Sakura Con

Washington State Convention Center
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April 10, 2020 - April 12, 2020 | Table Cost: $150
http://sakuracon.org/
(6 votes)
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What people say... 6 Leave your rating
Decent, but always be nimble for change
Seattle Convention Center is notorious for horrible cellphone service, so get that checked immediately. I was next to the pillar, and my T-mobile service would go in and out depending on if a lot of people were in the alley - a lot, meant I was bumped to 4G and my p.o.s. couldn't work.
This year was a year for change, and a lot of people dislike that. I can empathize with them, but I went in fully expecting chaos so nothing surprised me. I prefer convenience, so I park at the convention center's parking, which thankfully hasn't really increased in price from 2008 - but it is higher than it says online when I double checked.
The largest pain was that in order to get your badge, you had to go to the new building, and there was no accommodation for picking it up where AA actually would be, in the Arch. Convention center staff, not the Sakura Con staff, were also being rude, and forcing you to enter the building on the farthest side up the hill to get to registration, instead of letting people cut through the building. Vendors and regular attendees were mixed together into the same lanes, so your wait time could be stupid long. [Also, and this is a dig specifically at Sakura Con, they decided to make the badges out of plain paper that isn't waterproof, when it rains often during this con, and of course, it rained. And I say this as a dig at Sakura itself, because I have attended for over ten years, and I know they have the capacity to print on-demand actual plastic credit card type badges that hold up well.]
Thankfully I did not need to use the loading dock, but now that I know where hand-carry freight is, I'll be using it in the future. I was able to use my small rolling hand-truck and take it through the convention center both in and out. Going out was a pain with attendees present, and again, now that I know where the hand-carry freight is, I'll use it in the future.
I do not ever expect this convention to move the Artist Alley into the same building as the Exhibitors, for many reasons that staff have informed me on over the years. In short, we're in Seattle, with Nintendo of America and other big name companies breathing down your neck, and most of Artist Alley looks like bootlegs to their corporate eyes.
Considering they increased the size of AA this year, I'd actually say the layout was solid. I was accommodated to get a metal bar on the open side of my table so attendees would not come in and loiter, which I saw a few leaning against the bar and totally would've snuck in behind me given the chance. The Fern staff was very easy to talk to, even if getting the actual result took a bit of pestering them but I offered nothing but patience and just emphasized I needed something there, and I'd be willing to pay for it. The AA was able to upgrade everyone to having essentially a 10x10 space, with room behind you to make a mess and spread out without becoming a trip hazard. Every day our trash was emptied - very nice of them. And the Convention Center security staff was very nice to speak to when arriving very early in the morning.
If you were wanting to be anything like a regular attendee at this convention, I recommend hiring an assistant or bringing someone to help. The walk over to the other building is easily 20 minutes casually, so you might be gone a while. Leave your booth to someone you trust to be there for at least an hour or so.
Thankfully, because the convention is established, and the building AA was in was the old Exhibitors room, muscle memory for a lot of previous attendees just kicked in and they knew where we were and where to find us. If anything, because it's a year of change was the worse thing going against it. I would like to see Autographs moved into the Arch building with the AA, not necessarily in the same room, but to be something to draw some new attendee's knowledge that we're using that building still over to it. I do think sales were affected by the change of how many vendors to attendees ratio there is now. I still made profit, but not if I had been staying in a hotel. I was able to stay with a friend for free luckily.
I will say, if you were put in this back-end section of the alley, where traditionally a big name like the Nendoroid company was before, you were not going to see as much foot-traffic. That whole chunk of the alley was effectively "the back". I do think the alley has grown too large and should be cut down because the money is now being spread too thin. It was not a good idea to grow the AA by that much during the same year that a change in location would take effect. I am happy to be back in the larger exhibit hall after so many years of AA being banished from it, when it was in the same room as Exhibitors.
October 28, 2023, 10:45 pm
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A great con if you can get in
This is my second time tabling at this con in the Artist Alley, both times in the lobby/downstairs area. This time I was in the lower basement area near the elevators.

The most major issue with this con was the absolute lack of cell service. I had not attended the last year the con was around (2019) but I had heard that they had provided internet services to vendors. I really hope they bring that back as it was absolutely impossible to get a signal unless you ran down the hall toward the stairs (and then up the stairs as more and more people packed into the hall).

Otherwise, it was a good experience. The staff was very helpful and would watch your table or grab water for you if you needed it. As someone who was tabling on my own, it was greatly appreciated. If you table at this even, definitely bring a magstrip reader as back up to take offline payments.
June 18, 2022, 8:56 pm
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They don't care about you
This year of Sakuracon had to be the worst for vending. The location was changed to an area that was very clearly last minute. Although signs ups for tables opened months in advance, staff then didn't let artists know about the change in location until five days before. We were put into the basement of the second building, and even then, the area was cramped. It was hard to move by to get behind the tables, and it was harder to see the artists as a customer. They posted literally one sign, and it was clear the volunteer non-paid staff were upset and trying what they could do. I had lost count of the people who told me they didn't even know there was an artist alley.

However, this brings up the question of why it was moved here, in which I was lucky enough to hear inside info. Vendors complained that artist alley was 'stealing' too much money from them in potential sales and so they bitched enough to get them banished from the area everyone knows about. This was confirmed to me by a man named Jon Utz, a senior area planner or whatever dumb title they gave him. When we had an issue with our space not having room for a clothing rack and being very clearly given the wrong name for our table, he had told someone with in earshot of all of us that AA doesn't matter because they don't make the con money, and that it was better for his subordinate to distance themselves from our problems. When we confronted her later about what he had said, she told us he typically wasn't around other people.

