I'm back from Connecticon, the worst business decision I've ever made.
The attendees had a good time--it's one of the happiest crowds I've seen. Most of the hucksters didn't.
It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. Two resellers had done very well with my buttons (the usual mix with a little anime) at anime conventions. Connecticon was a good-sized convention by fan standards (two or three thousand people) and huckster space was relatively cheap.
The only problem was that it was the same weekend as Shore Leave, but I could split the business, and I had suecochran to help me there and dcseain (both of them good experienced staff) to help me at Connecticon.
Things happened. I ordered an extra set of trays (a lot of money relative to the size of my business). Due to factors mostly outside the control of the guy making them, arrival of trays got later and later--I got them late on Wednesday night. Splitting my buttons between the trays is a long days' work, so we had a late start. I will be spending nearly as many hours combining the buttons back into one set of trays. I didn't *have* to get new trays--I had almost enough trays, and could have spent a day or so making adequate trays from foamcore, but I thought I had enough money coming in to justify a capital investment in permanent trays.
My bicycle was stolen, which made it harder to run errands. My sister has offered to help me replace it.
There was an ambiguity in the specs. The new trays are too shallow for really major conventions, but they worked well enough at Shore Leave.
We get to the Connecticutt Convention Center in Hartford. The con people and the convention center staff are all remarkably friendly and helpful with moving in, but I discover that my promised 8'x8' space is 8'x6'. I get an explanation, but no apology--the committee hadn't been let in to measure the dealer's room until the last minute. It turns out to be possible to set up trays in a U shape with the double bumper sticker rack on the floor in the midde. This might have been too crowded if business had been good, but it wasn't.
None of this would have mattered if people had been buying buttons at a noticable rate--but they weren't. I was getting less than half per hour of what I normally get at a regional.
The problem isn't obvious. Even most of the anime dealers didn't do as well as they hoped. Some of the attendees were enthusiastic about my buttons and stickers, and some of them spent $30 or so, but too many of the sales were only for a button or two. From another angle, too few of them were for $16 or more. There's a comic shop owner who's interested in some wholesaling, so there's a little hope, but this won't make it into a good convention for me.
There were some random factors, like that a lot of parents stayed at the con with their kids last year, and thus functioned as piggy banks. This year, many more parents trusted the con enough to just leave their kids (and perhaps were tired of being used as piggy banks), so there was somewhat less money floating around. Last year was the first year for the Convention Center, and they didn't charge for parking.
The take was down at Shore Leave, too. It's possible that the economy is in worse shape than I thought. Perhaps the price of gas is sucking up too much frivolity money.
Other stuff: There is no good food (just a Burger King) near the convention center. This is a pain. I expect that eventually, the local restaurant culture will figure out that there are people at the convention center who'd like good, handy food. Meanwhile, dcseain and I found a couple of very good places--Pho Legal on Park St. in Hartford was notable for a tasty egg crepe with a rounded bumps surface--I've never seen anything like it, and neither had dcseain--and he's much more of a foody than I am.
There was also Priya Indian Cuisine in Rocky Hill. I'm spacing on details now, but everything was good to excellent. The dining guide from the Hartford Advocate was very useful. Having to deal with a foldy map and a lot of little towns was sub-optimal. The map book is an insufficiently appreciated modern invention.
Since we were staying in a motel 40 minutes from the convention and huckstering for long hours, we missed the programming. I did more chi gung and t'ai chi than usual, and should make it a habit. I think it's the major reason I wasn't going nuts about the (lack of) money, and probably why, when I tripped over table legs and such in my crowded both, I fell well and didn't hurt myself.
I was reading George R.R. Martin's _A Feast for Crows_ because I'm on PSFS's Hugo nominees panel and need to have all the professional nominees read or viewed by the Friday after next. That book is very grim (to be expected) and Cersei has too much onstage time. I'll probably do real reviews after the panel, but meanwhile I'll just say that Wilson's _Spin_ and MacLeod's _Learning the World_ are much better.
I would have done better if I'd just gone to Shore Leave, and I might well be better off if I'd sent suecochran to Shore Leave and gone to Readercon for the fun of it.
If you've been meaning to buy some buttons, this is a good time, at least from my point of view. I've got new slogans.