Behind the Counter
The Big 3by Marcus King
Behind the Counter
The Big 3by Marcus King
The Big 3
By Marcus King, TitanGames.com
Many retailers talk amongst themselves about what are the big 3. Nearly all agree that it is Games Workshop, Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast, and WizKids. Those three companies probably represent about 70% of the hobby-game market (excluding video games from that market, but counting all table top, role playing, collectible and card games).
When I talk about "The Big 3" I am talking about Origins, GenCon and DragonCon. We attended each this year. It was fun, and profitable.
Origins has "always" been my favorite. I make more money in sales from Origins than any other con. Till this year, Origins alone was my top 3 cons, ever, with GenCon being 4-6. Origins this year was exciting! A new high attendance level (14,000+) and I "advised" the auction, and got to hang out in Columbus all week without working my booth!! My crew did great, and my kids had a good time. Kattarina, my youngest daughter, volunteered and got one of the cool "Blue GAMA Shirts" for her work at the auction - something even I could not get!! We made money, visited with friends, and had fun. Origins is still my favorite Game convention!
Gencon in Indianapolis, Indiana, was GREAT this year, too!! Our GenCon this year was our best sales at any GenCon ever, and was our second best convention ever (second only to this years Origins!). The attendance was way up from last year - and Peter A and crew fixed EVERY problem we encountered from the previous year. I really appreciated that! Registration moved FAST (compared to the year before) and everyone was friendly! Helpful! Nice!
Now about Dragon Con. First, let me say that Dragon Con is NOT Origins, and not Gencon. See, it is bigger - more people, bigger city, very sprawling. There are two dealers rooms (though they call one the Exhibit Hall). One is a bit cheaper, one a bit more expensive, and a little nicer. We were in the Exhibit Hall, and it was great. More on that in a bit.
DragonCon is not a game con at all - it is a culture con, which means media stars, comic and other artists, vendors of every imaginable collectible and type crowd the two halls, and artists crowd the hallways with tables of stuff. This con ROCKS. I will NEVER miss DragonCon again. Never.
There is so much costuming that there was literally (I estimate) 5000 people in costumes from Sailor Moon, to SpiderMan, all the Avengers, women dressed up in Dominatrix garb leading men on leashes, and vice versa - as well as kids, gamers, collectors, sci-fi fans, authors, artists and autograph hounds. It was much more diverse than any con I have attended thus far.
We did well with our standard fare of games. The vendor to each side of us sold swords, and were as bush as we were. The artists were swamped, the celebrities were swamped, the T-Shirt vendors were swamped! It was a great con. Owned and ran by Pat and Sherry Henry, of Titan Games and Books (not affiliated in any way with my company, titangames.com) the show is clearly one of the best privately owned cons in the world.
Plus, there are a LOT of Waffle House restaurants in Atlanta, and I ate at every one of them (or, at least, we tried!).
My highlights of the show:
A. I bought another Kilt from the guys at Utilikilt.
Overall, Dragon Con is my new favorite con to attend. Origins will remain my favorite Game Con, but Dragon con edges it out in the cool factor.
But, that is the great thing about cons - one size does not fit all!! The "S&M" crowd of people who attended Dragon Con wouldn't really find things they liked at Origins, I feel. Many family oriented gamers wouldn't perhaps feel comfortable around all the skimpily clad women at DragonCon.
Me, I like all of the Big 3 Cons we attended this year.
Now, we are loading the truck tonight to go to the Charlotte County Fair's Flea market in Charlotte, Michigan. It is an experiment we are doing. The fair draws 75000 people. I have no idea if we will make $10,000 in sales, or $100 in sales - but the booth was cheap, the people friendly, the weather suitable, the facilities indoors, and - well, who doesn't love a fair? If nothing else, we will eat LOTS of corn dogs, elephant ears and taco burgers, and come home well entertained.
If you can make it to Charlotte, stop in and say howdy! Uh, I probably WON'T wear my kilt to the fair. See, it's safe!