by on August 7, 2015
The following has also been published in Vape News Magazine. This is how I really saw VapeXpo Ann Arbor. And yes, I do get critical. Talk about timely!
VapeXpo Ann Arbor, June 15, 2015
Dear Vape Event Diary,
This year was my second appearance to VapeXpo in Ann Arbor. It was held in the same location but this time under a different name. That was the Wyndham Hotel and Suites (which was previously the Clarion). For a small event, this is a great venue. If you had more vendors, it would be quite crowded. The event already had 13 more vendors than October 2014’s event making the grand total of 43 vendors in the atrium, ballroom, and several smaller rooms and near the entrance where check-in and registration was. Of course, getting them all set up was a bit rough for head organizer VapingMarcy who works very hard to connect, email, and get things organized (even months before an event). In fact, two vendors that were on the 2nd floor balcony are on the first day were moved down to the main floor on Saturday because hardly anyone visited them (even if attendees knew they were up there). I was also told by both VapingMarcy and PuterGeek that they had to turn away a lot of vendors who wanted to attend the event and were just a little overbooked. This has already got them thinking of possibly holding a bigger event later in the future.
While walking through the event, there was a vendor to run into. This was not a bad thing because you got a chance to see a variety of companies from within Michigan and the surrounding areas. There were also some companies that came from Texas and Alabama. Some attended the event for the first time while others were returnees. There was only one vendor in one of the smaller meeting rooms selling TagsUp Juice that I felt sorry for. On the first night, they moved to the back of the room and were under the impression that more vendors would show up. When that didn’t happen, they moved their table by the door where more people could see them and had better success. While some people felt that perhaps they would’ve been more successful selling their juice next to the Vapiing Militia’s table, they actually became a great room to visit because they still had water available and they also had a nice air conditioned room to chill out in.
While doing my post-mortem show recently (and even during the event), I heard some people complain that there were more juice vendors than equipment and mod sellers when it came to the types of vendors that were there. In addition, there were hardly even any vendors that sold vape charms, vape or even mod wraps. I know those would’ve been popular as well. It was also pointed out to me by my boyfriend that he didn’t even see any starter kits being sold either. If they were there, we at least didn’t see them out in the open anywhere. From my perspective, one of the most popular vendor booths was BRV Vapors who also participates in the Vape-A-Vet project. Almost every time I went by their booth, there was a crowd around them. Early on Saturday when I had a chance to talk with the vendors, I could understand why they were so popular. I love the fact that they are personally helping our military veterans stop smoking for nothing and that all the money they make from sales on their website and events go to this project. Good on them!
From what I could see on Friday night, the turnout was a bit on the low side. Part of that was work-related. The other part, which I found out from one or two vendors when I got there, was that it was also graduation weekend (which meant going to a few ceremonies and/or parties that weekend) for vendors that had kids who were participating in those ceremonies. Thus, a lot them only attended for one of the two days of the event. On Saturday, the turnout for the event was a lot better and at one point, it had gotten so vapey in the atrium that it looked like a fog machine had exploded. Even if you had pictures of it, they didn’t do it justice. You literally had to be there. Could you imagine what it would be like if there was a cloud competition?
As for the auction, there were a lot of items up for bids. They included a treasure box from Odin with their whole collection of juice (including two unreleased flavors), at least two SX minis, two original Vaping Militia Banners (one that went for $600 and another for $450), a Zen mod or two, and packages that vendors donated full of juice and equipment. With all this stuff, one would think that attendees would be bidding like crazy. After all, it was a charity auction and all the proceeds went to the Vaping Militia. However, when it came to actually bidding on items, it almost seemed as if the attendees were bargain hunting more than raising the bar for bids and going over the actual retail price. This was very true at the beginning of Friday night where attendance was sparse and where I decided to do coverage of the event for vapenet. Not only did Mondo (aka Monkeysquad) say it was a painful time, but so did my chatters who were watching, observing and listening in. The bids on Saturday were just a bit better (along with at least $1500 that was raised to get the Vaping Militia, Zen, VapingMarcy, and PuterGeek to do the twerk that didn’t happen). Still, the bids still seemed lower than they were at October’s auction and rumor had it a few attendees were actually going to bid low on purpose. Let’s just hope this is a trend that doesn’t continue since that’s not exactly what a charity auction is all about in the first place.
As a broadcaster, I enjoyed covering the event and cohosting with my fellow vapenet hosts who could not be there. I chose not to broadcast all day because I wanted to enjoy myself and interact with the vendors as well as do a bit of shopping. I did pick up a few selected juices, a new mod, and of course some swag. It was great because as I made my rounds, I took pictures and videos as well as interacted with the vendors that I knew well and who are great supporters of vaping advocacy. This included Malice Doll who attended VapeXpo for the first time. She was not only awesome to chat with, but awesome to get to know after the event closed for the two days. That was also true with a few fellow vapenet hosts I met for the first time in person and had a great laugh with.
Overall, VapeXpo 2015 was awesome. I met a few of my chatters that I usually talk to as host on vapenet. I met chatters and hosts from other channels I visited. I also got closer with a few people I had met in person before and made a few new acquaintances along the way. In addition, when I hosted I had people come up to me to say hello, wonder what was going on, and in the case of Boosted Vapors do a giveaway of their product on the spot. Where else can something like that happen?
To give you some numbers (and at the time of this writing these are just estimates and not final totals), the estimated number of attendees is said to be over 2000 people. The money raised from both nights of the auctions is estimated to be at least $15,000 dollars. For an event that had a few ups and downs, I say those are respectable numbers.
So, what’s going to happen at the next VapeXpo? Stay tuned.
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