This post is going to be about my experience as a vendor at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2015, which was held September 24-27 at the Cobb Galleria. It was quite a few months ago and I have absolutely terrible memory, so this post might not be very detailed! And I didn’t anticipate blogging at this time so I didn’t take many pictures~ ;-; EDIT: wow it is pretty long. My bad.
So AWA 2015 was my first convention selling as a vendor. I didn’t really know what to expect and was ill-prepared honestly. I’ll get into the pre-con preparations first!
We had no idea how much of each print to bring, so we ended up bringing around 280 total prints of about 16 different designs altogether! In retrospect, we shouldn’t have printed out so many as there were way too many leftover prints. Prints don’t expire so I guess it wasn’t all that bad? It did bring our expenses up a significant amount, though. Also, we ended up sharing a hotel with a friend which I originally thought was a great idea! But when I realized how expensive the hotel was, I regretted agreeing to sharing the hotel.. we probably could’ve gotten an airbnb for much cheaper, unfortunately. I’ll keep that in mind for next time. If you don’t know what airbnb is, you should check it out! It’s like an eBay for housing and I use it quite frequently. (Also, if you sign up through my referral link here, you’ll get $20 off your stay too! Woot!)
Before the convention, I debated whether or not I was going to cosplay, but it was too last minute so I decided to just wear the standard maid outfit. It was cute and got me into the spirit of anime conventions! Woooo! I ordered them both because my sewing skills leave much to be desired.. Anyways, the first one was a black one with cat ears! Pictured left is me trying to be cute in it. I was so excited when I got it in the mail, I dropped what I was doing and put it on immediately. My roommate thought it was cute, too! The next one I got was a purple one! I didn’t wear the headband that it came with. I ended up purchasing one at AWA because I didn’t think the stock one was cute.
Unfortunately, I don’t have full body pictures. There might be pics floating around on the internet since I got a handful of people who wanted to take pictures. Sidenote: Whenever I got stopped for a picture, it was a really wonderful feeling! Always an ego boost when people stop to tell you how cute you are/look! Ahhh dressing up in maid outfits is so fun!
We arrived Wednesday night and crashed with a friend of mine for the first night of the trip. I was really hungry when I picked up my artist friend from the airport, so we went to go eat a huge bowl of pho. Yummy~ I don’t have a picture of just the bowl, but here’s a blurry picture my friend took. I’m right in the center of the 5 in the back. Can you see how large our bowl was? After my belly was filled with all that deliciousness, we went back to my friend’s house where they played some smash. I was busy preparing everything for the convention, including setting up my little Square app and making sure all the last minute supplies were in check. I used Square to take card payments, which was convenient! I love the design of the app and how it streamlines everything and gives us a detailed report. The fees are high, but that’s the price I gotta pay, I suppose. And.. don don don! Onto day 1 of AWA!
We started our day by picking up our friend from the airport! (the one we
were rooming at the hotel with). We had breakfast at this cute little hole in the wall breakfast place that looked like it was full of a bunch of truck drivers. I guessed that from all the huge trucks parked outside, haha. I wasn’t too hungry, so all I had was a bowl of cheese grits. They were b-o-m-b! I love eating grits, especially super duper cheesy ones like this one was! I added some salt and pepper and voila, it was a perfect. After breakfast, we headed to the convention center to pick up our badges and start our setup. Set-up was pretty quick. We had a standard PVC pipe and clamp display. I think it took about 1 hour total? Probably about 20 minutes of that hour was just deciding where to put each print and putting them into clear bags. Also, clear bags. I FORGOT TO BUY THEM! It was awful. We didn’t have any protection for our prints for our customers! I felt so bad. Most everyone already had plastic bags from other vendors, but it was embarrassing that we didn’t have any. We also didn’t have business cards so we had to resort to writing out all our social media information and putting it up so people could take a picture of it on their phones. Sigh. After that, we went to the hotel and relaxed~ The hotel we stayed at was really nice! My favorite part of the room was the bathroom. It had a huge jacuzzi tub. Maybe I’ll splurge next year again..? Nah, I don’t think the price of it is worth it just for the jacuzzi. They also gave fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies when we checked in. Yum!
