Vancouver Halloween Parade & Expo – an experience

Last month I participated in the Vancouver Halloween Parade and Expo as a vendor. Being big in to Halloween, I was happy to learn Vancouver had such an event. I was even happier to be able to participate and sell at my first table. A gathering of like-minded people reveling in spooky October festivities sounded fantastic.

From the end of July until the middle of October I was all sorts of excited and anxious. I focused and created, looking to dip my toe in to the world of craft fairs. I had no idea what to expect, but I was hoping for the best.

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DAY 1 – hopeful

2016 was Vancouver Halloween Parade & Expo’s third year. That could explain why I hadn’t heard of it. It also could explain the following:

  • Early pick up of vendor passes was available the two nights prior to the event. Sounds great, right? They don’t make you wait the morning of, letting you spend more time getting your table looking perfect. How thoughtful, right? When I got to the building there was a sign letting me know I was in the right place. I went up to the third floor as directed, and this is where things begin to fall apart. I walked around for a minute or two searching for where to go. It was just after 7pm, so there weren’t many people around. There was a closed office, a children’s music recital and a hallway that led to the washrooms. In this hallway sat a quiet man on his laptop looking very invested in what he was doing. It was on my third or fourth pass by him that he asked if I was looking for the washroom. I told him no, I was looking for the place to pick up vendor passes for the Halloween parade. He reached in to his bag and asked my name, not seeming to check any sort of list as he handed me three passes.
    They were the large white, rectangular stickers with numbers on them like marathon runners wear, to be worn so that you could be tagged in event photos and win prizes. They had smaller labels with 2016 written on them, but the labels were not placed to cover the prominent “2015” in the top corner.
  • The morning of the 15th, I lug my stuff down towards where the maps on the site led me to believe the vendor area was, namely INSIDE a building. Nope. The vendor area was set up in an outdoor area that is used as an ice rink in the winter. At least it was covered so that the wind and pouring rain didn’t ruin all of my product. I was not the only vendor “surprised” that the vendor area was outdoors.
  • The first day was cold for a lot of us. A vendor two tables down from me left just a few hours in. She probably wasn’t the only one. Some tables did not return the next day, including the table to my right.
  • There was apparently a small vendor area inside, but considering a large chunk of the events that were meant to take place there did not happen, they probably didn’t get a lot of traffic.
  • The vendor hours were supposed to be from noon to 8pm, but by 6pm the first day most vendors had packed up and left. There was no foot traffic coming down the stairs to check us out so there was no point in staying. Maybe it was the appalling lack of signage to let the many people walking around (it was in the middle of downtown Vancouver!) to come down the stairs and peruse the vendors. The signs seemed to mention everything but us.
  • I feel “Halloween” parade is a bit of a misnomer. The Lower Mainland has large anime and cosplay communities, and if you ask me they already have numerous events where they can dress up or buy anime prints and toys. FanExpo is the second weekend in November for Pete’s sake! So instead of this parade being people who enjoy Halloween, it was two days of people who liked to dress up. The majority of vendors catered to the anime and cosplay groups. There was nothing spooky about it. Again, I was not the only vendor who didn’t get the memo…(There was no memo.)
  • I am pretty sure that photos from last year’s parade were used on the event’s Facebook page, photos with a crowd and no storm.
  • To top it all off, I don’t think there was one vendor that made back the cost of their table. Even vendors who got a discount for having participated the year before did not. Some were rightfully quite bitter about this.
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not that helpful (especially for vendors)
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DAY 2 – Luckily, you can’t see the unimpressed look on my face

Some good did come from this. I got some exposure, handing out some business cards. I also met some very neat vendors:
Eugees’s Shop (formerly Quixy and Mai) – fantastic bows, video game related shirts and throw pillows, notebooks
Cranial Moon Designs – stark illustration (my favourite are the horror-themed drawings)
Medusa Illustration – illustrations of all your favourite characters (Hannibal, Supernatural and so much more)

I waited to write this post to make sure I did not write it in a frustrated rage. I do hope that the event becomes better managed one day. It felt like a teenager’s first attempt at cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner on their own. The basics were there, but there is a long way to go. I don’t expect to participate next year.

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