Ah.... here it is. Comic Con San Diego. 100,000 attendees. Sold out months in advance. This is what it looks like on the outside...
A convention on this scale is beyond anything you can imagine... both as an attendee and as a small exhibitor.
Here's a look at how a small business vendor gets to comic con and sets up a booth.
The routine I'll picture and describe here is the procedure for the core comic con vendors... the "little guys" who aren't part of the corporate pavillions. The huge displays from the large companies are fun and impressive... but they also have a mind-blowing budget and manpower to handle all the freight. The little guys don't.
Please remember this when you ask any small vendor for a discount on merchandise they have brought to a show. The sweat equity investment on inventory is a factor in the pricing... and it's also what the dealer is knocking off to help you out. They can't take back the money they spent to get the item... they can only cut the "profit" which is their compensation for their time and effort. A discount is like a gift... it's fun to get and it's fun to give... but sometimes it's just not possible to get every gift you want, or to give every gift you'd like to.
If Stuart Ng Books is only staffed by four people... who are the other folks wearing Stuart Ng Books exhibitor badges at the convention ? We are a small company, but it takes a lot of manpower to build and man 5 booths at comic con. We couldn't manage to bring you our booth without all the help of our team of friends and colleagues. This is the crew that helps us bring you the books you can't find anywhere else.
Once the truck arrives.... we must unload all the boxes and fixtures onto pallets. We do the unload ourselves....The pallets are shrink-wrapped and carried by forklift drivers to our booth inside the convention center. Here's a shot of forklifts moving booth fixtures...
Two more members of our volunteer crew.... John and Dave... hauling the heavy grids.
The convention provides tables for our booth. We bring and build all the shelves and grids. Here are Brandon and Long, two friends who volunteer to help us with this part of the con. They are engineers... and comic/popular arts fans.
Here's a view looking towards the end of our booth with our boxes on pallets.
Once the truck arrives.... we must unload all the boxes and fixtures onto pallets. The pallets are shrink-wrapped and carried by forklift drivers to our booth inside the convention center. Here's a shot of forklifts moving booth fixtures...
All the hard work you see here... it's isn't done just by us. This is the effort and time it takes any vendor to exhibit at this show.