Indy PopCon 2017

Indy PopCon is a popular culture convention held every year in Indianapolis. This year it was held over the weekend of July 7-9, 2017 at the Indiana Convention Center. We'd missed the previous year, having already committed to another con when Indy PopCon's dates were announced, so we had no real idea how much they'd been able to grow.

Load-in started at noon on Thursday, so we packed a lunch and headed downtown to the convention center loading dock. They were letting people in early, so we found a place to park and started hauling stuff in. Since we'd gotten some heavy rain shortly beforehand, the loading dock floor was wet, which meant we couldn't set boxes on it while we were digging out our carts.

Worse, they had only one door open, and our booths were just about as far away from them as they could've managed to put us. So I had to haul every cartload a long way, slowing down the process significantly. I tried to get the minigrid units in as rapidly as possible so the rest of the family could be setting them up while I continued to haul merchandise.

Once I got the van emptied, I had to run it over to the parking lot on Maryland and Alabama, then hike back, which took yet another chunk out of my time. Another family member had to take the car when we got it unloaded, but at least we were able to time things so we both got done at roughly the same time and could go together, simplifying the process. Still, it took two out of three warm bodies away from the setup process when we had a lot to do. Thanks to all the logistical issues slowing us down, we were nowhere near set up when they told us we had to get out of there for the night. So we headed home to have supper and get ready to leave super-early the next morning.

On Friday we had to head out in a banging hurry so we could get every possible minute of setup time if we were going to have any hope of being ready when the doors opened. Since we didn't need the van's cargo capacity, we all rode in the car and I dropped everyone off at the convention center, then parked the car and walked back.

We got most everything up by the time they opened the doors. However, we ended up running out of space before we ran out of merchandise to put out, so we ended up stuffing several boxes under the tables just to get them out of the way. As things sold and space emptied up, we'd put the additional merchandise out.

When the doors did open, the traffic level was pretty low, if not as disappointing as the very first Indy PopCon. We got a few decent-sized sales, but most of our sales were stubbornly small.

Once the doors closed for the evening, we decided to go to Steak 'n Shake for supper rather than the Chinese restaurant we'd gone to the Friday night of Indiana Comic Con. I thought we'd go to the one a block down from the convention center, but the rest of the family didn't want to walk there, then back to the convention center to wait to be picked up. So we decided to have me retrieve the car and we'd all go to the one on our side of town. While we were waiting for our meals to be cooked, I did get a little writing in.

When we got home, I found a box from one of my wholesalers waiting by the front door. It turned out to be some bento boxes to replace a design I'd completely run out of. I happily counted them, then priced them and got them boxed up to take with us.

Saturday should've been a little more relaxed, but it somehow turned into a rushed confusion, in which a moment's distraction caused a major problem. We got down to the convention center, I dropped off everyone else and parked the car. Then I walked back and started setting up our devices for credit card sales, only to discover that the iPadPro wasn't in the backpack. Alarmed, I checked the locater app on my iPhone, only to discover that yes, the iPadPro was still at home. As best I could remember, I had unplugged it and was just ready to put it in the backpack when someone screamed my name. In the moments it took to deal with that distraction which had presented itself as an emergency, my mind skipped over the step of actually putting device into backpack. Thus I carried the backpack out to the car, blissfully certain that the machine was inside.

That left us with a dilemma -- was it worth having to pay a second parking fee to go out to the house and retrieve the missing iPadPro? It was possible that the lot would be unattended when I got back and I could slip in and park on the original ticket -- but I couldn't bank on it. At length we finally decided that no, the sales levels at this con were just so disappointing that we couldn't justify throwing away our parking fee to retrieve a second machine. Since I did have the hotspot and the old iPad, we'd hobble along with them.

And it was probably the right choice, since sales continued to be miserably slow. Occasionally we'd get a large sale, but for the most part we were spending our time trying to coax people just to part with their money for a five-buck figurine.

In the evening, as we were heading over to a local Italian place to have supper, I get a text from PayPal, asking if I'd made a transaction they deemed suspicious. Considering that I'd spent the whole time with minimal Internet connectivity, thanks to the oopsie with the iPadPro, and had no time to go buying things online, I quick texted back no. Then I logged into my account and discovered this nogoodnik had already made four other, smaller purchases and it only got caught when he got greedy and tried to make a huge one. So I had the trouble of having to dispute the four charges that did go through, and then take steps to secure my account. And I had to run errands as soon as I got home, and try to at least scribble a few lines of writing in there somewhere.

On Sunday one member of the family was feeling so sore and miserable that he simply wasn't up to driving the car downtown, parking, and walking to the convention center. So my husband and I went together in the van, with the agreement that our other teammate would join us at load-out if he at all felt up to the task, so that we would have the car available in case it turned out we simply hadn't sold enough to fit everything into the van's cargo volume.

When I got to the parking lot, I discovered to my dismay that there were no envelopes in the honor box. Since they make such a big deal about there being no free parking at any time, I finally decided to put the money in an envelope I had in my purse, then write a description of the van on it. Just to make sure there would be no trouble, I also put a note in the van giving my cell phone number, so that if they couldn't connect envelope to vehicle, they could call me to straighten things out.

By the time I got to the convention center and got everything ready to go, it was almost time for the dealers' room to open. So I ended up spending the entire weekend at the con without even once getting to look around and see who else was there, or even say hi to other dealers.

Sales continued to be slow, although in the typical perversity of the universe, they picked up right when it was time for me to go over to one of the local sandwich shops to pick up our lunch. By mid-afternoon I decided to just go ahead and start packing, since we weren't exactly flooded with customers and we had a lot of fragile stuff that needed to go back into boxes. Even so, we had a lot of stuff that still needed packed when the doors closed for the end of the convention, and I was the only one who knew how to get a lot of that stuff back into its boxes.

As a result, I was really late getting the van to the loading dock, although it meant I had a much wider range of choices for a parking spot. However, the long walk from our booths to the door meant it took a long time to get everything out to the van. We were running so late that some of the convention center people started piling stuff on one of their little electric carts and running it out to the van so that I could just concentrate on getting stuff loaded instead of running back and forth.

By the time we got done, they were actually closing the big doors. So we had to hope that none of us had overlooked anything in the haste of getting out of there. We did lose some empty cans that we'd wanted to take home to recycle, since one of the convention center employees walked right in behind our tables to pick them up as trash. It annoyed me, since it meant they could also appropriate other things that weren't trash by anyone's definition of the word.

Once we got home, we all piled into the car and headed over to Steak 'n Shake for a well-deserved meal. We all felt a little down in the dumps because of the poor showing financially, but at least we'd gotten successfully loaded out.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated August 11, 2017.