Craft Show Seller's Etiquette
You can have the most beautiful, branded display containing gorgeous, well priced products and still flop at a craft show. Why? There are several reasons. It could be that the show is at the same time as another well-known show, too many vendors with similar products, bad weather or in some cases, people are enjoying uncharacteristically good weather for the season.
One thing that YOU can do to make sure your show is as successful as can be, is to portray a positive attitude regardless of the day’s circumstances. In addition to this, there are some things you can do as a seller to make sure that you and your booth are as approachable as possible. I like to call this “Seller’s Etiquette”. It’s common courtesy for your customers and for other sellers at the show.
- Never, ever talk negatively about other sellers, their booths, the show coordinators, customers, or show attendance. Never. Ever. Mind your own business, literally.
- Keep your display within your booth space AND allow space for you to exit when needed.
- Keep your space tidy. Make sure your tablecloths cover the table completely and go to the floor hiding boxes and totes under the table.
- If you have an issue with a neighboring seller, courtesy would be a polite request to the seller first, and if not resolved, then involve the show coordinators. Refer to Rule #1 above.
- Stay off your phone. Post your social media marketing before the show.
- Smile, make eye contact, and be friendly and attentive to customers. See rule #5.
- Make sure your product is accurately marked – use price tags, not signs! If prices can’t be seen, people won’t ask, they will move on.
- Leave your kids at home. There, I said it. I love kids. I really do, I have a gaggle of them and grandchildren. If you have an older child who can and is willing to help, key word is “willing”, then bring them. But if they are going to sit and sulk, they are not making your booth “friendly and approachable” and even if you don’t realize it, it will affect how approachable you are too. Babies and toddlers require constant attention that will not allow you to focus on your customers.
- Dress and act appropriately. No PJs, work out clothes, torn jeans, no perfume or at the very most, wear a light scent.
- Do NOT chew gum. Keep snacking and eating in your booth to a minimum. If you have a helper, take turns eating.
It is nice to have a helper, but make sure that you aren’t so involved in conversation with your helper that you ignore customers. You need to be visible and approachable for questions.
Don’t leave your booth unattended. Most shows have relief volunteers who will sit at your booth while you take a restroom break if you don’t have a helper.
- You have committed to a show and their hours, DO NOT start packing your booth until the show hours are over. When a show ends at 4:00, that is when you start packing, not at 3:00.
Provide bags for purchases.
Acknowledge waiting customers, if you are involved with a customer and you see another needing assistance, don’t ignore them. Tell them you will be right with them.
I may be in the minority when saying this, but I HATE the signs that say, “You could make this, but will you?” OR “No photos please”. To me, it seems like an aggressive attack on customers, which leads me to how do you handle rude customers? See Rule #1
Rude Customers can really dampen the day’s spirit, and unfortunately, you will run into them, guaranteed. Here are some difficult scenarios that can occur with difficult or rude customers and how to handle the situation.
- Wow! These prices are outrageous! Don’t defend your prices. Period. Only you know what your material cost and time spent is. Reply: My prices may not be for everyone. There are a lot of factors that determine how I price my handmade items.
- Back to seller etiquette and the “No Photos Please” signs. As I mentioned, I hate seeing these kinds of signs, BUT I do understand the reasoning, especially if it is another vendor at your booth. A customer taking one photo and then standing there texting, is most likely asking someone if they should buy it or if they think it will fit, whatever the reason, I don’t say anything to these customers. The customers that take their phone and go click, click, click … Reply: Generally, I don’t really have a verbal response. If I notice a “crafterazzi” then I make myself busy by picking up an item or moving items around the table, getting in the way of the pictures, intentionally. I keep doing this until they get the “picture”, so to speak. If it becomes obsessive, then I will politely, but assertively turn to them and ask them if there is something I can help them find. Most will stop taking pictures at this point and move on. If not, then you can request assistance from the show coordinator.
- Overhearing the “We can make that” comments. Reply: Ignore those comments. They are NOT your customers.
BTW - No sign stating, “You can make that, but will you?” will encourage a purchase from you, in fact, it will deter something they were considering.
- Gathered, chatting customers standing in front of your booth impeding shopping for other customers. Reply 1: If they are holding one of your products, politely ask if they are ready to checkout. This usually will interrupt their conversation and moves them along. Reply 2: Non-verbal. Start organizing or moving pieces on your table around in the area that they are standing. Most will move out of the way.
- Unattended children at your booth who are “curious”.
Reply: Sweetheart, where is your Mom? I bet she would like to see this! I can set it aside for you while you go get her!
- When asked if you offer discounts and you don’t. No need to go into detail of how you have things priced. It’s a simple yes or no question. Reply: No, I’m sorry, I am not offering any discounts today.
- When asked if you will take less than what you have your item priced. Reply: No, I’m sorry, I’m not offering any discounts today.
I’m sure there are plenty of other scenarios that will happen, but these are the most common. Remember, it’s all about selling your handmade items. You want to be respected as a vendor, then act respectfully to other vendors and the customers.
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The Craft Show Series
- The Ultimate Craft Show Organizer
- Craft Show Display Set Up Tips
- Pricing for Profit
- Craft Show Branding
- Craft Show Seller's Etiquette
- Craft Show Marketing Resources
Other Helpful Resources: The Ultimate Craft Show Organizer | Mood Board Template for Branding