So You're Thinking About Hosting a Con...
How to Put on a Beauty and the Beast Convention
are the days when we could guarantee outside vendors that they’ll make
thousands of dollars each! We no longer even have individual fans
asking for sales tables. But if you’d like to try it, you may wish to
charge a small fee ($20 or so) to fans who wish to sell their own
merchandise at their own tables (which means they man their tables and
process payments for their own items, and don’t give 15% of their sales
to the charity). |
Usually these days we make do with an “Orphan Table” at which many fans’ items are sold. All merchandise at the Orphan Table generally is sold under one receipt, with items identified separately by seller so you can dole out the appropriate amount to item owners post-con.
If at all possible, position your dealers room within the larger meeting space. When the sales area is in another room, sales are not as high, as fans don’t want to miss the “action” in the main room and so don’t visit as often.
Well before the con, start asking fans to send you their items to sell. You decide in advance (and tell them so in advance) that you (the con) will take 10%, 15% or 20% from their sales for the con charity (usually it’s 15%) for selling their items.
They are responsible for price-labeling each individual item they send to you, and the label should include some identifier like their initials, to set their items apart from others’. Do not accept a price list and a box of otherwise unmarked items. Your salespeople will not have time to figure out whose item an unmarked one is, nor its price, when handed 5 or 6 items by a buyer while others wait in line. However, do ask for an inventory, and remind them that unsold items will be returned to them (and shipping deducted from their earnings) or they can choose to donate unsold goods to the next convention. You can offer to try to sell their goods post-con at an online after-con sale before returning their unsold goods to them, if you wish. Not all con chairs do this.
Larry Baca will hold down the dealers room if he’s in attendance. If not, you should have at least two people selling merchandise in the dealers room (spelling each other so no one has to be there too long), perhaps both there in the first hour or so it’s open (when you’ll get the bulk of your crowd). Ensure you have enough receipt books and pens as well as a change box with plenty of small bills for change (try to have about $150 in ones, fives, and tens, and a few dollars in coins). Assign someone to keep control of those receipt books and the change box. Never leave them in the dealers room unattended.
Try to open the dealers room when there are no or minimal schedule conflicts, as many fans want to rush to the table and see what’s for sale right away. You’ll get dribbles of fans after the initial rush. You may wish to limit the number of hours the Orphan Table is open (throw sheets over the goods when it’s closed). Use the Orphan Table to sell con-owned merchandise, as well. And remember, your sales team needs meal breaks, too, so don’t schedule the tables to be open when the convention is on a break.
With everything clearly labeled, it will take you little time to determine how much money is owed to which fans for items they sent to you to sell for them. But that accounting should wait until post-con, and you should advise sellers that you’ll send their funds/goods to them within two weeks post-con, to give you time to do your accounting once the con is over and you’ve slept for a few days!