So I took a drive over to FALLCON on Saturday. As Minnesota's (and the upper midwest's) biggest comic book convention of the year, it's always worth checking out. Obviously, it's nowhere near as big or well organized as the major national conventions, but sometimes that's a good thing.
However, this year I just wasn't feeling it. A big factor was probably the unseasonably HOT weather of 85º, with far more humidity than we would normally get this time of year. As you'd predict, with all of those fanboys (and girls) in close quarters, it got smelly fast. By the way, to those of you with the horrific, wince-inducing body odor? There's this new invention called "deodorant" that you might want to consider. A daily shower wouldn't hurt, either.
Also, I think there were more small press and vanity comic creators there than there were attendees. Nothing against small press comics per se, but you know what guys? If you want people to look at (or buy) your stuff, you should probably do more than just sit there with your hands at your side with two or three of your comics on a table. I'm not talking shouting through a megaphone or hiring scantily clad bimbos to sit at your table with you, but come on. If you show a molecule of enthusiasm about your stuff, I just might too.
None of the panels really interested me, so I spent most of my hour and a half at FallCon tracking down and buying back issues (before the heat and B.O. got the best of me). While searching for the issues I needed (at the best prices), I was astounded at how miserable the shopping experience was at so many dealer tables. So much so, that I thought I'd put together a little list of tips on how comic book dealers can increase their convention sales.
1. Try to leave more than one millimeter of space between the comics in your long boxes. Wedging in more comics than the box can hold may save you space, but the comics are nearly impossible to look at without (possibly) damaging the books and exhausting my patience. Ideally, your customers should be able to see the issue numbers, the title logos, and a bit of the cover art to allow for quick scanning. Why the cover art and not simply the issue number? You'd be surprised how many comics I buy on the strength of an attractive cover. If I have no hope of seeing the cover art, I won't bother looking through your over-packed boxes.
2. Most dealers are pretty good about putting their stock in order alphabetically and by publisher, but a depressing number of them still show up with a mishmash of books in no particular order, leaving it up to the hapless customer to sort through the entire mess to luck onto something they might be looking for. If you can't take the time to organize your stock, I won't take the time to look at it.
3. If you're going to display your stock two or more tables deep from the main aisle (creating sort of a "mini-store" experience), please... PLEASE make the aisles large enough to fit the Big Boys. Some of the Con attendees are tipping the scale at three to four hundred pounds, and they're not going to maneuver well in your little lab rat labyrinth, thereby blocking the rest of us from escaping your booth.
4. Can you guys who bring the shabby, disheveled comics separated with bent cardboard or particle board dividers just not bother showing up? Same for the guys who display the comics in dilapidated long boxes that look like they were exhumed from the Tomb of Horror. Do you really think I'm going to look through those piles of garbage? There's a place for you guys at it's called "eBay".
What drives me so crazy about the skeezy collections is that convention booths probably aren't cheap. More reasonable than the San Diego Comic Con, I'm sure, but probably not a pittance either. You'd think after paying the fee to display comics, a dealer would have the basic marketing sense (and common sense) to make his stock as appealing and easy to look through as possible. Years ago, sure....they could get away with a sloppy presentation, but now? Come on guys...you've gotta raise your game if you want anyone to look at your stuff, much less buy it.
5. I really like the guys who show up with competitive pricing. The "50% Off" tables are the only ones I bother visiting, since the prices make it worth my time to patiently review the stock. I understand that some 50% Off dealers may play games with their sticker prices (in fact, I can spot those guys immediately), but most of them are straight-shooters and I appreciate their willingness to price their comics to move. I say all that to transition to a type of dealer I don't much appreciate or understand. These are the dealers who show up at conventions with all of their books priced at absolute top dollar...at, or most likely, far beyond the Overstreet Price Guide. I realize a handful of Mr. Moneybag collectors pick up high grade comics with no concern for the cover price, but I venture the vast majority of attendees won't be paying $85 for a mid-1970's issue of Daredevil...especially when I can get the same issue at the same condition for $5 two tables over. The price gougers are usually the same guys I overhear moaning and groaning about how slow the sales are that day. Gee, pal...I wonder why? I mean, wow...who wouldn't want to pay 130% of guide for a comic book?
6. There's gotta be a better way to sell reduced price stock (a.k.a. "the Quarter Bins") than throwing it all under your table on the floor. It's a spectacle that's hard to describe, as bargain-starved fanboys on hands and knees dig through them like squealing pigs at a trough, completely oblivious to who sees their canyon-like butt cracks. My fellow Fanboys...have you no dignity? Is it really worth all that to get a full run of Team America or Atari Force?
So, to all of those FallCon dealers lugging boxes of unsold comics back to whatever hole they came from, try to keep some of my pointers in mind if you come back again next year. Put a little time and thought into improving the presentation of your stock. That way, maybe I'll give you some of my time...and, most important to you...my money.