Surat, Gujarat
6 hours ago

Range Fan Con 2024

Posted by Alesia Gitter on

So I am starting my pre-writeup about this event the same week it's happening just because I can. We got our maps today to see where we will be in the event center which was really nice. Brittany isn't on the map but we're table sharing since they give us TWO - yes you read that correctly - TWO TABLES at this event.

Obviously it's Monday, the load in is Friday - meaning if you're attending this con with plans for a stamp rally, I hope you live close and can get your cards printed quickly. This is still a small growing event and the staff has answered my 2,000 questions I have asked lol. I don't know that the event even has any stamp rallies yet, but in the future when it grows, that'll be an important thing to consider. I don't have experience with stamp rallies anyways, so I have no advice here!

I will also have to mention I thought Cambridge was like an hour and a half to Virginia, MN. The plan was to stay at Brittany's and uh yeah it's like a 3 hour drive. I have no idea where I got the idea it was closer but if you are coming from the cities, get a hotel. No really, get one. I got a room in Duluth for Saturday to Sunday but I definitely planned this out poorly.

They have load in on Friday evening 6pm-10pm that I couldn't even consider due to my poor planning. I am thankful I was able to even find a hotel anywhere near the event at all. I also love Duluth so I am just really excited to stay by the water. If you haven't been to Duluth, MN - it's beautiful.

Anyways, I went with the Hampton Inn & Suites Duluth North/Mall Area. Sometimes I wonder if I should also be doing hotel reviews for events. The cost for the 2 queen bed room studio was $431.22 + $62.01 tax so the total was $493.23. This is just for Saturday night to Sunday morning. We will have to pack our crap and leave and this hotel is an hour away from the event itself. 

So before I really jump into all of this I want to note northern Minnesota had a ton of flooding and tornadoes throughout the whole month of June, and several cities were flooded at the time the event.

The staff also took some sort of neat technological walk-through video/photos so we were able to see around the convention before ever getting there. This is the second time I have seen something like this and honestly, I love it. It had that feel of taking a virtual tour of someone's house but it was the event center instead.

Before the Event & Setup
So the night before, Brittany picked me up and I stayed at her house so we could leave really early in the morning. We woke up around 5am and headed to Virginia, MN. Our concern was getting there in enough time and it was a pretty straight shot. We had kept tabs on the news and there weren't any road closures.

I didn't pick up cash because of course I didn't and we had to stop at Holiday before we got to the event center. There was luckily one really close which made it easy to hit right before we needed to go in and it was pretty quick to break a 20 into 5s. 

The event center seemed newer and it was very nice. There seemed to be quite a bit of parking as well. We parked on the side of the building we recognized from the walk-through as the hockey arena. Table was easy to find, although I think I read the map backwards since I was confused at first. The loading area had two different places for vehicles to back into for loading and unloading, which was nice. We were able to park about 3-4 vehicles by the two doors at any given time. We brought whatever was easy to carry in and then we were able to borrow a cart which was extremely nice. It made it so we only had to take two trips and then set up!

I can't remember the exact time, but the con head and several staff had come by to check on us while we were setting up and then again before the convention started.

We did struggle a little bit on how to handle two tables in an L shape, but we figured it out. Side by side tables would have been better, but we understand what they were going for.

They also showed us a room that was for staff, guests and vendors that had snacks, drinks and food. We brought some stuff to donate to the table (granola and la croix). I will say now and probably again later that this was one of my more favorite things this convention did.

The Event Itself
Normally I'd break this section into two days but I'm extremely tired after driving for about 4 hours total + the event hours and break down, so you're getting a pretty rough summary.

The event started off pretty slow on Saturday morning. Honestly, because the first hour at most events tend to be VIP hours I think at this point my general expectation has become "sales happen around lunch" - this was pretty accurate for me. I had a few sales around noon. I had several engaging conversations throughout the day and many people were just browsing up until about 4pm-6pm when I got several more sales. I believe many of those people had a one day pass or wanted to make sure they made their purchases before they headed home. 

I didn't use Wifi, but I did use my mobile hotspot without any disruption. Google Fi is my carrier if it matters. The WiFi was free and they had the password to connect displayed when you walked in for the event.

I will note that despite my phone having the event days and times, I kept forgetting the convention ended at 8pm. Once it closed, several of us went to dinner (Craft Quest, Amanda Nelson Design Co & Wolf Dynasty Studios) at a place called Boomtown in Eveleth, MN down the road. Since Amanda's husband was very familiar with the area, we went with that choice over Sawmill and it was a really good decision! It was great getting to chat and relax before the long drive to the hotel in Duluth. Also my food tasted way better than my photo looks. Apparently the poutine was a bit salty so if you order that, maybe keep that in mind if that's not your preference.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was nearly midnight so we were both exhausted. Showered and passed out. The room was huge though so that was great but we didn't get to enjoy the space haha. I guess at least we know if we ever do a convention in Duluth, MN what hotel is pretty good. 

Bathrooms were clean the entire two days which is something I just note because when you travel there are just always so many gross bathrooms in route sometimes. 

Sunday was unfortunately pretty dead with most of my sales coming from other vendors, but it was still quite enjoyable. I loved meeting new vendors, chatting with some vendors I already knew, running into staff from other conventions and meeting new people who loved our work. I did laugh since there were several times people would talk to me about Brittany's art and vice versa.

