Otakon 2015: Artist Alley Review

August 11, 2015 at 6:00 am 2 comments

This was my second year at Otakon and things got off to a rough start and I didn’t make goal, but I survived. I kind of have mixed feelings about this weekend. At least my flight got me there without a hitch like what happened with Anime Boston!

Steamed Bun plush and Hamburger Bun plush toys on display.

Steamy rolls out the unwelcome wagon for Hammy.

A highlight of the weekend was that I got to meet a lot of artists I correspond with online in the Facebook artist alley group. I also got to finally meet Tonya from Shinedown Productions who’s been doing my Punny Buns plush. She brought me the final Hamburger Bun prototype on Saturday. I had Hammy out for display at my table and got a lot of positive reaction to him. Honey Bun didn’t make it to this con due to luggage space. I was able to get some pre-orders for him. I’m excited for 2016 when I have the Punny Buns with me for the con season. I think this will really help me get to the next level with Kimchi Kawaii.

I had planned on bringing over 100 plush, but due to the fast turnover time between Anime Expo and this one, I didn’t complete as many as I would have liked. I did rush through a bunch so I could send them ahead of me. Plush sell well, but boy are they bulky. Shipping has now become a part of my artist alley prep. I guess it keeps me on track, especially for east coast cons since I have to factor in cross country shipping time.

Sales seemed slower this year on the first day compared to the previous year and general sales all weekend seemed lower for everyone I spoke to in the AA. This year, Otakon only saw about 28,000 which was a significant drop in attendance. I think there were two main factors in this – they did away with one day passes so that meant someone who wanted to just come on say, Saturday, still had to pay around $100 for registration. Also, even though it was months ago, the riots in Baltimore seemed to keep some people away as well.

I had hoped that with the increased plush variety, I would make a certain sales goal, but I came in well short of it. Honestly, it was a bit disappointing with all the work and headache I had leading up to this con – extreme time crunches, other obligations cutting into prep time, wrong items being shipped, items missing all together from orders, etc. This is the last travel con for my 2015 season and I’m pretty happy to be putting the suitcases away until next year. I’ll have the Punny Buns arriving from the Kickstarter so will be focusing on that and getting ready for my dealers booth at SacAnime on Labor Day weekend.

My plush did sell out and this was the first con where I actually sold out of the Sweet Dreams Strawberries by the second day. Usually, those are a hard sell – lots of people think they’re super cute, but they just won’t buy. However, the prints were slow to move and I had a hard time selling the deco den phone cases that I carry.

Even before this con, I’ve decided to discontinue them as it’s just too difficult to keep up with the new models coming out everyArtist alley table for Kimchi Kawaii at Otakon, 2015. year. Plush making is also taking up a significant chunk of my time. Additionally, the market is just getting flooded and a lot of people are underpricing their cases which means I can’t compete. Side note to artists: PLEASE don’t undervalue your work! It just hurts you and your fellow artists and gives the buying public the expectation that they shouldn’t pay more than $5 for anything we do (ends soapbox).

So to sum it all up – for those of you considering selling at this con, it has had the potential for good sales, but this year was just an off year for whatever reason. It will be interesting to see if they lower prices or bring back the one day pass again for next year which could up sales again. They will also be moving to the D.C. area for 2017.

Also know that Otakon has some of the longest artist alley hours out there. Friday was from 1pm – 11pm. Saturday was from 10am – 11pm. Sunday is more normal in hours. If you can swing it, I definitely recommend bringing a helper to give you breaks or make sure you are neighbors with friends!

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Entry filed under: Artist Alley Reviews. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lulumorina  |  August 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I always love reading about your adventures to conventions, I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you! Will definitely buy a few goodies from your store these coming months!! (:

    Reply
    • 2. kimchikawaii  |  November 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you! Already lining up a bunch of cons and big projects for the new year!

      Reply

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