There are many things I like: the color purple, unicorns, turtles, wine, fuzzy socks, working in my pjs. Over the past few months I’ve added two new items to that list: the way women’s faces light up when I tell them the skirts I make have pockets, and when a woman pulls on a skirt, hands me cash, and dances out of the booth, headed for adventure. I got to experience those Christmas morning grins and twirling happiness many times over this past weekend at the Midwest Gaming Classic.
Held outside of Milwaukee, MGC encompasses a spectrum of gaming: from arcade to console to tabletop. My booth was in the outdoor tent they erect in the parking lot of the hotel. That plus the corner stage that saw a rotation of various bands, and the whole event had a flea market, county fair feel where cosplay, jazz renditions of the Mario Brothers theme, and air hockey all came together. It attracts around 10,000 attendees, and hosts various rooms with arcade games free to play.
The stage part was equal parts fun and annoying. The booth was right across from the stage and every hour for an hour there was an act. Most of the time it was loud to the point of headache inducing. It also made it hard to talk with customers.
And there were lots of customers. The foot traffic was steady for all of Saturday and most of Sunday. Men with backpacks, ball caps and shuffled the aisles, their mouths pulled into frowns of concentration as they scanned the boxes of game cartridges, computer parts and vintage ephemera. Kids and teens skipped from one booth to another, touching everything, all thrown limbs and tripping feet. The women strolled, weaving their way through the crowd, here dipping into a booth and then lighting out, carrying a plushy, a signed print, or some other prize of geekery.
I shared the booth with Moira of Memento Moria. By our crafty powers combined we are Awesome Geek Girl Wearables! Splitting a booth with someone not only helps with keeping costs down, but it means you both will have back up for bathroom breaks and food runs. I was reminded why this is so important by our booth neighbor: a sweet guy selling anime fan staples like Pocky, along with candy, drinks and bookmarks. He did steady business, and was on his own for the entire weekend. We helped out when we could, keeping an eye on things so he could run to the restroom. By the second day my anxiety was triggered by worry that someone would walk off with something. Thankfully I had medication with me and I have gotten much better at taking it when I need it, rather than trying to tough the anxiety out.
The only low part came in the morning of Sunday while I was watching our neighbor’s booth. A man looking at the bookmarks caught my eye, pointed at me, and then beckoned me with his finger. The gesture was so dismissive, so patronizing, I had the instant urge to bite the digit off. Instead I just told him curtly that it wasn’t my booth and the owner would be back soon. Finger Man slithered his way down the aisle, never to be seen again.
Over all, it was a really good convention. I made a little more than my goal*, handed out lots of business cards, and even had someone follow me on Instagram as we talked in the booth.
And now I am back. I took Monday off to recuperate, because working conventions is hard work, no matter what my Jerk Brain would have me believe. And now I am ready to head back into the workshop to work on the commissions I took at the show and to get ready for the next event which will likely be in June.
As for Midwest Gaming Classic, I’ve already made plans to return next year.
*I reworked how I calculated my sales goals this year. Before I would take the number of expected attendees and multiply that by the amount per person I usually make at similar events. The problem, though, is that different kinds of events have wildly different amount per person: Anime conventions, for example, tend to bring in a little under a dollar per person, whereas general science fiction conventions is more in the .25-.50 cent range. This difference made for lots of variation and guesswork, and if an anime convention had a bad year, it cast doubt on the numbers.
Instead, I decided to figure out the number of hours I would be at an event and multiply that by how much per hour I charge for labor. The resulting number is lower than the previous calculation, however I have hit that goal and exceeded it each time. At this point I will take a more realistic, if lower, sales goal.