When the event wrapped up, the staff came by while we were packing up and offered to help us bring things to the loading area. I took this up when we were down to all of like 3 items and Brittany was playing Tetris with her vehicle to get everything back inside. Honestly, I would give staff a 10 out of 10. I don't know how everyone else felt about it, but I was thrilled one way or another with how things worked out.

If you're someone who needs this sort of event as a paycheck, I would almost suggest splitting a table and keep your expenses as low as possible if you plan to apply and attend. I was so happy Brittany split with me for this - she's one of the best table partners you could ever ask for. Realistically, I lost money on the event.

My actual costs were $533.98 not counting food or gas since I didn't split gas with Brittany, I covered the cost of the hotel which was fully my mistake for booking so late. Next time we attend we should have a cheaper closer room so gas and hotel can be split 50/50 so we can probably reduce overall costs. Hotel rooms are usually like $150-$170 a night so this was not my best decision. I ended at -$143.52 but I figured I'd cover any differences posting a sale on my site since I had new plush arriving in the next few days anyways.

What Worked & What Did Not
Communication was great. One thing I like from events is an open line of communication and this convention nailed it. The discord was very active, they answered questions clearly and concisely.

So we knew we were getting two tables but these tables were larger than what we'd normally expect from a convention. These were huge and I LOVED it. We had so much space. The space between vendors and behind vendors was just very well done. I do think the number of vendors was probably a little high for the size of the event but given the space and how varied the vendors actually were, it was perfect if that makes sense? No vendor was overlapping another, every vendor had really good offerings to the point where I know people wished they had more money to spend and kept mentioning it.

Electricity down the middle for everyone! Against the walls for vendors that weren't in the middle. There seems to be a big split of events that charge for electricity and others do not. Either way, they made sure we were set and it was great!

Their socials are on point. Throughout the entire event, they were constantly advertising and updating. Leading up to the event they were advertising vendors, activities and had their website with a walk through of the event location. For such a small event, you wouldn't expect much out of it but they really knew what they were doing. Also they have a discord where vendors had their own channels leading up to the event where we could advertise what we'd have with us.

Staff checked in on us and brought us water/snacks if needed which I only asked for a water one time. Honestly this reminded me so much of Granite City Bizarre Bazaar and it was one of the things I loved about their events. Either way, as vendors I felt extremely taken care of.

Cosplay handicap ramp was the first thing I noticed at load in. Rarely see this so that's a huge win for people who have accessibility issues.

Free parking. This is always a win. I am not sure if there was a very specific vendor parking spot but we opted to park outside the doors we knew led from the vendor area out the side doors either way. As this event grows, this may be something to note in emails if it wasn't already (I may have missed it).

The event location itself had a few things that created issues such as the lights were either extremely bright or they'd randomly dim. I actually didn't realize the lights were an issue until the first time they turned on full power. The room also had way too much of an echo to understand anything that was being said over the mic to inform us and others about what events were happening at what time. The staff was very good at making sure we knew what was going on, unfortunately it was extremely hard for me to understand.

There was a large display on the ceiling in the vendor area that would continuously rotate through the event schedule, who their guests were and just a general advertisement for the event before starting over again. I do think that this could have been updated on Sunday to at least remove the Saturday events, but otherwise this was really a fantastic feature. Great use of the technology available to them.

Food allergy problems could have been a thing. This has already been brought up to staff so they know, but Sunday morning they had burritos for people to eat. I didn't have any but many of the vendors did and they raved about how good they were. The problem was more that they were not labeled as to what they were or what ingredients may have been inside. For anyone reading this wondering why this is an issue, as you age you can grow in and out of allergies for one, but for people who are allergic and may have wanted to have something, well, they can't take the risk. There was a food truck outside and a concessions stand at the venue as well, so there were plenty of food options making this more of a nothing burger sort of complaint, but it's just something that could go horribly wrong in the future if someone eats something without thinking and ends up in the hospital from a reaction.

Northern Minnesota clearly has a need for conventions as many of the attendees said they drove from other parts of even more northern Minnesota to get there. So there is a want and need and I want to see this event grow into something great.

As long as I don't book a hotel last minute again and end up spending nearly $500 on a room for a single night, I will gladly attend this convention again. The vendor selection was stellar - like honestly even if I just wanted to attend to shop I know there was a LOT of stuff I really wanted. It's a new event so I want to believe it will continue to grow as well. 

The Details (TLDR)

Event: Range Fan Con 2024
Dates: June 29 & 30, 2024
Location: Iron Trail Motors Event Center, 919 6th St S, Virginia, MN 55792
Hours: Saturday 10am-8pm & Sunday 10am-5pm
Total Vendors: 42 
Attendance: ~200-250
Travelworthy: Worth the drive if you're within an hour. Not large enough for out of state artists yet unless your expenses are very low.
Booth Cost: $40.75 (Wolf Dynasty & I split a $78.75 table) 
Total Sales: $429.25 (this is before all costs are taken out)
Transaction Fees: $8.42 (Square) + $0.55 (Paypal)
Taxes: $29.82
Total Profit: $349.71


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