If you have been saving up in your account all year for the Comic Con in Delhi to buy the hand of the king or a Gryffindor scarf, I suggest, you either fill your pockets with enough cash or gear up to stand in yet another never-ending queue.
While appreciating the organisers and stall owners for setting up digital transactions, with poor connectivity and a huge crowd, queue woes don’t seem to end.
Nitin, looking after the All Licensing India shop, which was selling all kinds of merchandise from Superman T-shirts to Game of Thrones (GoT) posters and toys, said the response this year has been lukewarm. “The crowd is definitely more this year, but people are merely window shopping instead of buying stuff due to cash crunch,” he says.
Saloni at the Accessorising shop could be seen handling a line of people eagerly waiting to pay through PayTm and PayU. The line kept growing longer as a single transaction was taking at least half an hour due to poor mobile network. “The response is good but it is a task to get the billing done on time,” she said.
To manage the crowd, the shopkeepers had the option to write a receipt of the bill amount and ask people to go to the Bookmyshow stall to pay using debit cards.
However, this route meant the owners had to pay 10% commission to Bookmyshow per transaction.
Hitesh Dhawan at the Superheroes Nation, where one-of-a kind merchandise like Disney and Marvel towels, blankets, cushions and mats were available, said, “Our products are affordable and unique which is attracting a lot of people. But since we are accepting only cash, not many are interested in buying. Paying commission to Bookmyshow will mean making a profit of only Rs 20 or 30 for a product selling for Rs 500-600, which is not good business.”
One of the attractions at the convention was stand-up comedian and actor Gaurav Gera’s stall. Merchandise like Gera’s figurines and posters was a hit among his fans and cash crunch was not so much of a concern for them since they also got a chance to click selfies with him after making a purchase.
“We got the products especially made for the Comic Con this year. This is the first time we are selling the merchandise and the response has been good so far. We also plan to put up the products online for sale soon,” the actor said.
Karan Kumar, a volunteer at Hachette India -- one of the leading publishing houses -- said they set up stalls every year at Comic Con in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The shop, however, has not made as much profit compared to other times, he said.
Even though books like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Batman, Joker comics were available here at half the price, only a handful of people made any purchases.
“I have been saving up for the Comic Con since last year. The merchandise this time is awesome but the only hitch is that a lot of stalls are not accepting cards for payment. I cannot spend the little change I have since the food coupons are being sold for cash only,” says Mohit Gupta, who has been attending Comic Con since the last three years.
However, the cash crunch did not stop people from attending the convention itself. Stalls like Just Dance and ESL India championship attracted the huge crowds as they were free-of-cost and entertaining at the same time. Youngsters were seen participating in dance-offs and playing video games for free and taking home prizes like T-shirts and other merchandise. A counter-strike championship being telecast live on a huge screen saw a large number of viewers as well.
A Baahubali stall was also set up offering virtual reality experiences at no cost and free T-shirts and bags making it a hit among many.
What: Alto Delhi Comic Con 2016
Where: NSIC Exhibition Complex, Okhla Industrial Estate
When: December 9-11, 9 am to 8 pm
Nearest Metro station: Govindpuri