After vending at our first convention at Holiday Matsuri in December and having a wonderful time along with some financial success, we anxiously awaited OmniExpo. According to their website they were “your spring destination in Orlando, Florida for Sci-Fi, Comics, Anime, Fantasy, Gaming and Pop Culture.”
This is our second event and we planned to expand our product lines and improve our layout. We wanted to build more connections with other vendors and the convention attendees. In some ways we accomplished exactly what we wanted to happen. Just as with HolMat we weren’t completely prepared and wasn’t able to bring as much as we originally intended, but we were ready when those doors opened.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to cosplay this time around as every bit of spare time and energy went into product creation, but our cosplans expanded and with plenty of time left until the next show, it will happen!
We were aware that this convention was small, but so was HolMat, so we were still very optimistic. As we went into the vendor’s room, the first thing we same was an adorable Jurassic Park set up complete with a large Jurassic Park entrance door, faux flaming torches, electrified gates and dinosaurs of course. The Jurassic Park theme even played in the background. Across from that set was Lilith – the impala from supernatural – complete with demon fighting gear in the trunk. To the back wall, the DeLorean with butterfly doors, blue LED lights and the license plate OttaTime!
Along the walls near one of the entrances were the tables were the special guests were set to take autographs and pictures with fans. This area didn’t see very much traffic all weekend, but that could be said about most parts of the convention. It wasn’t as if the guest list wasn’t good enough, there simply weren’t enough people in attendance; therefore, not enough fans.
A separate room across the hall contained the Artist Alley which was small, but had great variety of handmade goods from local artists. There was also a Butler and Maid café open all day for patrons to sit and enjoy being served cute imported snack by a costumed waitstaff. It was kept unfortunately very dark and never became busy.
There were no glossy printed magazine booklets for this convention. Instead a single black and white sheet of paper with a statement in the corner saying they’ve gone green! After we finished our mean childlike snickering about how they’ve gone cheap, in all honesty we loved the idea, but not the execution. The paper held the schedule and it really must have taken a genius to cram that much information on a single sheet of paper, but the print was so small, 20/20 vision was a requirement. The OmniExpo website also held the schedule, but the website wasn’t entirely mobile friendly and the events were separated by room and not dates, which would have been much easier to look at while fumbling around on your phone. If you didn’t have a smartphone though, a very thin easily misplaced paper would have been your only friend.
There were also a lot of handwritten signs to indicate what each room was. There were not very many standing signs. No signs about Omni at the front of the hotel either. If you just happened to walk into the convention, you might have had to ask someone in order to know the name of the event. I think the Going Green concept was taken a little too far.
I must admit that I spent most of my time in the vendor’s room completely disenchanted by the event. My partner who frequently broke away from the booth in search of cosplayers, came back with a silly story or two, but for the most part mildly disappointed.
There were many beautifully dressed cosplayers with handmade costumes. This year’s theme was Renaissance and we were able to see some amazing costumes that went above and beyond, including a woman who created a gold and purple bejeweled outfit that won best in show.
Still, there was way too much room in the hallways.
VIP tickets were limited to 96 for this event, yet only 19 sold. The first hour of each day, the vendor room was open to only VIPs. Yes 19 VIPs.
“There are not enough people,” or “It’s really slow,” were common statement among the vendors and by the end of it, most vendors agreed; they wouldn’t come back if Omni was around next year.
So what happened!
Could it have been that CONjure, a very similar anime/comic con, was the very same weekend? There are plenty of rumors and speculations about why Omni seemed to fail. Or maybe it didn’t I’m jumping the gun with that statement, but from my perspective, it wasn’t a great place for vendors.
My final statement: Paying $11 a day for parking is ridiculous!
Written By: Suta Neko