Denver Comic Con grows, as do table fees, vexing retailers

dcc Denver Comic Con grows, as do table fees, vexing retailers

This weekend’s Denver Comic Con experienced the kind of exponential growth that one expects these days: up to a reported 84,000 people from 63,000 last year. However with growth comes expenses, and some dealers were not thrilled about the rise in table costs. According to one who wrote to The Beat:

I’m a dealer at the Denver Comic-Con and I was very surprised to learn that costs of the dealer spaces has gone from $400 in 2013 to $575 this year.  Besides that it seem as if the dealer are now expected to play for there own loading expenses which I guessing would run at least another couple hundred dollars or more. 

 
I’m not naive enough to think that there wouldn’t be a rise in prices this year, but a frankly doubling the booths seems a very, very excessive.  And I won’t be able to participate next year.  

The Denver Post story quoted above includes what is, to my eyes, a SHOCKING amount of covering of behind the scenes stuff like drayage costs.  Apparently the con sent out a letter saying drayage would be charged next year, adding $65 to $95 per 100 lbs. And this did not go over well, causing the con to send out fliers on Sunday saying no there would be no extra costs.

It’s a real breakthrough moment for con culture when a reporter accurately discerns that shipping fees are a bigger story than Adam West, even if it isn’t quite a pow, bam whap  So kudos to the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul.

Wired’s Joel Warner also had a piece on “Con Wars” that goes in depth on some of the issues in today’s very competitive field. (warning: The Beat is quoted.) Including Wizard’s very consistent aggressive scheduling:

Wizard World’s Macaluso, however, denies that’s the case. “It has never been my strategy,” he says. “We try to put a show in city that does not conflict with other events. We are simply at the mercy of the schedules of the event centers.” But in practice, such conflicts have repeatedly arisen. Last year, for example, Wizard World Portland debuted just a month before the longtime Emerald City Comicon in nearby Seattle. And last month, Wizard World held its first convention in Minneapolis two weeks before SpringCon, which has been held in the city for 26 years.

I heard a lot more over the weekend about this kind of thing, enough for its own post.

Anyway, clearly Denver has staked its claim as a big show with big growing pains. And dealers must increasingly be mindful of the rewards of a show vs the costs. With rising table costs, dealers will have to be very judicious in choosing what shows to go to—and buzz on what shows are good and which aren’t will continue to be key to making those decisions. In other words, it’s going to get even more competitive.

Photo via Denver Comic Con’s FB page.

 

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    Is there a scorecard for table/booth rates for various shows?

    Also, in 2013, DCC used only Hall F, and half of the meeting rooms.
    This year, they used all of the meeting rooms, and Halls A, D, E, F.

    …Holee… did you read the first comment from the former PR director of ECCC?! Yikes.

  2. Steve Replogle says:

    As a Denver resident, I can address the biggest problem from LAST year’s Denver Comic Con. Slow lines were a huge complaint during the 2013 con, and this year was a big improvement in that regard. Admissions went smoothly, lines moved quickly. As noted by Torsten, above, the con used more space this year, and I thought the layout was very comfortable. There were wide aisles and lots of space to move around in. (Dramatic pause) I should note that I went on Friday, though, and of course a lot more people went on Saturday. I’d like to hear a report on how that was. Another impression: there were a lot more people in costume this year than last year. Not as many overly-sexualized costumes as last year, I think, although still some here and there.

  3. Chuck Rozanski says:

    I was directly involved with the staff at Denver Comic-Con in discussions about how paying drayage costs would disproportionately harm their comics retailers. Our entire booth weighs 30,000 lbs, for example, so our costs would have been immense. At the same time, media retailers selling lighter items, such as posters, t-shirts, and toys, would have paid very little, if anything. Once the convention staff understood this inequity had been accidentally created, they immediately reversed themselves, and replaced drayage with increased fees for all booths. I commend them for their understanding of the needs of their comics retailers. Higher costs are never pleasant, but at least the Denver Comic-Con staff made sure that the burden was shared equally by all who benefit from their remarkable growth.

  4. Craig Duster says:

    Thank you for your article Heidi! I think one of the things that I found a little frustrating about the show this year is the types of dealers that were in some of the booths. There was, literally, somebody selling honey, and while the Media guests seem to bring people to the show, it doesn’t seem to bring customers to the dealers. I must have answered a dozen questions this weekend that started “I don’t really know much about comics, what do you recomend…” which is great and I love to answer, but again, isn’t necessarily good for business.

  5. Houser says:

    They need to do something about their programming too. You didn’t get the info in the program book, it came with some kind of paper they were handing out later, and it was all over the place. Couldn’t find anything, and couldn’t find out which pros were on which panels. The schedule was a complete mess. You had to cross check three sources to find out what was going on.

  6. Mikael says:

    I read complaints about the panel schedule as well – from a few creators on twitter. Many felt they were overbooked – doing more panels than they agreed to do and that most only found out when they arrived at their table.

  7. Billy Dunleavy says:

    After reading previous articles, comments, and perspectives, I’d never attend this con. Just the poor choices made by “management” alone, are enough to keep me away, let alone the revelations of the people that they employ. It seems as if the comic book convention industry has really been engulfed by the pop culture industry, and are really turning away from the core fans in lieu of dollars. No shock there really. I’ll attend Baltimore CC, and Boston CC this year because I’ll be traveling in those cities, but I’m most likely done with ‘big’ conventions for now.

  8. Craig Duster, I’d say bringing in new customers who want to buy your products is the kind of thing EVERY show should have, but I understand that you need to be equipped to deal with it.

    Torsten — link? Or summary?

  9. Torsten says:

    http://www.wired.com/2014/06/denver-comic-con-scene/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-strange-battle-for-control-over-denvers-comic-con-scene#comment-1434869545

    “I asked Jim if he was aware of all of this and he said yes but that it wasn’t a dealbreaker to have Mr. Sanford work the show. The criminal background of Mr. Sanford was not made known by Jim to the three other founders and co-owners of Emerald City Comicon. Ultimately, Jim relented but insisted Mr. Sanford stay on as Assistant Volunteer Director, which means he’d be having several minors working under him. After not being able to convince Jim that having Mr. Sanford working ECCC in the delicate capacity that he was putting him in charge of, I decided to walk away from ECCC.”

  10. Craig Duster says:

    You’re right Heidi! Bring new people in should be one of the goals of this type of convention. Unfortunately, it is beginning to feel like the ONLY goal. Instead of bringing in Billy Bob who played zombie number 4 on The Walking Dead, how about bringing in a couple more comic guest like Janet Lee from Return of the Dapper Men and giving them a little more promotion.

    I think part of the point is too, that this show shouldn’t be become Comic Con International East on the backs of the dealers. My sales went down and the cost of my booth went up, even with the relenting on the drayage fees, by almost 50%. If these funds are going towards bringing in more COMIC guest or COMIC related programming or the charity that is being supported, I’m all for it. If these funds are going towards having The Heroes of Cosplay film a very special episode at the show, I’m not very happy.

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