I'll be honest, I was a little apprehensive about this year's BUCK. I've been quite vocal in my opinions about their choice of venue, ticket prices and attitude towards the convention's rising costs, and I was worried the whole thing would bellyflop. As a vendor, I was worried the hugely inflated ticket prices would harm sales, that people would either have no money to spend at the con, or outright wouldn't be able to afford the con at all. I was grumbly the convention fell on Doctor Who weekend, and also the same weekend as Insomnia, a big ol' LAN I wanted to attend too. In short, I was quite worried and grumpy about the whole thing.
Gotta say, hand on heart, I take it all back. BUCK was, from my perspective, pretty danged awesome!
As a vendor, most of my convention happened behind the table, so I didn't get to party, play games or attend panels, but the people I encountered were lovely, passionate and fun. The staff were extremely helpful, offering to carry my stuff, offering to help me set up, and asking during day if everything was okay. The vendor tables were set up in a little island, actually cordoned off between tables so the public couldn't get in easily. We had tonnes of room behind the table, something most conventions do not offer!, and I was seated directly behind two Ponycon friends of mine, so it felt like we had our own little Ponycon island!
The situation at BUCK is unlike any other con I've sold at. We weren't in a separate dealers room - in fact, our room was the thoroughfare between the outside and the evening parties, which meant we had to make the decision to close up shop and have our stuff unmanned all evening, or buckle down and vend through the night. It's a situation that could have made a lot of people very angry, I was fully prepared to go up in arms about it, but as the con drew on, the idea became more and more appealing. We got to sit around, experience the party atmosphere (I'm not one for dancing anyway!), hang out with other people, and make a few bucks (hur) here and there doing it. It shouldn't have been okay, and it shouldn't have worked, but there was something about the atmosphere at BUCK that made it really fun to vend through the evening. It was hard work, though! Friday was a 'half' day, starting at 6pm and sticking around until 12:30am, but Saturday marked the only 14 hour vending day I've ever experienced! Don't get me wrong, a lot of (sensible) vendors left and had dinner, but I was soaking up the atmosphere. It helped that my table was directly opposite the party. We had a lot of traffic to and fro, and I got to experience the music (for better and worse!)
A lovely thing happened, too, which goes to show how friendly and generous the people at the convention really were. On the Saturday night, things got a little silly. Sales were slow (everyone was in the party), so I decided to have a bit of fun. One pony I'd been asked for was Lyra, so I decided to draw out some awful, intentionally terrible Lyra sketches, and shoved them on my table as a joke for 20p each. I figured slightly tipsy party goers might get a kick out of the idea. Sure enough, my buddy Archer called a group over and they snapped 'em up. Someone even gave me a whole £1 for the piece! I was chuffed.
What was absolutely lovely though, was when one of the pieces was returned to me on Sunday. A guy came up to me, and said, very seriously, that he'd like to complain. He explained that last night I was selling 'bad art' on my table, and I was fully expecting him to ask for his money back or something. He went on to say that he realised it wasn't bad at all, and that I'd been falsely advertising my work. He then said he'd like to return it on that bases, and he handed me back the picture....
...Signed by every VIP and guest at the convention.
Guys! Choked up doesn't even cover it! He just walked away with a smug grin on his face while I was sat there staring down at this piece of paper he'd taken around to all the guests to sign for me. The gesture was just so danged lovely, and honestly I think this moment of silliness made the whole weekend for me! It was really just the sweetest thing. Gah! I love conventions.
Honestly, BUCK 2014 was one of my most favourite conventions to deal at! It was well handled, profitable and fun, which are pretty much the three most important things a vendor can ask for in a con! There are a few things that could be worked on, the venue was ridiculously large (the party room was running at 30% capacity, I heard) and the prices need to be tweaked to be more realistic for BUCK's demographic - £80 is just too steep when other conventions in the UK run at £50 or so. I've heard there were a few hiccups with the cosplay side, which thankfully the lovely cosplay guest Yami took time out of her own plans to fix. The average attendee wouldn't even know anything went wrong, which goes to show how well she patched things up.
There isn't going to be a BUCK in 2015. I don't know if another Brony-centric convention will take over, but I really hope so. There were a lot of people at this con, so it'd be a real shame if nothing happens next year. In future, I wish BUCK would take note of other conventions in the UK, who run on a far smaller budget, at size suitable venues. I know the committee doesn't want to sacrifice their vision of the convention in any way, but when that resolve comes at the detriment to the fandom in the UK, I find that a real shame. I hope something can be worked out in the long run, because this BUCK was honestly one of the best conventions I've sold at, and I'd be one of many people very upset if this really was its swan song.
(Sorry this report doesn't really cover any of the events at the convention! I was (thankfully!) too busy to leave the table for much beyond the occasional chocolate break!)
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.