A Value Vaper's Paradise
ECC is probably the best place to go as a vaper, and this year might've been its best. Only if you live around the area, mind you. But nonetheless, ask any attendee and they'll reply with the same answer. It was AWESOME. If you can get passed the outrageously high $35 attendance fee ($15 to park, and $20 to get in, not to mention all the expenses to simply get there, the high price of concessions, and the fact you'll be BUYING things in the convention), the value is still there. There wasn't one vaper who didn't walk out of that place without a full bag of schwag, juice, and hardware they paid little to nothing for. A friend of mine spent about $50 the entire show, including the attendance fee, and walked out with over $300 worth of vaping goodies. That's hard to pass up. Couple that with the gorgeous California weather. The entire venue was outside, on this beautiful race track, with the Pasadena Mountains peaking over the horizon and palm trees sprouting up throughout the grounds. It was a REALLY nice event that made vaping seem almost glamorous. I almost wish I went as an attendee rather than a vendor to really get the best experience of the show, because it was one of, if not, the best I've been to.
For the vendors, I feel many were disappointed. The main reason being the lower turnout this year. We were told to expect upwards of 75,000 attendees to show, which would've made the price of vendor admission really worth it. The exposure and contacts alone from that many attendees would've paid for the booth, let alone the sales that could've been had. But really, the people that showed up wasn't nearly close to that number what so ever. I'm sure the smaller vendors, some who might've really taken a hit to purchase the booth, purchase the shipping for all their products, purchase the employee time, and purchase travel expenses, weren't so happy. I mean some companies came from overseas to appear at the show. I can't imagine the expense that could've cost them.
We Made It
For DIYorDIE, it was more about presence and status. Being able to just be at the show, and hold a booth, meant the world. To me it was saying "DIY has made it to the big stage". Vindication for all the hard work, all the drama, and all the rocky roads. ECC was showing the industry that D.I.Y. vaping has made it into the mainstream, and that this small niche community, is more influential and more powerful than ever. With our booth sitting next to heavy hitters like VapinArt and Vape Capitol, it was extremely rewarding and inspirational. Walking around and seeing people wearing my logo, proud to be associated with not only the name, but the mixing community, it was nothing short of a blessing. And this is all do to the support of you all. I've never felt more proud in my life, and I'm usually one to bottle those emotions in.
Blowing Minds is Fun
At the show, we expected to really impress people with how easy, affordable, and quick it is to mix eliquids. What we didn't expect was how their minds would fucking explode when they found out. One person sticks out. This guy walks over and is wondering what we're all about. We give him a little run down on the benefits of mixing your own liquids and he still seemed skeptical. What I did was demonstrate how easy it is to use my ENYAWREKLAW Concentrates with a premixed base. I literally poured out a small 3 grams into my bottle, topped off the rest with some 3mg, 70vg/30pg premixed base, gave it a shake, and voila, 30ml's. His jaw hit the floor. He couldn't wrap his head around it. He was still slightly skeptical, "yeah but does it taste good". I gave him a sample of my recipe (Curprian), and boom. We knew he would head right home to learn. This was the general consensus for everyone who came to the booth not knowing a thing about mixing. It was such a rewarding experience. It's the reason I love doing DIYorDIE, and being able to get that reaction face to face was absolutely priceless. Seriously, if you're feeling down one day, find some vaper who spends $25 a 30ml every other day, and teach them how to mix face to face, and all your worries will fly out the window. It really is an awesome experience.
The Non-Future of "Premiums"
In the video I touch on why I think the turnout was quite low this year. I mainly think it has to do with two things. One is the slow momentum that vaping seems to have lately. And the other is the vaping community being "hip" to the companies trying to take advantage of them. California was recently hit with a devastating new law that will heavily damage the vaping industry there. This seemed to take much of the wind out of the vaping sails in Cali. If you couple that with the amount of overpriced, over-sweetened, and un-original trash that seems to flood the market, you get a lot of vapers who could care less about ECC. If you've been vaping since at least 2014, you've seen it all and you know what you like. You're more quick to spot out bullshit marketing. So there's no point in spending almost $50 just to take a look at corny new vendors whose eliquids taste like CAP Sweet Strawberry and 10% Sucralose. Another thing is that ECC is a young man's world. The setting is extremely loud electronic music blasting at almost every booth, scantily clad, and heavily tattooed women sprinkled among the desperate, pale, and skinny vapers, all between companies whose marketing looks like it comes from a Toy's R Us. It's not a place for the matured conservative folk who just wanna chat about their hobby, try a bunch of their friends new flavors, and get a look at the newest gear they may one day buy. This is a balls-to-the-wall, fast paced, cotton candy smelling orgy that, if it weren't outdoors, would leave you feeling sticky and in need of a shower. Again, I think this is why these events are slowly becoming less attended. After the first one, you've seen them all. There's no real substance. It's all marketing. And when there's no substance, there's no reason to return. If there was more focus on COMMUNITY, more focus on SUPPORT, and more focus on FLAVOR & VALUE, then I'm sure more would attend. It's all growing pains I guess? I'm not positive. All I know is that if these events don't change, they won't be around for much longer. Most conventions aren't even around anymore, and that might be a testament to the changing market.
Thank You, Seriously
So the last thing I want to say is Thank You. Thank you to everyone who came out to show your support to DIYorDIE and the mixing community. Thank you to everyone reading this, watching the videos, mixing the recipes, writing out notes, engaging in the community, making friends in mixing, and keeping this community tight. It is those reasons why the DIY scene is growing more and more every day. It's those reasons that DIYorDIE was able to make it to ECC and show the industry it's not a "budget vaper" thing. It's those reasons that the vaping industry now knows the DIY community is not a joke, and is here to stay.
BEST IN SHOW
Fusion Juice Japan was the eliquid company that has impressed me the most at ECC. This small little booth, with a team the same size as ours, produced the biggest splash at the show in my opinion. I walked over to this booth, thinking it was all a gimmick. I spoke to a Japanese man who wore these Steampunk style goggles on the top of his head, and looked like he came straight out of a Manga. He explained how they were this Japanese company who wanted to bring their eliquid to America. I saw the line up of the liquids they had displayed, and I was very apprehensive about it all. They were tackling some really heavy stuff. One was after this Japanese soda that I used to purchase at Blockbuster when I'd rent my favorite PS1 games.
It was fucking spot on. I mean they even nailed that slight effervescence that comes off the flavor profile. It was shockingly impressive. They knew I was impressed as well as it was written all over my face after sampling that first flavor. The next I tried was this Hi-Chew flavor, and again, they nailed it. It was sweet, bright, and surprisingly chewy. The vape was fucking chewy. Next I tried was this Melon Cream Soda. I had never tried it before, but luckily I was able to try it at their booth. And while it was the least impressive, it was still extremely accurate. What I really loved about that flavor was they were able to replicate a cream soda well enough for it to stand out. Last was the Plum wine which was something I've tried many many times. And it was clearly their most proud flavor. A stunning display of flavor. After talking to them, all I wanted to do was fly out to Japan to try what else they came up with (they only have 4 flavors for the US, but over 15 in Japan). The biggest thing to me that stands out with this company, is how well they develop their recipes. They not only capture the very essence of the flavors they tackled, but all the eliquids had that "Japanese" character about it that made it feel very foreign. Something that I've never tasted before. They were easily my favorite company at the show, and I can't wait to see what else these guys do.