When you think of a convention, you probably don't imagine it’s taking place in a sportsplex halfway between Algonquin College and Barrhaven Centre, or that it will consist of pretty much nothing but a dealer’s room. The Ottawa Geek Market is exactly that, and as far as this blogger is concerned, it still counts as a convention.
Having just celebrated its fifth year on the weekend of October 15th-16th, 2016, the Ottawa Geek Market caters to people who enjoy the shopping side, rather than the paneling one. It has the price tag of a dealer’s room ($8 at the door, or $5 pre-purchased) and is of a fairly decent size. The first question potential goers will probably need to ask themselves is: Am I willing to pay to go shopping?
The answer, for the 4 712 attendees, is yes.
Those going to shop have a good chance of acquiring harder-to -find items for less, thanks to the inclusion of local sellers that aren’t giant store names. They sell their extra merchandise and, like they say, one person’s junk is another's longed-for anime figure. Or video game. Or comic book.
It’s not just the pull of shopping that brings people to Geek Market. Despite its size, cosplayers are as likely a sight as at any other convention—in part because of the costume contest. While there are no “panels” per say, there’s something for everyone, including a board-game corner, escape rooms, and a Lego table for kids (and some adults). Exhibitors that weren't 100 per cent shopping related included the 501st (a large group of Star Wars fans who dress up in screen-accurate costumes and collect money for charity) and Steampunk Ottawa ( a bonus for me because of the fiction piece I was working on at the time).
The size of the venue is a benefit. It feels like a small community compared to larger conventions with proper panels. People who go to Geek Market know that what they see is what they get. There’s also a high chance of running into people you know; I counted four, and I was only there on Saturday.
That sense of community permeates throughout. It’s visible in the vendors, the volunteers, and the attendees themselves. Everyone is chatty, and the general air says: “You like the small cons too? So do I!”
It’s also a chance to see a dog cosplay — always a bonus.
Catherine Arbour is a Professional Writing student with a background in animation and a bias towards fantasy. She frequents as many conventions as she can, mostly in the Ottawa area. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing video games, reading, or knitting as part of the Spiritual Centre’s Knit ‘n’ Knatter.