Last weekend was Fan Expo.
It is the biggest event of the year for our little photo company. This year they increased it to 4 days. Geoff was able to attend all 4 days, and Dawn came up for 3.
We wanted to have new photos available for the show, since we have a very, very small number of fans, but they are loyal and are always looking for new stuff from us. And we didn't want to disappoint. We also had our t-shirts, which I was actually super excited about, because I thought they were awesome and would do very well.
We managed to get 2 photos shot in the week before the show- Reflection and Lynch. Thursday morning, as we were traveling up, we were picking up the shots. That's how tight the timeline was.
The good people organizing the event sent us a check in time. Unfortunately the 8-9am timeframe they assigned us, really didn't work. We had to drop Sebastian at therapy and take Sawyer and the dog to my mom's. Then we had to pack the van, get everything together, and drive into Toronto. So, needless to say, we didn't get there until 1 in the afternoon.
The show opened to VIPs at 2pm on Thursday, and to the general public at 4pm. When Geoff and I got there at 1pm, there was already a line up around the building and the regular parking garage was full. I had purchased parking passes, so that we didn't have to pay the crazy $20 daily rate, but I didn't have them yet. I had to register and get our passes, or we couldn't get through the door. This is the part that always causes me stress.
Geoff dropped me in the street and I managed to find my way to our passes. Geoff and I found parking in the north building and started the long, slow trip of hand-hauling all our stuff to our table. The elevators broke, so Geoff was taking the dolly on the escalators, which was good, clean fun. :(. They had one entrance to the show floor open, and of course, we are on the opposite side of the show from that entrance.
We were relatively lucky, we were able to load all of our stuff with only 2 trips. I did see Tom Savini on one of our trips (he was Sex Machine in "From Dusk til Dawn") and I stalker-jumped him a little. I touched his shoulder and said "Tom Savini, it's great to meet you!!" He kept walking. I didn't blame him.
When we finally got in, it was exactly 2 pm. We still had to set up the table and get everything out. Of course, I was sweating like a pig. I had straighted my hair and actually put on make up, but that was a write off. Geoff, when he took the dolly back, changed his shirt, so he didn't stink like sweat. I didn't have that option. So I was paranoid all day, and made Geoff sniff me constantly. He said I was good, but I don't know if I believed him.
We started seeing people we knew from previous shows, like Emily and Jason, and the couple from My Ghoul Friday. They are good people and it was nice to catch up. We met our neighbours, Jayson, Shannon and Chris, who were awesome and nice. We did some browsing and a little shopping for the kids and basically had an incredibly slow night.
Last year, we had taken names and email addresses for a quarterly newsletter. I finally sent the first installment about 3 days before this year's show. But it was cool that people read it and mentioned it to me at the show. We had some regulars stop by, but really didn't sell much. I think we sold 2 prints the first day.
When the show (finally!) ended, Geoff and I headed to Jack Astor's for dinner, and then back to the hotel for a well-deserved night's sleep.
Up early in the morning for Day 2. Dawn came up early and was there shortly after the 10am open.
There were a couple of people that I wanted an autograph from. The main one was Robert Englund aka Freddy Kruger. The day before, the line up had been pretty big for him, so Geoff, thinking ahead, had gotten me a line ticket. Once the number on my ticket was called, I was able to get in a relatively short line and get a chance to meet him. Dawn wanted an autograph from him as well, so she waited with me. Turns out, the book Dawn wanted him to sign sold out just before we got up there, so she was forced to get in line again the next day for it. Luckily the guys remembered her and were very gracious and nice.
My brother had wanted a bunch of autographs, but since some of the line ups were crazy, we were only able to get some. When I was waiting for Elvira for him, I decided I wanted one for myself. She was also very sweet and very nice, and she looks amazing! And yes, she was there as Elvira, not Cassandra. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
I also got to met Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original Star Trek. She is about 108 years old, but again, very sweet. Adam wanted her autograph, and he got it.
