Why I attended an Anime Convention
Attending an anime convention was always something I dreamed of. I was one of those kids watching Dragon Ball Z, Ronin Warriors, and Sailor Moon. While everyone else was trying to be Power Rangers, I was trying to be Sailor Mars.
Very early on, I understood the importance of finding a tribe. I became very good at finding “my people” in every school I went to. So of course the chance to meet other fans, cosplay, and immerse myself in a world of anime sounded like the ultimate experience. I decided to take the plunge and apply to be a vendor at Dreamcon 2022. I definitely did not expect to be accepted, but I was and here’s what happened.
Before the convention, I spent weeks researching and planning my trip. Luckily as a vendor, I didn’t have to buy tickets for admission. I planned to take a friend along as an assistant so that we could both explore the convention and attend events. Next, I looked at my store inventory and decided what I wanted to sell from my catalog, and other anime specific items to sell. I also read up on the convention’s schedule, approximate attendance numbers, and watched some videos from the previous years as research.
As the convention date approached, Dreamcon sent the exhibitor info, which included a map of where my booth would be, as well as a complete list of vendors and their booth locations. I took time to research my neighbors and any businesses that were close to my niche. The one great thing about Dreamcon, is they were seeking black-owned small businesses. I was definitely in great company. I spent about three months preparing and ordering merch.
The Day Before the Con
The day before the con, vendors received access to set up out booths and pick up badges. I had never done a convention before, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to set up. I was so nervous, but ultimately it was cool because I got to meet some of my booth neighbors early. Even though I didn’t fully set up, I did put together some shelving and stored a bunch of items under my table. Some of the neighboring vendors introduced themselves, and even gave me pointers for my first time. Although I was hesitant at first about leaving my stuff overnight, Dreamcon had security stationed at the entrance and exits. Besides, setting up from scratch every single day is an absolute NO. So be ready partially break down your booth every day.Dreamcon 2022 Setup by Bri
Day One of Dreamcon!
The time had come! I was up early and ready to go, and very nervous. Some of the questions running through my head:
- Will I make any sales?
- Will people like the aesthetic of my booth?
- Will my booth look amatuer?
- Will I sell out too fast?
- Will I see the RDC World 1 gang?
As an artist, I was accustomed to the nerves when it was showtime. So I just took it one day at a time, and pretended I had been doing this forever. Vendors had access to the hall an hour before open, so I set up and drank some coffee. As soon as I arrived, I was overwhelmed at all the vendor booths actually being setup and ready to go. I took some time to walk around to meet vendors and get business cards.
There were all kinds of anime merch plushies, posters, cosplay props, and so much more! I couldn't resist buying a bunch of items for myself. I even did some merch swaps with other vendor. My friend was unable to attend so I had to run my booth solo. Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend events because it was more important to be open and make sales. But no worries! First day was very overwhelming, although I made a lot of sales, my nerves didn't allow me to relax as much and just enjoy the scenery.
On the second day, I was less nervous because I had one day under my belt. Day two was more of the same, selling merch and networking with all the people coming to my booth. I met other content creators, and a few people I’ve connected with online. It was cool to chat with people who were consuming some of my content.
I loved seeing all the cosplayers walking around the exhibition hall. There was such a variety of cosplayers, it was amazing! I managed to take a few pictures of some of my customers as they came up to the booth. It was amazing to see so many talented cosplayers on stage, showing off their hard work and dedication. The attention to detail and creativity was truly impressive.
As the day progressed, I shut down my booth to take breaks here and there and made sure to walk around the venue to see more cosplays. One of the t-shirt designs I was selling was doing really well, and people were seeking out my booth for that particular design. There is nothing like having a chance to see how your target audience responds to your merch. I suggest that new brand owners try and get to conventions related to their niche for this reason.
The third days was the shortest of all the days and I had already sold out of some of the items. I was really surprised at how well I did! Especially because I had never been a vendor and brought a mix of items to try out. This was also the day that I announced the winner of the giveaway I was running. I also ran a sale for the final day, to push product. I highly recommend running a flash sell on the last day. I sold so much from that flash sale! I wish I had it as a sale the whole time.
Be aware that a lot of people wait until the final day to make purchases, so they are even more eager to buy when they see a sale. I packed up an hour early and headed out. It was a long four days, and running a booth alone, was very tiring!
Overall, attending an anime convention for the first time was an unforgettable experience. I met so many amazing people, learned new things, and had a lot of fun. I learned so much for my next vending event. The good news is, I got approved to be a vendor again this year! I'm already planning merch and looking forward to attending in July.
Have you ever been to a convention? What’s your favorite part of conventions? And if you’re a vendor, share any tips you’ve learned along the way! Leave your responses or questions in the comments below.
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