Dealers Den – An explanation
With our Dealers Den Curation process coming to an end for 2024 we thought it was necessary to make a post to help explain what happened, what went wrong, what lessons we have learned, and what we plan to do.
The Space In The Den
First of all we would like to apologise; we know that this year has not been up to our usual standard and it is important that we acknowledge this. The demand for this year was substantially higher than expected; we know early communications told dealers not to rush and there would be plenty of space. This was too cavalier of us to assume. The Den team would like to express that they are genuinely sorry that those tweets, made with the best of intentions, led to these problems for Dealers.
In 2023 we trialled having the largest Dealers Den in ConFuzzled history. Post-con we received feedback from many staff and attendees suggesting that it was overwhelming. We decided this year to opt for a similar Den Layout to the one we had in 2022, including the one-way system. This ensures all dealers have an equal opportunity to be seen and also provides additional space behind tables for the Dealers, while also making it easier for a compact volunteer team to manage. This decision reduced the number of tables available this year and it became evident that the Den would be at capacity sooner than the previous year after opening applications.
The Curation Process and Timeline
The curation process for 2024 was introduced as a matter of necessity when it became clear that we simply could not continue to allow any and all applications to the Den on the basis of attendee feedback. We outlined in greater detail our reasoning behind this policy in the previous announcements made here and here.
The policy was brought in to allow a wide variety of products in the Den. We also wanted to ensure that tables were not taken up by resellers offering only mass-produced goods. In addition, the policy helps us avoid tables being abandoned, where dealers were only using their spot for commission-pickups (such dealers were instead offered the opportunity to make use of our pop-up shops). We also wanted to ensure more new dealers, who never dealt in the Den before, would be able to do so for the first time ever.
Importantly, we introduced this curation policy alongside the already existing “first come first served” system. This means that, while some dealers who registered earlier might not have been accepted for Den (or recommended to apply for the Pop-Up shop slot as an alternative), a lot of those who registered a bit later, had to be placed on the waiting list. This would be despite passing the curation criteria.
We do acknowledge that a failure to adequately communicate the new process occurred. This is why some of you received emails asking you to consider applying for our Pop-Ups or going on the Waiting List without clear insight into why. We recognise this was a source of frustration for those impacted.
The Directors and Den Staff remedied this oversight, and reviewed & implemented the new official curation policy. We also gave a chance in November for Dealers to submit additional materials to support their Den applications. This included those Dealers who received initial messages about the waiting list or pop-up shop slots back in October.
Unfortunately, the subsequent pause in operations introduced further delays which left many of you in limbo for an extended period. While we did our best to keep you updated via the ConFuzzled official social media channels, with the approval and offer process extending through the Christmas and New Year Period (introducing further delays), the result was a lot of further frustration.
As the curation process required handling personal information, only heads of the Dealers’ Den department had the current level of expertise to process the applications and this slowed the process down. The Den team worked hard to try and get as many applications processed before Christmas as possible. We thank all of the dealers that paid for their tables over the festive period.
For these issues, we are very sorry, and will strive to learn the lessons from this and improve the experience in future. While we managed to accommodate 133 dealers, we have had to place 37 on a waiting list. All dealers have been contacted by us as of the 8th of January. We gave those unsuccessful in the curation stage the right to appeal within 72 hours since the receipt of the email from Dealers’ Den. We’ve processed the majority of these appeals – and are currently working on accommodating the successful ones.
CFz Staff, Crew and +1s
Without our staff and crew there is no convention, much the same way without attendees there is no ConFuzzled. We make no secret that volunteers for ConFuzzled are able to bypass the room lottery as they need to be on site to deliver the con. We do also know that some of our volunteers are dealers, without which they would not be able to attend, to help the con.
ConFuzzled does make priority for these people at the Den however everyone who applied was still curated and subject to the same reviews as any other dealer with absolutely no exceptions. The Den Team allocated staff to the table types they requested where possible, but offered alternatives and requested if staff could make do with one table instead of two. They also offered different table sizes in order to permit the maximum number of attendees into the Den.
Does that mean if I work for ConFuzzled I am guaranteed a Den table?
No, being staff does not guarantee you a place in the Den. The curation process means that if your table is not appropriate for the Den you may be offered a Pop-Up shop or no table at all.
How many staff/crew or +1s are in the Den?
21% of the dealers are staff or crew with the +1s of staff and crew being an additional 10%, this means the remaining 69% are general attendees and therefore 79% of dealers in the Den do not work for ConFuzzled.
Can ConFuzzled do anything to help those on the waiting list who wish to cancel now?
Yes. If any dealer on the waiting list wishes to sell or transfer their registration the Den team and registration will help to facilitate that change. While we will not be offering refunds for those on the waiting list we will allow the window to sell or transfer a registration up to the 31st of March and will make posts on our social media pages for those tickets available to help those that wish to sell.
It is worth mentioning that not all Dealers currently on the main list have paid for their tables yet. Their payment deadlines are approaching soon. This means some of you on the waiting list may yet have an opportunity to secure a table – but this is of course not guaranteed. We will communicate when all dealers’ tables have been paid in full.
Can I return a table so that other dealers could have a chance at dealing?
Yes. We would like to encourage anyone with more than one table to take some time to think about if they need two tables. The Den does allow Dealers to have structures or displays sitting up to 2.5m in total height from the floor.
A friend did not get a table, but I did, can we share?
You can share a table. As long as both parties are registered dealers you can apply to be a table share by having both dealers email the Dealers’ Den team at firstname.lastname@example.org and updating your dealers’ registration. The sharing option was restricted to 5ft Non-Wall Tables, but this has been reviewed and waived for 2024. We are aware that on rare occasions there have been forced table shares where one person has forced the other to share. This is something the Den team has zero tolerance for and both dealers must agree to the proposed share.
We know that the delays, poor communication and sudden implementation of policy was very upsetting to dealers this year.
For the 2025 cycle we are going to improve this by delivering the curation process during our registration period with greater haste. This involves making more staff capable of performing this role. We also aspire to clearer and more prompt communication with Dealers.
We are very unlikely to ever do away with the curation process; it will be the basis for reviewing all applications going forward. Now that we have this in-place we are in a much better position to process applications when they come in. We will share more details about planned registration for Dealers’ Den – including timelines and revised rules – as part of the bigger announcement for the ConFuzzled 2025 attendee registration.
Will all the delays happen again?
We hope not; we cannot promise there will not be some delay next year but we have learned a lot from this process both from how it affected our dealers, our Den team and our reputation.
Finally we would like to close by saying that we understand the frustrations of the dealers this year, for a lot of you ConFuzzled is seen as a key earner in your year and the wait has been very difficult. We have seen posts on social media aimed at the Den team and targeting certain individuals of our staff and crew; this of course is unacceptable.
We remind all of our attendees that they are bound by our Code Of Conduct as soon as they register and any abuse of any of our staff and crew will not be tolerated. As a team of volunteers it is important to reflect both ways on what has happened; what impact actions have had on the mental health of dealers and our own staff and crew; this is something we take very seriously and drives us all to be better.
Pop-Up shop applications will be opening in the next week or so, please look out for these if you wish to apply for one.
Once again, we know we can do better and are already working internally to ensure that we do so for 2025 onwards.