The original article on Craft Show etiquette continues to be a popular article so I thought I’d expand on it and break it down a bit more to give you a really good look at what each category of craft show participant might look for from you.
Here are the other etiquette articles:
- Craft Show Etiquette – A Guide for Vendors
- Shopper Etiquette at a Craft Show
- Craft Show Etiquette – What Organizers Expect
- 4 Craft Show Organizers Share their Do’s & Don’ts
- Farmers’ Market Etiquette for Shoppers
- Farmers’ Market Etiquette for Vendors
If you’re wondering how to stay on other vendor’s good sides, below are some best practices when it comes to craft show etiquette:
Don’t hog the entrance
Everyone feels a little stressed about getting set up the day of the event and everyone needs to haul in their items in a timely manner. Be sure you don’t park your vehicle at the entry and leave it there.
Quickly unload your items and move your car so other vendors can do the same. If you feel it’s safe, you can unload your items to one spot just outside the door, move your vehicle, then start loading inside to your spot.
If there’s a lot of foot traffic and you’d rather take your items straight from the car to your table, try your best to do it quickly or to park in a spot that won’t be a hassle for other vendors to walk around or park next to you while they unload.
Don’t impede on other vendor’s space
You’ve all paid your fees for your space and each vendor needs to stick within their space. What you do with your space is completely up to you but if your display starts spilling out of your area or blocking shoppers from seeing / shopping your neighbor’s booth, you may not be too well received by fellow vendors.
Don’t take up all the organizer’s time
Plan ahead of time to ask the organizer the questions you’re curious about so you’re not monopolizing their time the morning of the event. Find them once to find out where you should set up and any other need-to-know inquiries. Don’t continuously interrupt them when they’re with other vendors as though your needs are more important (we know you don’t think that;).
Don’t be an island
Community is what the handmade world is about! Say hi to your neighbors, walk around and see what other vendors are selling and offer to help out your neighbor. If you don’t have a helper, you may need someone to watch your table for bathroom breaks; offer to cover for your neighbor and see if they’ll do the same for you. Work together to make the most of the event and make sure it’s a success for everyone.
There are bound to be other vendors selling similar items to you at a craft fair but don’t look at it as competition. Use it as an opportunity to point out what’s different about your products that shoppers may appreciate.
There are (usually) enough shoppers to go around and everyone has something unique to offer.
Personality plays a huge role when it comes to handmade businesses so this is the time to let yours shine. Shoppers aren’t just buying a product, they’re also getting a story and experience when they shop handmade so don’t worry about what other vendors are doing and focus on improving your game.
Be inspired, sure! But don’t outright copy what another vendor is doing for your next event. Handmade is all about individuality so you really need to tap into yours to succeed. If you see someone doing something you’d like to do, whether it’s through the products they sell, the language they use, or the displays they create; draw inspiration from them, but don’t copy.
Determine what it is you love about what they’re doing and brainstorm how you can put your own spin on it.
There aren’t many truly original ideas anymore; everyone is drawing inspiration from somewhere but everyone has their own unique perspective to add, so focus on that.
If there’s a vendor or event organizer you’re not particularly fond of or a shopper who has said something to offend you, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Not only does gossiping make you look bad, it’s a bad vibe for the show. Shoppers find it unprofessional and other vendors will wonder what you say about them behind their backs.
Don’t lower your prices for sales
If the craft show is slow or you’re just eager to make more sales; don’t resort to lowering your prices. There are a lot of good reasons why this is not good for your business but for the sake of this article; it won’t make other vendors happy. They’ve worked hard to make their products and to get their customers to understand and value their prices.
If you slash your prices or undervalue your work, you’re making other vendors at that sale look overpriced and may drive shoppers away from them. If your products are lower priced due to different materials or techniques, that’s perfectly fine, but don’t underpay yourself in an attempt to drive sales.
Don’t be a Chatty Cathy
Get to know your neighbors but be sure to pick up on cues when they don’t feel like talking or want to focus on customers. Always cut your conversation short if a shopper walks up and shift your attention to them. Not only will fellow vendors appreciate that, shoppers will too.
Don’t pack up early
This applies to etiquette event organizers want you to follow as well. Packing up early affects other vendors because it creates a distraction and may make shoppers feel rushed. Stay until the very end and enjoy your time.
And a few bonus “DO” points for you:
Do be mindful of your lunch
No one is trying to tell you what to eat but keep in mind that many vendors sell fabric items that absorb smells and they do their best to keep their work environment free of things like smoke, pets, and other irritants. Their work environment includes craft shows so it’s important to be mindful of that. Not to mention, you don’t want the smell of your lunch to compete with your neighbor’s scented goods like candles or bath and body products; they want their customers to smell their products, not your lunch.
Do spread the love
Before the show, you may want to find a few other vendors you’re swooning over and share them on your Facebook page. This could be something you do to promote the event or you may want to strike up a deal with your fellow vendors.
Offer to post their work if they do the same for yours. Fans of your social media page may not be in the market for more of your products this upcoming weekend, but they may be looking for some new jewelry, or soap, or art.
By sharing another vendor’s work, you may just encourage someone new to come…and you never know, once they’re there, they may purchase from you after all.
You can carry this cross-promotion over to the day of the show too; offer to keep another vendor’s business cards on your table and suggest shoppers check them out in exchange for them doing the same for you.
Even if you can’t get out from your table to walk around and meet the other vendors, be sure you make eye contact and smile. Although you may just be scanning the room to see what the other vendors are selling, doing it from behind your table, inquisitively, can come across the wrong way. A smile makes everyone feel more comfortable, including yourself 🙂
Do stay focused
You’re a part of a team and everyone needs to put their best foot forward. If a couple of vendors are grumpy, distracted, or bored, it can leave a bad impression on shoppers…and we all know how people are more likely to remember and talk about the bad, rather than the good.
Wear a smile, don’t hide behind the table, stay off your phone, and engage with the shoppers. Everyone around you will appreciate it.
Have any other points you’d like to add? Please leave a comment!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!