Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Con Essentials... and some other stuff to bring, too.

With APE (Alternative Press Expo) coming up this weekend, and me going, I thought it would be appropriate, and convenient, to do a little bit about convention prep and con essentials. Of course, I'm always looking for better ways, and good tips-- but this is what I do now, and what's been working for me.

Most of what you'll see is the result of trial and error and learning on the go.  We've definitely done some cons where we show up and go, "oh that's what we need" and we do a Target run that night.  Also, much credit to my wife, who actually walks around taking pictures of other set ups for ideas.

Anyhow, let's get started with the most important item in your convention arsenal.... the notepad!

No joke!  This can be used for any number of things like keeping inventory, tracking sales, collecting email addresses, and so on.  But here I'm utilizing it for the most important use of all:  writing down what I still need. So far, just a bungie cord.  Am I giving this simple tool too much credit?  Well, when you're trying to cart all of your crap into the con without strapping it down, you might think differently.  Though, I'm sure you could  do some networking while folks help you pick up all your stuff... repeatedly.  If you need something, write it down!

Speaking of which:

Carts!  Folding carts are definitely a con essential.  You can pile a ton of stuff on these babies, and when you get to your table they fold up and tuck away really nicely.  I've seen folks use larger non folding carts, dollies, etc... but for the volume I'm carrying, two of these (or one if I'm alone, I suppose) gets the trick done in one trip, and I don't have to go back to the car to put the dang thing away.

So you've gotten all your comics, prints, t-shirts, art supplies, snacks (DON'T FORGET YOUR SNACKS), and other do-dads in...  How are you going to get folks to buy all that stuff (minus the snacks, unless you get a good offer, in which case I say "go for it!")?

Signage and displays!  For signage, I try to be as adaptable as possible.  You'll notice the wipe board and my hand made price cards.  I like to be adaptable because, when you're selling stuff, you might want to try different "deals" and often times on Sundays (the last day) I like to do "blow outs" aka "last ditch efforts to move product."  You may feel differently about that sort of thing, but at this point in my career, I'm more about exposure than $$$, but that's really another topic for another time.

Another note on signage, I like to have the wipe board with a pricing overview, but I also like to put prices right next to the product because, no matter how obvious your big sign is, people will still miss it.  I use those business card holders and put cards in them with the price and a brief pitch.  Hand in hand with all of that are some various cutting devices (scissors always come in handy), and tons of pens: a few colors for the wipe board, and a crapload of sharpies.  Also, that silver sharpie for autographs (can't forget that).

As for displays, at this point, I'm keeping it simple.  For the tabletop, I have some items to prop up comics so that they're not just all laying flat.  Some of those items work better than others, but those plate holders are awesome for holding up comics without occupying too much space.  Plus they bend (adaptable).

For behind the table I have a hanger rack (boxed up in the photo) which is quite versatile.  I can hang signage, t-shirts, print... whatever .  Its a tad short, so I prop it up on my bins (gets the bins out of the way) and voila.  This was a midnight purchase when we realized that we needed catch peoples eyes at.. well.. eye level.  It can make for big displays, but is compact when broken down.

These are the things that I think are must have con essentials.  What kind of merch, art supplies, etc. that you bring is more of a personal thing.  I know for myself, I go overkill with the art supplies and bring 800 sketch books, pads, reams of paper, pens, pencils, water colors, markers... and then draw five sketch cards cause I'm too busy hawking comics. Ha!

APE is this weekend.  I'll be there with my pal Ben Ferrari at table 507 as Earthbound Comics!  If you're around, drop by.  I'll snap a photo of our set up (my first without my wife around to help) so you can see how all this comes together. 

1 comment:

  1. After I posted this, I discovered a great article on a related subject... tips for those looking to have their portfolio reviewed at a con. Check it out over at Optimum Wound:

    Tips For Con Season and Having Your Portfolio Reviewed