Metacon 2017

Metacon is an anime and media convention held every year in Minneapolis, usually over Labor Day weekend. This year's Metacon was held over the weekend of September 1-3, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis.

Because the trip up there is so long, we started on Tuesday and drove over to Illinois to stay overnight with my dad. After my mom passed away in August, I wanted to see how Dad was doing and make sure he had some company. I was happy to find him rested and in good spirits, and we enjoyed some time visiting.

On Wednesday we hit the road for Minneapolis. At least it went fairly smoothly, and it was rather neat to see parts of Wisconsin that I hadn't seen for a while. However, the sheer length of the trip did make it tiring, and I was glad to have energy drinks with us.

We did run into a little backup when we got to Minneapolis, but because we were going around the north side of town rather than pushing straight through, it wasn't the horrible slow to a crawl that we'd experienced on the way to Metacon in 2015. We were able to get checked into our hotel by suppertime and enjoyed a reasonably relaxed meal. I also e-mailed my dad to let him know that we'd gotten to the hotel safely, then did a little writing.

Thursday was a little more relaxed, since we wouldn't be able to start loading in until mid-afternoon. We had the hotel's complimentary breakfast, which was pretty nice and included some meat. Then I did some more work on my writing and my blog posts.

We headed downtown a little early, hoping that maybe we could get into the main loading dock and not have to compete for access to the rollup door. However, the doors to the loading dock wouldn't open for us, so we ended up having to go around and get on the ramp. It's so steep that loading and unloading on it can be interesting, and not in a good way. However, I had loaded everything well enough that the boxes of fragile items weren't in immediate danger of toppling, so I was able to unload from the back as well as the side. However, pushing heavy carts up the ramp was not easy, and several times I wouldn't have made it if someone hadn't helped me.

Once we got the van unloaded, I had to move it to a parking lot. At least I knew about the Orpheum lot from the last time we did Metacon, so I was able to head straight to it and walk straight back, without getting lost. That way I was able to get almost all our structures built before they closed the dealers' room and shooed all of us out for the night.

Then I had the problem of finding our way back to our hotel in the dark. Everything looked different, and some of the directions were a little confusing. At least when I did make a wrong turn, it was in an industrial area that wasn't all that scary, and we were able to make a circuit around to the right place and get on the lane we needed. We even had a little time to wind down before turning in for the night.

Even so, we had to get moving bright and early on Friday if we were going to have any hope of being set up in time for the doors to open. We had the hotel's complimentary breakfast, then headed downtown, where I dropped off my husband at the hotel so he could start working while I got the van parked and walked back. We finally decided to just not put out a bunch of the Western fantasy figurines because we were running short on both space and time. We stuffed several boxes under the tables and figured we could put those items out later if we freed up the necessary space.

However, sales were slow even when we started selling, It was bad enough that I had to struggle to stay focused. I did head off to the con suite and pick up some ramen for both of us, but otherwise it was far too much waiting for things to happen and far too little happening.

When the doors closed for the night, we headed back to the hotel for supper. At least this time I knew the route, so it wasn't so tricky to drive it. After supper, I did a little more writing. I also counted the money and found the sum pretty pathetic.

On Saturday we had to get back to the con hotel in good time because we really needed to finish setting up. We'd gotten to the point where we were at least presentable, but we weren't really, truly ready. For instance, we didn't have any signs up, which meant that we didn't have the prices on some items. But when we got to the vendor hall, the doors remained shut until well after 9AM, thanks to the hotel staff being lax about getting down there and opening them. So we effectively lost almost half an hour of setup time, and as a result got no time to look around.

Sales remained frustratingly slow, which was not going to be good after having weak sales at Tampa Bay Comic Con. Not to mention, it meant we were going to have a lot of unsold merchandise to pack up and load out under less than ideal logistics.

By the time the dealers' room closed for the evening, I was feeling pretty downhearted by our continuing pathetic sales. We headed back to the hotel and I did some more writing, as well as online posts.

