Crowds of self-described “geeks” gathered at Lansdowne Park recently for PopX, an exposition celebrating Marvel movies, video games and all things popular culture. It was also a chance for niche collectible vendors in Ottawa to sell their wares in person at a “multi-genre entertainment and comic convention.”

The Horticulture Building was packed with people showing off impressive cosplay costumes from popular franchises and series, such as Marvel and Naruto. There was a Mario Kart tournament with players competing for collectibles and gift cards.

There were also opportunities to meet special guests including Kurt Lehner, a professional illustrator and animation artist; actor Lou Wagner, known for his role in Planet of the Apes; and voice actress Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, best known for her roles in the Pokémon television series.

The atmosphere is always interesting. … Everyone’s happy, and it’s fun. It’s geeky, and I like it.

Frédérique Roy-Bourgoing, PopX vendor, FnF Gems

But beyond the costumes and fun activities throughout the weekend, the expo allowed various Ottawa-based artists and business owners to share their products with the community and help them extend their customer bases locally.

This year’s PopX was a first for Chris Cierpicki as a business owner. Cierpicki operates Picki Collectibles, which focuses on selling collectible Funko Pops, small figurines, often depicting popular characters from films, television shows and other media.

Cierpicki’s business is primarily online sales, but he thought he’d try selling in-person at the Lansdowne event.

“We decided we wanted to come to a convention,” Cierpicki said. “We had a lot of good collectible stuff to start branching out. We always shop at conventions, too, so we’ve always thought about setting up a booth.”

He explained that it was somewhat intimidating given the large amount of work involved that initially deterred him from vending at this kind of event. However, when Cierpicki heard that organizers were looking to fill an empty booth space, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I saw that (they were) looking for people with Funko Pops,” he said. “It kind of inspired me to jump on it. It just felt like a sign that I should do it.”

table at collectibles convention covered with little plant pots full of fake flowers and figurines from video games
Adriana Granieri’s booth at PopX featured her Pokémon-inspired terrariums. [Photo © Adriana Granieri]

Adriana Granieri has been participating in conventions and other related events for about eight years now. She used to attend in cosplay, appearing as the Disney princess Belle, Wednesday Addams or one of the twins from The Shining. Now, her main focus is selling her hand-made products through her business, Craft This.

Over the past year, Granieri has been creating tiny terrariums in small flower pots and old Gameboy shells. Inside, she puts together a scene using fake plants and figurines of iconic characters from the Pokémon franchise.

Granieri’s inspiration came from what she had seen some other artists doing.

“A lot of people do the Pokémon balls, and they create little terrariums inside of them,” Granieri said. “I have no idea how to be that coordinated to make something inside of a ball. I just wanted to try something just a little bit different.”

Granieri adapted the idea and made it into something she considered her own.

“At first, I was like, I could do something with an actual pot because it’s plant-related, so I played with that,” Granieri explained. “Then, I started thinking, what’s related to Pokémon other than a ball that you can expand with? That’s where I kind of went to with the Gameboys.”

As the popularity of her own products has grown, Granieri has expanded some of the characters and themes of her terrariums.

 “At Halloween, I’ll do some horror-themed ones. …  I also do some Kirby, too,” said Granieri, referring to the pink character at the centre of a Nintendo video game first played in the early 1990s and still going today.

According to vendors, there’s more to attending an expo like PopX than promoting their businesses.

Granieri said the best part about PopX was chatting with other like-minded people who share similar interests and hobbies.

Frédérique Roy-Bourgoing of FnF Gems, a business that sells vintage toys, apparel and nostalgic collectibles, said the best part of PopX was visiting other booths, checking out other vendors and seeing fun costumes.

“The atmosphere is always interesting. … Everyone’s happy, and it’s fun. It’s geeky, and I like it.”