Capricon 36

Capricon is the Chicago area's big winter science fiction convention. This year's Capricon was held over the weekend of February 11-14, 2016 at the Westin Northshore in Wheeling.

Because load-in started at noon on Thursday, we decided to go up on Wednesday so we wouldn't have to make a mad dash. We were staying at a Day's Inn in nearby Downer's Grove, which had a pretty nice breakfast, but had absolutely no bellcarts. So I had to drag everything in piecemeal, which was not pleasant in the severe cold that had settled over the area.

At least our room was nice and spacious, and we even had a microwave oven to heat our food. So we had a chance to relax and I did some writing before we turned in for the night.

Thursday morning we enjoyed the complimentary hot breakfast, then bundled up and headed over to the main hotel to load in. Because this hotel is so persnickety about their floors in the entryway, we had to haul everything in from the loading dock, which was on the far side of the hotel, and through a maze of back areas. We'd done it back in 2013 and I knew it would be a hassle, but I hadn't expected it to take four and a half hours.

By the time I got everything hauled in and the van moved back into the parking lot, I was famished to the point I was getting hangry. I sat down to eat my sandwich, and to my disgust and dismay, water had seeped into it and made the bread soggy. I pulled the ham out and ate it naked, and when I got bugged that I should go to registration and get my badge, I made it plain that I would not be up to any standing in line until I had some nourishment.

At least the line wasn't too bad once I wasn't faint with hunger and my nerves were no longer raw from it, and I was able to get my badge with relatively little trouble. Then I went back to the dealers' room and got to work setting up. That also took a lot more time than I remembered from 2013, and we were still setting up when the doors opened to the general membership.

That probably was why we had a sum total of two sales the entire time we were open Thursday. I consoled myself with the idea that things would get better on Friday and headed over to the con suite to grab some munchies before heading back to our hotel.

There I began preparing a list of things I want to accomplish during March, when we don't have any events. I also made some notes on a story before turning in for the night.

On Friday we had breakfast at our hotel before heading back to the main hotel to finish the last bits of setup we still needed to do. We had thought the dealers' room would open for dealer setup at 9, but when we arrived, we discovered it wouldn't open until 10. So there was nothing to do but go back to the con suite and hang out until then.

I'd hoped that once we finished our setup, sales would start coming in. Instead, business remained stubbornly slow. By the time we closed for the evening, I was so fed up that I was ready to write off the entire convention as a lost cause.

We went to the con suite and had some munchies. Then we went to some parties before retreating through the bitter cold to our hotel to turn in for the night.

On Saturday we had breakfast and braved the cold to drive back to the main hotel. There we had second breakfast at the con suite and tried to raise our flagging spirits for another day of sales.

However, sales continued to be pathetic. There were times when the entire dealers' room was just dead. By the time the doors closed, I was wondering if we'd have been better off staying home and writing off our table money. That way at least we wouldn't have the hotel and gas expenses, not to mention the cost of goods sold. And we would've spared ourselves the misery of dealing with sub-zero weather.

We went to the con suite for a while, but really didn't feel up to doing the party circuit again. We were tired and it was forecast for bitter cold. So we just cut the night short and headed back to our hotel to take it easy and try to get some rest.

On Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast. Then we carried our stuff out so we could get checked out. At least this time we could use our own cart, which simplified the procedure a lot. On the other hand, we had a delay when we had to deal with a question of just what taxes were being applied to our bill.

We got to the main hotel in time to hang out for a while at the con suite, having second breakfast and commiserating with other dealers on the lousy sales. Then we headed into the dealers' room to start packing, since sales were so crappy and the load-out logistics so horrible. Of course that would be exactly when people would finally start buying books, so that I would have to scramble to get them recorded.

Even so, it wasn't really enough to get us caught back up to where we needed to be to justify returning. By the time the dealers' room closed, I didn't really care if we got in trouble over some picayune detail of procedure. I just wanted to get our stuff out and be gone.

Because we had sold so little, almost everything had to go back out. Just to further complicate matters, it was snowing. At least the hotel was keeping the loading dock ramp cleaned, but we still had to keep all our merchandise tarped, especially the books. And the fresh snow was slippery, which made for several close calls in the slip and fall department.

By the time we got the merchandise out, it was really late. So by the time we got over to the Merrillville area, it was so late that it didn't matter that the hotel actually had a hot tub, because their pool was about to close. We just carried in our personal possessions and settled in to get some rest.

Monday morning we had the hotel's breakfast and got checked out. At least the snow had stopped, but it still made for a miserable experience to clean off the van.

We stopped at the mall and picked up some more vitamins at Vitamin World. Then we headed back home, very glad we hadn't tried to force our way through to home Sunday night. I was quite tired by the time we actually rolled in.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 23, 2017.