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Phoenix Comicon is a great opportunity for small businesses

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Phoenix Comicon just wrapped up its 14th anniversary June 5-8, 2014. As Phoenix Comicon grows (from originally a few hundred to predictions of 70,000 this year), so do the opportunities for small businesses. While people see the fantastic costumes and the big science fiction stars highlighted on the television news, most do not realize what goes on behind the masks and makeup.

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Easley’s Fun Shop, a local costume store, has expanded its involvement during the last three years. It now hosts the famous Zombie Walk, which was a highlight of Friday night, where a hoard of walking dead paraded down Monroe Street.

But Easley’s is just one of hundreds of vendors, artists and guests which filled the exhibit halls during the Comicon. Some of the representatives, who have been regular exhibitors for years, include artist Armand Villavert and Michael A Stackpole. Villavert is well-known for the comic ZAPT! But people should also take note of his work in the comic book Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors.

Stackpole is an award-winning game developer and writer, who is most famous for his BattleTech® and Star Wars® novels. Both were thrilled with the increased turnout at this year’s Comicon. “I had half again as many sales on Thursday this year,” said Stackpole, “As I did on Saturday last year.”

It was encouraging to see new comic book artists, like Tiffany Dang. Justice Angel is her Asian-American comic heroine, who uses martial arts to subdue “I am so excited to see a comic which presents women’s empowerment,” said her friend Michelle Worthen, “She uses martial art to defend others.”

Phoenix Comicon is now about more than comic books. Artwork, clothing, make-up, posters, stuffed animals, toys and much more are available for sale. There was even a booth for contact lenses. Exotic Lenses, which was created by Michele Singh in the late 1990’s, has been at Comicon for four years. Shopper can buy contacts with names like Holy Terror or Vampire Red or Zombie White. Joel Bowens, who was sporting two different scary lenses, said, “What’s not to like about Phoenix Comicon? It’s great talking to the cosplay people, who love our products.”

Another recent addition are the food trucks, like Rock-A-Belly, which were parked outside the Convention Center, and served long lines of hungry zombies, storm troopers and Anime characters.

Phoenix Comicon is growing as an important economic engine for small businesses.