Piracy slows down the ‘geek’ market in Medellin

The animated series that occupied paisa screens between 1980 and 2000 was the initial quota of the collectors’ market that emerged years later in Medellín.

Although there is no census in the city that indicates the exact number of these fans – known as “geeks” – those who know the subject say that large events such as Comic Con, with its close of 25,000 attendees and a box office of nearly $900 million, may give a clue as to how many people are willing to buy merchandise related to iconic characters from that culture.

There are few 100% formal merchants and they explain that hacking and e-commerce are the main challenges for them. However, they managed to stay on their feet thanks to those fans who paid up to $2.5 million for an original figure.

Julio Caballero, one of the organizers of Comic Con Colombia, mentioned that after the first convention held in 2013, the meeting had between 120 and 140 vendors, but 80% were out of town.

few original parts

According to Julio, in the capital of Antioquia, there are four major stores dedicated to selling items alluding to anime and comics: Crow (Viva Envigado), DC Hobbies (Santafé), Blue Panther ( La Gran Esquina) and Monster (Viva Envigado). ). ). Even before the pandemic, he had his own store, but decided to close it due to financial difficulties.

As detailed, the anime generates much more attraction in the paisa market than the comics: “They have more Dragon Ball, Naruto and One Piece fans and you can tell by the disguise (representation of a character by fans through well-made outfits) and because manga figures sell better than comics figures.

However, he noted that most “geek” products are not allowed and this presents a challenge for those importing and distributing quirky merchandise.

Cesar Leguizamón, professor and academic director of Comic Con, agreed that unlicensed products are a reality and represent up to 95% of what is sold.

However, from his point of view, it must be taken into account that a figure of US$25 may represent a small part of a worker’s salary in the United States, but is higher than $100,000 in Colombia. . Therefore, a large portion of buyers opt for unofficial coins.

“You could compare it with the sale of sneakers in some stores in town: they sell them to you as originals, but in reality they are Triple A replicas. This same model has been taken to the collectors’ side. So a Dragon Ball Bandai figure is $150,000, but if you look for it as a pirate, it’s $60,000 and people have gotten used to these cheaper products.”

Those who sell originals

Daniel Campuzano is the owner of Crow stores and he agreed that in addition to pirated items, electronics stores are also a major player.

According to the sources consulted for this text, collectors prefer to buy via Amazon or eBay because they find better prices by avoiding middlemen.

However, Daniel believes physical stores will continue to have space because the shopping experience in them has a special touch.

“This topic is about feelings, many people come just to watch and it makes me happy to see a father with his son rejoicing with the products. The Internet will not achieve this, ”notes the trader.

In this sense, he expressed that, most likely, the target audience understands that the premises manage higher prices due to the costs they assume in the leases. Likewise, he pointed out that Medellín is a good place for this business and believes that there will always be buyers.

“There are people who spend $2 million on a party, but collectors prefer to spend that in numbers. December, for example, is a very good month. Sometimes customers arrive carrying up to $4 million worth of products, as if it were a cart with a market,” Campuzano pointed out.

In Crow, according to their stories, during a cold day, up to 50 items can be sold, in particular decals, glasses and cushions with the images of these famous characters from anime or the Marvel and DC universe .

Prices vary by item: sticky sheets are the most affordable, costing $3,000 each, but there are luxury items like Hot Toys action figures, which can be worth up to $2.5 million. dollars and, despite this value, there are collectors willing to pay for them.

From his point of view, the company in the capital of Antioquia has good opportunities for growth, especially since people no longer feel embarrassed when buying objects or clothing related to the culture of anime and comics. In fact, there is a brand in the city that has managed to popularize this type of clothing.

The big butic ‘geek’

Luis Guillermo Sosa, known in “geeky” and “geeky” circles as “Pike”, is a public relations specialist who has witnessed how Movies, the chain of stores specializing in clothing for these fans , further fueled the trend.

In her opinion, the most remarkable thing is that she has the licenses to use the most successful franchises in this universe and, despite the cost of her clothes, she has grown amid cheaper pirate shirts.

Films, also hailing from Medellín, took advantage of Comic Con to exploit this niche. Its parent company (MIC) only had the right to market clothing with Disney characters. However, at the convention, they witnessed the fervor surrounding anime and superheroes.

Although there is no data on its annual sales, it currently has licenses to monetize creations from Nickelodeon, Mattel, Marvel, Star Wars and Warnes Bros, among others, which is an indicator of financial strength. stores, since, according to the experts quoted here, these licenses have a considerable cost.

‘Pike’ is among those who believe that new audiovisual productions will continue to stimulate collectors’ interest in the city. But he cautioned that the success of merchants focused on this segment depends on constantly updating to offer the items fans really want.

80%

of the vendors gathered at Comic Con Medellín come from abroad.

ultimately

The geek market in Medellin is heavily infused with unlicensed merchandise. However, some buyers are willing to pay high prices for genuine goods.

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