I spend a lot of my time when I go to see shows standing in goods lines, and even more time than that planning in advance what I need and what time I should arrive in order to ensure I can get everything on my list. While you may think it’s as easy as just walking into the theatre and getting hold of those trading bromides or penlights that you want, there are many things you should consider in advance or you may find yourself disappointed and going home with nothing.
Here are my top ten tips for buying goods at stage shows. If you need help with a specific show, my contact box is always open to messages.
1. Read the information on the stage’s homepage carefully
Some time before a show starts, the homepage for a show will usually add a “Q&A” page to their site. This page holds information on theatre rules and manners, how to get same-day tickets, and most importantly for the sake of this topic, where and when goods will be available for sale. It will tell you whether you can buy goods without tickets, and the times you are able to do this. It will also state whether goods will only be sold before the show, or will be sold afterwards also.
All companies are different, and not only that, all venues are different. The experience you had at one show may differ entirely to the experience you have at another show. Knowing this information out will help you make the right decisions on the day.
2. Check for purchase limits
Due to the popularity of certain items and the limited stock they sell per day, there will often be limits put on the purchases you can make. Common limits are on trading goods, and more limited expensive items such as clothing. These limits will often be printed on the goods page of the show’s homepage, and you should read these limits carefully if you plan to buy a lot of goods.
Not only that, sometimes limits will be added and changed based on demand, and this information can usually be found on the show’s official Twitter account. It is worth noting that in the majority of cases, the limit is per transaction and not per customer. This means you are welcome to join the line again should you wish to buy more than the limits allows.
3. Check the official Twitter for updates on goods
Some shows will live update on their Twitter about the status of goods for that day or show. They will inform you of when something has sold out, leaving you a little time to re-plan what you are going to buy (I have personally stood in goods line watching as goods sell out and frantically crossing things from my list).
Not only is this useful on the day you are planning to buy the goods, it is also helpful to know what might possibly sell out based on what has sold out on previous days. If something you want is selling out frequently and quickly every day, you know you need to act quickly. Limited goods tend to sell out less the longer the show goes on (as more people have purchased them already) so consider going back later if you are unable to get hold of the items you want the first time.
4. Write a list
If you have a lot of items to buy, or even if you only have a few, always write a list of what you plan to buy in advance, with prices and a total. Your purchase will run a whole lot more smoothly if you don’t have to rely on your brain to remember everything you needed.
Be aware of how to ask for what you need in Japanese, or become familiar with the layout of the goods posters (which are usually placed on the booth table) so you can easily point to the items you would like. Adding a total to the end of your list means that if the total you have doesn’t match, you know something has gone wrong. It’s a lot easier to fix this at the time than to have to go back later.
5. Allow yourself time
If you plan to buy goods before watching your show, it is recommended that you get to the venue as soon as you can.
Staff will cut off the line if they believe not everyone will make it in time for the show to begin, and there is nothing more annoying than having lined up for a while and then been unable to get your goods. You definitely don’t want to miss the beginning of the show you paid for because you’re still waiting to buy your items.
While some theatres have a lot of space for many staff members to sell goods, others may only have a few booths and so the time it takes for you to get from the back to the front of the line can vary a lot. My advice is to get there early, get what you need and then have time to relax and prepare to enjoy the show.
6. Check you have the correct goods before leaving the goods booth
The last thing the staff will say to you before you leave with your goods is that you cannot exchange or return goods. What that means is that once you leave, you are stuck with the items you had regardless of whether they are the correct ones or not. Before taking your money, the staff will confirm each item with you, so please listen to them carefully and if something is not what you asked for, don’t be afraid to correct them.
If you buy a penlight, the staff will advise that you check that it works before the show begins. Even if you don’t plan on using it during the show, checking it right away will mean if it is broken you can tell the staff immediately. The chances of getting it replaced then are far more likely than if you take it home.
7. Don’t expect staff to know character’s and actor’s names
Staff selling goods are not hired due to their expertise on the franchise and may in fact know nothing about it. Therefore, many shows will number bromides and other items with one per character. If this is the case, you should state the number of the item you want and not the name of the character or actor.
Usually the numbers run in the order the character’s items are listed on the website’s goods page, but this is not always the case (the Mankai Stage A3 stages for example number all goods as one list) so you should check the goods posters at the venue for details.
8. Budget budget budget
Budgeting isn’t exactly the most fun thing to do, but is an important part of life. It’s very tempting to take every last penny you own to the venue and blow it all on the many amazing things on offer, but make sure you consider carefully what you really want and need. Look through the goods carefully before you go, and only take the money you need to buy those goods.
When your trading goods luck isn’t so good, it’s very tempting to go back and buy more, but how do you know your luck will be any better the next time? Sometimes it’s best just to give up and try to find the items you want elsewhere. Please don’t starve to death in a pile of badges, because it’s just not worth it.
9. Buying at the 2.5d Store in Ikebukuro & Other Stores
The 2.5d Store in Ikebukuro is a great place to pick up goods from shows you weren’t able to go to in person, and even to buy goods for current shows without going to the venue. However, the store is quite small and doesn’t stock everything. Before excitedly planning on buying things you should check their Twitter which regularly updates on the things they have in the store.
Also, be aware of any big shows coming up and check whether the 2.5d store will be selling its goods there. Usually on the first day of these sales, the store operates an entry number system for all customers, so you may not just be able to walk into the store even if you don’t plan on buying goods from that show. If possible, avoid going on these days at all if you don’t need to.
Not all shows do, but if you’re lucky you may be able to buy goods online after shows finish. Some big examples of this are the Touken Ranbu franchise. The musical has it’s own official store, and the stage sells its goods through DMM. Here you can find items from past shows that were originally only sold at the venues. In person, aside from the 2.5d store, you will often find larger Animate stores carry some 2.5d stage goods (Animate in Ikebukuro has a fairly large selection of goods on the 7th floor).
10. Buying second hand
Japan has a very large resale market, and this includes stage goods, especially when it comes to the 2.5d shows. The best place to go to find them is the K Books Cast Store in Ikebukuro.
Here you can find DVDs and Blu-rays, photos, badges and many other items sold at shows. Missing that one last trading bromide from your collection? Want the latest calendar of your favourite actor? There’s a good chance you will find it here. One important thing to note when buying from resale stores though is that items are priced based not on their original price, but by their popularity. The more popular your character or actor is, the more money you should expect to drop on their goods.
What has been your experience with buying goods at shows? What is the best thing you bought? Please comment with your stories, and if you’d like to write a guest post about your experiences, please let me know!