201 Waterfront St
National Harbor, MD 20745
February 12-14, 2016 | Table Cost: $175
Anyway, knew what to expect with the venue since I've attended (but not sold) at MAGFest. Signing in and setting up went by smoothly. There was no signal in the room, so we had to use Square offline, which luckily worked fine for us. Sales were okay and probably could've been better, but I mostly blame that on me just recently getting back into cons and not being totally prepared. Made enough to cover basic costs at least. Overall I had a really great time and would do it again - but like other posters said, it might not be worth it for you don't sell a ton normally at cons. (I'm not at the point in my career yet where I'm living off of cons or anything, so it was fine for me.)
My expenses were on the high side since I stayed at the Gaylord and flew in, but it also made transporting my prints a lot easier. Setting up was a breeze and I was one of the first ones to get checked in which was good. Day 1 and 2 were slower than what I was used to, and I felt that compared to the dealer's room, there weren't any visible signage for artist alley. Day 3 really picked up and got super busy. I am definitely satisfied with how much I made, but in the end this is still a cosplay-heavy con and less of an AA-focused con, so keep that in mind if you want to sell here. If you are not local and do not make at least 2k+ per con (minus expenses), then this is one you should skip since the hotel + food prices are crazy expensive here.
Staff was friendly, but one lady kept yelling into the megaphone which got annoying and unnecessary.
When the fire happened, at first there was a lot of confusion. The staff let me stay long enough to grab my cashbox and throw most of my merch behind the table. They also let us know that they would let artists in first before general attendees when coming back which eased my nerves some. We were herded out the doors near the artist alley and into the cold where we huddled against a building for about 30 minutes before anyone told us we should probably move somewhere else. Ended up walking back to our hotel which was a couple blocks away. Stayed there until some of our other artist alley friends told us on social media that they were letting them back in. Once we got there, they had started letting regular guests back into the alley, but we were allowed to cut the line pretty easily because staff recognized us. (which was super nice by the way! The staff came by to check on us multiple times and introduced themselves so we knew who they were and they knew us)
Finding a hotel share outside of the gaylord saved us a lot of money. We were also next to a grocery store so we were able to buy and make food in our suite (had a kitchen). Any time we had to get around town we used uber. I know in the past having a gaylord room and buying food at the con added up really fast. Even with the savings, my costs still came to around $900-$1000 (flight and shipping costs ate a lot). Definitely would not fly to if you don't make more than 2-3k at average cons.
Attendees were all super nice and respectful. Had a lot of fun talking to some about my fandoms and merch. Unfortunately some of my offline square purchases bounced, but it made up about 7% of the sales so it wasn't a huge loss. There was almost no connection and some customers were waiting 10-20 minutes just to get a failed swipe so we decided to take the risk with the offline purchases. Still had enough good sales to make up for it.
If I can go again, I'll definitely try. Katsucon is always my favorite, not just for sales but for cosplaying and hanging with my crew.
On the minus side, the wifi in the AA was nearly nonexistent, which made it difficult to take credit card payments; both my Square chip reader and Paypal Here reader refused to work for me all weekend. Fortunately, most of the customers were understanding, and willing to pay with cash instead.
All in all, a very good convention. I hope to make it in next year!
Closing times were barely enforced until Sunday rolled around. We closed at 9 on Friday and Saturday, I was sitting at my table still making sales at 9:20PM because no one was making an active effort to clear the room. Obviously I'm not going to turn down a sale, but we've all been sitting there for like, 12 hours. We want to close when we are told we are closing, and we can't just walk away from a table with valuable goods when there are still attendees walking around. It was incredibly aggrivating. Where was that megaphone from thursday when you actually needed it?
When leaving on sunday, it was clear no one thought to watch over the flow of traffic in the loading dock. It was literally impossible to leave because people were allowed to park all over the place and completely blocked exit. Someone came out eventually to direct traffic, but you'd think someone would have thought of that in the first place.
I won't even bother to mention the fire evacuation, by the way. The situation was a mess, start to finish.
Basically, I bring this stuff up because this is not a young con. I have never seen anything so unorganized. Katsucon has been around long enough to do better than this. It kind of felt to me that the con was just running on it's own, if that makes sense.
The attendees were great and it brought in an incredible profit, but I was pretty irked the entire weekend over all this weird stuff.
At least we got free pocky from them on Saturday...?
I will absolutely be re-applying to Katsucon, but I really, REALLY hope that this lack of organization isn't a recurring theme.