The following is an open letter to the staff of BronyCon, which took place several weeks ago, supposedly from a group of anonymous vendors, who have a list of concerns that they feel have not been addressed. The contents of the letter have not been vetted or altered by the Horse News staff in any way.
This is a letter from the vendors of Bronycon that are too afraid to tell you this directly. This letter is from the vendors that know this con is too big a part of their livelihood to rock the boat by being honest. This letter is from the artists that are afraid of you.
You need to be aware of the issues that the decisions have made worse rather than better.
Bronycon is, without question, the biggest con currently in this fandom, and that is an amazing achievement. But, no great thing can exist without its share of difficulties, which is understandable.
The problem then, is not that there are said difficulties, but that those in charge are not recognizing them. The staff and management, have without a doubt, done an amazing thing by bringing this convention into existence - for which we thank you. However, that is, in part, why it is so disheartening to see the convention representatives fail to recognize or outright ignore the issues that are hurting everybody.
No one wants to hear about their issues or failings, but we are writing you in order, and in hopes that we all might help make Bronycon even better. That we might fix this for everyone’s sake.
As artists, creators, and salespersons that do what we can to make new and interesting work and products for this amazing fandom, the work we do is very intensive and all-consuming. Often times, the work done is in conjunction with day jobs many of us keep to support the passion of the work we do.
No matter what the labor, it is always been a labor of love.
So, when the price gets jacked up to the ridiculous degree it was for this year’s con, we artists despair.
Factor this in: while we may make a respectable profit for the time we are at con, one must also must factor in cost of travel, hotel, product creation, and potential manufacturing costs, on top of the cost of table. Many pieces have several months of personal time put in to prepare them. No artist thinks of con as solely the three days we are there, but the months upon months of work beforehand to prepare.
Turn these factors, deducting costs, into an hourly wage of what was made over those days and it is almost guaranteed no one who vends makes above minimum wage.
Therefore, the greater table price for most of us was a harsh blow in our expenses.
Bronycon’s solution? Shrinking the vendor hall after last year’s complaints of lack of sales. We understand the attempt to help, that vendors clamoring about lack of money is a concern, but shrinking the vendor hall was absolute madness.
Any vendor that had a hard time knows that the nature of the folks buying from them is very tricky. What sells well at one place will not sell well at another. So while we understand your attempt to help, shrinking the vendor hall and jacking up the price is the exact opposite of of what you needed to do.
Instead of creating a greater demand for what there was by limiting vendors and vendor types, you forced almost every single vendor to pull double or triple duty by hosting other veondors who didn’t make the cut, or bringing thier art and salling content that wasnt theirs.
Of course, any good artist knows there are ups and downs when it comes to vending, so the response to lackluster earnings last year should never have been shrink the hall and increase the price. It only caused greater complications to cut the cost of the table for vendors and made us struggle harder!
And this doesn’t even cover the shameful state the artist alley was in. Those in the artist alley lacked proper lighting, organization, poor tables and floors,no organization, all in a space shoved away from the majority of the hall. It felt less like a convention hall and more like a disaster shealter!
Many a vendor’s experience also included the setup, which was extremely mismanaged. None of the staff could seem to direct vendors to where they needed to go to get checked in. many of us were directed to the regular check-in, the registration hall itself, or simply told “Sorry, I don’t know.
When a staff member who is supposed to be knowledgeable and trained to know these basic facts shrugs and shoos you away, what is the point of having staff? We all understand If someone doesn’t know something, but not even trying to find out? Not knowing who to ask? Nothing? just a shrug and a blank stare? Why are they even on staff then?
That brings us to the teamsters.
No one AT ALL knew how to direct anyone to the loading dock. The directions were vague or non-existent. At some points, some of us were told, "Find the entrance, and just drive around underground for awhile. It is not hard.”
