Craft Show Etiquette

anniescupboards 3 12:09 PM
Craft Show Etiquette, a handmade vendors point of view,

I have been reading a bunch of this lately. A friend of mine was talking about craft shows and the customers who shop them. I have heard some eye opening moments. I have only been vending at local craft shows for 2 years now.I have done online craft shows for some time. But to sell on the street? Really different. Lots of people are viewing your crafts in person. Holding, touching, looking, feeling. Its a great way to see peoples reactions to your crafts. However, being a vendor at a craft show you see and hear lots of little things. You encounter lots of people who are attending the show for different reasons. After talking to my friend her and I started a conversation with a few of our (online) friends to see what they have encountered in their craft show vending experience. I am here to share this information with you the vendor to let you know your not alone and maybe pass off some tips of what you can do "the next time it happens".

If your vending at a craft show, let me say CONGRATS to you! You took all the steps needed to get your work out there.Some people do not realize what it takes to be a vendor in a craft show. Sometimes you will come across customers who say or do the most eye opening things. Let's talk about them and get them out in the open and that way you can prepare yourself. I have heard a few jaw opening moments from some and here is how they handled it.

A customer is heard saying "oh I can make this". As a vendor you do hear this often. Yet 99% of the time the customer won't make this item. I think by them saying this they are trying to justify to themselves on why NOT to buy the item for themselves.Maybe they can make the item your selling, but by them saying it so loud that you can hear it, is a little disheartening. Several years ago I attended a craft show locally and I saw a lady with a hand painted sign that said, "You say you can you can make it, but you never will". I liked that. Not only is she right but she herself made a point. I bet all the vendors wanted to buy her sign.

A customer is saying to a vendor, oh I really like this how did you make it? As crafter/artist we don't like to give away our secrets. So you will hear vendors say blood, sweat and tears. Which is true in most if not all crafts/art we make. It took time for us as vendors/crafters/artist to learn the craft that we are selling. Early morning and late night hours of constant making, failing and succeeding. You learn your do's and don'ts. You learn your short cuts and from failure you learn even more. The crafter/artist is not willing to just share all that hard work with you. Oodles of research, time go into making an item. So its best just to say blood, sweat and tears.

A customer is saying where do you buy/find your materials? Again, this goes into the blood sweat and tears answer. A vendor/crafter/artist is not going to give up her ingredients for her recipe. Simple answers can be, locally, online and across the ocean.

A customer comes up to your booth and starts taking photos of your items your selling. Now I have heard of people doing this.I personally have never had this happen. I always had people asking me if they could take photos of my things. I say yes. They did ask me first. Some people have told me they don't have people asking them they just do it. What can you do? YOU need to speak up and ask them why they are taking photos of your stuff. You can be polite about it, ask if its going to be in the paper or maybe their blog. You could take a photo of them taking a photo of your stuff. Why not? They just did. I have been hearing/reading that most craft shows do not allow you to bring a camera in a craft show. Some places don't care. If you see someone taking photos and there is no photos allowed in your craft show you need to find the sponsors of the show and bring it to their attention asap. They will be asking those people to leave. Its not polite to take photos of someone elses work and not tell them why you are. Are they using it for later so they can copy your work? Are they going to send it to someone and say they made it? Are they passing it off as theirs? We don't know. As a vendor you are protected by the shows rules but some times you need to step to the plate to enforce those rules.

I have heard some people comment on other crafters/artist prices. Some customers think your item is too expensive? That may be true. For them they can't afford or can not see spending that kind of money on a item. There are customers who do and will spend that kind of money. Some people have no idea the cost of hand making an item. They don't know how much you paid for your materials. They don't know how long it took for you to make the item. Some forget that they are buying a handmade item. Most of the time if you buying it a craft show you are not only getting a handmade item but a one of kind item. Some people know and appreciate the handmade quality. Some even try to haggle the price as if they were at a flea market. You can just smile and say no thank you.You don't need to cut yourself short to make a sale. Even if they are buying more than one item. It takes time to make your items, if they really want it they will buy it. Some people have that "walmart" price guide in their head cause they are forgetting they are getting art direct from the artist. Not manufactured in a factory line. Vendors do find it a little tacky when customers treat their booth like a flea market/yard sale.

I am sure there are lots of topics we could touch base on. If you have a really good story or a crafty answer to some of these "moments", please share them with me.There is lots of fun to be had being a vendor at a craft show. However its work. From the day you sign up till the day the show starts and finishes. We as vendors hear and see lots. I recommend when your going to vend at a craft show you get to know everyone who is working for the show and the other vendors who are attending the shows. When you get to the show, walk around and introduce yourself. They will be setting up or taking down their display so don't crowd them but totally go out of your way to say Hi. I find it best to network myself around other crafters/artists as much as possible. They feed me artistically. Hey you might need them to cover your booth so you can visit the bathroom or get something to eat.

As crafters/artist vending a show to sell our wares, we all have to stick together. We can help each other. We respect each other. Its ok to set your ground rules and know you are not the first crafter/artist to have heard these comments. We too are like...REALLY? Seriously? Really.....like really?

3 comments

I appreciate what you've shared. I go to a lot of craft shows and I must say, I've learned a few things. I take my camera everywhere and usually take broad photos but I can see now that I should ask if I approach a booth. Thank you!

This is a really great post - you touch on so many great points. I can remember at my second craft show ever a woman loudly proclaiming that my stuff was easy to make ... then proceeded to give a loud lesson to her companions ... I was a little taken aback ... but smiled when she was giving completely wrong instructions ... very funny folk!

Your post is great, I did a lot of shows in the early 90's and I know they are a lot of work! Some
are rude and don't know what
goes into making all the crafts, but most of them appreciated it, back then...These days they all need to remember it is not from China and Americans need jobs, also! I'm for Made in America!

Good Luck on your shows...

Bear Hugs~Karen

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Hi, I am Sherry. A mama with 2 boys, a wonderful hubby and the love for art, fashion and food. I am a primitive doll maker who is in love with all types of crafts. I love to make and sew with my Bernina sewing machine. You can find me shopping for vintage locally. I just adore all things vintage. Green crafting too. I love to repurpose items and I have a love affair with vintage Pyrex. Thanks for peeking in! Drop me a line anytime!

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