3 Tips to Avoid Awkward Shopper Silence at a Craft Show

The very first craft show I sold at was in a small community league hall with less than 20 vendors.


Craft fairs were fairly new and indie at that time. Although people showed up, it wasn’t exactly a buzzing scene.


So it made my lack of conversation/selling skills even more apparent and awkward.


When an event is buzzing: people are coming and going, squeezing by each other to get a look at a table, having conversations around you, etc. a vendor’s silence may go unnoticed.


But when you can hear a pin drop in a venue, it feels extra awkward for you and the shopper if you quietly watch them browse your table.


If you’re underestimating the power of conversation when it comes to craft show sales, have a read over this article. It explains how even small talk can help you sell more.


I’ve never been great at small talk, and the sales from my first few craft shows reflected that.


Luckily for me, I had a business partner that had the gift of gab. He helped guide conversations and as I watched him work his magic, I uncovered a few tips that even I was comfortable trying.




If you’re truly terrified of selling at your first craft show, beg a friend to come with you. Offer to make them dinner, take them for drinks after, create a custom piece for them,or, you may even offer to pay them a commission for every piece they sell.


Choose someone who’s comfortable with people and let them know you need their help with customers (in other words, this isn’t just an opportunity to sit behind the table and talk about Real Housewives).


I don’t know if I would have given craft shows another go if it weren’t for my business partner. He was my safety blanket in the beginning and helped me get to a point that I felt completely comfortable selling at craft shows…I could even do it all by myself 😉


“Backup” doesn’t have to be a person; it may also come in the form of a craft.


If you can make an element of your product behind your table, or even work on something crafty that’s not related to your product, consider bringing it.


Do NOT use it as an excuse to keep busy and not speak to every customer; but rather as an icebreaker.


Sort of like how a cute puppy makes an interaction between two strangers a little more comfortable; an interesting craft at a craft fair does the same.




You don’t have to come up with new icebreakers for every shopper.


Maybe don’t use the same one twice in a row, while the first shopper is still at your table, but other than that, repeating material is totally fine.


My business partner had a few lines he repeated throughout a craft show and they always got a conversation started, and that conversation always went in a different direction.


These were a few of his favorites:


  • “Do you ever get told you look like a certain celebrity?” If they said yes, he’d guess which celebrity, and if they said no, he’d tell them who he thought they looked like. (It obviously must be a flattering comparison)


  • “I love your __________.” He would only use this when it was something really unique he loved. So there was almost always a story behind the shopper’s item, like a cool store they got it from, a trip they brought it back from, who it was passed down from, etc.


  • “You got something from ________ vendor. I love their stuff. I’m thinking about getting their ____________.”



And if the opportunity arose, these were a few of his favorite product-related icebreakers:


  • “One customer thought that was a __________.” He’d bring up something ridiculous a husband had said while his wife was shopping or even something rude a clueless shopper once muttered. It was a great way to break the ice because it got most people saying “Seriously?” and then he could explain the situation a bit more and keep the conversation going.


  • “Isn’t that material great? It reminds me of _____________.” It might have been something nostalgic, like “the winter coat my mom wore when I was a kid.” Sometimes it would trigger a memory for the shopper too and they’d reply with “Oh ya! My mom had one like that.” Or he’d point out how a print resembled something if you looked at it a different way.


  • “You can use that as ______________.” He’d sometimes point out a useful product feature, but often would say something ridiculous. Like if it was a cold day and someone was looking at a clutch he’d tell them they could buy two and use them as mittens.


He had a quirky sense of humor and he used it to his advantage.


Find your authentic style. You may love to talk about movies, science, or cats. Try to work those into your ice-breakers.


You can work your passions and interests into any conversation; and that’s when it feels authentic.




Just as it’s a little awkward when you jump into a sales pitch as soon as someone arrives at your craft fair table, it’s also a little awkward if you jump from talking about the weather to asking for a sale (here’s how to ask for the sale non-awkwardly)


Hopefully, shoppers are receptive to your ice-breaker and it starts a natural conversation.


But be prepared for people to ignore your attempts to start a conversation or reply without interest too.


You should have a way to transition the conversation towards your products, no matter how a shopper responds to your ice-breaker.


If someone ignores you, you may simply give them your best product pitch.


  • Let me know if you have any questions. All of my products are ___________ and made from __________….


Or you may ask if they want to try a sample/see your product in action, here’s how to do that and why it’s effective.


If someone is giving you short, one-word answers, you may ask an open-ended question about your products, which forces them to answer with more than just a “yes” or a “no”.

  • What type of _____________ do you have/use now? (e.g. what type of cleanser do you currently use?)


> Not sure what an open-ended question is or how to use it? Check out this article.


If you and a shopper are hitting it off and the conversation is flowing, it’s important to shift gears towards your products.


You don’t want to stop the conversation or make the shopper feel you’re only interested in the sale, but you do want to ease the focus over to your work.


Your ice-breaking conversation may even lead you into a segue.


For example, perhaps you asked them if they have any exciting plans for after the craft show:


  • You’re headed to a birthday party after this? Fun! Are you shopping for a gift then?


Think about the conversations you’ve had with craft show shoppers in the past, and how you might shift the conversation towards your products.



Close with Product Pitches

If you’re on the spot and you’re not sure what to say, it’s always easy to bring up something interesting about the product they’re looking at or picking up.


Prepare natural product pitches for each of your products so if the conversation isn’t going well, you can simply share an interesting fact about your products.


If they simply reply with a nod, you know you’ve made a good effort to talk to the shopper and sell your products.


Make your sales pitches feel natural and authentic. Shoppers shouldn’t even feel the transition from a personal conversation to a product-related conversation.


Your customer’s comfort should be put first. And no one feels comfortable when pushy or awkward sales tactics are being used.


Download MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS for more tips to make craft show conversations and sales more comfortable…even if you’re shy and hate selling (like me).


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  1. Maraion Wheatland says:

    Such a great read and fabulous advice. I am a chatty person but this has made me realize the importance of planned conversation. I love the icebreakers — much better than mine (“you are welcome to try on any of the hats, if you like. Here is a mirror)

  2. Made Urban says:

    Hey Maraion! Glad you enjoyed the article. Encouraging someone to try on one of your hats is still a great ice-breaker, especially if they’re more of an introverted shopper. They may not be into chatting but a little suggestion to try on your hats can make them feel comfortable enough to do so. For those who enjoy chatting, a friendly conversation first will make your “try on” suggestion even more effective:)

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