Nov 4, 2013

Weekend Craft Show Recap and Some Thoughts on Craft Show Etiquette

I attended my first holiday show last Saturday: a small show at a local high school. It's my third year. This particular show was actually the first one I had ever done back in 2011. I was a bit disappointed in the turnout, but I still had good sales, which all occurred by noon--weird. Three years ago, almost all the vendor spots were full at this particular venue. This year it seemed as though only half of the available vendor spaces were taken. Yikes. I think maybe some more promotion might be in order for next year.

So, I'm going on my third year of shows, and I have some thoughts to share, especially as the busy holiday craft show season begins.  I wish all craft show shoppers and vendors practiced a general set of etiquette guidelines like these....


-Say hello and introduce yourself to your booth neighbors. You may not like their crafts, and you may even be competing directly with them, but you'll be in their company all day (or for multiple days), and you may need each other's help at some point. (Think bathroom break, breaking bigger bills, borrowing set-up supplies like tape and scissors, emergency display rescue...)

-Be mindful of your space. Booth space is a precious commodity. Please be considerate about your allotted space and don't let your display creep into others' spaces. That is definitely an awkward conversation that can be avoided. However, if you do have to address this issue, being nice (even cheerful) goes an incredibly long way.

-Be friendly. Greet your customers! Ask them how they're doing. Be genuine and smile. Please smile. Also, small talk can be a powerful selling tool.

-Teach them!  Don't assume that they know all about your craft or what everything is at your booth.  Offer them little tidbits of information. This will take practice.  After a show or two, you'll get the hang of the most frequently asked questions from your customers.  (For example, a lot of people assume that my pieces are knitted then felted or are boiled wool pieces. I say politely, "Actually, these are made with needle felting.  Have you heard of that before?"  Usually, that leads into a short explanation or demonstration of what needle felting is.) If they're interested, they'll stay and browse and even ask more questions.  If they're not, they'll move on. No big deal. 

-Keep your space tidy.  Shoppers don't want to see your all your boxes or trash bags.  They just don't.

-Please don't start tearing down your booth before the actual end of the show.  This really bothers me. I'm definitely there to sell my handcrafted goods and share about my craft, and I'm going to do so for as long as possible. When vendors start to pack up before the advertised closing time, shoppers start to feel pressured to leave.  None of us want that!

-Leave your space the way you found it.  Out of respect to the folks who put on your show and to the venue hosting it, don't leave behind any remnants of your set-up, and be sure to clean up any trash.


-Please don't haggle or expressly state that you feel items are overpriced. I can guarantee you that any handmade artist has spent a lot of time and thought trying to come up with the right prices for their work.  There's probably been some trial and error involved, too. This work might even be an artist's only source of income. Not only do we need to cover supplies, but we deserve to get paid for our time and labor.  Our time is just as valuable as yours, so please be respectful.

-Please ask permission to take photos. It's just rude not to.

-Please keep an eye on the children with you.  Most of my stuff is very kid friendly and durable.  But that doesn't mean it's okay for your child to put one of my owls in her mouth. Yuck.

-If you have questions, or even a custom request, please, PLEASE ask! Most vendors are more than happy to accommodate your requests!

-If using cash, try to pay with smaller bills (twenties, tens, fives, ones). If at all possible, please don't try to buy something at 8:30 a.m. with a large bill, unless, of course, you'll be spending most of that bill.  Most vendors would find breaking a larger bill early in the day difficult to do.

What are you thoughts about these guidelines? As a shopper or vendor (or both), do you agree with these? Do you have anything to add?

I love craft shows--as a vendor and a shopper.  I love knowing that when I make a purchase, I'm (hopefully) supporting that artist enough to allow them to keep creating. As a vendor, I love connecting one-on-one with customers. I love chatting with them about their own crafting endeavors and about what they plan on doing with my products (i.e. adding to their collection of pigs, hanging birds from a wreath, etc.). So this holiday season, hit up a local craft fair or two--and have FUN!


  1. Nice list! I think common courtesy has become a little less....common ;)