Over the years, this remained the same, except for their table prices. We started at $200 only for it to now cost double that. I would never make THAT much money from this show, maybe just a few hundred, but I always came back because I loved the staff. But now it's inexistent. The staff didn't even have badges for their vendors this year because they didn't order enough. I was disappointed since I always love keeping them as a souvenir of all the cons I've been to. I was also upset they moved the artists building (again), but this time they put us in the BACKEST building! Even our tables were SQUEEZED so tightly I couldn't even put my tablecloth on... that's a first. Also, i'm sure the only reason people probably found the artist alley was because they also stuffed the voice actors there, otherwise no one would have been able to find it. The artists are always getting scraps in so many conventions. It's as if vendors are first priority and artists are just extra money for their piggy bank.
You can also tell the management only cares about the money now since they keep overcharging for everything, creating NEW events (and charging $350+ for them), bundled with more shows (Kplay Fest, Sneaker Expo, etc) it makes me feel strange. I even tried out Anime Impulse OC and that show was AWFUL sales wise. You can't just create a new event, put your name on it, and expect to charge the same price as your more established event. Even AX didn't do that with their chibi event (wild)!
In 2023, Anime Impulse went big on Vtubers and brought them over unexpectedly, so that's when more people started hearing about them. It was probably the best year for me since I was heavily into Vtubers and made a lot of merch of them while the rest of the artists didn't have as much. This year, almost every seller had Vtuber merch, so I didn't stand out anymore and my sales dropped back back to "meh" because I no longer stood out. Not even Genshin was saving me like it usually does.
The crowd is changing. People used to not spend too much on higher priced items, but this year some people did. This year's vibe was more noticeable too, since people actually came OUT OF STATE to see their favorite Vtubers, when in the past it was mostly local. That's crazy, so I know Anime Impulse is finally gaining traction on their own, instead of relying on the Asian American expo now. (PS - the booths selling food this year were HIIIIGHHHH. $24 for Yakisoba? $16 for 6pcs of takoyaki? $35 for 3 bobas?! I know you can charge a little extra at these shows, but this seems extreme)
So would I recommend this show? As an attendee, yes. Especially if you like all these things happening at once, LOL. But as a vendor? Maybe not. Even with Vtubers, the attendance is still under 10k, tables are higher and keep getting higher every year, you have to stand out a little harder if you want to catch people's attention, staff+management has stopped caring about their artists, and most importantly, sales continue to be "meh".
This is where I gotta throw in the towel. Just like the vendor badge I didn't receive this year, i'll also no longer be attending this event. It was bittersweet being a part of it. See you space cowboy.
This event isn't a bad one. It's actually fun to go to and be an attendee, especially since their tickets are affordable if you just want to have fun, but it seems that the staff just wants to milk profits from their vendors. I still remember when you couldn't even share your table when they first started because they wanted your money. If my profits continue to be poor at this con and if tables prices continue to rise, I will definitely stop vending here.
To be continued in 2023 (I will be back)
Aside from that, it was so damn hard to find this place my first time! When I was driving around, I kept getting redirected by so many people to different locations (non-staff) because they honestly didn't know where the con was being held at. The location is a little discreet for first timers, so making it easier to find would be great!
Moving onto the attendance. It's slow and you'll have very little to do. The sales will be decent, but that's mostly because the attendees are very cheap, i'm not gonna lie. They prefer buying small things like buttons or stickers, than prints or enamels. So if you're interested in making bank, then bring your cheap items! They'll sell more than anything else, in all honestly.
The con is a little far from food places, so you have to sort of uber it to get somewhere. Overall, it's an okay con if you're local. The only reason I still go though, is because of the great staff who make me feel important and I will always support that. 🙂
AI takes place with the Asian American Expo, 2018 was the third year for this convention, so I have hopes that it'll improve more so in the future. Staff is attentive, but strict on the rules, so try to get your paperwork sorted beforehand as with any convention.
HOWEVER, if you'd like a successful convention with AI during its 2 day span, have small knickknacks, charms, etc, because the initial crowd for AI is a lot of younger kids and teenagers, rarely do big prints sell compared to stickers, buttons, small prints. Try to cater to the mentality of the place being a family setting more so than a anime setting because you're not going to focus on the anime crowd, but you're going to focus on the Asian public as well. From my experience, cute things that look like they belong in the hello kitty store is a sure fire way to get sales than a picture of sailor moon.
The layout had artist alley set up right in the exhibition hall, where there is a lot of traffic going about the convention and has helped sales by a lot However, I remain wary for next year seeing as the artist alley is going to be separated from the hall itself, which, like every other convention will harm sales.
When I bought my table they charged about 200$ because I bought my table later in the year, next year's tables for vets are going to be 200$ if you plan to come again.
I had a really good time. I met and be-friended several artists I'd never heard of before, exchanging ideas and contacts. I talked with lots of con-goers and enjoyed the costumes as people walked by. The layout of the small artist alley was spacious and easy to navigate.
I spent about 350$~ ish to attend (including table, hotel, merch, travel, and food) and walked away with a comfortable amount of profit. I broke even on Day 1 with no issues and that left Day 2 to be entirely profit.
I will say the attendance WAS an odd crowd, with a lot of families and their very young children which were obviously only there to browse or comment on the stuff I had to offer. But the other part of the crowd was a friendly, pleasant group who participated in the artist alley plenty.
My only complaint would be how loud the announcers/panels/music was at times. I was centered RIGHT in front of the stage, which was entertaining in it's own right, made it really hard for me to hear my customers and vice versa.
I'd say this con is a good, comfortable con for locals who can keep costs to a minimum and have a solid booth to attract customers.
The convention takes place during the same time as Asian American Expo and the Silk Show, so you have anime fans mixed in with families that have no idea what anime is, which greatly skews the attendance information that gets put out there. When I was doing research on this con, I read that it got about 10,000 in attendance, when maybe in actuality only about 1,000 are there for Anime Impulse. And even then, only a small amount of them actually buy anything from the artist alley. During the first day, I overheard some artists complaining about how some of them made $0-$10 within the first six hours. The crowd was nice, and I had nice conversations with some, but that's really all they're there for.
Artist alley this year was also separated into two different buildings. One was for the people who actually signed up early while those who signed up late (me), were put into another building where they held the anime convention's events. I feel like my building got more traffic, which I think is a little unfair for those who signed up earlier. On the other hand, those who were in my building also had to get their ears blasted by the announcer who kept screaming into the microphone during each event. We asked staff if they could quiet the microphone. That lasted for like two hours on day one, and then the announcer guy went back to his obnoxious, loud yelling.
I really had high hopes for this con, considering how professional the AA staff was (despite loud announcer guy) and how cheap the table prices were, but it was just terrible for sales overall. I managed to make a little bit of profit, but I know lots of people around me did not. Stay away from this con!