HALIFAX – Friday marked the launch of Hal-Con, Atlantic Canada’s sci-fi and gaming convention, and that was music to the ears of several business owners.
“One thing that people often forget is that nerds have families, and families have disposable income, and kids like things,” said Jennifer Lambe, chair of the annual event.
She said that Hal-Con, expected to draw about 8,000 people, results in a $2 million economic boost to the local economy.
“This is our biggest year yet,” Lambe said.
Of the nearly 200 vendors with booths, 90 per cent are from Atlantic Canada.
About 700 hotels nights have been booked specifically for the event, “and many of those people have two, three, four, six, sometimes, crammed into a room,” she added.
Giant Robot Comics, located in Dartmouth, N.S., has set up a booth at Hal-Con for four years, and it’s still growing its customer base.
Darryl Wall, the store’s owner, said that the event provides a big boost to the store’s bottom line.
“We’ll do almost a month’s worth of revenue in three days,” he said.
The event also means big business for celebrity guests; autographs and photos fetch for as much as $40 each.
Philip Holmans, owner of World Tea House, said celebrities at conventions sometimes tweet photos of themselves drinking his tea.
“And we’ll pick up, like, hundreds of followers that day,” he said, adding that the social media attention has led to international orders.
But the social network of the human-to-human variety is also key.
“It’s really cool to see that spider effect of, you know, one person buys a tea here, and they share it with friends, and they share it with friends,” said Holmans.
Hal-Con wraps up on Sunday at the Scotiabank Centre.