Imagine walking into a store and a sales associate stays within two feet of you the entire time.
Most people prefer space while they shop.
It takes the pressure off and lets them be with their thoughts as they consider a purchase.
But most craft show booths don’t allow for space.
You may have as little as a 4-foot table or as much as a 10’x10’ tent.
Either way, you’re never far from shoppers.
Here are 7 ways to make shoppers feel more comfortable while shopping your table.
(Because an uncomfortable shopper won’t buy.)
1 – Table Setup
The way you set up your craft show display can provide shoppers with a little bit of privacy while they shop.
You may use risers, fixtures, or props to create a partition between you and your shopper.
You obviously don’t want to create a wall, as you need to see what they’re looking at and be able to speak to them.
But that little bit of separation can create more comfort (for you and shoppers).
Try building up one side of your display so you have a place to be slightly out of sight.
This partition will come in handy when you have shoppers who are hinting they want some space, or when you need a little privacy to sneak a bite of your lunch, count your money, or send a quick text.
You may also be interested in how to create zones on your craft show table: Craft Show Table Layout Tips
2 – Space Setup
Depending on what you sell, you may find it more comfortable and effective to split your space in two; one side is for display and the other side is a space where you can stand.
This setup doesn’t force you to face shoppers as they browse.
For example, in an 8-foot space, instead of using one 8-foot table, a vendor may use a 4-foot wide shelving unit or grid wall to display the majority of their products.
The other 4 feet give the vendor a spot to stand to the side while people browse.
There may be a 4-foot display table in that space (where the vendor can stand behind) or a small checkout stand.
This also allows people who are buying something to stand out of the way as you complete their transaction so other people can shop your products.
Think outside the box when it comes to your space and consider setups that will make shoppers feel more comfortable as they browse.
3 – Interactive display
The more shoppers are “distracted” with elements of your display, the less they’ll notice you standing a foot away from them.
Brainstorm ways to get shoppers to interact with your products or display.
Samples are a great way to encourage interaction with your products.
But if you don’t sell a product that allows you to offer samples, you can still encourage shoppers to touch your items.
You may want them to feel the difference between a scarf made with cotton yarn and yours made with ultra-soft bamboo yarn.
Or, to feel how lightweight your statement earrings are.
Perhaps your products require a demonstration so shoppers better understand how they work.
Shifting the focus to your products will create a “distraction”, which will make shoppers feel more comfortable.
4 – Let signage do the talking
Use signage to help communicate important information so you don’t always have to.
Try using signs to share the benefit an item offers to the consumer, rather than basic information such as product name or price.
For example, a soap vendor may use a sign to list the benefits an ingredient offers. Or, it may point out a harmful ingredient their soaps never include. Such as:
Most soaps use synthetic fragrances which can cause:
- Respiratory distress
All X-brand soaps are free of synthetic fragrances
As the next point mentions, conversation can help shoppers feel more comfortable. So you may even use signage to help spark conversations.
For example, a sign that reads: “All items are made from recycled yarn” may get shoppers to ask what recycled yarn is made from.
A sign that reads: “Ask me about ____!” can pique curiosity and encourage shoppers to initiate a conversation. For example:
- Ask me about the secret ingredient in my soaps
- Ask me about my eco-friendly refill program
Keep signage simple and to the point.
You may also use photos in your space to help communicate your vision.
For example, a photo of a model wearing a vendor’s jewelry can show shoppers what to wear with the pieces or how to pair them.
The photo helps sell your products while you give shoppers some space.
Let signs do some of the talking, but always jump in if you see an opportunity to help/share/sell/talk/etc.
5 – Make conversation
Instead of focusing on selling, focus on sparking a conversation with shoppers.
It will feel more natural for you and your shoppers.
Start by saying “hello” to each shopper and maybe asking them how they’re doing.
If it feels right, you can share a short sales pitch about your business/products, but it’s also okay to forget about your products for a minute and focus on the shopper.
You might ask:
- “How did you hear about this craft show?”
- “What brings you to this part of the city?”
- “How’s your weekend going so far?”
Or, if you’re interested in something they’re wearing or holding, you might ask:
- “I love your jacket, where’d you get it?”
- “I love your hair color…where do you get it done?”
- “Your coffee smells delicious, where did you stop?”
Once you get the ball rolling, they’ll feel more comfortable in your space, and it’s easier for them to ask questions about your products, or for you to transition to a subtle sales pitch in.
6 – Work on a craft
At a slower craft show, a vendor standing behind a table, watching and waiting for people to approach can actually deter shoppers from stopping.
Keeping busy behind your craft show table will make you appear less eager. It also gives you something to do if a shopper drops hints that they want to be left alone while they browse.
It’s not always possible to set up a workstation for your craft, so consider other ways to be creative behind your craft show table.
For example, if you sell jewelry but can’t make pieces at the event, bring a sketchbook and pencils to design your next collection.
Always glance up from your work to smile at people passing by or say hello, and stop what you’re doing when someone approaches your table.
Stand up to greet them, attempt to spark a conversation, and give them your one or two sentence sales pitch.
Then pick up on their cues.
If they have questions or engage in a conversation with you, stay standing and continue to chat with them.
If you don’t get much of a response and get the feeling they want some space, you might say “Well I’ll leave you to browse. Just let me know if you have any questions!”.
Keep some of your attention on them as you craft behind your table, and pop in with a comment if you notice an opportunity (e.g. if you see they’re spending more time looking at a particular piece you may want to take a second to tell them more about it, then go back to crafting if they don’t have questions).
Diverting some of your attention away may make some shoppers feel more comfortable.
7 – Organize
If crafting at the event isn’t a fit for you, consider if there are any other easy-to-complete tasks you can work on behind your table.
For example, you might stamp your shopping bags with your logo, organize your overstock in your bins, make tags, use a notebook and pen to plan your social media content for the next week, etc.
These tasks won’t keep you busy for the entire craft show, but they act as busy work if you have someone at your table who’s giving cues they want some space.
As much as a phone can be a great distraction, try to avoid being on it when shoppers are around.
Although you may be working or doing something craft show related on your phone, being on it gives the impression that your mind isn’t at the craft show.
If you’re not sure what type of work is acceptable at a craft show, consider what you might find appropriate/inappropriate from a salesperson in a store.
If you were shopping in a store at the mall, a sales associate on their phone or eating their lunch on the sales floor might raise your eyebrows.
So try to avoid that behavior behind your craft show table when shoppers are around.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for a sales associate to be tidying stock or organizing a cash desk while you shop. So similar tasks are likely appropriate at a craft show.
Your craft show table is like a pop-up shop, so treat it as such and act as though you’re a manager/sales associate in a store.
Greet every shopper, be helpful, and be available to answer questions. But shoppers don’t need your undivided attention the entire time they’re in your space.
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!