I've attended cons all over the country and this is probably the least profitable con I've done in recent memory and I'm local to the area! If you're considering selling at this con and you're spending more than 2 hours traveling to get to it, I definitely do not recommend flying out to come here. With that I'll just go to the pros and cons I've experienced over the weekend.
-Load In was a smooth process and getting set up had no major issues
-Attendees looked like they were having fun
-Ribbon culture going strong
-Parking at the LBCC was $15 and directly under the convention center which was convenient
-Lots of nearby places to grab food and a starbucks right across the street
-There was an email sent before the con that was extremely unprofessional that was sent to artists before the con
-Table Prices increased again Artist Alley was $550 and vendors were around $1k and they doubled the amount of artist and vendors in the hall. This greatly affected sales for everyone.
-While the venue isn't terrible, it's definitely older and they have been making renovations but parts like elevators and such were poorly maintained. The elevators from the parking garage up to the con center smelled like piss
-Poor communication between staff and convention center staff led to a lot of miscommunication and confusion for entering and exiting for vendors/artists.
-4 days is too long for this con. I attended another event the week after and made double the sales in just 2 days. I think this con would benefit more by returning to a 3 day con and decreasing the amount of vendors and artists. After finishing this con I felt like I had wasted 5 days of my life (+1 day for set up).
-Arcane Maid Cafe, which they host at this event, has been caught using AI generated art for their advertising and had even made a AI generated art for the mascot of ALA that was taken down once people caught on. There is definitely a history of this cafe being exploitative towards their maids as well as shady business practices that the owner/operator partakes in.
Overall, I made maybe $100 after all the costs were added up. My average is about 2-4K for a 4 day con, so this was definitely not worth my time. After selling at this even for years, I will not be returning as a vendor. I might go for a day as an attendee but that's about it. The community is the only thing keeping this con afloat.
However, there are a few things I'd note. It was VERY difficult to navigate the dealer's hall. Even if we all had table numbers, I couldn't direct anyone to a specific location since the table sequence didn't really make sense. They also never checked our bags once as exhibitors (this is America and the worst is to be expected), we never even had to go through metal detectors during the weekend.
Additionally, for ALA, 4 days was a little too much (Thurs-Sun). Attendance is low on Thursday anyway AND hours were shorter, so it didn't seem worth it to be open for that long. We were also competing with SacAnime in NorCal which was occurring the same weekend and next weekend was Anime Impulse in Pomona.
I was ready to accept breaking even or losing money since it was my first con, but luckily I made a small amount of profit (also because I'm local and I packed my own food). It may be better once the pandemic is over, but I think there were also some growing pains after moving from the Ontario convention to Long Beach. I would try it again next year to see if it would make a difference.
Sales should not be as high as expected especially if you're a local around the area. More often than not I see a lot of artist alley vendors have insanely high expectations for this con and get really upset when their high expectations are shattered by it.
This con is NOT worth the travel unless you're a local or can afford the costs by getting an exhibition table and share with others.
- I always enjoyed this convention with its ribbon game and participating with attendees as well as engaging with them.
- The fact that it's in the Long Beach Convention Center this time makes it a better venue and helps with the growth, however, I don't think this con is the going to be as massive as AX and never will be. It's a fun convention for those who want to party and socialize. Which is not really a good thing since omicron.
- There's a lot more places to go after the convention, such as the aquarium and the pier as well as the shopping center, so attendees are not centered on just the convention center itself.
- You know you're in a decent artist alley where all the tables and section are separated from one another, that's a good call, and TRASH CANS, more conventions need to give artists their own trash cans.
- If you're a vendor, you can skip the security scans now, so you're able to bring in small foods and snacks compared to Ontario where it felt like you had to hide food like you were hiding drugs.
- No covid announcement, the announcement of someone who was tested positive for covid had to be leaked through convention guests.
- Why is there a rave party with little to no social distancing in the convention halls?
