This past weekend, the latest Megacon Tampa Bay was held, and while fans attending had a good time, I’m sure, dealers likely did not!
What struck me was that there were no announcements that people could sign up for next year’s event, so that may indicate what 2018 holds for this convention.
FIRST, HOW WAS MEGACON TAMPA BAY?
This was the second year in a row the folks behind Megacon have held a con in Tampa Bay. Normally, they host a big con in Orlando, about 90 miles away.
Now, there were some big names there. William Shatner! Stan Lee! Kevin Smith! John Barrowman! Alex Kingston! There were also cosplay and animation voice guests, and there were pretty significant lines to get these folks’ autographs.
There were a pretty good number of dealers, and I was helping at one of those booths, as usual. Friday went pretty well, Saturday better, but Sunday… well, Sunday many dealers I know said they sold absolutely nothing! Not a single thing! Yikes!
There are likely a lot of factors involved, including the fact that not very long ago, Hurricane Irma ravaged Central Florida, including the Tampa Bay area. Many local fans had to spend lots of money on their homes and other possessions to get things back in decent shape.
I did notice that, particularly on Sunday, most people walked around with holding nothing in their hands. That often means they bought nothing. Again, I’m sure a lot of that had to do with Irma’s impact, and I had heard that about 40 percent of the tickets had been refunded as people couldn’t attend for various reasons.
That made for a long Sunday as dealers watched fans walk by many booths. I don’t mind that they hopefully had fun looking at all the cool stuff up for sale. It just made many dealers question whether they would be back next year.
PEOPLE DESPERATE TO MAKE MONEY
When you’re a dealer, you often get to make friends with dealers in the booths around you. I got reacquainted with an Indie comics creator I had met before. In fact, he told me I had bought the first comic he had sold at a con!
I caught up on the products he was selling, taking them back to where I was staying overnight. I read several of the books and enjoyed them, so I returned to the con the following day ready to set up an interview with that creator.
We got to the con and spent some time setting up the booth for the new day. I noticed, however, the guy across the aisle from me, who I had wanted to schedule an interview with, wasn’t at his booth. Instead, some other person had set up a bunch of toys and “squishies” to sell.
I was disappointed! I wondered what had happened! I sent a message to the person via his website asking what happened. I didn’t get a response.
About 1 p.m., I saw him come back and start to set up again at one of the two booths across from us. I was glad to see that, and promised I would talk with him later in the day.
We got busy for a while, so I didn’t look that way again until an hour or so later. Turns out the guy who had set up the toys to sell had removed them all and only left a display showcase there. A few minutes later, I looked again, and even that was gone!
When I got to talk with the creator, I asked what had happened. Was there a mix-up? He told me the toy seller had been told by his boss to take that booth even though the creator had paid for it. Just because he was late didn’t give that person the right to “squat” there and try to sell things.
I was horrified! I still can’t figure how someone had sent a person to a booth someone else had paid for and figure they could just take over!
I didn’t see that toy seller anywhere else on the floor, though, so at least things had returned to normal.
I’ve been to several conventions, and there are times when dealers decide they aren’t making enough money to warrant staying at the booth they’ve paid for. There have been times we’ve asked that, if they weren’t going to use it, if we could take it over.
Now, I’m sure the con organizers would prefer we pay more to use it, which is why we don’t do that any longer. We reasoned that it looked better for the con if there were fewer empty tables around. Again, I doubt the con people would agree with that!
On the other hand, I’ve seen con organizers actually turn booths over to other dealers who were there rather than let the space be blank. A great Indie comics creator I know was at a big con and, when one organization didn’t show, they let him use their booth. However, the next day, when they DID get there, they had to move the first guy to another location.
WHEN MAKING MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT
I’ve often said that there’s a balance between making an income at a con versus going far beyond that. This recent con is a case in which things worked out.
On the other hand, the creator felt he had to rush in really early to make sure he was set up the third morning. He wasn’t sure he’d have a booth that day!
Originally, he had contacted security, and they did help resolve things, but I can’t imagine paying a goodly amount of money and arranging for travel to a convention only to find your space inhabited by someone else.
I can’t figure out how they got in to the con with all that stuff and just sat down at a booth no one was at. When you enter, you have to identify yourself and tell them your booth number! Somebody dropped the ball this time, I feel.
As I mentioned previously, based on fan and dealer reaction, I’m not at all sure there will be another Megacon Tampa Bay next year. Time will tell. However, if you want to find out more about Megacon Tampa Bay, you can go to their website at this link! We’ll probably find out something pretty soon!