Geoff was super stoked about Lee Majors, and he got his autograph and got to meet him. It wasn't as big a deal at the Duke Boys, but pretty near. He also got Eliza Dushku and Michael Shanks for Adam. None of us were willing (or really worried about) waiting in line for William Shatner, or Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies).
On Saturday, Guillermo Del Toro made a surprise appearance, and it would have been cool to meet him. But I was busy working, so it didn't play out.
Anyway, Friday was a bit busier than Thursday for us, but still not great. At this point, we had sold a grand total of 7 prints. :( I had to break the news to Geoff and Dawn at dinner at the Loose Moose that night, that if sales didn't improve, this would be our last year of Fan Expo. Everyone understood, but no one was happy.
Saturday is usually the big day at the show. It's the day, over the past 2 years, that they actually had to shut the admissions to the show down, because it was over capacity. Last year was a cluster fuck, so we were all half dreading/half anticipating what would happen this year.
What happened was nothing. Yes it was busy, but they seemed better equipped to handle it. Everything flowed smoothly and I really didn't hear any complaints from any of the customers. Everyone seemed happy, which was great.
We were busier on Saturday. A couple of people we knew were there, and some bought from us, which is always appreciated. I always feel funny charging people I know for my stuff. I feel like I should be giving it to them for free. They don't seem to have the impression, I just feel it. But, if it weren't for my friends, I really wouldn't sell anything, so I guess I have to suck it up and keep charging. Sorry, guys. I appreciate your pity-buys. :)
Saturday night, we went out for drinks with Emily and Jason. We had talked about it last year, and finally made it happen. We ended up at the Lone Star. Dawn and I drank buckets of Corona. Emily was sleepy and a little quiet, but lovely and gracious. Her comments about the Anime kids taking her picture, because they think she is a chubby Katy Perry had me in stitches. Jason, her boyfriend is hilarious, and had me laughing so hard I cried. It was great to hang out with them, and I am glad we did.
Sunday, last day. We had picked up a bit of business on Saturday, but Sunday was the real proving ground. We had sold only 3 tshirts, which was so disappointing to me. I thought they were funny and interesting, and so did lots of others. But no one cracked out their wallets for them. Our new print, Reflection, actually sold pretty well, which was great. I had pulled some of our framed prints and they were selling as well. But it just wasn't what we wanted or needed.
Sunday was....ok. We had quite a few of the wanderers that had said "I'll be back" actually come back and buy. We made 2 new fans. One was a very quiet guy. Geoff was talking with him, and working the sale. When he picked one of our $5 prints, Geoff figured the sale was done. And then he picked another, and another and another. I think he ended up with 4 or 5 prints, at least one of them was new. Our other new fan is Dustin. He came back Saturday and Sunday and cleaned up! He bought quite a bit, and gave Dawn and I our first autograph opportunities. He actually had us sign Respect, which is a photograph of me, but he wanted Dawn too, since he has spent so much time with us. He actually mentioned how much he wanted to get Workshop as a tattoo (the image of Adam carrying Dawn, anyway) and that was totally exciting. He was a great guy to talk to, and we had fun with him. He is a paranormal investigator, and we have already emailed back and forth. :) Welcome to the fold, Dustin.
By the end of the weekend, we had made enough to cover the cost of the table and some more. Which is good, that has always been my measure. But, it wasn't what I was looking for.
I wanted to have a great weekend. I need the money and I wanted to make it. It just wasn't there.
Through a Cracked Lens is a labour of love. I don't make full time money at it, because I can't put in full time hours. I do my best to do good work, but it is getting discouraging. It is 3 years in, and we are no further ahead than we were when we started. The big breaks, the big opportunities seem to keep eluding me.
So, I think this might have been our last Fan Expo as a vendor. At least for a while. Maybe, if things change, we can revisit this. But, I don't know. It was fun while it lasted.
Rosie N. Grey
The N stand for "never say never."