Sunday we headed downtown for our last sales day, knowing we had to somehow get as much sold as possible if we were going to have any hope of staying afloat through the month. At least this time the hotel person showed up on time and we were able to get open in time to actually look around the dealers' room. A few dealers were doing pretty well, but a lot of them were disappointed by the level of sales.

Business stayed stubbornly slow all day, and I ended up packing right after lunch. Even so, we still had so much little fragile stuff that it seemed to take forever to get done. By the time I could actually go to the parking lot and retrieve the van, a number of the smaller dealers had already finished loading out and were long gone. I had to park on the street a fair way down and leave our emergency flashers running in hope that nobody official would hassle us. However, it still meant that I had to haul every cartload that much farther, and take that much more time.

Every time another dealer finished loading and pulled away, I made sure to pull the van forward and shorten the trip. However, there was one tricky point where I had to carefully edge around a mess of broken glass by the curb. Worse, the merchandise wasn't going back in nearly as well as it had on the trip up, and we'd had almost no meaningful reduction in our stock. Since I'd left the clothes basket at the parental abode, retrieving it could make loading for the trip home somewhat difficult.

As things got later, one of the other dealers helpfully hauled several cartloads of unsold merchandise down to the curb so I could just sort through everything and get it where it belonged. Even so, it was after dark by the time we got everything loaded, and the hotel people were wanting to get the doors closed so that they could go home. Right after we'd gotten everything loaded but before we could get the van started up, a taxi driver stopped and asked if we needed a ride. I told him we were just finishing loading out after an event, but thanks for the offer.

On the way back to the hotel, we got stuck behind a very long, very slow train. We were almost to the hotel, but we didn't know the area, so we had no idea of where there might be a way around the tracks. Beside us, a woman was very unhappy and was apparently cussing out the train for making it impossible to get to where she wanted to go. My husband and I speculated as to whether she might be in desperate need of a restroom visit.

By the time the train's FRED finally went by, it was very late, which made for two very tired people eating a late supper. I did get a little writing scribbled, but we were still later than I would've preferred to get to bed.

On Monday we got up and got our personal belongings out to the van. It didn't take long to see that no, we were not going to get everything back in without some rearrangement. At least with the clothes basket still in Illinois, I was able to get a reasonably stable load that I felt comfortable about driving a considerable distance.

The drive back was long and quite tiring, even with multiple energy drinks to keep me awake. Because we had not forgotten 2015, when we got caught in a traffic jam of Chicagoans heading back from the Dells, we decided to go back via I-35 into Iowa and catch I-80 in Iowa City. It meant we didn't get caught in any backups, but we did have a longer distance to cover. We just hoped that it wouldn't take quite as long to cover it because we'd be able to keep moving. Even so, I got to a point where food simply didn't taste good any more, and when we stopped, a pinched nerve was making it difficult to walk.

I was very glad to arrive safely and to find Dad in good spirits. He had plenty of leftovers to heat up so we could have supper, and I was able to do some laundry, as well as a little writing.

On Tuesday we finally got to sleep in a little, which was welcome. Then I had to do some rearranging, moving merchandise into the back of the van and sitting it on top of the folding tables, which made a sort of shelf right by the rear doors. It emptied just enough space that I was able to get the clothes basket into place, so we didn't have to leave anything behind.

After lunch we hit the road home. We were able to stop at a branch of our bank in Brownsburg and make the deposit, although it was pitifully small compared to what we really needed to have made. Still, it was better than nothing, and ensured that the checks coming through in the next few days would have money to cover them. Then we continued on to home, where I inventoried and priced a shipment of merchandise which had arrived while we were gone. It might have been nice if we'd been able to have that merchandise while we were at the convention, but it would've been that much more merchandise we had to fit into the van.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

Permission is granted for reproduction in fanzines and other non-profit fannish publications.

For permission to quote or reprint in other venues, contact Leigh Kimmel

Last updated October 10, 2017.