Wizard World Columbus (Mid-Ohio Con) was one of my best shows last year. I had an absolute blast, I met a lot of great people, and sold quite a few pieces. However, it was also the most expensive show of the year for me.
Even so, my brothers-in-con, the fine gentlemen from Yuri, and I determined before we were even packed up that Sunday night after the show that we were coming back next year. Heck, we even decided to bump up from two tables to a full booth!
That, however, was before Wizard World (Mid-Ohio Con) decided the best way to get out of bankruptcy is to shaft your customers.
Now granted, the information we received was from their sales/customer service department, which isn’t always the last bastion of fact for any company. However, the fact still remains, the prices for all tables and booths was increased 50% over last year. 50%!
The reasoning behind this according to their sales/customer service is simple. See, the parent company of Wizard World (Mid-Ohio Con) is in bankruptcy. And as every company knows, the best way to survive a bankruptcy is to can your staff and do the work yourselves. It can happen! Once the braintrust over at Wizard World determined that by golly, that’s a whole lot of work to do, they hired back some of the staff. But jeez, those guys don’t work for free, so they had to pay for their salaries somehow. Ergo, the prices for tables and booths at Wizard World Columbus (Mid-Ohio Con) were increased 50%. Makes perfect sense!
This means that the artist alley tables (which were smaller than advertised last year, by the way) go from $200 to $300 for a 2 day show. So your denizens of the artist alley, which typically are independent artists/writers trying to get a break, are paying $150 per day for their 6′ x less than the 1′ advertised space. The show is open 16 hours over the weekend, so your artist alley up-and-comer is paying $18.75 per hour for their table (I’m not even going to take into account the costume contest, which clears the floor for about an hour, let’s be fair here).
Not including parking ($20) for the weekend and food, to break even, every artist on the floor needs to sell $18.75 worth of product every hour the show is open. That’s to pay for the table, nothing else. Let’s say young Joe Artist is doing sketches while you wait, for a mere $10 each. If he can do a whole sketch every half hour for the 16 hours the show’s open, he’ll leave the show with $20 in his pocket. Oh wait, let’s go back for a minute to the beginning of the paragraph. He had to park downtown all weekend. There went his $20!
I’m not going to fault Wizard World for doing what they think they need to do to survive these troubled times. It’s a free market, and that’s the beauty of our system…they can charge whatever they want for their product.
Here’s another beautiful part of our free market system Wizard World, you have competition. And the $600 that you want for a booth for 16 hours isn’t going to you, it’s going to be spent on your competition (which gets me, as a customer, a whole hell of a lot more than 16 hours for what it’s worth).
In the end, you’ll probably sell out of tables, and there’ll be a line to get in Saturday morning, full of comic fans ready to hand you their hard earned money to see their heroes. I’ll be home that weekend though, getting ready for a different show in a different town that’s not run by you. You had a great product at a high price, but for this customer, you priced yourself so far above your competition you swallowed up what little return on investment I had at your shows.
I wish you luck and hope that you have a string of successful shows. I for one will not be attending, and I cannot, for the prices you charge, recommend you over your competition to anyone.