Virtual Vending

Recently, I had the opportunity to vend at an online witchcraft conference. The Critical Thinking Witch Collective (formerly SASS Witches – Science-minded, Agnostic/Atheist, Secular, and Skeptical Witches) held their annual CritWitchCon at the beginning of October this year, and when I saw on Instagram that they’d be having vendors I was immediately interested. I’ve been following them for a while, and love their approach.

The con is held in a Zoom room, with breakout rooms to offer the kind of hangout space an in-person con has in the hallways. There’s a Discord server for the convention (think instant messaging but there are a bunch of different channels where chats happen), with channels for each presentation, various topics, and for each vendor. The vendor fee was pretty low and included a ticket to the con, so I figured it was worth a try.

I’m so glad I gave it a shot! There are quite a few things to like about my online vending experience:

  • Watching the presentations while also vending. I kept my channel open in one window and the Zoom in another, and so was effectively in the vendor room while also attending panels. Not something I get to do at most cons!
  • Zero commute. I vended from the comfort of my home office. This removes the biggest source of vending costs for me – travel expenses. (no joke, even for local cons there’s gas and time, and for out-of-town events there’s hotel room, parking, etc etc etc).
  • Easy setup and teardown. I didn’t have to haul inventory, set up tables, load a vehicle, etc. I cleared my desk a bit and tided up the parts of my office that would show on camera.
  • I got to be on a panel! There was a brief vendor panel that was even more fun than I expected. It was fun to talk a little about my biz and gave attendees a chance to see me a bit.
  • No con crud concerns! A big deal these days, and the reason I’m not vending in person yet. I’m chronically ill, so I have to be extra careful about covid. But nobody was in my room but me, so it was totally safe on that front!

There were a few less-than-great things:

  • Attendees couldn’t handle my books. This is easily the most important thing for my little biz. Photos don’t do them justice, and the quality of material and construction are much easier to see in person vs. online.
  • Fewer chats with attendees. One of the things I miss most about vending is chatting with folks about books! I had my Discord channel, but it was pretty low traffic. It’s hard to look friendly and easy to talk to through a screen.
  • I wasn’t sure how best to promote myself in the Discord.  This being a brand new thing for me, I had almost no idea what I was doing. 🙂

Overall, though, it was a very positive experience! I have a few ideas for things to do if/when I get to virtually vend in the future:

  • Do a demo! One of the things that’s great about in-person vending is that people get to see me working on books. I posted a few photos in my channel, but doing a proper demo would probably have made more of an impression. Even just a little video stream in my own channel (though having time in the main Zoom would be amazing)
  • Do a raffle/giveaway! Getting more of my books into the hands of folks who can appreciate them is always a good thing.

Many thanks to the organizers for this fun opportunity! I hope to vend with y’all again soon.