Protecting Your Items at a Convention
You’ve got your weekend pass to your local con, they’ve got some signers appearing that you’d love to add to your collection, and you’ve got a stack of stuff sitting on your desk at home. Now the question is how do you safely transport your items from your home, to the con to be signed, and back?
If you’re a trading card person, get a small binder – ½” or 1”, nothing bigger, and then use the standard 9-card UltraPro Platinum pages to store my cards. Inside I have dividers for easy reference as I have cards for Star Wars Galaxy artists, then I also have cards to be signed by the signers at the show, and often times I bring other cards that have been signed for trading with other collectors, as you often don’t know when the opportunity will strike!
Some people swear by toploaders, which are fine for shipping protection, and maybe if you only have one item to get signed at the entire con – but let’s be honest, they become a hassle when you have more than a couple items to get signed. For photos and other flat items up to 11x17, my go to method for transporting is in an Itoya portfolio that is the largest size of an item I’d get signed, which is an 11x17. The advantage of having one portfolio of the largest size that you carry is that you can easily put 8x10s and 11x14s in the Itoya without issue or having to carry additional portfolios with you. For quick reference purposes, I use the smaller super sticky Post-It Notes as binder tabs so I can easily find the photos I need at a given time. But now you are probably asking “What about my 16x20s or posters??” Don’t worry, I’ve not forgotten about those larger items!
First off, I would not recommend carrying these items flat, because just picture yourself walking around the crowded convention hall of Celebration amongst tens of thousands of oblivious Star Wars fans that are bumping into each other, and more importantly, your items. The last thing you want to do is have your items dinged and damaged, so I highly recommend that you roll up these larger items and store them in a tube. As for what do you store them in, there are two approaches that you can take (neither of which is wrong, it’s just a matter of personal preference).
The first is using an architect’s tube, which is an adjustable plastic tube with a strap that is normally used to carry blueprints in, but is large enough to carry posters and anything else that you carry. This is what I personally use, as I like the flexibility it offers because it is adjustable, doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, and you can easily carry it onto a plane and toss it in an overhead bin with no issue. The second approach is taking a rugged poster tube, such as a Yazoo poster tube, and mounting a carry strap onto it, so you can sling it on your back while at a con. The advantage to having a tube is they tend to come in larger sizes, so you can fit more in it, and are stronger due to the thickness of the tube walls.
Hopefully this has discussion has given you some new ideas on how to prepare for a con, but one last thing I want to leave with you is – please label your items! I cannot tell you how many times that people wished they had labeled their items that they lost at a con, and could only offer up a description of the item. Speaking of a description of an item, make your item – yours. What I mean by this is slap some stickers on it and other random mementoes that make it stand out from others and unique. What I also do before every major con that I attend for several days, is take pictures of my items so that way you can provide it in case it goes missing, and also as a way of having proof that it’s yours if you have to claim it from someone. On your personal storage items, you should at the very least include your name and an email address that you check daily, and a cell phone or WhatsApp number that you can be reached at. My preferred method of doing this in an Itoya is a paint pen, and for the tube and 3-Ring Binder, I utilize waterproof labels that hold up to wear and tear.