Behind the Counter
Con-Manby Marcus King
Behind the Counter
Con-Manby Marcus King
The 2004 convention season is well under way, and we have attended several conventions this year, with over 20 left to go. So far this year, we have attended Coast Con in Biloxi, Mississippi, Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, Milwaukee Gamefest (uh, in Milwaukee, WI) and several others like Foundation Game Con in Lansing, Michigan, Motor City ComiCon in Novi, Michigan, ICON in New York, - and a few more.
Just getting back from Milwaukee Gamefest, I have to report that we had a tremendously good time. You know, for me "games" is my livelihood, so I have to pay rent, buy groceries and such from my business. But, I am still a Gamer - and Milwaukee Gamefest is a FUN con to attend. Not Origins or GenCon, certainly, but on my list maybe #3 or #4 for the year as far as my "funometer" goes. Lots of board gaming, lots of Role Playing Games, and tons of card game stuff. Mayfair games was there (man, they are EVERYWHERE) doing demo's and running events. Gary Gygax was there playing D&D and other fantasy games all weekend right across from my booth, and I really admire Gary!! Yup, Gamefest was a blast and a half!
As a game vendor at conventions, I don't "always" have that much fun, so it is a welcome respite from "the grind" so to speak. But, with ORIGINS being my favorite con, and GameFest two weeks later, I am getting spoiled.
Sales for us are way up at cons this year - which is very welcome. Perhaps the economy is recovering, or perhaps we are just improving our game selection, or booth presentation - which we are trying to figure out. However, I had several other vendors this weekend tell us their sales were up, too. Happy times!
Convention vending is fun for me, as I like to drive, I like to travel, and I really don't enjoy retailing all that much (retailing being too static for me). I like meeting guys like Stephen from Troll Lord Games, and Zev from Z-Man games. I like buying stuff from other vendors, buying collections from gamers, and working out deals.
I don't like loading the truck, much, but I do bring extra help for that chore....
We have some news to share on our business website this month, too. TitanGames.com has had a complete overhaul. We have a new search engine, new webhosting site we are using, and are adding features every week. We are stocking a wider selection of NEW games, and are listing more used games, too. And, our new system is easier to browse, search and order from. It has a new look, too, created by FanPro Commando Chuck Wilson, who works for us quite a bit on the web development side of things. Chuck knows Lotus Notes pretty well, and is doing a first rate job of changing us over to a new look, feel, and faster service.
Both of my daughters are now packing our parcels. Tonya handles all the heavy, delicate, fragile and odd stuff, since she has packed over 50,000 parcels for us, and over 10,000 for another online game seller she works at part time. Katie does all the simple jobs, like Books and Boxed sets, and has now done over 5000 parcels herself.
My wife is still working pretty much nonstop on ConTemporal Magazine, which is an industry magazine devoted to "conventions".
ConTemporal is a subscription based, printed magazine, which Ð each month Ð lists hundreds of upcoming conventions around the world. Aimed at convention vendors, celebrities and others who make their living at attending conventions, it also appeals to people who are volunteers at conventions, and those who attend conventions as their main hobby.
We are looking forward this weekend to: MichiCon in Warren Michigan, ran by the guys from Foundation Game Conventions, Evan Steiner and Tim Hunt (not responsible for misspelling, guys). MichiCon has been around for about 30 years or so, and has been up and down. I have been to a MichiCon that was 2500 people, and last year it was about 200 (maybe) and was an awful experience. But, Tim and Evan have taken over, and if they build it we will come - they run a GREAT convention twice a year in East Lansing, called Foundation - and I am confident they can rebuild MichiCon. Their running it is the only reason we are going back.
Last year the crowd (those gamers who attended) were GREAT. Nice bunch of gamers, and I like them all. But, one of the organizers was extremely difficult to deal with, and we would not have gone back if he was involved again. Luckily, Foundation is running it, and we are heading back again.
I hope my old MichiCon buddy, Bob Fix, will be there. He has always been the BEST person to deal with at MichiCon, and he has always been very helpful, polite, friendly, upbeat and accommodating. Bob is a gem, but I know he is busy ( a lawyer or engineer or something). A couple years ago I gave Bob's son a box of Mage Knight, and I think they still play that. :)
MichiCon is in the Italian Cultural Center in Warren, Michigan. It is a smaller venue, but could handle over 1000 people (and I expect 500-700 to be there). I like the ICC because it is a nice building, with plenty of parking, and it is always clean, and the people there (the staff of the center) are very friendly, and glad to see us gamers. Some convention attendee's like to go to game cons in hotels, but I like the ICC because (as a vendor) the loading area is CLOSE to my booth, and it is easy in and out!!!
Well, hope to see you guys and gals on the convention circuit. Thanks for reading my column, and game well.