OMG!con 2017

OMG!con is an anime convention held in western Kentucky. It used to be held in Paducah, until it outgrew all the available facilities in the area. So it moved over to Owensboro, which has a decent-sized convention center facing the Ohio River. You can literally look right over the river into Indiana from their loading docks, and watch the vehicles going to and fro on the big bridge a few blocks east. This year it was held over the weekend of June 9-11, 2017 at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Because of the time it took to drive, we headed down on Wednesday. We'd just gotten a substantial shipment of merchandise, so I had a little trouble getting everything to fit when I added our personal belongings. But with a little judicious wiggling and jiggling, I finally found a stable arrangement for everything and we were able to hit the road.

The trip south actually went fairly smoothly, although there was one place where poor signage caused us to miss a turn. We arrived in good time and were able to get checked into our hotel. The handicap-accessible rooms were outdoor rooms, so we were able to park right in front of our room and carry our belongings straight into it.

There were a few problems with the room, but the staff was quick to fix them. In fact, the guys were there and gone while I was still in the middle of carrying my belongings in. So we could settle in and take it easy the rest of the afternoon and evening. I dug out my old Palm VIIx and started trying to copy and expand some of the bits and crumbs of story left over from when I was doing quite a bit of work in one story universe, a decade ago. As I copied out the paragraphs of text and expanded them, I also made some notes on the implications now that I've returned to that world, but with a radically changed vision.

On Thursday we got up and headed over to the breakfast. This place actually has a pretty nice breakfast, and the breakfast area is part of a big atrium that includes their swimming pool (no hot tub, alas). So it was a pleasant experience to have breakfast, as opposed to so many of the cheaper hotels, where the breakfast nook is often dingy and crowded.

Then I did some more work on a couple of old stories. Meanwhile, my husband was having some serious trouble with his computer. After a flurry of texts back and forth with my brother the computer engineer, we determined that the most likely cause would be the hard drive. So we decided to get the most essential things done on it, then shut it down.

Then we headed over to the convention center, figuring we wanted to be there the very minute they opened the doors. I expected to have to wait at least some time, and thought it would give me a little writing tome. Instead, we arrived to find people already loading. So we got the van into the loading dock and started hauling merchandise and store equipment in as fast as we could.

Once we got everything in, I moved the van to a regular parking space and we set to work building our structures so we could start loading in merchandise. I thought we were making good time, but just as I started putting t-shirts into their hutches, the dealers' room closed and we were hustled out the door.

So we headed back to the hotel to wind down before going to bed. With my husband's computer down for the count, I set up my computer on the desk. I went on one of my wholesaler websites to look for some merchandise that we wanted to re-add to our inventory. I'd been off long enough that I was quite astonished to discover that all of my old orders had become inaccessible. As a result, I had to do searches for the types of merchandise I wanted, and actually ended up finding some stuff that was cheaper than what I had been buying. I just hope that getting it was a wise decision.

On Friday we got up and had the hotel's breakfast before heading back downtown to the convention center to finish our setup. Although we had been making decent progress, we still weren't completely ready when they opened the doors. As a result, we had to quick stuff a bunch of boxes under the tables to be unpacked as room became available. However, it also meant that we had some difficulty finding certain things when we needed them.

At least we had decent traffic and sales for a moderate-sized anime convention. Our biggest problem was a concern about the Totoro wallets. Although our wholesaler reassured us that they were all legitimately purchased from companies in other countries that Studio Ghibili had merchandise contracts with, the people in charge didn't want to take our word for it. So we ended up having to put them all away and get something else out, which was a bit of an aggravation but not worth fighting about. We had enough other merchandise still boxed up that removing them didn't leave any bare spots on our tables. However, it did leave me reconsidering the role of licensed products in our merchandise lineup, and whether it might be better to leave those to the people specializing in them while we specialized more in the traditional and generic stuff, the porcelains and the cool erasers, squishies, pencil cases, etc.

In the evening, we headed back to the hotel to have supper. Then I made some more notes on some ideas that I had gotten as I was copying down one of those little fragments from the Palm VIIx.

On Saturday we had breakfast at the hotel. Apparently on the weekend they have a much more expansive set of breakfast offerings than during the week, so we really got to enjoy ourselves.

Then we headed over to the convention center and got our booths open for business. I restocked the merchandise, especially the Chinese healthy balls, which had been heavily bought, but also some figurines that we had multiples of.

Sales were decent, but intermittent. There was another big t-shirt dealer, which made me glad that I'd cut back to our best designs and prioritized the figures and porcelains instead. Because of all the lulls in traffic, I did a fair amount of stuff on the Internet on my iPhone, including watching a bunch of my favorite bits from The Young Pope.

After the dealers' room closed for the day, we headed back to the hotel for supper. Then I made a few more story notes and took a look at other wholesalers who might be able to offer some products that our current wholesalers weren't.

On Sunday we got up and had breakfast before heading back to the convention center for our final day of sales. This time I finally got to make a thorough look around the dealers' room and the artists' alley and talk to some people.

Business remained slow, although we did get some reasonably large sales. Still, I spent a fair amount of time fiddling around on my phone while I waited for the next sale to come along.

Finally it was late enough that I needed to get packing if we were going to be loaded out by anything resembling a reasonable hour. Fortunately we were able to get some pretty decent help packing the t-shirts and breaking down our structures, and then carrying everything out. It was much easier when I didn't have to run back and forth from tables to vehicle, but could just sort through the piles of boxes on the loading dock floor for the next box I needed. However, I still had the problem of things going in differently than they had on the way down, and trying to find a way to avoid wasted space or places where the load could shift.

Once we had everything loaded, we headed back to the hotel for supper. Then I scribbled a few story notes and pulled together a last-minute order to one of our wholesalers, hoping that we'd be able to get the merchandise before we left for our next convention on Wednesday.

On Monday we got up and had breakfast one last time at the hotel before loading our personal belongings into the van and checking out. Then we went into downtown Owensboro to stop at a branch of our bank and make a deposit before heading home.

It was hot when we left, and although we were driving north, it seemed to only get worse the further we went. By the time we got to I-70, the van was running noticeably hotter than I'd like to see. I finally ended up having to shut off the air conditioning and roll down the windows rather than risk having the engine overheat and possibly take damage. As a result, I was very glad when we finally got home, and resolved to check the engine the next morning.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated August 11, 2017.