Even though Carlson and the gang are having fun with their crowd, it can sometimes grow to be a bit too much. People will swarm the booth, blocking aisles, or get to be so noisy that it makes it hard for nearby booths to operate effectively. Eventually, Mad Gear has to start dispersing the crowd, and not just because of noise: If the crowd gets too big, pickpockets and shoplifters start to skim the crowd and booth. It's an art of sorts - ending demos, switching your focus of conversation and trying to interact with the people in the back. "What's really important is to make sure that everything's OK from the other booths," Carlson says. "I'll periodically go over and talk with them just to make sure that we're not too loud or bothersome to them."
He says being a good neighbor is important when you're a convention vendor. They all know the trials and tribulations of keeping on their feet for eight hours straight, and so it's only natural to want to help each other out. "Vendors try to look after each other, and they end up banding together. At one of my first shows, one of the nearby vendors gave me some tips on how to help stop shoplifters from stealing items from the booth." Sometimes it's as simple as helping box up after the show, or lending a roll of receipt paper to another booth. Other times, they'll drive each other's inventory cross-country, simply because it's on the way and it saves on shipping.
The group takes care of itself, but if a vendor gets too unruly, the group will report it to the convention staff, which can result in a banning - as has been the case with Hen Da Ne, creators of the yaoi paddle. It's created such a nuisance that their paddles have been banned from several major conventions.
The metallic voice chimes in again: "The dealer's room is now closing. Please finish up your final purchases and make your way to the exit." Now it's time for the stragglers to make their decisions and pray they've got enough gas in their tanks to make it back home, because abandoning that copy of Metal Wolf Chaos would be a crime against humanity. Carlson shakes some hands and fills out the final receipts. Now that the crowd has finally dispersed, it's time for Carlson, Erik and Dak to head off to the bars and have some well-deserved fun.
Brad Rice is a freelance contributor to The Escapist.