GenCon 2009 Auction Report
We had another year where we hit a record number of items for the auction - 13,255 (11,776 was the previous record set last year). Even though the coupon in last year's book was good for this year for a free bidder card, NO ONE used a coupon! We had 857 participants this year (down from the record of 996 last year).
This page allows you to explore the items we sold, when we sold them, and for how much.
Here's some quick statistics :
|Number of Items in the Auction||13,255|
|Number of Items Sold||8,956|
|Value of Items Sold||$119,973.70|
|Number of Items Auctioned (non-Consignment Store)||4,691|
|Number of Items Sold from the Consignment Store||4,265|
|Amount Raised for Charity||$10,036|
GenCon 2009 After-action report:
Things were surprisingly well-organized this year. Last year, our computers and scanners didn't arrive until after noon on Wednesday, delaying check-in. This year our equipment showed up on Tuesday!!! We were only short some extension cords, power strips, paper, cardstock, tape, and rubberbands. When we tried to leave the auction room, we discovered that the locks on the doors were broken. It took about an hour and 3 helpful security people to chain the doors closed. They promise to be back by 8:00am the next day to unchain the doors.
Tuesday night a bunch of the auction volunteers ate at Fogo De Chao - an expensive Brazillian BBQ place. They keep bringing skewers of meat to you unless you flip over a card next to your plate to the red side. After everything (drinks, dessert) it was about a $90 meal per person! I'm glad GenCon only happens once/year...
Great...No security people in sight. We managed to get into the room and remove the chains. A "head" security guy shows up about 9:30 or so and fixes the locks. It turned out that something was misaligned in the lock.
As a result of the early equipment arrival, we actually opened up for seller check-in one hour early. There were actually brief periods on Wednesday when we had no one waiting in line/being checked in. Sellers that did not pre-register kept the four computers we supplied busy all day. Even when we tried to close down for the evening people wanted to stay and type. There were a few bugs discovered in my auction software, but nothing major - I rewrote it this year to use MySQL as the backend rather than MSAccess. I fixed most of the annoying bugs while check-in was in progress.
We started off with the traditional auction volunteer meeting at 9:00 (we don't officially open the room up for attendees until 10:00 on Thursday). There's so much product in the auction store we were wondering how we would fit it all in there! The store is opened up and auctioning begins simultaneously. We're underway! We finished up about 11:30 pm - I'm thinking I might actually get some sleep this year!
As soon as I entered the auction room I knew something was wrong. One of our (laptop) computers had been stolen. Why just one? Well at least it wasn't our server (actually impossible to steal that because it comes back to my hotel room each night).
We have a change for the schedule this year. All the collectables are being sold Friday night. "Semi-collectables" are interspersed in their appropriate time slot. I think this worked out great. Other "old-time" auction attendees grumbled a bit at the change in tradition. (For those who don't know, we used to sell collectables on Friday night, then semi-collectables on Saturday night. This didn't work out very well, it gave Frank too many opportunities to tell stories and we typically auctioned until 2:00am or later on both nights). Things were going so smoothly that I took some of the day off and *gasp* actually visited the dealer's hall.
In the early evening, I looked over to the check-in area...Another computer stolen. Wow. right during the auction with tons of people around. For sure we have to get computer locks for the laptops next year.
The collectables auction went a bit long - we finished up about 1:00am.
The first thing I noticed was the huge line of people waiting to get into the auction store. It extended all the way down to the food court. It was a little after 8:00am, and the auction store doesn't open until 9:00am. There are some great deals to be had - sellers often price their items lower on Saturday so they won't have to take them home.
A convention attendee lost their wallet in the auction room. After announcing over the loudspeaker (and offering to auction it to the highest bidder), I took it and hoped the guy would return. After several hours - nothing.... So I explored the wallet and found an insurance card. The only thing with a phone number on it...So I called his insurance company. They were helpful and connected me to the guy's wife who cheerfully gave out his cell phone number. After calling (and leaving a message - doesn't anyone actually answer their cell phone anymore?), I left the wallet with Katie and went to lunch. While I was away he stopped by and picked up his wallet. Katie said he was very happy to get it back - I know the feeling of just thinking I might have lost my wallet.
The charity auction started a little late - thanks to all the large volume of items in the auction this year. I was confident that once it started rolling we'd breeze through the 315 charity items that the dealers had donated. How long could it take? Well, the answer is a very, very long time. The auctioneers - especially Josh - were having a great time. It took them over 6 hours. That would've been almost OK...But fate had it in for us. About an hour into the charity auction the fire alarm went off. The entire convention center had to be evacuated - have you ever seen almost 20,000 gamers standing around on sidewalks waiting to get into a building? It was about a 40 minute wait, but we had to delay a bit longer to let people trickle back into the room.
I must say that the fire alarm was FUN!!! Once outside, Jost got a live reading of Dark Dungeons going. One person read the part of Marcie, another the dungeon mistress, and Josh read the remainder. It was fabulous...You don't want to know how so many people had copies of Dark Dungeons on them.
After the reading, Josh got everyone going with a game of "Red Rover". We were on the convention side, but a lot of people were on the other side of the road. We had several hundered gamers yelling "Red Rover, Red Rover send pirate guy over!", and other similar chants.
We didn't finish the charity auction until almost 2:30am. At least it was for a good cause.
A fairly smooth payout to sellers. As usual, there are a few exceptions. The guy who has a flight at 11:00 so has to get paid out right away so he can dash to the airport. We printed his paperwork and when we called his name he was no where to be found. He showed up about an hour later and we paid him then. The biggest issue we had was my partner didn't arrive with the checks until quite late (we couldn't pay everyone out in cash). If it hadn't of been for that snag, we probably wouldn't have had much of a waiting line at all. The volunteers worked brilliantly and the few issues were quickly resolved. For example there were two sellers missing a couple of items. I took their info and promised to call if the items were found, otherwise we'd probably have to reimburse them for the stuff. The items were eventually found in an unsorted stack, I called both the sellers, but got no answer from either - messages were left. As we were closing down they still hadn't come for their found items so I went to the UPS center and shipped them.
After we closed down, it was time for a quick dip in the hotel hot-tub!!! Ahhhh!
A tradition we have is to take the auction volunteers out to dinner after the convention (those that are still around Sunday evening, anyway). This year was no exception. We had about 22 of the volunteers meet at Buca di Beppo. We were all pretty hungry after 5 days of intense work - the waitresses were surprised at the amount of food we put down...including desserts!