Most vendors just skipped it in frustration and dragged ALL of their gear down the stairs. The fact we were all FORCED to pay a huge amount more for a service most of us didn’t or couldn’t use due to lack of communication and direction, is a massive and completely rectifiable issue by simple means, such as having someone actually knowing the direction, signs on the street, or a handy guide or map rather than spending half an hour trying to find a place and then giving up all-together. In the case that directions were in the e-mail, clearly they were not clear enough for this many vendors to experience the same issue, and having additional or printed information for those that cannot access e-mail on their phones would be of use.
The big complaints, although not limited to these, by vendors are as follows;
table price spike
smaller vendor room and space
abominable artist alley conditions
lack of communication among staff
the unusable loading dock
confusing or lack of directions on several accounts
and the forced payments for electricity and loading dock most did not, or could not use.
Add to the above, the vendor and artist selection process. Almost all other conventions do not pick and choose like Bronycon appears to do. Which leaves vendors terrified to tell you what we really see as a problem. The ones put through the experience of going through the application, acceptance, information, registration, loading, set-up, three-day vendoring, tear-down, and load-out, because we know you can and will just drop whomever you see as a potential ‘problem vendor’ for doing nothing more than trying to improve a convention we work so hard toward and love so dearly.
The fact vendors have to feel this way, this fear and anxiety, and the fact that so many issues are omitted on the survey in order to try not to be blacklisted for next year is inexcusable.
All of us, every one who is on this letter lied their teeth off on your survey. That sucks.
Many of the vendors have also toured other conventions- not even specifically pony. Comic, anime, sci-fi, even furry conventions have always seen the con provide a con suite with at least basic food for both staff, guests, vendors and often attendees, and an area for those hard-working individuals to be able to catch a breather no matter the attendance size.
failing this, at least a con suite with food for staff, panelist, musicians and vendors is crucial.. A majority of other fan-classified cons have this service. Why must Bronycon the exception to save a few bucks off the budget on tickets costing some-odd 60 bucks for over 11k attendees and even more squeezed out of vendors? Most of the vendors, panelists, musicians, etc. ’s time is spent trying our best to provide the attendees with the best time and product possible. By days end we are starving, exhausted and a place to catch a breath, a bagel, coffee, water, or anything basic would be heavily appreciated.
As a side complaint, whoever the staffers were screaming over a bullhorn at the vendors to get out needs be re-evaluated heavily. It was extremely unprofessional. Vendors all put in a grueling day in the vendor hall, barely able to get away to take a bathroom break and grab a snack and water (in which a side area or con suite where vendors could do so would be awesome) all we wanted nothing more than to get back to our hotels, eat something and pass out. Staff screaming over a megaphone every 5 minutes to leave was doing so much more harm than good. How about, instead, notify vendors when they need to be out by, then kindly ask if they need any assistance, or state you will check on them again in 10 or 15, rather than scooting up and down the aisles screaming? All that achieves is further irritation, lack of focus and a slowed exit due to the distraction and annoyance and stress of someone on your tail when only 5 minutes have passed and you have another 30 to actually be out of the hall for close.
Bronycon is a great con. Everyone who goes gets to have the time of their lives. This is not in question.
But thinking that just because it works, it doesn’t have problems is foolish. The more you ignore a problem, the worse the problem becomes. Please, as you read this, put your ego in your back pocket. Consider what we are saying to you as advice, as critique, as warning, not as an attack. most of us really want to keep coming, but are afraid.
A majority of us really want to keep attending year after year, but are afraid, both in the potential treatment we may receive, or that the convention will eventually fold in on itself when these issues self-destruct.
We want to be there. We want to create. Doing so allows us to participate and give back to a fandom that we have come to love and hold dear. Please consider these words. Bronycon has so much potential to be as amazing as we all know it can be. You have the potential and the ability to do so, all we ask is you listen, consider, and help us make the convention as amazing as we know it can be. To make everyone’s experiences, staff and all those involved in the convention, so much better.
Please, help us.