What kind of convention has a man in a staff position like that? There's a good word to describe Sakuracon. It's greed. It's a dying con, willing to give in to corporate demands and fuck over everyone else. Stay far away, there's no doubt next year will be worse.
May 7, 2017, 11:20 pm
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One of the worst experiences I've had with a show
This was one of the worst experiences I've had doing a convention ever. Partly due to the incompetence of the staff, and partly due to my own medical emergency. There was also blatant disregard for and insults thrown towards the artists in particular, but I'll get to that in a moment. Firstly, communication with staff before the show was horrible. It took forever for them to process anything or answer any questions. The first day we got there to set up, it was pain trying to navigate across the roofs to find the right hall. No one there seemed to know where things were going. From the parking lot we had to take several freight elevators just to get to the right area to take our stuff. They put us in the building across the street from the main building. It didn't accommodate larger cosplays and props that couldn't fit between the tightly packed artists booths. The artist alley was also broken up into upstairs and downstairs with only a couple of sandwich board signs to direct the crowds that there was even another area at all. We heard reports of people not even finding our tables until the very last day of con because the layout was such a mess. Friday we were to open, but I started the day off very sick. My partner, who was on the contract for our table (pay attention, this gets brought up again), as we were working it together, was able to watch my table while I puked my guts out all day in the hotel room. Saturday when trying to find my way to the hall, I still wasn't feeling 100% and got lost trying to find the artists alley again, because, really though, that layout. I finally got there but had trouble when my stomach started acting up again. I thought that it might have just been food poisoning or something, but it wasn't. Some nice ladies found me in the bathroom and offered to take me to the medical area. They put an IV in me and called an ambulance. I was wheeled out through the halls, through the crowds of gawking geeks and cosplayers. A few years ago, this would have been my own personal hell. My health was on the line. When I got to the hospital they treated me well enough to work Sunday (had to get surgery when I came back to Portland, it was my gallbladder, which had to be removed). Of course I needed to catch up with what happened at the convention while I was out so I spoke to my business partner and other vendor friends about what I had missed. I don't know who had a worse time honestly, me or them, after I heard the crap that Sakura con pulled. First, while we were trying to set up on Thursday this idiot named Jon screwed up the table arrangements then made one of my best friends cry when he said something along the lines of “Who cares about the artists? They don't make us any money anyways!” and then proceeded to call the works of the artists crap, garbage even. REALLY PROFESSIONAL GUY. If there weren't artists, you wouldn't have a show. Please find a reeeeally tall bridge and jump right off of it. Later on in the convention, one of the staff told my partner that because I wasn't at my table (DUE TO A MEDICAL EMERGENCY), that we could be banned from next year. EXCUSE ME?! First off, MY TABLE PARTNER WAS ON THE CONTRACT, THE F IS WRONG WITH YOU? Secondly, THAT IS ILLEGAL. Are you seriously that effing stupid? I tried to converse with them after the show, but the staff is trying to give myself and other artists the run-around and do not wish to talk or cooperate (which is why I finally got around to posting here!). This is a PRIME EXAMPLE of why, as a self-respecting artist with work in several galleries, that I don't often do anime conventions. The staff are typically incompetent, ignorant, and don't give a toss about the artists or audience. It's disgustingly unprofessional and the whole experience makes me just want to get sick again. I don't recommend this show. You can make a couple of $$ but it's not worth your dignity. I would send someone from my studio to work the show again, but not unless Sakura Con fixes their sh--. I will apply next year, but if we don't get in, I'll assume it's because you enforced an illegal ban, and you will be hearing from my lawyer if that's the case. Discrimination, especially in relation to health and medical, is a hot issue right now. Sakura Con scewed up big time, not just with me, but I have disabled friends who also were talked down to by both staff and convention center security. I hope that Sakura Con suffers for all of the suffering they have caused. Screw this convention. If you already have an established art career, DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS MESS OF A CON. It's not like they're going to have an artist alley for much longer. From what I heard, staff is trying to phase it out all together. Gross.
May 7, 2017, 9:06 pm
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Definitely going back again next year
Overall Sakura Con was a great experience for me. Communication with the staff was good before or during the con, they came by and check on me during the con a couple of time, offer to look after my table if I needed to go grab lunch.
The convention center was in downtown Seattle, it was a great location. The con's layout was pretty good, the artist alley was location to the right of the main entrances, attendees could choose to go to artist alley as soon as they walked in. I had a great spot, second table to the left of the entrance. I had good traffic through out the entire weekend, even Friday was great.
In my opinion, people who attended this con was very willing to spend money. I made a few sales within 20 minutes after we opened on Friday, which was a first for me. I made my highest profit in this con (even though I haven't attend many). For a con this size, 100 artist alley table was not too competitive, and the table was relatively affordable.
Next year though I heard they will change their policy and location of artist alley, not sure what will be the process of choosing artists. But I will definitely go again.
May 6, 2016, 12:35 pm
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Hectic Before, Great During
Had issues with communication before the show and our check didn't get cashed for the table until just before the event (they'd had it for 3 months), but once we showed up everything was really great. Staff was very nice and checked in on us at least a couple times a day. My table was in the Small Press Section, just between dealers and AA. It felt like the section was pretty slow compared to the rest of the room, but sales were good.
March 31, 2016, 2:47 pm
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