Windycon 43

Windycon is the Chicago area's big fall science fiction convention, held over the weekend closest to Veterans' Day. This year it was held over the weekend of November 11-13, 2016 at the Westin Yorktown Lombard, in Lombard, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago.

Because load-in and setup start on Friday morning, we drove up on Thursday. The drive started smoothly enough, although we had a momentary scare right out of the driveway when the oil life sensor light came on. We ran up to the shop to get it checked and it turned out that one of the techs had forgotten to reset it when we had our last oil change.

There was a rather annoying backup around Lafayette, probably related to the bridge problems they've been having in the area. Once we got past that, the trip went pretty smoothly, other than the usual mess around the Jane Byrne Interchange (what used to be called the Chicago Circle). We got to the hotel in good time, but then discovered we had to choose between a handicap-accessible room and a large bed. Other than that, the room was OK, so we decided to make do with the smaller bed in order to make sure my husband had a shower he could get in and out of.

I did some work online, then pulled out a novel project and re-read some chapters, trying to figure out where I was going with it. However, I just couldn't seem to get into the storyline again. I finally decided that I was probably going to need to go back to the beginning and read everything to recapture the excitement of the story.

On Friday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel, hoping we could start loading in early. However, the guy who'd been running the Windycon dealers' room for years had passed away earlier in the year, so we had a new person running things. He wasn't as familiar with procedures, so he was nowhere near ready to have us start loading in.

It was really frustrating, because we knew that we were going to need every possible minute if we were going to have any hope of being set up on time. But there wasn't anything we could do to speed things up, so we went out to the lobby and hung out. I did some stuff on the Internet and got some writing done.

Once they finally let us start loading in, we had to work at a frantic pace to carry everything in and build our structures. It still wasn't nearly enough time, and we ended up still setting up while the dealers' room was open. Because we were still setting up, nobody wanted to interrupt us. As a result, the only sales we made were wholesale, and those had been arranged ahead of time.

After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed over to the con suite to hang out and eat supper. We'd been thinking about the parties, but we were both so tired we decided to just bail and head back to our room. I got some writing done and then we turned in for the night.

On Saturday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed over to the con hotel and had second breakfast in the con suite. Then we went to the dealers' room and put some final touches on our setup, including getting price signs out and up.

Once the doors opened, we finally started getting sales. However, traffic remained slow all day long. By mid-afternoon I was seriously wondering whether we would be able to at least break even, since losing Friday had set us so far behind. I started telling people that if they saw something they wanted, they should buy it now because there was a very real possibility we wouldn't be back the following year.

In the evening we hung out at the con suite and munched until the parties started. I even took out a notebook and tried to get a little writing done.

The Honor Harrington party was fun, and we had some good munchies at the Minicon party, although it's clear that their attendance is still far too small for us to think about returning. I think they made a huge mistake in the late 90's when they decided to shrink the con to a more "manageable" size, but that's just my opinion and it's their decision. We also talked to the people at Cleveland Concoction, seeing if it would be a possibility for a March convention after Shutocon turned us down. However, this con is still relatively small, and I didn't think it really made sense to go at this time.

There were some other parties, but we were both getting tired and we knew that teardown and load-out would take a lot of time and energy, especially when we were selling so frustratingly little. So we decided to cut it short and head back to our hotel to turn in for the night.

On Sunday we got up and had breakfast. Then we gathered up our belongings and carried them out to the van so we could check out before heading back to the con hotel. There we went to the con suite for second breakfast before heading to the dealers' room to get our tables open.

I finally had some actual time to look around and talk to some of the other dealers. Then I settled in to try to sell as much as possible before we had to start packing. We did have some decent-sized sales, but not really to the point I would've liked. I could tell that sales were down, although the load-in problems that cost us our Friday sales had probably contributed to that. Given this was the new dealer's room head's first year, I knew there was going to be a learning curve involved and was willing to give him a second year, assuming that we didn't have a more remunerative event that weekend.

Finally we had to start packing, even if it would mean people would be less likely to want to buy anything more from us. We knew we couldn't wait forever, since we had to get stuff out in a timely manner. Even with all the help we got loading out, it was still well after six before we got everything in the van and were on the road.

Traffic was pretty bad on the way out of Chicago. We got to the Comfort Inn in Hobart looking forward to a nice soak in the hot tub and instead discovered that the hot tub was icy cold. With nothing else to do, we retreated back to our room and did stuff on the Internet. I also pulled out a short story that had run out of potential markets and started making notes on how to rewrite it for indie publication.

On Monday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we packed our stuff and carried it back out to the van so we could check out of the hotel. We stopped at a branch of our bank to make the deposit and buy change for the holiday bazaars we were going to be doing over the next several weeks. After the disappointment of the convention, we were hoping for some real success with a new market.

Before we left the Chicago area, we stopped in the mall at Merrillville and got some more vitamins at Vitamin World. Then we got back on I-65 and headed back home to Indianapolis. I was very glad to get home, and to have enough time to unload the cooler before we headed off for evening activities.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 10, 2017.