What I Learned Vending Lolita Goods at an Anime Convention

Last weekend I got the chance to vend at U-Con, a local anime convention. While I vended there last year this year I was a lot more prepared and did a little more than just lay things out on a table. I tried a few different things throughout the course of the weekend to catch people's eyes and in this post I'll be talking a little bit about what I learned.

This is what my table looked like Friday morning! Sorry I didn't get any closeups or pictures of the other layouts I tried, I was pretty busy!

Now, this might not work for everyone, but these are the trends that I noticed at my own table. I know that a lot of Lolita's have their own handmade shops and have considered vending, at an anime con or elsewhere, so hopefully what I've learned might help you out a bit if you decide to vend.
  • I had a wide range of prices, but more people went for the mid to high priced items. I sold things from $2 to $35 dollars, and I was really expecting to sell a lot more of the $5 and under stuff than I did. The first year at this same con, I had mostly cheap stuff, and the cheapest stuff sold the most. But this year most people passed up small purchases to buy more mid to high priced things at my table. I have no idea how this happened and I don't know if it was a fluke or if it's just a fact of selling.
  • Classic goods sold better than Sweet goods. At least for me! I had a lot of people come by and ooh and aah the cutesy Sweet stuff and then leave, but most people who ooh and aah'd over the Classic ended up buying something! Oddly enough, the Classic items were more expensive than the Sweet items. As with the first point on this list, I was not expecting this!
  • People are afraid of messing up displays, and might not buy stuff off of them. Before this con I did a lot of research (i.e. blog reading) about displays and so many people said to have a nice vertical display, as it attracts more people. So I brought my hat boxes with me and made some fancy standing frames to drape necklaces on, just so things had somewhere to go instead of just flat on the table. But, I found that people didn't buy things off of the displays! My boyfriend was in the booth next to me selling pins, some of which he had laid out on the table and the others in bins and people actually asked if they were allowed to sort through the pin bins! So, I really don't know what to think about the vertical display rule. Maybe my booth simply wasn't vertical enough for it to work? If I had to make a decision for the next con I think I would still stick with vertical displays but only have a few pieces on them, just to draw people in, but to have most of my stuff laid out where people could freely touch it. I would definitely not sell anything in a bin again though, even if it did make my table look neater.
  • People love business cards, maybe a little too much! I had 2 big stacks of business cards, and people loved to take them, which is a good thing! But, I found that a lot of people were just "Business card collectors" or taking several at a time simply because they were in big, tempting, free stacks, which is nice for them, but not really helpful for me. After a while, when my card stacks started dwindling down to only a dozen or so people only took them when they were obviously interested in what I was selling. I think that the next con I go to I will bring just as many business cards, but only lay them out a few at a time. While it's great that people were leaving with my Etsy URL, it's not that useful for me that so many of my business cards are probably sitting in stacks of 2 at a time at the bottom of a purse somewhere with 100 other business cards.
  • Write everything down. I had a little note pad where i wrote down what sold and for how much. As annoying as this was it's very helpful! You can easily see what is selling, and how much you've made and keep those records for later. I also had some fun counting up my total every now and then and giggling over it XD
  • Talk! Talk! Talk! Say "Hello!" to everyone that even looks in your general direction, if they come over, talk to them. Then talk some more, tell them about what it is you're selling, how you made it, and just be friendly with them. The vendors room at this con was a mixed Artist Alley & Dealers room so I actually had to let people know that I made what I was selling, this usually intrigued people into, if not buying, but staying a little longer. Being friendly to people is good for you too, I actually met a few people who I sold things to before, one girl was even wearing a necklace she bought from me last year. Needless to say, I was very excited to see that!
Again, I don't know if these things were just particular to my table and the con I was at, but I figured I might as well share them with other Lolitas who are interested in vending at cons one day. This spring I'll be at Anime Boston vending, which is a much, much larger con (and Artist Alley!) than U-Con, so it will be very interesting to see how different the experience is.

Have you vended your art or crafts at a con or art show? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? I find that most of the "Artist Alley vending tips" are aimed at 2D artists selling prints and the things that attract anime print buyers is considerably different than attracting Lolita accessory sellers.

If you are interested in some more Artist Alley vending tips, check out the ShadowScript blog, as the artist who runs it vends at a lot of conventions and often has some really great tips and writes a lot about the subject. She sells both 2D and 3D art, so her tips are pretty relevant no matter what kind of art you're selling!


  1. You were at anime boston??? I missed you ; A ;
    I was about to go to karaoke on sunday then go to AA with my friend, but some idiot was vandalizing our car and threatened to call the police on US, so my dad got me right after a panel I attended.

  2. Great post! One tip with the ever-disappearing business cards is to only give them to people who buy something. You can slip it into their bag along with their purchase as a little bonus. It will make your customer feel special as they got a little something extra and it helps ensure that only interested patrons get your card. Also, if someone seems really interested in your work, but doesn't buy something (perhaps they have already spent too much money that day), you can offer them a card from a cute basket that you keep on your side of the table (where people can't see). =)

  3. About the vertical display: I watched a video about Teddy Scares (a brand of collectable, horror themed teddy bears) on YouTube about a con they attended. Apparently, they first set up a gorgeous display, and wondered why nobody was buying from it. So one of the tenders walked around and asked people about them, and most replied, "Oh, I don't think those are for sale! They're just for display." So they set the bears out more casually and people flocked to them. Yes, you probably want a neat display to attract attention, but you also want to look like you're actually selling things instead of just showing them off!


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