Aug 092023

Ok, I’m heading the farthest east I’ve traveled with TANSTAAFL Press. But, along the way, I’m stopping at Bruce Graw’s house for a visit and to pick up some things I had shipped there (I was short of some books and business cards).

I did dinner with his sister, we went and saw a couple of movies (Indiana Jones, and Spiderman), and I attended D&D with him.

I also managed some prosaic things like laundry, a minor trailer repair, and catching up on sleep! Nice visit but I had to make it march to get to Confluence in Pittsburg. Besides, Bruce comes to GenCon with me and helps me man the booth there. We will chat more there.

Welcome to Confluence in Pittsburg! This lovely convention had many surprises in store for me.

 First, let’s start with accommodations. I was able to boondock in the parking hotel lot, but at a cost. No, not a monetary cost, but a physical one. To be out of the way, the only spots available were not even sort of level. Where I ended up, I had a list of approximately 10 degrees from the driver’s side down to the passenger’s side and a slight head’s down angle, but nothing like the side-to-side problem.

Now, nominally a slight angle isn’t an issue but this was severe enough to cause problems. I had to sleep on my bed diagonally (and not sleep well). It also didn’t allow for cooking. And my spare hours really only had one position that was even halfway comfortable… leaning up against the wall in my dinette area. That doesn’t even talk about doing bathroom issues and other things.

Not the most comfortable of my stays on this trip.

The next surprise was the convention itself. I’m usually a good judge of how large a show is just from the website and talking with the convention committee. I had this down as a 1-2K attendee show. <BUZZ> Thanks for playing. More on this later. 

Day one was very disappointing with light traffic, minimal interactions by the people, and even fewer sales. Day two was turning better but still light. I wondered where all the people were. Until I heard a couple of the convention committee chatting near my booth that the total gate count was about 280 souls. Ack!

I’ll be honest, if I’d known that there were so few people, I may not have attended. And I would have missed out on what turned into a pretty decent show all, in all.

While for us, sales aren’t everything, they are a metric of how well the business is doing overall. There is a general tenant that for any show, a vendor should get 3-5x the cost of the show in sales to make it worthwhile. This show hit 6x even though we were only 2/3rds the nominal target sales we have for any show. So from a purely business perspective, the show turned out well.

From an engagement perspective, I had some problems. My normal patter (or flirting for those who remember my class Flirting for Fun and Profit) just wasn’t working as well as most every other convention. My rough guess is that it is an East Coast vs West Coast thing. I’m not at all saying that the EC folks were standoffish, only that I didn’t know the keys to properly engage. It did get better as the weekend went on, but I still felt there was a strain there that I don’t feel elsewhere. Maybe next time, I’ll get it right.

 August 9, 2023  Uncategorized

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