This past weekend I attended Pax Unplugged in Philadelphia, as a vendor for BRW Games. I ended up not playing any games, which is normal for me when I’m a vendor. By the end of the day I am so wiped out that I just want to grab a beer and relax.
Pax U itself is massive. Easily the largest convention I’ve ever vended at, with an estimated 20,000 participants or so. It’s admittedly not my niche; it’s mostly board gamers, and those RPGers in the crowd are very heavily weighted towards 5th edition, for which I only have two real products (Castle of the Mad Archmage and the Random Encounter and Terrain Generator). That’s not to say there weren’t any old school players (or former AD&D players), but they were definitely not the majority. Still, my books with their orange spines and nostalgia-laden look and feel were definitely attention-getters.
The convention was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, which is absolutely MASSIVE. Just going from the entrance to the dealer’s area was a tiring walk. And that’s after walking a few blocks from my hotel to the center. I did a LOT of walking this weekend, and it wasn’t all pleasant. There were hundreds of other vendors, most of whom I had never heard of before, but a few familiar names such as Kobold Press, Chaosium, and Goodman Games were there as well.
Setting up my booth. Fortunately I was able to drive my van right to the spot, which made things a LOT easier:
Philadelphia itself was nice. There was a Christmas market right outside my hotel, which I visited for a bit. They had music, rides, and a visit from Santa. I also managed to hit McGillin’s, one of the oldest bars in the country. It was like being in college again, with loud music and a crowd of 20-somethings.
On the whole it wasn’t a terrible experience, and I did make a profit. However, I found that I can make just as much or more at conventions that are much smaller but more focused to my audience, which was illuminating. Part of that is due to the much higher expenses of attending a larger show like this, combined with an audience that isn’t my core.
I might go back as a player some day, but this is probably a one-and-done as far as vending goes.