Surat, Gujarat
6 hours ago

Geek Craft Expo 2024 Minneapolis

Posted by Alesia Gitter on

I want to start off by saying when I registered for this event having only done regular craft fairs, I had like.. zero expectations. Actually, looking back, I paid for this event in December. Looks like I registered December 3rd, 2023. Even as of me writing this, it's still my most expensive event I have paid for thus far and that's shocking because Momocon's table price comes pretty close.

Either way, I applied. I got in. Exciting stuff! Then I waited forever.

Two things I'd like to note right now. First, the communication from the organizers of this event and the extent at which they will go to advertise has been impressive. They emailed us about using our images for advertising, talked about setting up bingo and even got a TV spot for the event! I don't know that I can be any more impressed at this point. Second, they didn't give us our spot information until April 7th. Not sure if that's normal but I'm noticing a difference between events that expect you to be local and ones that are thinking you're going to be traveling a distance.

I have friends who have done or attended the Seattle one so I did have some expectations later on that it would be better than some of my more local craft fair events.

The TV Spot
In March, they emailed us letting us know that they were trying to get a few of us on TV and were wanting to know who would be interested. I figured no one selling fanart heavily would go on air for obvious reasons. So going into this, I was like sure I should go ahead and volunteer for the spot even though I didn't expect to be picked at all. I was actually really excited! Shane Wells used to foster corgis so she really liked the breed and it made it all the more exciting for me to be in a segment with her.

Eventually I got nosey and was like who is even going to be on the news with me and looked. It was at that point I realized the same booth from CoHi that I had both reported to the event and called out indirectly on Facebook for selling bootleg pins was also going to be there. I was later told they got them on Faire by a different event coordinator who I had expressed my concerns to which made us all realize a whole new different issue, but that's for another day.

Anyways, I saw on their socials they were out of town so I was like okay someone else was likely to be on the news with me since they were clearly not even going to be in the country. I really wasn't sure I wanted to deal with them so I was kind of relieved.

I got to the news station way too early and they showed up and were talking to me. So to clarify, they are extremely nice. Unfortunately, their business model is directly in conflict with how I think art should be sourced so of course while I really didn't bring that up, I was really like shocked at how many events they did across the US. I'm not even sure if they know they have me blocked and frankly, it doesn't matter.

Don't just use random images you find online and slap them on things. That's not how this works. Even if you pay for downloads from Etsy or Creative Fabrica, etc, a lot of times people are just stealing art and reselling it. If they can't prove they made it at all or didn't just trace another artists work/ran it through AI, I wouldn't risk it. Doing fanart or using official art/trademarks is already risky enough without stealing from artists. This seems to mostly be an issue with vendors who make things using sublimation/DTF lately. Anyways, sorry for my random rant.

Shane Wells made it really easy to talk to her and was asking us questions prior to everything. We weren't recorded in front of a live audience. It was just our small group and the camera man. I was nervous the whole time and anxious to but it was still worth it.

I didn't watch the segment, I think I was getting coffee at the time - but my husband recorded it and sent me a pic - and my daughter took a few pictures too. I look like they found me rummaging through a dumpster so I'm not including the video even though I could.

Before the Event & Setup
As mentioned above, communication was great. They responded quickly to any emails, asked for information and spent months prior advertising and finding outlets for us to be advertised as well. 

So this is the first time I have ever done a three day event anywhere so I tried to make sure I had a lot of corgi plush assuming that is what I would be selling a lot of. Apparently I didn't predict this well. While I don't mention it later, my puffer fish did best at this event. Puffer fish and stickers. I swear every event is so wildly different I have no idea how to gauge crowds.

I had to restock Anxiety over the weekend as well as Snivel. I'm at a point in my inventory that I will be removing all my Panic Puffs off the internet soon or I won't have any left for in person events. I sold out of some of my pins I was already low stock on.

I got cash before the event, I brought my wagon thinking I would use it for load in and out and I made sure all my devices were at 100% before heading out each day. I saw in an email that wifi was $79.99 per day so I was a little concerned the wifi wouldn't be great. I was able to use my hotspot at least and not pay extra. I would have lost money at this event if I'd had to pay for this. A lot of people had $1 bills and $20 bills for this event, not much in between so if I do this again later, I need to remember to bring more small change.

