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How the Soda City Comic Con is increasing travel to Columbia, South Carolina

Vendors at the Soda City Comic Con say they've seen a boost in sales due to the event.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Thousands of comic fans visited the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center over the weekend to enjoy the annual Soda City Comic Con.

For Darrien Anderson, an Orangeburg native, his Sunday trip to Soda City Comic Con was an opportunity to see new people and experience pop culture in a way he never had before.

"I didn't know about the pinball tournaments. I knew people dressed up, but I didn't know the extent of everything, with vendors and Jason and everything going on," he said, laughing.

On Saturday, thousands of other fans who came to the Columbia Convention Center joined him. The venue was filled with science fiction vendors, cosplayers, pinball machines, old video games, and more. 

According to Amy Sakovich, the operations manager at Soda City Comic Con, the event's uniqueness is by design and brings in a crowd of over 10,000.

"I love the challenge of making a really cool, fun event based around something I love," Sakovich said. "I love pop culture; I love all the geek stuff, all the nerd stuff; I'm into it. So it's fun to make that become something of a destination for other people like me."

Sarah Britt, the sales director at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, said the event has become a destination for people throughout the southeast and is the largest event the convention center sees yearly.

"So we have people travel in from a 300 to 400 radius to come to the event in addition to the vendors and the panelists who travel in from out of town," she said. "So it's really cool for Columbia to have these people coming to this destination. This is the largest recurring event."

Britt said outside visitors help boost the local economy too.

"When we have people traveling in from out of town, they're supporting our local businesses here. They're spending money here in our city that helps us to grow, so it's really impactful," Britt said.

One of those businesses getting a leg up is Heroes and Dragons, a comic book and toy store. Owner Jorg Hohmann said they've been selling comics in Columbia for three years and have seen sales skyrocket over the weekend.

"We've had people from as far away as Atlanta and Greenville so far just today. One guy was even from New Jersey," he said.

However, he said making money isn't the focus when coming to Soda City Comic Con. He said it's a chance to meet new people, express yourself, and do what you love.

"Three or four years ago, we didn't see half as many people as this show, so it's really grown leaps and bounds, so I think that's all the strength of what a good, well-rounded show it is, family-friendly," Hohmann said.

For more information on the visit, you can visit the Soda City Comic Con website.

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