- Fire alarm to evacuate attendees only, you're a vendor/artist lmao stay put. Thankfully the fire alarm was a false alarm, but still :/
- The artist alley is a MAZE, and not in a good way, there's NO markers for the artist alley compared to the exhibition halls to guide you on where to go for tables, that really messes with sales badly since many customers who were looking for specific artists CANNOT find tables!!
- PUT BANNERS AND SIGNS TO TELL ATTENDEES WHERE THE TABLES ARE.
- No grandfather status for upcoming ALA, you're always going to be fighting to get into a spot no matter how many years you've attended.
- Massive miscommunication errors between staff and their TWITTER, IE, the enamel pin situation where one of the staff refused to give a pin the morning before convention because it was for 'attendees only', it was the last day before the staff went, 'oh yeah I didn't know!'
- 4 day con is TOO MUCH, this convention is not AX and it's trying to advertise itself like it is the next AX. 3 is more than enough time for the convention. Especially since we have to set up the night before. Thursdays are basically dead, half the tables were not around, friday was the MOST dead out of all the days.
-Organize the tables where it's a literal section for ALA on its own instead of having isolated tables that are placed in front of the void and unable to gain traction / business.
- 350-450$ for a TABLE at this convention is too much.
Venue was overall OK, we were put in a pavillion for the con, which was twice the size of the convention hall itself. IMO it would've been better if the artists had a hall NEXT to the exhibition hall or something, to assist with traffic in the convention center, or just some where that seemed to be more explicit. I do understand why artists were placed as they were though. The venue during the day was dark while in the evenings it got significantly brighter.
Staff was very responsive, and easy to talk to as well as helpful when it came to artists issues, the only complaint I had was with the security not allowing artists to bring food to their tables during day 3. I feel like that was a major sense of miscommunication between staff and security, which again I feel will be fixed for next year.
The layout in my area of artist alley was fine, there was a lot of walking space between vendors as well as behind the tables, that is something I am really happy about because if you want to compare ALA to AX, it's a lot more roomier than being packed like sardines.
Attendees were very nice and enthusiastic when it came to the art work, however I felt like my style was not ment for the ALA crowd really, a lot of younger kids who were on board on the newest trend, so if you want sales regarding them, consider the fact that most of these attendees are kids with their parents and don't have much of a budget. However, get something that's kid friendly and small knickknacks so they can afford the item price! Bring ribbons, ribbons make the world go round with this con, since it was my first time going, I didn't expect the ribbon hype to be as big as it is.
Affordability is fine, it's the typical California convention price which is 200$ for an artist alley table, so it's not too bad for a growing con!!
I figured that the attendance was a bit skewed because most of the attendees went to Anime Impulse instead, considering the fact that passes for the whole weekend was about 40-60$ or so and majority of people came to this con to watch the cowboy bebop anniversary :>
Layout: The usual setup of rows of tables next to the Dealers Hall area. Lots of space behind tables for artists to use, and bathrooms were close by. The ratio of artists to attendees seemed good, but people who were way in the back of the AA or the end of the rows didn’t have the good fortune of getting all the spillover from the Dealers Hall.
Staff: Great! Well-organized, friendly, helpful, informative, and they kindly gave water to the artists throughout the weekend. I definitely felt valued as an artist and have nothing but good things to say about the staff for both the AA and the con in general.
Attendance: Very friendly/nice and happy to see all the art, but also very young and not willing to spend money. The traffic flow was pretty steady over the weekend, but sales were NOT. To be honest, these are the worst my sales have ever been at any con. Attendees were very complimentary and would stop to browse at my table and say how happy they were to see things that I had/that they really loved my products, but they wouldn’t buy anything. I only sold my small, low priced filler items and virtually no large prints. I also had more people complaining about prices than I’ve encountered at other cons, and I heard other artists say the same. If your main products are all low-cost, small items, you will probably do very well, but if you’re a print artist relying on sales of large prints, you might be in trouble depending on your style/location in the AA.
Affordability/overall: I would say if you’re local and have no expenses outside of the table/a split hotel room, and you have lots of low-price items, it’s worth your time, but if you had to travel from out of the area and have more expenses, it’s definitely a gamble.