Merchants Object to Anime Expo Exhibit Hall Changes

posted on 2010-06-29 08:08 EDT
Dealers lobby against fee hikes & new limits on discounted service for move-in

A group of merchants has been lobbying Anime Expo (AX) to reverse changes that the Los Angeles convention has made to the move-in policy for its exhibit hall this year. The merchants — mostly small to mid-sized dealers selling anime, t-shirts, and other merchandise — say that the new rules will significantly increase their costs, and in some cases, make it impossible for them to generate a profit at Anime Expo this weekend.

The primary issue for the merchants revolves around the modified fees for "drayage" — the cost of moving items from the shipping dock outside to an exhibitor's booth inside. In particular, the convention policy has changed for the "cartload" service, which is the service for exhibitors to move items into the hall at reduced prices compared to the full drayage service.

According to a board director of Anime Expo's parent organization, the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), last year's cartload service allowed the exhibitors to move in (and out) up to two 800-pound (363-kilogram) cartloads of items per 10-foot by 10-foot (9-square-meter) booth space, at a cost of US$125 per cartload. The rate translates to US$0.16 per pound for up to 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms).

According to IDG World Expo, the company handling the exhibit hall this year, exhibitors are now allowed to bring in up to three cartloads of items per 10-foot by 10-foot booth space. However, the cartloads are to be limited to 250 pounds (113 kilograms) each. Each cartload costs US$55, which translates to $0.22 per pound for up to 750 pounds (340 kilograms).

Once exhibitors have reached their cartload limit, they must use standard drayage rates to move in the remainder of their items. Drayage rates run between US$0.70 per pound and US$0.83 per pound, depending on the total quantity of items moved in. This compares with 2009 rates which were approximately US$0.60 per pound. All drayage costs include the move-in and the move-out.

In order to decrease costs for exhibitors, IDG World Expo has made a special one-way move-in price scheme available. Exhibitor will be able to move goods they expect to sell into the exhibit hall at a cost of US$0.56 per pound.

However, the interviewed merchants claim that, regardless of this special one-way rate, the significant decrease in the capacity of the cartload service means that they will have to move much more merchandise at the higher full drayage rates. According to one merchant, this will increase their move-in/move-out costs by as much as 200%.

The merchants also claim that they were informed of the changes to the cartload service after the final deadline to confirm attendance and that, had they chosen to pull out of their exhibition contracts, they would have lost their deposits. Some merchants have stated that they will decrease the quantity of merchandise they will make available for sale at AX in order to reduce their costs.

When ANN spoke with an SPJA board member on June 14, we were informed that the matter would be looked into. However, since that time, neither the SPJA nor IDG World Expo has responded to any requests for comment on the issue.

Note: All merchants interviewed for this article requested to remain anonymous.

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