What a revolting turn of events. Sometimes, I am simply stunned at how seemingly good ideas can backfire so badly. In this particular instance, the San Diego convention team decided to carefully limit attendance on Saturday at this year’s show, in order to avoid the dreadful overcrowding that occurred last year. Well, it worked. By unanimous vote of all the dealers with whom I spoke this afternoon, however, this is the worst Saturday in terms of sales (at least proportionate to the robust sales days of earlier in the convention) that any of them have ever experienced in San Diego. Saturday is supposed to be the best sales day of the San Diego convention, but instead, the Saturday of the 2007 show may well turn out to be the worst.
So what happened? Simply put, no fresh bodies. By limiting one-day Saturday ticket sales to such an extent that they sold out weeks ago, the convention staff completely precluded anyone from walking up this morning and buying a Saturday-only ticket. That means that everyone in the building has been here for at least a couple of days already, except for a few one-day attendees who purchased their Saturday tickets online before they sold out. The 57,000+ four-day ticketholders spent money like crazy on Wednesday evening, Thursday, and Friday, but by this late in the show they are quickly becoming tapped out. I suppose that all of us retailers should have realized that this was going to happen, but we just didn’t put it together. It wasn’t until we saw lots and and lots of people walking by our booths, but few people actually making purchases, that we understood the magnitude of the problem.
Another difficulty with today is that there are far fewer people in the building than yesterday. I’ve puzzled over this fact with several people, and we ultimately reached the consensus that many 4-day ticketholders remembered the terribly crowded Saturday of last year, and simply chose not to repeat that misery. Ironically, that has left the aisles quite open and comfortable. I took my annual 1 PM stroll down the center of the convention, and ran only into minor pockets of congestion around a few media booths that were giving away particularly nice freebies, and one booth that was holding a popular autograph signing. Other than those few interruptions, I was able to traverse all 53 rows of the convention totally unimpeded. Frankly, after the total chaos on Saturday afternoon of last year, that was actually rather disconcerting…
So what has this done to our sales? Well, I don’t know yet for sure, but I think we’re going to lose our entire profit. My original projections for today assumed that we would take in about 135% of Friday’s sales, but now I’m guessing that 65% will be closer to the mark. That will take us up to about $85,000.00 total for the show, with $100,000.00 need to break even. That means that if we work really hard on Sunday, we’ll end up with a net profit of just about nothing to show for the entire convention. Sigh… Anyone who might think that what we do is an easy way to make money needs to understand that it frequently occurs that we work as hard (and as smart) as we possibly can, only to have circumstances conspire to obviate our entire effort. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we have a late surge today (Saturday), and that Sunday ends up being strong. Were that to be the case, we could still pull out a small profit for the show. Suffice it to say, however, that today has been like a bucket of ice cold water thrown in our faces.
My only other news item for today is a report on the publicity party I attended last evening for the release of the 300 (movie) Director’s Cut DVD. The kind folks at Dark Horse were able to obtain a couple of tickets to this exclusive media event held in the Padres baseball stadium, and passed them along to me and my daughter, Rowan. The good news about this event was that the producers of the film went all-out to make the release of the DVD a big deal. They hired over a dozen actors to stand in complete Spartan costumes at the entrance to the exhibit/party, and had live dancing slave girls strategically placed around the dining area. The food was great, with a theme of authentic Spartan cuisine, and the tents and communal eating spaces were all set up like a Spartan camp. They also brought in a slew of the original costumes, including the wonderful dress that the queen wore, and several of the suits of armor worn by the Immortals, Persius’ personal guard. It was great fun to view all the material used in the film!
On the flip side, neither Rowan nor I recognized anyone there. There were a couple of folks from Dark Horse in attendance, but no one else from the comics world. Let’s see, we have a giant publicity party at the San Diego Comic-Con International, and no comics fans and/or pros are invited. Am I missing something? It seems like we’ve had these strangers muscle their way into our house, and now they’re having parties only for themselves, and not even bothering to invite us. There were plenty of 30 year-old movie wunderkinds at the party (with an exceptionally strong aura of entitlement…), and more than a few trophy blondes, but no one I recognized from the world of comics. After about 45 minutes, and three trips for me to get chocolate-covered strawberries, we left. Reading another chapter of the new Harry Potter seemed a far better alternative to hanging out in an environment where we clearly were outsiders, looking in…
That’s it for today. I need to leave our booth in about an hour for the room where we are hosting tonight’s gala Comic Book Legal Defense Fund benefit auction. I’m once again the auctioneer, and I am hopeful that we can raise even more than last year’s record $28,000.00. The odds are in our favor, as the auction list for this year is quite spectacular! In the meantime, if you might place an order on our website over the weekend by utilizing the 40% off SANDIEGO07 codeword, I would appreciate it very much. Sales are really picking up here during the last hour, but I still think that I really need a good weekend of online sales to keep things going at home.
President – Mile High Comics, Inc.