Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cosplacon 2015: Artist Alley Review

This was my second year at Cosplacon, located in Jefferson City, Missouri. My commute this year was much shorter so I slept at home and skipped the hotel cost.

Cosplacon is a nice show, friendly staff and homey feel.
Venue & Location
Cosplacon is held in the Capitol Plaza Hotel, same hotel as last year. It’s pretty easy to get to if you’re coming from the north. It two turns off the major state highway and you can’t miss it. However, it is in downtown – a smallish downtown—so expect weird traffic, lots of stoplights, and lanes the force you to turn.

The CPH has plenty of parking for the size of the convention, although you might find yourself parking around back. There’s also an underground garage but I’ve never been down there. The loading dock that’s in the back is ridiculously steep, so I suggest anyone who can go through the front doors to do so. Even that wheelchair ramp is pretty steep though.

The hotel’s nice, not lavish. Since I haven’t stayed here before, I can’t really provide a narrative on how the rooms and service are. However, they set up a hot food line in the dealer’s room this year which all sorts of tasty things. They had this taco salad from heaven made with Doritos… best part of my weekend.

Artist Space
Artists and dealers were in the same room again this year. There was plenty of room in the aisles for the crowds to move around in. The space was a 10x10 booth space in the contract, although I think they measure closer to 8x8. The space came with a 5’ table and two chairs. The tables were covered by this spandex material that wraps tight all the way down the sides of the table. It looks really cool, but the cover made it impossible to store anything under the table, or even push your chair in if you wanted it to stand.

The booths were back to back in several rows, with dealers around the perimeter of the room. Each space is separated by tall drapes and curtains in the back, and short drapes on each side. We were also next to the main events room and the music would bleed over. It got so loud sometimes that I couldn’t hear the person next to me. I was also on the side of the room closer to that wall though.

Sales for me were about the same as last year, which is to say good. Many other artists I spoke to said they did a lot worse than last year.

Friday started really early—9:30 AM. What?! I don’t remember if it was this early last year but I was certainly still waking up when they opened the doors. Fortunately, vendors weren’t the only ones tired that early in the morning. People didn’t start showing up for a long while. Traffic remained pretty light into mid afternoon, but sales were good. I made quite a few large sales on Friday. At the end of Friday, I had sold almost $500, which was more than half what I anticipated for the weekend. Unfortunately, it looked like I was abnormally lucky, because tons of other vendors said they were disappointed, even for a Friday.

Saturday started just as early and traffic was weak. It was mostly the same crowd that was there Friday, just meandering and hanging out. Some artists had no one stop by most of the day, while all the dealers were extremely crowded, although I think it was mostly people looking not buying. Once the costume events began, the room was dead. There would be blocks of hours that go by without a single sale. By the end of Saturday, I think morale felt pretty down. No one seemed to have done well, and many artists experienced only a handful of sales all day.

Sunday was no different, with slow traffic and mostly people killing time. Many artists and dealers packed up early because the room emptied out after noon and had almost no traffic for the rest of the day. Plus, a gigantic storm was blowing east across Internstate 70 so anyone headed towards St. Louis was advised to either pack it up mid-day or chance getting stuck until the storm blew over. By the afternoon, the room was half empty and the rest of us were just waiting out the storm and socializing. I’d say everyone I talked to did not do as well as they hoped.

For me, Friday was one hell of a fluke because I think I made more sales in one day than most people made all weekend. It was my saving grace, but I can’t speak for anyone else.

The Cosplacon crowd is all encompassing. Because it’s not an “anime” or “comic” or whatever convention, there’s no real niche that attracts a certain group. Cosplay is the focus, and you have families, teenagers, seniors, everyone dressing up and coming to enjoy the weekend.

The crowd is also really nice. You get the best of Mid-Mo who all just want to have a good time.
Staff & Volunteers
Cosplacon staff are always wonderful. The people who work it care about their guests and try really hard to make things run smoothly. Staff and volunteers came by to check on me several times each day. I was also able to request a new booth space to avoid one of my neighbors (because of product competition, not because of unfriendliness).

Final Verdict
I don’t know, my feelings are pretty mixed about Cosplacon. I’ve had 2 good years in a row and I love the cosplays. For me it’s close to home so I don’t have to travel much. Based on sales for everyone else though, I don’t think I can recommend it to artists and dealers that have high overhead. It’s still pretty small.

 When packing up and leaving, the humidity was insane. Just from carrying my print box from the hotel door to the car, the condensation built up thick within a matter of minutes. So gross -_-

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