Yoi-con 2017

Yoi-con is a small anime convention held in Columbus, Ohio. It is put on by the same parent company that does Anime Midwest and several other anime conventions around the Midwest. This year it was held over the weekend of April 28-30, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. This is the same hotel that is the main hotel for Ohayocon, the big anime convention held in Columbus every year in January.

We had not originally been planning to go to Yoi-con, since it's a relatively small convention and only in its second year. However, as other events disappointed and we were unable to secure events for several other periods, we decided that we needed something that weekend. With Yoi-con having modest booth costs, we decided that it was a doable option.

However, we knew that we were going to want to keep our expenses as low as possible, given that it was an untried and relatively new convention. Since we knew this family of cons always starts load-in around 4 PM, we decided that we would wait until Thursday to drive over to Columbus. This would simultaneously reduce our hotel cost by one night's stay and allow me to do laundry on the laundromat's dollar-off wash day.

And it was a good decision, because just before the convention we got an e-mail letting us know that the previous event was going to be running over and they wouldn't be out of the dealers' room until 8PM. After having gone through this at Anime Matsuri, I was not exactly overjoyed with the news. But there was nothing we could do about it, so once we got checked in at our hotel, we just settled in and I did some work on a story I was writing for a contest.

After we had supper, we decided to head over to the hotel, in hope that we might be able to load in early. First we had to find the loading dock, which was not an easy process. I even got stuck at the gate of a private lot and had to get turned back around to try again.

Finally we got into position, and then we discovered the loading dock was built for big trucks. The obvious solution would be to cart everything up the ramp -- except the ramp was so narrow and rickety that loaded carts couldn't be taken up it. So we ended up having to take an unloaded cart up to the platform, then hand-carrying everything from the vehicle and set it onto the platform. There we'd load the cart and haul it to the freight elevator.

Needless to say, this enormously increased the amount of time involved in getting our merchandise to the dealers' room so we could even start setting up. Not to mention the sheer aggravation -- I remarked to one of the other dealers that I thought Lent was over, so what was with all this penance?

Finally we got the van unloaded. Since another vehicle was blocking the way back out, I decided not to even try to get it to regular parking. Nobody was hassling me about it, so I wanted to focus on getting as much done on our setup as possible. We did get some work done before they chased us out, and then we went downstairs to the loading dock only to discover that we had to ask someone to move their vehicle so we could get ours out.

I was very glad to get back to the hotel so we could turn in. However, I was not exactly happy at how early we'd have to get up the next morning in order to have any hope of getting finished with our setup before the doors opened for sales.

On Friday morning we got up way too early and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel, where I dropped off my husband before heading for the parking lot. However, I managed to get turned around in directions and it took forever to find the parking lot. Once I did, I walked back to the hotel and returned to the dealers' room to finish setting up. Thanks to the load-in fiasco, we were so far behind getting set up that we didn't even have a chance to eat lunch until mid-afternoon.

Once the doors did open, traffic was slow and sales were spotty. The dealer behind us was playing selections from the musical Hamilton, and I found the effect of using modern musical idioms such as jazz and rap for a historical play rather interesting. Sometimes I wondered if actually seeing the musical performed on the stage might make the use of modern musical idiom less jarring.

When the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed back to our hotel for the evening. There had been some kind of an accident on I-71 and we had to creep through a lengthy backup. Once we did get back, we had supper and I spent some time writing before we turned in for the night.

On Saturday we got up and had breakfast before heading downtown. This time it was much easier for me to find the proper lot and get parked. However, there were no envelopes in the honor box, so I ended up folding a piece of paper into a makeshift envelope to put my fiver in. I wasn't going to take a chance on getting towed.

Since it didn't take that much time to get back to the dealers' room, I actually had a little time to look around. Not that there were all that many dealers, since it was an absolutely tiny dealers' room. But quite honestly, we wouldn't have wanted any more dealers competing for the traffic we were getting.

Sales remained slow all day, but at least we were getting enough that I was able to stop despairing about our finances. We had enough cash on hand that I was reasonably sure we'd be able to pay the hotel, and we might even be able to break even. However, with all the logistical issues, I figured it really wasn't going to be worth coming back again.

We returned to the hotel and had supper. Then I did some more writing before we turned in for the night.

Sunday we got up and had breakfast before returning to the con hotel one last time. When the doors first opened, we had no business to speak of. Then it started to pick up, but by that time we needed to start packing all the small, fragile stuff if we were going to have any hope at all of being out in a reasonable time. I didn't like having to start packing, because I didn't want to stop what little we were getting in the way of much-needed sales, so I tried to concentrate on dealing with customers as much as possible, even at the expense of packing speed.

As a result, we were still packing when everyone else was leaving. I didn't get the van to the hotel until late, and I couldn't get the loading dock door to open for me. Frustrated and desperate, I drove around to a blocked-off circle drive where they were doing some construction and parked there. It was a lot easier to push the big flatbed carts a hundred or so feet than to struggle with the freight elevator. However, I discovered in the process of loading that the driveway goes right over a railroad track, and trains that went through were having to brake, producing a nerve-wracking screech of metal on metal.

Even with the reduced distance from dealers' room to vehicle, it was still an exhausting process because we'd sold so terribly little. We didn't even get the last load into the van until after 9PM, at which time they were locking up the doors. At least we didn't get locket out, but if we ever have to do that again, I'll be about ready to prop the door to make sure we have to get in.

Thoroughly fed up and exhausted, we headed back to the hotel. We grabbed a belated supper and I scribbled a few notes before turning in for the night.

Monday morning we got up to pouring rain. We had breakfast and then we had to get our personal belongings back into the van without getting them or the merchandise soaked. It took a lot of juggling, and more than once I felt like I was playing The Wolf, the Sheep, and the Cabbage.

Finally we got checked out and hit the road. We ran out of the rain west of Columbus, which made the drive a lot easier. However, I was still tired, and I had to struggle to remain awake and alert.

When we got off I-70 at Greenfield to avoid the construction, I noticed how much standing water was on the fields on either side of the county road we were following back to Indianapolis. Obviously we'd gotten quite a downpour while we were gone. I was very glad to get home and see that our house was unharmed by the overnight storms.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 8, 2017.