As it pertains to the Vendor Hall, the pen is mightier than the wallet.
Every year without fail I walk into the DragonCon Vendor Hall at Americas Mart, spend a couple hours wandering up and down only a portion of the aisles, yet loving everything I lay my eyes on.
And every year, without fail, I always forget at least 94 percent of the incredible vendors I saw.
In years past, I had a terrible little habit of buying goods from the first two or three vendors whose tables gave me pause. I would walk away satisfied, but typically my budget would be blown with those purchases. I’d inevitably stumble upon more cool eccentricities, only to remind myself that I had neither the money nor the room to make additional purchases.
This year, I bought a few items after my initial browsing: a pair of Scarlet Speedster earrings from Tumbled Glass, FunkoPop! DC Bombshells Wonder Woman, and The GwenSeven Saga book series by April Adams.
Tumbled Glass specializes in jewelry made from recycled glass, and The GwenSeven Saga is a series where humans, having expanded to space, “discover a race of elves and give life to a dying race of dragons by merging them with machinery”. A new book in the series is released every year at Dragon*Con, with Book 6 due next year.
On the whole, I decided to try a different approach: I’d take a business card from each vendor table that I wanted to remember and, on the back, write one or two items from their table that I couldn’t live without—some time in the future.
I only made it to two floors of the Vendor Hall this year, but here are a few of the excellent tables I happened upon:
The Evergreen Burrow – Death Before Decaf cross-stitch
This is an Etsy shop, based in Marietta, Georgia, that specializes in “handmade geekery”. Many of the objects they had at Dragon*Con were cross-stitches, hand sewn pillows, and patches. A quick search of their Etsy storepage reveals no cross-stitches, but when I fangirled over this particular pattern at the Con, one of the shop’s owners told me that you can submit a “custom order” request in an email of an item that you saw at one of their Con tabling adventures. Well, I plan to do just that.
The Paisley Poppy – “In this house we do geek” wooden sign
It seems like these signs are everywhere on Pinterest, but The Paisley Poppy’s sign was unlike any I’d seen online before. Theirs had references to popular nerd properties, but with different quotes in a different order than usual: Firefly (“We aim to misbehave”), Star Wars (“We travel to galaxies far far away”), Lord of the Rings (“through Middle Earth”), and Doctor Who (“while doing wibbly wobbly timey whimey stuff”). In addition to this rad sign—which will certainly grace the entryway of my cozy and retrofitted Victorian home some day—Paisley Poppy’s table had nerd koozies, wooden coasters, and framed Dictionary Page prints. I wanted to buy the whole booth, but writing down this sign was probably the more responsible way to do it. Sadly, I can’t find the sign on their Etsy shop, but I’m hoping I can probably email the shop owner and have the sign made.
Milton’s Emporium – Rebel Alliance flask
A stall at the end of one of the floors, Milton’s Emporium, easily took up the space of three tables with its leather goods and steampunk flair. From goggles and flasks to corsets and leather dice bags, Milton’s was very impressive, and I marveled at the sheer number of items they were able to bring with them. What really caught my eye was a Rebel Alliance flask, as I’d just begun looking for a suitable flask (for which I place blame, all in good fun, on Supernatural and Wynonna Earp). Plus, you can always email them for custom items.
Overall, though I was bummed that I couldn’t possibly walk away with everything I wanted, this approach ultimately helped me walk away remembering the things that my heart most desired, and that my wallet could afford, along with a way to find these treasures later. This year in the Vendor Hall, I’ve finally found that the pen is mightier than the wallet.
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Diondra Powers is an editor, contributing writer and social media correspondent for Black Girl Nerds. She finds great joy in volunteering and exploring the world through a camera lens. In her spare time, she embarks on epic adventures that take many forms—from reading to climbing to Dungeons & Dragons.