment.
While we were loading in, I noticed a guy in a suit talking with several of the dealers. He seemed familiar, in a way that left me uneasy. Afterward, my husband told me that was the con chair, the one against whom allegations had been made. That information gave me even more cause for concern, and I resolved to be very careful around that guy.
As a result of the delay, we weren't able to get much actual setup done that evening beyond loading in. As a result, we had to make sure to get over there early the next day to get set up before we opened for business. Once we got set up, we had to take out all the empty boxes, since we had barely enough backspace for our actual backstock.
When the doors opened, business started at a fine clip and we had no time for anything except dealing with customers. We got to meet some very interesting people, including a woman cosplayer who was carrying a kitten on a cushion. When I first saw the kitten, I was a little puzzled, since I didn't expect someone to be carrying a real kitten around, but it looked too real to be a plush toy. Then it stirred and opened its eyes, and the woman told me it was a bottle-fed orphan that was too little to be left by itself.
AniMinneapolis is rare for anime cons in having an actual con suite with complimentary ramen, rice and pop. So when we had a slight lull in the flow of traffic, I ran over to the con suite and picked up a couple of cups of ramen for us. It was a nice supplement to our supper.
By the time the doors closed in the evening, we felt pretty confident that we had made our expenses and were moving into the profitable territory. However, it was already late enough that by the time we got back to our sleeping room, we just did a few things online and turned in for the night.
Saturday we headed back to the main hotel for another busy day selling. We were busy almost continually, with very little time to sit down. However, the arrangement of tables meant that it was difficult to watch all of them at once, and we had a couple of times when we thought we had things walk off. We were just busy enough that we had to allow for the possibility that we'd sold the items and hadn't gotten them written down, but the thought that we'd had something stolen was still irksome.
When the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed over to the con suite to see if we could grab some ramen. However, the con suite had run out of supplies and was closed. So we headed back to the other hotel and our sleeping room to get some real supper. Afterward we took the rest of the evening easy and I got some work done on notes for a story.
On Sunday we got up early and had breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel for the final day of sales. We were still getting a lot of business, and I didn't even go down and get our empty boxes out of the van until we were almost ready to close. However, it helped that we'd planned to stay overnight in Minneapolis, so there wasn't the time pressure we usually had to deal with when loading up and needing to get to a destination.
By the time we got everything loaded and made our final checks to ensure we hadn't left anything behind, it was dark. We headed back to the other hotel and our sleeping room to rest up for the drive back.
Monday morning we got up and had breakfast, then cleared our belongings out of the sleeping room. Getting back to my parents' place was a full-day trip. At least we had better weather than when we went up, but we saw a pretty bad accident while we were going through the Wisconsin Dells. A big truck retriever was hoisting one of those giant RV's out of the ditch. My husband and I wondered if it was a rental and the driver didn't understand that big of a vehicle doesn't drive like a little car.
When we first hit the road, I was feeling pretty well rested, but by the time we got through Wisconsin, I was pretty well beat. After we stopped in Rockford, Illinois to deposit our cash at a branch of our bank, I had my husband take over the driving until the next rest stop, since he'd napped on the way. That gave me a chance to get a nap and feel a little more awake for the final part of the trip. We did manage to get back to my folks' place safely, and I was glad that we'd have at least a few days to rest up before we would head up to Chicago for our second con, Anime Midwest.
Copyright 2013 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated July 30, 2013.