So Friday arrives. I had only really prepared my Square terminal by this point. I had stuff still packed up from Boom Island the Sunday before and really just needed to restock some Panic Puffs. I got distracted and spoke to my mom for about an hour around the time I had intended on leaving. As a result, I left closer to 3pm than the intended 1-2pm. Probably didn't matter in the end because my booth is so dreadfully simple and empty it takes me about 30 minutes to set up. My daughter was busy with friends for the evening so I was soloing this event.

As is very typical of me, I got lost. I literally had my phone GPS on and somehow still got lost. I tried to restart the maps and then somehow I had no connection so I pulled over. I realized after 3 minutes I was in a no parking zone and just left. Pulled into a random parking lot and did what I do best - bitch. I swear my rule of thumb is bitch and then the problem resolves itself. My GPS finally updated, took me to the Minneapolis Convention Center where 12th street loading dock was located. 

So as you know by now, I have no convention experience, and those of you who do will be like "lol you're ridiculous" but they had me park and then BROUGHT MY STUFF INSIDE FOR ME. Like hello? That was wonderful and I loved it. The walk from my car to the table was quite close. I was little confused at first thinking so I.. don't need my wagon? And here I thought I was so clever remembering to bring it. I didn't have anyone helping me and it really made everything so easy. Basically you park, unload, drop off your stuff and then head back to your car to park. I took a picture from the skyway of the loading dock so you can see where we were able to park and go inside.

Parking was frustrating (this is a general downtown city frustration) but I ended up parking in the skywalk ramp garage once I figured out where it was. I'm literally amazing at driving in circles in downtown Minneapolis. I actually parked here as well when we attended Anime Detour 2024, but I did way fewer laps trying to figure out parking for this event.

I got two online orders while I was heading to the event/setting up which hyped me up quite a bit for this. Since they were in Minnesota, I assume they had everything to do with the TV spot. 

So one thing that is really neat is they have a VIP shopping time where people can shop early from 6pm-9pm. We had gotten an email awhile back and I had thought I wasn't going to participate in the bingo but decided last minute to donate stuff. At the time I was thinking that I really shouldn't have since I really need to make sales to pay down some plush production costs still, but it's okay. I hope whoever got the pin and plush love them. When I submitted my products, I got two stamps.

The crowd wasn't crazy but the shoppers for the Friday night were so fun. I honestly think time flew! There is just something exhilarating when people are so excited to see your products.

Nerdy Inspirations backed my Backerkit (and Lizbie's) and was selling down the way from me! I know she wanted to meet Lizbie too but she's in a different state and sadly wasn't at this event. Kurokitsune from discord also stopped by! She had actually posted the event I am attending the weekend after this at The Forge in Chaska. I'll explain that event next blog but it sounds crazy interesting!

I actually sold out entirely of some designs and I'm like oh... okay. I guess maybe that is the benefit there because those first buyers definitely got in the door and early access to things. Way more important for those artists who only have one of something because it's very unique.

Wifi was fine. I didn't really use it since I just like to rely on my hotspot to make sure I'm always okay. I had been worried I wouldn't have reception as well because of what happened with my GPS outside.

When I did have downtime and before/after the event, I got to hang out with the lovely Amanda and Wisparia!

So transactions today were mostly card, but I had enough cash transactions to make me happy I had bothered to pick up cash. I will note that this is an event you want smaller bills for. I was smart enough to bring two bottles of water, but I wish I had brought more. 

Overall, I think I did great for 3 hours! Didn't quite make my booth cost back at this point, but that's what Saturdays are for! Right? Right.

Total Sales: $189
Transaction Fees: $4.35
Taxes: $15.65

My dogs are jerks and woke us up to some vomiting so I was kinda in a daze most of the morning. I grabbed some more Panic Puffs to restock, some pins I had run out of and an extra thing of hand sanitizer for customers to use.

I love parking at the ramp that connects to the skyway. I've decided this is where I will always park. It's just really nice.

A ton of people came to visit me and I had fully intended on this being a longer writeup, but it's now the Monday after this long weekend. I only managed bits and pieces.

