If you’re a viewer of Indie Volt Live Tuesday at 9 PM EST on YouTube & Indie Volt TV, you already know about our “2 minute answer” session of the the show, if not it’s where our panel usually answers a list of random and hypothetical questions based on unfortunate scenarios where they would be exhibitors at a convention. It’s a fun time and everyone gets a few laughs, but it was no laughing matter for Valerie Turcotte as she found herself in a pretty ridiculous situation during the annual YoumaCon event held in Detroit Michigan.
Valerie had sworn off going to the anime and manga-centric show after a previous bad experience but was convinced by a friend to give YoumaCon another chance. Hiccups along the way included not receiving a floor map until about a week before the show and discovering she was not near her travel buddy as requested, were red flags, but determined to make the best of it she came.
To be fair, MOST conventions state that they will TRY to accommodate these requests BUT cannot guarantee them. Being industrious, Valerie decided to contact a vendor near where she wanted to be placed and offer to trade tables, an offer she was taken up on, and all seemed right with the world.
So after an 11 hour trip to Detroit, Michigan and the TCF Center YoumaCon’s venue (formally COBO Center) and a few small incidents along the way, Valerie and her travel partner made their way in and set up, exhausted they happily retired for the night.
But perhaps she should have stayed!
When Valerie returned the next morning at 11 am (an hour before the show is scheduled to open), she discovered her table had been altered, see: dismantled.
“My display had been knocked off the table, some of the prints pulled down, and much of my stuff tossed behind the chairs. A staff member stood nearby and I asked what had happened. She replied to me (in an aggressively chipper tone) “you’re being evicted! All of your things are being removed onto a pallet in the loading dock”
Say what now?
“I have never had a confrontation with the staff before. Anywhere. Ever. After over 10 years of tabling. So I was horrified.”
And admittedly who wouldn’t be? Albeit with a side of particularly PISSED the hell off. Imagine it, you’re out of town, hundreds of miles from home on a high-stress business trip and they just decided to pack your wares up and send them to some mysterious ‘pallet’ in the back?
When asked why she was being “evicted” she was told it was because she’d stolen her table!
“I told her that was completely incorrect. At this point, I had started to get angry, because I had started to see how roughly my things had been treated.”
At this point, I PERSONALLY would have been guilty of throwing hands.
“I asked her why they had not contacted me if there had been a problem with my table, instead of just ripping things down. She said they had sent me an email (they did not- they sent it to my friend next to me. And they sent it at 10:45am). Keep in mind, they could have done so by contacting either of us directly by using the various methods on our business cards which we know they saw, since they threw them across onto my friend’s table.”
Nope, that would be TO CLOSE to the right way to do things!
“I told her I had not received an email or any other method of contact. She said that I had gotten my table through an illegal sublet.”
The staffer just seems to be swinging wildly at any reason she can to justify this.
“I repeated to her that I had not, and asked why they had not CALLED ME to figure out what was going on. She said they did not have my phone number (which we give at registration??)
She then asked who the business card on my table was. I said it was mine, and she told me that (my studio name) was not even REGISTERED FOR THE CONVENTION.”
“I told her that was ridiculous and asked if they had even bothered to look at their own list because I was on it YESTERDAY when I checked in.
She made a disbelieving face and I explained to her that maybe this was because I had switched places with another artist- but even if that was the case, they still should have contacted either of us to find out more info before just tearing down my booth. Not to mention– ACTUALLY CHECK THE ATTENDEE LIST.
After about 2 minutes of investigation, she conceded that this was most likely what prompted the issue.
The staff member told me, “sorry to give you a heart attack!” (Again in a super casual bouncy tone) and walked away.”
Sorry….to…give…you…a..heart attack! Oh um, gee golly, we broke down your display and packed all your stuff, but have a super sunshiny day! What about I dunno, actually investigating what happened before moving to evict a person!? Why so trigger happy Youma?
“Later, I was visited by the con head and another staff member who had been nearby during the event. Both were extremely nice and apologetic. However, it did not go beyond my notice that none of the artist alley staff (AKA the ones responsible) ever did. One staff member did express regret on BEHALF of the alley head, but as of now, 7pm Friday, she has not made an appearance herself.”
YoumaCon and Ms. Ringo, just in case no one else has told you! This is COMPLETELY out of line! An apology won’t do it, you owe Ms. Turcotte a free table at (God-willing) next year’s show, (which we’re probably banned from as an organization) especially since my further investigation shows you DIDN’T ‘EVICT’ or even ATTEMPT to remove the other person that she switched tables with!
You provided NO lanyards or badges for vendors at check-in, yet decide overnight that it’s time to be official and go around and check tables…and YOU STILL ****** THAT UP!
Look. I won’t pretend that I know what it takes to run a large show, but I’ve volunteered at many AND I’ve watched some staff run a show floor drunk/hangover of their asses and I’m going to assume you were all sober. Right?
Do better YoumaCon.