Shopping at Dragon*Con: Art or Science?

One of the most exciting components of my annual pilgrimage to Dragon*Con is the opportunity to shop for items that I simply cannot find anywhere else. (Except online, of course, but I live in Canada, and don’t get me started on shipping, customs, and the exchange rate!)

Finding magnificent loot requires some careful planning, though, so heed the following important guidelines:

1)      SHOP EARLY. I cannot stress this enough. I visited a shop early Saturday morning this year, and her selection was decimated from the previous day’s customers. If you want to maximize color and size selection, shop on Friday, or early Saturday.

2)      Visit the Dealers Room, and the Exhibitors Hall. Each one has a little of everything, from comics to board games, jewelry to costumes, leather to T-shirts, and artwork to collectibles. The quality of corsets, in particular, from some vendors is unmatched.

3)      The Art Show is a remarkable place to shop. The artists are juried, and the selection is wondrously fantastical. Some items require bidding, so judge your timing accordingly, especially if you want to return and make a last minute bid to score your heart’s desire.

4)      Be careful with your cash. Many of the vendors will take credit cards, but some only take cash. If you’re on a budget, make sure to do a first pass and ask about payment options. You don’t want to find yourself short on bus money, or the cash to get that one special autograph from the celebrity you flew hundreds of miles to meet.

5)      Think about how you will be transporting your new goodies. If you’re flying, remember some items cannot be taken through security in your carry-on, so you’ll need to have room in your luggage. Get tips from the vendors on how to pack items carefully so they won’t be damaged during transport. (Feathers can be particularly delicate and unforgiving.) Take the time to pack your suitcase the night before you return home, since if you can’t get it closed, you might need to leave time for a trip to the shipping store before your flight.

Don’t forget to have fun! The vendors are all typically as enthusiastic about being at the convention as you are. Have a conversation, get to know them, and you’ll be more likely to look for them next year. No other shopping experience can match the bling of Dragon*Con.

Author of the article

When Suzanne Church isn't chasing characters through other realms, she's hanging with her two children. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, On Spec, and Cicada and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her collection Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is due out in spring 2014 from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. She is a three time finalist and 2012 winner of the Prix Aurora Award in the Short Fiction category.