In a way today was a day of gossip and drama. The art community is pretty small and many artists know each other. So while I couldn't leave my table, others could and we were talking about the designs. The Geek Boutique, who was on TV with me, obviously has many different styles of tumblers. Maybe they will change how they source their material in the future, but as of this point, they had stolen designs from artists. I have no idea how they found them or why they decided it was okay to use them but people were reverse image searching to find the artists and asking them if they had given this company permission to sell their work on Tumblers. I believe someone said one artist who had not given permission ended up coming up with some sort of licensing agreement and got paid, so that's a happy ending in a way?

Some others, however, had been dealing with them previously. I am not really sure if I should name any specific artists or not, so I won't. Either way, one artist contacted the event coordinator and all they did was make them remove the ones that were being complained about. Obviously they will just sell them elsewhere in the end, which really isn't solving anything.

I completely forgot to eat (and bring snacks), but Amanda brought me a poptart. She's my hero.

Oh and I realized I had my own stamp about halfway through the day.

I spent much of the day taking notes, trying to sketch and talking to everyone who came by. 

Cash was king today! Got a tip! Met really cool people again!

Honestly I was so busy all day this day just kinda flew. I was so tired driving home. My husband made dinner so it was a fantastic end to my day!

Total Sales: $413.25 (including tips: $2.25)
Transaction Fees: $7.37
Taxes: $34.03

I brought my daughter on Sunday. Ended up running a little late. Not her fault as she was ready and my dogs were taking forever to use the bathroom and delayed us leaving. We didn't arrive late, thankfully, but we were cutting it close with 5 minutes to spare. 

The day was very slow the entire time. I finally got to walk around and look for things. There was a corgi shirt I wanted from Aaron's Art Room, but by Sunday they were all gone!

I got a few pictures of the hall around 3pm when I was able to walk around some. It was actually very nice. It felt busy enough that it was a steady busy for the whole weekend up until this point I'd say. Most people seemed to be trying to fill their cards and buying less, but that was okay.

I made 6 sales between 10am and noon, with one final sale around 4pm from another vendor. Got to chat with Ummheather, Enrique Draws, and Sticker Dumpling. If you don't know them, check them out!

Total Sales: $181
Transaction Fees: $4.17
Taxes: $14.99

What Worked & What Did Not
The location was great and there were things happening downtown all weekend so the foot traffic was pretty steady, especially on Saturday.

Load in and out was so easy. It was nice having someone wheel stuff to the table. I brought my wagon and didn't even need it! One of my favorite things so far tbh.

Table price was just really high. If it was $100 less, it would be way more worth it especially given my sales. I know some people did worse or didn't make table back while others did amazing so this will be a personal thing and I'm kind of in the lower range myself.

People online were asking a lot who the vendors were and while they did advertise, there wasn't a list of vendors easily available on the website or on the Facebook page so I do think that could be improved. I know they were advertising but sometimes a list is helpful too even without links. Not sure if I will suggest it or not but I know I shared that information when I had it.

Aside from I (and others) being disappointed about The Geek Boutique not being asked to leave, I think everything else about this event was awesome.

My favorite thing was the Bingo. I know I grouched about the idea of giving someone free stuff when it was already such an expensive event but in the end, I loved it. It brought people to my booth. It made them look closely at my items and sometimes they even bought something or took a card! Also finding a stamp I made and never used from like.. 2021 was a big highlight for me and everyone really liked the stamp! Maybe I should have sold some.

Will I do this event again? As of right now, I would like to do it again just for the crowd. I know others did significantly better than me and that is fantastic. My items aren't the norm for a geeky market. Frankly, I had a blast but I do wish the table was about $100 cheaper. For an event that isn't a convention but exclusively for shopping, the price felt really high to me.

The Details (TLDR)

Event: GeekCraft Expo Minneapolis
Dates: April 19-21, 2024
Location: Hall A Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hours: Friday 6pm-9pm CST || Saturday 10am-5pm CST || Sunday 10am-4pm CST
Total Vendors: 83-84 
Attendance: 2,000
Travelworthy: Worth the trip if you live near the Minneapolis convention center. I wouldn't travel more than 30 minutes for this. Not a good event for anyone coming from out of state.
Booth Cost: $386.17
Total Sales: $783.25
Transaction Fees: $15.89
Taxes: $64.67
Total Profit: $316.52


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