Show Some Love

Posted on Jul 2nd 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Blog Quest, Game Quest, Game Store, Video Games, Convention, Celebrities,

A couple years ago my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend our first ever Fan Convention in Calgary, Alberta. I was very excited and prior to the event, I had my wife watch through a plethora of nerdy movies so that she would be well-versed on many of the attending celebrity guests. I knew it was something I'd enjoy, but I wasn't sure my wife would find enough to keep her entertained for the entire three days. Much to my delight, she seemed to enjoy herself as much as I did. From checking out the amazing cosplay, to taking in the often hilarious speaking panels, to meeting strange new people while waiting in line for autographs, and even embarrassing herself while speaking with her childhood crush, Sean Patrick Flanery (she was a big fan of Young Indiana Jones), we both had one of the best weekends we have ever spent together.

Much to our delight, we learned that our own city was scheduled to host a fan convention, aptly named Northern FanCon! This time though we had the unique option of attending as a vendor as opposed to a typical guest.

Due to the size of our city and the fact that this would be our first convention like this up here, nobody knew quite what to expect. With that in mind, we played it cautiously. One of the two main organizers happened to be a semi-regular customer at the store, so he dropped off a vendor package with me early on. After seeing how much it would cost for a large area (I had BIG plans so I didn't want to be confined to a tiny spot), my wife and I decided to pass as a vendor and simply attend as normal ticket holders.

Much time passed and the event drew near. We had been a part of the board game group in town and offered to help them run a small tabletop area at the convention as volunteers for the weekend. I went down to the convention center with the other volunteers about a month before the show was to take place to see what kind of spot we had available so that we could plan out our space. The lead event organizer recognized me right away, most likely from the TV/Newspaper spots that ran during our bylaw troubles, as I didn't know him from the store. He made it very clear that they were interested in having my store involved in a bigger way than just having me there as a volunteer. He offered to come down to my store in a couple days to discuss it further.

I didn't want to over step my bounds with the board gamers though, since another person had stepped up to plan the tabletop area. I sat down with him and the other volunteers and it turns out they were very happy to hand over the reigns as all they wanted to do was share their love of games and were only stepping up to do the organizing as a necessity of that. So with their blessing, I had my meeting with both of the organizers. I told them our budget was tight and I wasn't sure I could afford to do what I wanted to do at the convention. They were very convincing and after I explained what I wanted to offer for the weekend, they offered to help us out. I signed the vendor package that morning before they left.

Since we started up so late, it was time to get to work immediately! What I envisioned was a respectable sized free play arcade, console video game tournaments, our vendor area, and a thriving tabletop scene. I still had the help of the board gamer group, so we started planning our tabletop area. I reached out to a few friends and people that we had worked with in the past on events for the store to see if they would be interested in helping out. A friend of mine had offered to help out with arcade upkeep/repair in the past, so I took him up on that offer and we spent about 12 hours straight cooped up in a storage locker testing and repairing arcade cabs. Since we had started so late, we felt crunched for time, but it still felt doable. Some things were falling into place and others were going to be tight.

Small sampling of the board game offerings we had for the event

The load in time was the day before the event. We had from 9-5 to load everything we needed into our area and set it up. Two weeks prior, I had scheduled some movers to help us out and they were to arrive at my store at 9 a.m. We had used them in the past and were happy with the results each time, so I was confident the day would go smoothly as I arrived early to dismantle some of the arcades to make them easier to move. As soon as I pulled up to the store, I got a call that the movers couldn't make it at all, 30 minutes before they were set to arrive! I immediately started making phone calls and every mover in town seemed to be booked and nobody could do it on such short notice. We'll just have to do it ourselves then! My wife ran down to the truck rental place and I stayed on the phone, but this time, I called friends that I knew weren't working at the time. We started 2 hours later, but with the help of a couple good buddies and my wife, we finally started loading up our first truck and hauling things down to the convention center. We took two loads of just arcade stuff and by the time we got them dropped off, it was getting dangerously close to 5 p.m. when load in time ended. A few more friends and some of the board game volunteers caught wind of our situation, and appeared out of the blue to lend support. One of the other vendors, and frequent customer, had finished setting up his area and offered to help. One of the security staff at the center was acting very suspicious walking around my TMNT arcade machine. I went over to talk to him and didn't even realize it was the guy I bought it off of several years ago! He was so thrilled to see it again and happy to see it was getting put to good use that he offered to help us out as well. He said that his shift didn't end until 9 p.m. and that we were welcome to stay until then as well. He also helped us pull light bulbs out from the 20 foot high ceiling to reduce the glare on the machines!

With the help of our new crew, we made our 3rd and final load with the truck and got all the of arcade machines set up and tested, the tabletop area organized, the vendor area roughly arranged, and all the machines capable set to free play. It was a hectic day, but things were looking good!

We realized far too late that we forgot to get T-Shirts made up for us to wear/identify ourselves in our area. My wife ran around two days prior to the event and was asking everyone in town if they could have them done in time, she kept getting the same answer "there is no way we could have them done before this weekend, its too little time". Almost defeated, she checked with one last little shop hidden away in the light industrial area just outside of the downtown core that was just a few blocks from our store. When she mentioned that the shirts were for Game Quest, the shop keeper instantly perked up and stated that he was a big fan of what we were doing and wanted to help out. He figured if we went with a simple black and white design, he could get the shirts done for us to pick up on the morning of the event well before it started. When I went to pick them up that day, it turned out that he was a regular who comes down on his lunch breaks to throw a few bucks into our Sega GT arcade cab. He even has a friendly rivalry going on with a friend of mine who often helps out at the store. What luck!

Part of our workforce hard at work Smiley

It's still incredible to see how people keep rallying behind what we are doing. What could have easily been a disaster of a weekend for us, was transformed into something inspiring by both friends and strangers (just friends you haven't met yet, right?) that stepped up to help us out.

With a late night behind us, we went home to get a little rest so that we were prepared for the exciting weekend to come!

(To be continued..........)

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That's so funny that you gave your wife a Nerd101 course before going to a con.  That Tabletop selection is fantastic.  Only played Terra Mystica once but I loved it and want to play more (Birthday in December).

The arcade looks great too.  TMG had a (slightly underwhelming) arcade a few years ago but I didn't see any arcade games this year.  Though I am told they were hidden in a private lounge.  All this con talk is really getting me excited to have some of the RFGen guys take over my house for a few days.
Very cool Crabby! That game repair marathon must have been epic.
If Game Quest wouldn't have had the presence that it did, I would have felt like I wasted time and money at FanCon. They really made it worth going.
@Bil - We did a 12 hour movie marathon to prep ourselves for the show. It was a really fun day full of Starship Troopers, Terminator 2, Boondock Saints, Serenity and Star Wars. Terra Mystica is one of my favs, We have a staff picks section at the store and it is currently occupying my spot for board games.

I really do enjoy this very well worded and in length blogs you do.  I really seems like a awesome commuity up there in Canada.  Hopfully one day I can make a trip up there.  I am drawing a blank at the moment where exactly you are located but are you anywhere near Michigan?  Once again great job on everything you are doing
@Tadpole13 - Thanks for the kind words! Unfortunately I'm pretty far from the US up here. We are in BC which is the western most province and we are about a 12-14 hour drive north of the border. Fleach is quite a bit closer to your side of the country.

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