More thoughts from Sean Akita of Sean’s Shop

March 31st, 2011

Confession time: There are some editions of Cel Shaded that I love writing more than others. Today’s column, focusing on Sean Akita of Sean’s Shop, definitely weighed in on the “love” side of things.

The hard part about writing columns like these is figuring out which parts to keep in and which parts to leave out. When I talked to Sean last Friday, the formal part of the interview took about 10 minutes, yet I got so much out of that chat … only a fraction of which got into today’s paper. And then we talked off the record for another … oh, I’d say about another 45 minutes to an hour or so.

Oh, and I also bought a few things.

… but, umm, enough about my new toys collectible memorabilia. Here are some more interview excerpts that didn’t fit into the narrative of the column.


Jason: Where do you see the Japanese collectibles market going in the short term and the long term?

Sean: Sadly, short term … it’s undetermined. It’s very undetermined right now. That’s my honest opinion. With the cost of our U.S. dollar getting weaker, their currency getting stronger — every other currency in the world is getting stronger than us. It’s gonna get a little tough, I would say, in the next five or six years.

Long term … I look upon this as, anime is like a kind of wave. I remember seeing it from the ‘80s. It came up real big, and then, when ‘88 hit, it dwindled down. And during the ‘90s, there were a few good series of anime and stuff like that, it kept the interest on the market retail-wise. When the 2000s came by, it just went gangbusters, it just went crazy. You see it go totally full circle. Ten years later, after 2010, I kind of notice it’s slowing down again.

And I foresee it … it’s always gonna be there, no matter what people do or say or anything, it’ll always be there. But it’s just that, I think that as strong as it was maybe 10 years ago, we may see that again … I would say maybe another decade. The way I look upon this trend of everything, it’s like how we see yo-yos come back every 10, 12 years. We saw pogs come back twice already, you know? We’re seeing all these trends and things that come and go.

They’ll eventually come back. I’m pretty for sure positive that it will come back. It’s just a matter of … being a shop myself, my worry is just day-to-day operations, just trying to keep the business going. Being a sole proprietor, no employees, I have to deal with international and domestic retail — it’s not an easy task. The markets constantly change on … I would say an hourly basis, I see it change. It makes me go stir-crazy once in a while thinking about it. (laughter) So it’s kind of tough in that sense.

The way I look at it is that, if I can somehow survive through this bad turmoil, I think it’ll regrow okay, it’ll rebuild back into what it was before. I’ve seen a significant change from the last … I would say maybe within… I saw a huge decline within 3 years. Since 2008, since our markets went sour, I’ve seen everything just go down. And it’s expected — people lost their jobs, unemployment came up, this company closing down, this corporation closing up, people losing jobs … it’s not an uncommon thing to see.

But I foresee that … we’re in a country that, I think we’re gonna recover somehow, but it’s gonna be a very slow process, a slow rebuild, but I feel that we’re gonna make a comeback.

Jason: Do you see anything in particular selling better than others right now?

Sean: I’ve kind of noticed that … if you’re pertaining to Japanese products, it’s really, really hit or miss. I’ve seen, like, this week, a lot of people talk about this; the following week, somebody else talks about something else. It’s never like a couple of years back — you mentioned one thing, you got, like, “Naruto,” that’s all everybody talks about, you hear “Bleach,” everybody talks about that. Years later, I don’t hear much people mentioning stuff. I’ve been very fortunate (with) my U.S. toy side starting up, even that peaks out. This week will be, like, “Let’s talk about G.I. Joe,” next week it’ll be Transformers, another week it’ll be Iron Man/Thor figures, and then it’ll go back to G.I. Joe again. There’s nothing ever certain, ever solid.

Jason: So it’s a very fractured market.

Sean: Yes, yes, yes. It’s sad — I sell a lot of old, collectible toys … this stuff, less than 10 years ago was worth … one figure was worth 40, 50 dollars. Now I sell ‘em for 5 bucks. (laughter) And even at 5 bucks, you’re talking almost $8 below the retail, and I still can’t sell it. But there’s a lot of factors to why I think the market kind of plateaued, kind of going a little down. I give it time to actually try rebuild first. The way I look upon it is, I think patience is a virtue.

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