Visioncon was held over the weekend of February 15-17, 2013 at the Howard-Johnson in Springfield, Missouri. It's one of the largest science fiction conventions in the Ozarks, with a strong emphasis on media and gaming.
Because it was our second convention in two weeks, we'd stayed during the week at my parents' place in the Bloomington-Normal area. This gave us an opportunity to visit some of my husband's family on Tuesday.
On Wednesday we headed off to Springfield. The drive was pretty ordinary until we passed St. Louis and got into the Ozarks. The van's engine was definitely complaining on some of those steep grades, and I had to take it off cruise control. At least now I have a better idea of how it's apt to handle in the mountains if we make a trip to the East or West Coast.
We were staying with friends on Wednesday night, so we had to make connections with them. We spent the rest of the evening visiting.
On Thursday we headed over to the convention hotel and got checked into our sleeping room. Once we had our personal belongings in, we pulled the van around to the front and got ready to load in. Although our table arrangement was less than ideal and left us with about half the backspace we'd been hoping for, the logistics of loading in more than made up for it. We were able to pull our van right up to the front door and carry everything straight into the dealers' room. We even were able to use a huge flatbed hotel cart, which meant we made about half as many trips.
Because of the tight table arrangement, setting up our tables took longer than usual and we had a lot of stuff we couldn't get out. Then I had to take a couple of loads of empty boxes back to the van. By that time we were really tired, so we headed back to the room to turn in for the night.
On Friday we got up early to get the hotel's free hot breakfast. Then we headed back to the room to get a nap before we headed to the dealers' room to do some final adjustments on the merchandise in preparation for it opening for business for the day.
However, that may have been a mistake. When we arrived, we discovered that the dealer beside us had set up a display in such a way that he was blocking one of our displays from being seen. I was rather annoyed, but our protests received the response that he had the right to set up his displays as he saw fit, and it was our problem to make adjustments. We figured out a way to get pretty much equivalent visibility for our products, but I was still annoyed at his obliviousness toward our setup and its relationship to his.
After that I got my art on the art show. Then I went to look for the con suite and discovered that they're more like anime cons in not having a regular con suite. Instead they have a concessions room, where you can get all the pop you want as long as you get it in the cups they sell. At least we had an adequate supply of our own pop, so it wasn't a disaster, but it was a disappointment.
The first few hours we were open, business was so slow that I was beginning to despair of getting any sales. We hardly had even any window-shoppers, let alone actual buyers. But then things picked up and I became busy enough that I had no further writing time. By the time we closed for the evening, I was actually feeling rather good about our situation.
In the evening we ate supper. Then we took a look around at the parties, but they all seemed to be centered around booze. Since neither of us can drink, we ended up heading back to the room and going on the Internet for a while before turning in for the night.
On Saturday we headed over for breakfast, then got our tables open for business. At this con they open the dealers' room at 9 AM rather than 10, as is typical at most conventions. Again, business was slow at first, but soon picked up to the point I was too busy dealing with customers to get any writing done.
However, it didn't help that I'd had only fitful sleep the night before, and as a result kept making dumb mistakes. None of them cost us a huge amount of money, but they were still annoying as all getout. I also was having some technology problems that didn't help the state of my temper. By the time the dealers' room closed for the day, I was almost ready to turn in for the night.
Once I had some supper, I was willing to check out the parties. However, Saturday's parties also centered around drinking, so after a token appearance, we turned in for the night.
On Sunday we got breakfast, then gathered up our personal belongings and got them out of the sleeping room. After that we headed down to the dealers' room to get our tables open for the final day of sales. It followed the same pattern of being slow at first, then picking up speed within an hour. By the time we were needing to start packing, we were really busy, which made it tricky for me to leave long enough to get my art off the art show, or to retrieve boxes from the van.
However, once the dealers' room did close, our problematic neighbor got packed up and cleared out in nothing flat. Thus I was able to get in and break down our big gridwall without too much difficulty. After that it was just a matter of carting stuff out and getting it arranged in our van. At first I was parked some distance away from the door, but once the dealers with smaller setups got loaded out, I was able to move right in front of the doors and we got the last few loads out with surprising alacrity. Being able to use the hotel's giant cart for a couple of loads helped too.
Because the trip was so long, we stayed Sunday night with our friends before continuing our journey on Monday. That day we had windy travel through the Ozarks, but after we got into Illinois, we started having rain. The last hundred miles to my folks' place, the rain was so heavy I was fighting it the whole way.
At least we just had wind for the final leg of our homeward journey on Tuesday, but we'd heard some disturbing noises from our van as we started out, so we decided it needed to go to the shop when we got home. Thus I had to spend Tuesday evening getting everything unloaded into our storage unit so that I could turn our online sales back on.
As it turned out, we were lucky to get back home safely. We thought the sounds we heard were from the muffler, but in fact we had a pretty serious problem with the brakes. At least we got them fixed right away, so we should have a safe vehicle on our next trip.
Copyright 2013 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated March 4, 2013.