Sales were slow Friday but steady Saturday and Sunday. I think this was due to location. Friday, our table was in such an awful spot. We were located near the back of the room. There was little to no traffic and so many empty tables! It deterred people from going all the way to the back of the artist alley, I think. Friday evening, I noticed that there were still so many empty spots closer to the entrance, so I contacted staff and requested to be moved closer to the entrance (about 2 table away from the friend we were rooming with, too so that was a great plus!). They told me that they couldn’t give me an answer until the next morning in case the table owner showed up late. I was also behind maybe about 10 others who had requested to be moved? So I figured that it was unlikely that I would get the table I asked for. Lo and behold, the next morning as we stopped on our way to the convention to pick up food, I got a call from one of the staff and she told me that we were approved for the table change. Yay!! I was so excited about that, I rushed back to the convention in my cutesy purple maid outfit and began frantically moving our things. I really do think this impacted our sales quite a bit! I even snapped a quick selfie from the excitement that morning (pictured)! Our print sales increased Saturday, but a large chunk of our sales were actually from sketch commissions! (My poor, poor friend..) He worked so incredibly hard all weekend long and I really applaud his effort. It was almost nonstop drawing all weekend long. Next time, we’ll definitely cut back on our sketch commissions. So many people wanted to commission him, we actually had to up the price Saturday to try and deter people from commissioning and try and stagger them due to his popularity. That didn’t stop people, so halfway through Saturday we had to close off commissions completely. Sorry if you missed your chance! But a big thanks to all our wonderful patrons. As far as sales go, we ended up making a small profit after all our expenses! That was actually great news considering our goal was just to break even and our costs were so high. The table was $100 + 2 badges, the hotel was roughly $300, and the flights were about $400. That isn’t even including the cost of inventory, food, and my travel expenses. Regardless, we still made profit which was awesome. If you’re considering selling at the artist alley here, it’s definitely a great place! It has its slow moments, but there’s definitely a lot of potential here. The attendance was in the low 20ks I believe.
Now, onto cosplays! I didn’t see much of the convention as we were in the dealer’s room for most of the con, but I managed to snap some pics of cosplayers.
There were a lot of amazing cosplays! I didn’t even get to take a picture of all the ones I liked. Boo! There was the tiny cute little Inuyasha with a HUGE tetsusaiga sword that I really wanted to take a pic of, but I couldn’t manage to track her down after I saw her the first time. 😦 And that Sora! So adorable! No one even asked him to pose, I just asked to take a picture of him and he did that. I also really liked the surgeon Shen. When I asked to take a pic of him, he got really excited and told me I was the first person to recognize him. I suppose it’s not that obvious, but I have that skin and he also had those little League floaties that you clap together at the official tournaments. He was so adorable, I (creepily) asked him for a hug and he gave me a really big hug.
AWA had a slew of food trucks located inside the exhibitors hall on the far left side. I can’t remember them all, but there were Vietnamese, Japanese, and American food trucks. Mags and I ate from the Viet food truck first. It was really good! The food came fresh and warm and it was pretty authentic. The second day, we ate these teriyaki bowl things from the Japanese food truck. It was pretty good. The options were great but they were pretty pricey, as expected. Each meal cost between $10 to $12 and it was enough to fill me up, but Mags was still hungry. Luckily I brought snacks and sandwiches each day to munch on. And lots of water! I think we went through a 32 pack of water that weekend. Remember to stay hydrated if you’re doing these cons! Overall, food was tasty but it was too pricey for me.
AWA 2015 was such a wonderful experience. I met some amazing people, reconnected with old friends (I lived several years in GA), and ate some delicious food. I look forward to returning next year! Thanks to all the wonderful friends and customers!