by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Today is the second part of my Star Wars Fan Days Convention posts. Day one was all about me setting up and the first day of the convention. This part of the story is going to be the bitch-fest and will probably the more interesting post of the series. Let’s begin shall we?
As Chris McGinty said: ‘Las Colians, you never find a wretched hive of scum and villany’.
At these conventions there are 2 types of ‘exhibitors’ or ‘sellers’: one is fan/hobby seller (which is me), and the other is the professional seller. Professional sellers drive all around the country and make a living at this sort of thing. The fan/hobby seller will hit only a few shows and is there to have fun, make some money, and generally enjoy themselves. Professional sellers suck. They are rude and they are only there to make cash. They don’t want to hear what you have to say about this sci-fi series or that comic book, they just want you to shut the fuck up and buy their shit.
Case in point: the guy who setup next to us bought four tables. He used to have a store somewhere in Arkansas and hadn’t been doing anything for the last few years. He decided to sell his stuff to make some cash and get back into selling. So this guy brings a u-haul full and brings a ‘friend’ who appears to me to be cheap labor because he doesn’t seem to be quite ‘all there’. Well he gets to the convention and the guys who were supposed to meet him (who live around here) flake out on him and his ‘cheap help’ starts having foot troubles and is of no use to him. He is stuck doing most of the work himself.
Early on I make friends with him and take a look at all his stuff (which is alot) and ask him about prices on some Star Wars figures (droids) that I am looking for. I get the first red flag here… he says they range in price and he would have to see it to be able to tell me. This tells me he is going to jack up prices as he wishes. The second and biggest red flag shows up when I let him know that I like to do trades and he should come look at my stuff he states: ‘like I tell people, I’m here to sell, not to add more to my stuff or loose money’. I spend the rest of the show smirking at how much he is working his ass off dealing with people and his crap. True, he probably made five thousand dollars but I can’t help believe he lost of profit and had a miserable time.
As I mentioned in my first post I spotted Hank browsing my stuff. Hank is a fan/hobby seller. He does hit a bunch of shows but he really enjoys what he does and has fun looking for stuff he like and like to trade too. Hank is a nice guy. I wish McGinty would stop stalking him (just kidding).
Also at these conventions are the perverts. These are the fans (or possibly not) who find every insecure woman who feels the need to dress up as a character and gets their picture. There were at least 3 Slave Leias at the con and man do those pervs stick out like a sore thumb. You can easily tell who they are when they take pictures of the women when they aren’t even facing in the right direction. Now I am not going to lie and say I don’t look too… I just don’t take photos and drool.
Next at the conventions are the cheap-asses. These are the ‘customers’ who are just as cheap as people who go to flea markets and attempt to spend less than a dollar. I had a few of these that I’d like to tell you about. The first is a guy who points out my newly bought Star Wars Vintage Y-Wing and asks if I will take $40 for it (I have it marked $50). I tell him sorry but I can’t. He shows his cheapness when he says: ‘I know how much these are in the store’. Well whoop-de-frickin’-do. Conventions are not shows put on to make items available to people who are too lazy to go to the store and buy it at a lower price. We are here to sell stuff people might like to have. I think this mentality stems from Walmart and their low price guarantee. Well, this ain’t Walmart. The next guy pulls the same crap with a Transformers toy that I had $30 on. He tries to talk me to $25… no biggie. I say that is the lowest I can go. He says: ‘I remember when these were at Walmart on clearance for $15, I should have bought one then’. Damn right. Just because you saw it somewhere and didn’t have the foresight to buy it then don’t take it out on me. It’s not my duty to buy stuff in advance for you so you can buy it years later. Perhaps this is how those professional sellers get their start. They get so damn sick of cheap-asses that they become jaded. Idk.
Also at the conventions are the coat-riders. These are the people who don’t have the skills or imagination enough to create something unique. They have to steal other’s ideas. This place was full of artist and fan-film makers who just ride on the coat tails of George Lucas. Let’s not even talk about people who are pirating movies or selling non-licensed stuff like shirts and such… I am talking about the roving masses of ‘pod-casts’ groups, and ‘look at me in my videos’ leeching off Lucas’ creation to try to get famous. McGinty and I had a discussion as to how far these people could push making money off Lucas until it became a legal issue. McGinty seems to think they can do quite a lot. I’d just love to see lawyers from LucasFilm show up and hand out cease and desist orders to all these guys.
Is that enough bitching? After each of these shows I feel less and less friendly to fandom. I see the benefits of staying at home and buying stuff online and never having to deal with all these people on the make. This feeling and my flat sales stopped me from reserving a space at the next show (in Feburary). McGinty’s brother might be setting up there with his comic book writing group so we might eventually get a table just because they will be there too. We will just have to see.