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Craft Fairs
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Categories: Experiences and daily life; Human nature; Commerce and business

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Many people enjoy craft fairs. Personal encounters are better than sitting behind a screen and clicking away. People are a captive audience for at least two seconds while they are in front of a booth plus a few when they are within earshot.

That's enough time to catch their attention. Not everyone wants - or knows they want - jewelry, clothing, ceramics, or whatever. A passionate seller can create desire to an extent. This is the make or break moment.

Then there was silence.

People behind the desk - the proprietors, aficionados, and craftspeople - were too distracted by their mobile devices to pay attention. Hiding in the corner of their dimly lit display, away they typed while completely disengaged from the very socializing and opportunities unavailable online.

Not every seller is so withdrawn. Some crafted away seemingly as inattentive as the tech zombies though they would usually talk if questioned. Others sat quietly without electronic distraction, perhaps a book in tow.

At this particular show, only one booth of the 60-ish sellers had a real presence. It was a one-man wood shop. Standing at attention, engaging outliers while talking with potential customers, he blended well with the event.

Another fellow had a portable stamping machine for his bracelets and charms. When I asked about it he covered it like Gollum protecting his Precious, saying everyone would do it if they knew of this magical tool.

(Hardly rare or magical, most jewelry supply houses have several versions but it's not what you'd expect to see at such a show. Not quite as extreme as someone bringing in a seeing eye alpaca from which they spin yarn and make sweaters, but uncommon.)

 
At this particular show, only one booth of the 60-ish sellers had a real presence.
 
It was perhaps one of thousands of events across the USA that holiday weekend. No matter the place, a decent presentation while acknowledging most people who pass by is mandatory. There is no reason to believe a booth will work at a bigger fair if succeeding small-scale isn't possible.

Promoters can be just as bad. I've seen shows with five vendors. Shows that didn't have signs anywhere for random passersby. Wrong dates and locations on social media. No listing of (vendors or) item types. No replies to emails. No contact information. Advertising so bad that even knowing the date, address, and location yielded no results on internet searches.

Many times I have felt like Pavarotti at a karaoke bar as I was learning which shows were appripriate. Showing up with more inventory (as far as retail price goes) than all vendors combined is not a good show at which to vend. Trust me, it's not a bragging point!

Worthwhile shows encompass more than gross sales. Once it's over the income from any contacts and relationships will continue. Because you never know who you're talking to or who's listening....


Posted by M: November 27, 2017


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