Make fandom cooler with local Furry Bazaars.

by Patch O'Furr

Do you like Scooby snacks?  The first time I ate a weed cookie was at a Really Really Free Market. That’s a swap meet seasoned with radical/hippie idealism. People who love principles of mutual aid get together and trade crap they don’t need with others who want it.  It keeps stuff out of the dump and helps people without money. It’s a place to score old books, music or some wiggy threads. They may have potluck food or dumpster dived treasure. Or both at once. (I once lived for two years with Freeganism – oh the stories I have.) And you might score weed (for adults where it’s legal, of course.)

The meet was in a 5th floor artist loft full of good music and fun people. There was a spread of free cookies with a sign to beware of overmedicating. I took one and nibbled a corner. Nothing happened so I went whole hog.  Then it happened… oh boy it happened.

My personal pile of treasure was all donated, so I took the exit to the twilight zone.  On the way down the stairs, I turned a corner and suddenly they weren’t going down… they were going up.  What the heck!?  I continued to fumble my way out while a faint satanic chanting emanated from behind the doors.  Somehow I found the street and got home. I sat down and time-traveled.  When I looked up, I realized that I forgot to shut the front door.  And there was a hooker in my living room (it was that kind of neighborhood).  She asked for a ride, so I told her to try one of those cookies for a real trip.

I wish there was a way to travel to a world full of furries. That would make some amazing blogging for you.  But you can make it happen where you live. The coolest thing about this fandom is how it’s so DIY. It’s like a sandbox for whatever you want to make of it.  If you live anywhere that has furries within petting distance, try getting together with them to throw cool events.

Imagine a standalone furry show and swap meet, minus the elaborate trappings of a con. Set up tables like a dealer’s den for members to sell stuff.  Have an art show, but not just for filthy lucre – if it’s not in a costly hotel and people don’t have to pay for a big blowout, do it for love. Make it participatory with an art jam and swapping.  This could be done in a show space, library, community center, apartment commons, warehouse, studio, comic shop, or any open place, with a co-op concept.

Why swapping?  Furries love to collect books, comics, and games that get read and re-read until it’s time to give them a new home. Same for art, art supplies, and fur scraps. And (my favorite), costume gear. I have a walk-in closet full of stuff that someone would love to wear.  But sadly, that one con shirt isn’t for me.  I have too many sparkly belts and pet collars. Someone else needs those pants covered with owls.  Maybe that’s you, and maybe you have some cool fursuit bandanas to throw on my stack!

These happen for general communities, but theming can be extra fun. For those who already have premade stuff for art shows or dealing at bigger cons, a locally-organized event could be an accessible opportunity with the chemistry that makes fandom great.  It could take advantage of empty scheduling between cons.  There are fairs/swaps for other indie groups (like goth clothing swaps, how cool is that?)  Furry art jams are already a thing – think of leveling up with a showcase for your local group.  Cons are full of distractions that make dealing hard (party fun is a focus for many furs) – a show like this could BE the party!

Please comment if you have any such events in your local fandom!

Side topic:  Remember when I mentioned doing freeganism a long time ago?  That’s where my packrat fursona came from.  Almost 15 years ago I did bad writing about it for the heck of it, and was immensely surprised to have some republished by cyberpunk-founder Bruce Sterling in Wired.

Subthread:  Furry cons try to be all things to all attendees. While they grow, maybe it risks spreading the effort too thinly. They have so many kinds of things to offer (shows, dances, panels, art, dealing, and more) that maybe more focus can help.

It leads to Eevachu’s point that “a furmeet/artist alley fandom model works well for <1000 attendee events,” but those who vend professionally may need a more focused model.  I can back up that point with complaints about limited dealer spaces that crowd out long-time pros. (They’re in my article about limits of a growing fandom.)  Perhaps local bazaars could make other options.

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