Are Merchandise Stalls at Conventions a Con?
Recently, I was chatting to a few friends about which conventions we had been to over the past few years and which we were looking forward to. As is usual the conversation then moved on to the stalls at cons.
We all unanimously agreed that they can be a massive rip off. One example cited by a person whom we shall refer to as “Mr. A” was at a con he attended in his home town. There is a geeky shop in that town which he frequents regularly. At the con, they had a stall so he went over to say hello and see if there were any goodies he could pick up. He was shocked to find that the T-Shirts they usually sold in store for £10.00 had been marked up to £40.00 for the event and people were buying them!
When Mr. A challenged the store owners, they simply replied that “It’s a captive market here. Supply and demand. We can pretty much charge anything and get away with it.”
Now, for reasons of balance, I should point out that there has also been a positive experience that Miss. H had at a convention. Miss H went along to one and found that a particular stall run by a gaming company were selling special edition limited quantity gear at mark down prices.
In my own experience, I tend to find that for the most part stall holders do indeed mark up their prices by quite a hefty chunk. Now, of course they would need to cover any costs incurred for the day, but when you see a t-shirt bumped up from £10.00 to £40.00 then that makes you wonder whether or not there is something of a con going on at cons.
Of course, no one forces you to buy anything. We all have willpower and personal budgets and we are all (for the most part) responsible grown ups. That said, I would, personally, like to see a bit more fairness in the pricing of goods available at conventions. We are fans, we are passionate and we will happily throw our money behind our favourite fandoms. But, that doesn’t mean we are mugs. We, just like the rest of the world, expect value for money and fairness.
By all means mark up prices. You need to make a profit and of course there will always be added expenses attending large events like conventions. But, don’t use a con to con us into buying overpriced merchandise.
Have you ever been ‘Conned at a con?’ We would love to hear from you! Get in touch with us and tell us your stories either here on this article, or on our Facebook page.
(Names and convention locations have been withheld for reasons of privacy and to avoid negative publicity towards individual conventions and stallholders)