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Guide to SDCC – Part 3 – Shopping and The Exhibit Hall

This is Part 3 in a series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

This is the reason that people save their money up. This is the reason people invented wallets. This is the reason you cleared out an entire shelf in your house. So that you can walk into Comic-Con and spend $3,000 on a collectible bust of your favorite character.
Shopping at SDCC is an integral part of almost every attendee’s experience and whether you’re looking for all the free stuff you can grab or a wildly expensive Con exclusive, the Exhibit Hall is the place to go. In this post we will cover tips on navigating, buying, and staying alive.

Navigating the Hall

  • Pace Yourself – Within 20 minutes of entering the Hall you’re probably going to feel a bit tired. Sit down somewhere (around the edges or out in the hallway), play a video game at a booth, or take a food break. Most people try to consolidate their time spent in the Hall by moving quickly but this strategy will leave you tired or burnt out. Splitting up your Hall time is a good way to avoid this.
  • Don’t Push – Yes, you want a free Iron Man flash-drive. That doesn’t make it okay to elbow people out of the way to get it. Be kind to your fellow attendees and try to keep things in a line. It’s a lot faster and more comfortable then fighting it out with your light-saber replicas.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Wait – Within minutes you’ll start to notice almost everything awesome in the Hall has a line. Don’t be afraid to stand in one if it’s for something you really want. Smaller booths can yield cool stuff without the line though, so be aware of that first time comic publisher with the free shirts.

Buying Stuff

  • Cash – Yes, you will want some. $2,000 is not some. If a booth is selling things that expensive you should just use a Credit Card or Check. Walking around with that much cash is dangerous and nerve-racking. Still, $50-100 is a good amount in the event you spot a Con collectible you really want.
  • Wrapping + Shipping – When purchasing something that’s expensive, large, or breakable, ask the booth about their wrapping and shipping options. Telling Southwest that your life-size Hellboy bust is a carry-on never turns out well. If the booth doesn’t have these options your hotel probably will.
  • Bag Check – New at this year’s con is a bag check. This is awesome for people that want to shop and then check their bags while they go to panels. Also convenient for attendees hoping to drop off their stuff as they head for lunch/dinner outside the convention center. Just don’t forget to pick it back up.

Free Stuff

  • Be Grateful – Don’t just grab the stuff and run. Actually acknowledging the booth or the people giving it away is always the courteous thing to do.
  • Don’t Waste – Don’t pick up something if you know it will end up never used or in the trash. Hundreds of people picked up life-size 300 shields a few years back. How many actually used them? Probably only 2/3. That’s a lot of wasted awesomness.
  • Don’t Haggle – Just get something if it’s free. Don’t ask for 100 to bring back to your friends at home. Asking for one extra is usually fine, but be wary of demand (no one asked for two of those life-size 300 shields).

Staying Alive

  • Avoid the Clumps – Whenever something free and hard to get is being given out, a clump will form in about half a second. Unless you really want whatever is in the center, it’s usually better to wait for it to dissipate a bit or just avoid it completely. Running under people’s legs might get you some cool swag, but it will also mean a lot of bruises in the morning.
  • Don’t Stand In The Center – There are a few main aisle. There are thousands of people constantly walking through these aisles. Take the picture from the sides of the aisle and avoid being trampled.
  • Strollers/Walkers/Wheelchairs/Children=Bad – Going head-on against any of these will probably end with bruised knee-caps.

Come back tomorrow for a guide to stuff outside the convention center!

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