On Business: The Changing Nature of Tabling

By | Monday, August 07, 2017 Leave a Comment
You may have heard in recent years (possibly from me) that people are more interested in experiences now than stuff. I've been suggesting for years that comic shops need to become a destination in and of themselves, and not just the place you buy new comics. I think that's part of what's driving the increase in the number of comics/pop culture conventions -- people go to them to get the experience of attending a convention, regardless of whether they're looking for rare back issues or cool t-shirts or whatever.

The down-side to this is that means they're, by and large, not necessarily interested in what individual creators have for sale in Artist's Alley. I've had this notion reinforced in hearing from tabling creators who don't do particularly well at large conventions. I'm not really hearing of folks losing their shirts, just that their profits are small enough that it makes more sense to just try to drum up an extra commission or two and stay home.

Which makes me wonder if creators should change their approach to tabling. Typically, creators hang out their table and try to make nice to convention attendees passing by, convincing them to stop long enough to look at (and hopefully buy) their work. Ideally, the creators would be engaging and make for a memorable experience with them -- making the individual's interaction with them, whether they buy anything or not, a unique experience, rather than just rattling off their elevator pitch. But that's only after they've managed to grab someone's attention in the first place.

So what I'm wondering is: do creators need to do something different, making their booth itself more engaging and experiential somehow. I've written about different ideas along these lines before, but I'm beginning to think doing something along these lines is going to soon become less a way to differentiate yourself from others in Artist's Alley, but simply a base necessity of tabling. Period.

It's 2017, folks! Don't start falling behind now or you'll never catch up!
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