Hey everyone! As I promised way back when I started this blog I have interviews from other vendors. I’ve chosen 6 people to interview to give you a small cross section of the vendor community. Now not everyone’s experience is typical so bear in mind that everyone runs their businesses differently and has different experiences.
How long have you been working for yourself?: Selling at shows over 20 years. Full time about 3 years now
Wow! That’s quite the resume so you’ve probably been all over the country right?
Up until my current wife it was only Michigan and Florida. Then she got me to go outside my comfort zone and explore other states
How long did it take you to build your business?: 20 years. I feel that as sellers we are always building. Clientele, product etc. Kind Of like you never know everything there is always room for improvement
When did your business start being able to pay you? How many months or years did that take?: Still waiting to get paid lol
lol. So does doing this full time pay your bills or does it just cover the costs of the business?: It does both. Some shows better than others of course
What made you choose to start your own business?: I always loved setting up at conventions. I love meeting people and getting to know what they like and why. I was sitting behind a computer taking one phone call after another. I was miserable. My wife saw this and after a lengthy discussion I decided to bite the bullet and do this full time. Now I only answer to myself
Which beats the pants off answering to a micromanager right?: Absolutely
Why did you choose the product you sell?: I started selling computer games. Back in the day when they were popular. I evolved to Hot Wheel and Matchbox Cars then to comics. Starting this portion of my business meant I had to sell my personal toy collection. After the collection was almost gone, I had gotten distributor contact information from other vendors I had met and it just went from there. I’ve always been a big kid and love toys. It’s only fitting I sell something I know about.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to start their own business?: Start small. Ask questions but don’t be pushy. Some vendors are not open like I am. Also, don’t get in over your head. This is not a guaranteed paycheck like a job. Be ready for failure and disappointment. The trick is brushing it off and moving forward. Learn from mistakes
Do you ever worry that you’ll lose your business?: Everyday I’m not getting younger and the idea of going back to the working force is one of my biggest fears
Do you have a contingency plan if you do lose this business?: Nope! Losing my business isn’t an option
Take a bold front and go for it hmm?: Of course. It’s all we can do
How did you fund your business?: I sold my personal toy collection
Sakura Sisters: Oh wow, thats a huge sacrifice
Hot Shot Toys: It’s what I needed to do to be set free from punching a clock
Do you have kids?: I have a 26 year old son and 2 grand sons. They all live in Michigan
Is this something you hope to pass on to your kids?: No. This isn’t the lifestyle for everyone. My son is young enough he can make his mark elsewhere. It’s too late for me. I’m too old to start over
Sakura Sisters: That’s a fair point.
Hot Shot Toys: Thank you.
How far do you travel to get to cons?: I live just outside of Orlando. The farthest I’ve gone so far is Lexington, Kentucky. That will change at the end of this month where I have a 3 day show in Indiana
That’s a pretty significant drive. Do you enjoy the travel part of this business?: Not at all. Very exhausting especially after a busy show
Do you have a brick and mortar store or do you sell solely at cons?: Cons and my website.
Where would you like to see yourself and your business in five years?: Maybe traveling further. I want to move to Alabama or Tennessee so I can be more north. I want to be big enough that I need a warehouse to store my product.
How do you feel about the number of Cons in your region?: Way over saturated but that isn’t news. The shows I do in Florida are very minimal. I prefer going outside Florida. I get to meet a lot of new people (customers, vendors & promoters)
What improvements would you like to see in Cons?: Better security precautions. You need a lot more than saying “you can’t bring in a gun”. Everyone needs to be scanned. My favorite cons are the ones where promoters care more than just about the money. They want EVERYONE to have a great time. Would also like more 3 day shows versus 2 days
What do you look for in a convention?: I prefer a convention that is established. Its very rare that I do a new show. I also look to see where the promoter is trying to go with a show. Does he care about big name stars that charge $100 for a picture? Is there vendor room big enough to hold 300 vendors? Are they charging guest $50 or $60 for a weekend pass?
What is your dream Con?: I would love being able to set up at NYCC or DragonCon. I probably have a better chance at the latter
As you know I’m doing these interviews to garner advice for new business owners, what would you have most wished to hear back when you started?: That’s a toughy. I got such good feedback from my Florida vendor buddies. They were always there. I guess it would have been nice to know it is a lot of hard work. Not just booking a show and showing up. It’s research and more research. Ordering what you think is the right product for a specific show and so on.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, do you have any parting remarks?: No, it was great.
To see what this vendor sells please visit: https://tictail.com/s/hotshottoys