Fair/market customer thoughts

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artemis

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Bear in mind that I am writing this as a customer, not as a vendor. Also, I'm not trying to criticize,or start a pile-on about bad experiences.

We were visiting an Arts/Crafts fair yesterday. It's a pretty big deal event in our town, which likes to cultivate a quaint but upscale image.

As I visited a couple booths, I kept thinking about some of the threads here about selling at fairs and markets. As a potential customer, I thought I would share some of the things that make me leave a booth without purchasing. Or worse, with a bad opinion of the vendor.

1. No visible prices: many vendors had no sign posted or tag on the items. Maybe it gets people to talk to you, but with kids and husband in tow, I cannot wait around for price information.

2. Samples sitting out uncovered and unattended: this was mostly food, but double-dipping is a concern for lotions, too.

3. Arguing with the customer: one vendor was really pushing her garment. When I politely (I think I was polite-- I was trying) declined, she began arguing with me about how much I would use this thing. I know it's hard to sit out in the heat all day and have people look and not buy, but please don't dump all your frustrations on me.

4. Hovering vs. Absent vendors: the hovering vendors stressed me out. The absent vendors we're worsw, because I couldn't get information. my favorite vendors we there in the booth, but mostly left us alone. Available, present approachable.

Anyway, just a couple of thoughts from this weekend. No judging, just trying to be helpful.
 

Lin19687

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1) Yes totally irks me and I won't even go in to a stall because of that, food or not.

2) Yes to this too.

3)I haven't seen that, yet :)

4) Yes so YES. I say hi, but don't approach physically - unless it is a customer I personally know. If your info is listed and you are smiling, not looking at your phone, say hello and leave them to look you will be ahead of the game. Or so I think. Some people are introverts, I know a few, so I let people do their thing :)

Don't forget TOO much stuff or over crowded tables. Makes me over whelmed too.
 

shunt2011

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I don't bug my customers either. I greet everyone and tell them to let me know if they have an questions or if I may be of assistance. I don't like to be followed when I'm shopping either.
 

jcandleattic

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I have totally seen the vendors argue with customers and I cringe every time. I mean, do they really think they are going to get a sale by being a bully. I saw one vendor (was not a show I was vending at thank goodness, I was just there with a friend as a consumer) actually tell the customer that if they didn't buy "they must be stupid or something" I was floored!! Needless to say I didn't even approach that booth. (wasn't something I wanted anyway, but if it was, I still would not have gone over to it)
I just will never understand that mentality.
 

Misschief

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I am a vendor at a local market and the one that I've noticed and cringe at is point #4. I've seen vendors hover like hawks until someone comes within range of their booth. Then they pounce. It's almost a personal affront to some vendors if you choose not to buy. I've also seen absent vendors but, in all honesty, sometimes it can't be helped. We do need to use the washroom occasionally.

At the market where I sell, vendors cover for each other as needed. I've even made sales for fellow vendors as others have done for me. It can't be helped sometimes but it's up to the vendor to keep it short.

One thing that irritates me to no end is vendors who complain when they have a slow day. They don't seem to realize that their attitude reflects back to their potential customers. Complaining to fellow vendors brings everyone down. My attitude is, and always will be, put on a smile and enjoy your day. It may not be a great day, monetarily speaking, but attitude is everything. And don't count your cash until your day is over - you might just be surprised.
 

artemis

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I just will never understand that mentality.
I think I understand the feelings behind it-- you've been there all day, you're hot and tired and you just want the customer to understand how great your product is, but they're not getting it. I imagine you start to feel like, "why did you even come in to the booth if you weren't interested in buying anything?" But, maybe that shows a need for a booth partner, so you can take a break.

I'll add another from Saturday:

5. The desperate/insistent vendor: Aura fell in love with a hand-dyed shirt. The vendor was talking up the shirts as if this would be my only chance to ever buy one-- Website is down, not on Etsy, might not be back tomorrow, shirt might be gone later... Made me feel like I was his only hope.
 
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Marilyn Norgart

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I am doing my first market on Tuesday (weather permitting) so this comes at a good time for me. while I don't see my self doing most of them, the marking prices well and keeping the smile on do apply to me. thanks for starting this post!! Oh and I am going to be by myself and the bathroom thing has me wondering haha
 

cmzaha

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Sometimes you just get a customer that wants to start an argument. I had that happen a few weeks ago, the woman picked up one of my hats and asked what stitch I used and when I told her she informed me I was wrong. Okay, I made the hat and told her it was such and such stitch in the back loop only. Nope, she informed me I was wrong, and I ended up telling her to buy one and take it apart. Needless to say, she left in a huff and I really did not care. When you have been selling as long as I have sometimes you just do not care. On the other hand, I would not intentionally start an argument or tell someone they should buy an item. That is just poor salesmanship, and most markets I sell in do not allow "hawking".

When it comes to pricing, even with clear signs up customers will invariably ask price. I have prices for everything, although I do not label each hat individually I have signs for each type of hat and a sign stating soaps are $7.00. Each lotion, salve, scrub, etc have their own signs in front of the item.

I will also mention if a vendor cannot put up with a bad day they should not be selling. Here, there are more bad days than good. Another tip is never mention something to a vendor you do not want to get back to management. Many vendors love to gossip.
 
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Misschief

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I am doing my first market on Tuesday (weather permitting) so this comes at a good time for me. while I don't see my self doing most of them, the marking prices well and keeping the smile on do apply to me. thanks for starting this post!! Oh and I am going to be by myself and the bathroom thing has me wondering haha
Get to know your neighbouring vendors. You're all in this together. They're also a great source of information about the market itself.
 

cerelife

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@artemis
I'm glad you started this thread.
I went to a fairly local (50 miles away) festival this spring as a consumer to gauge whether or not I wanted to apply to be a vendor next year.
I've not applied to this festival in the past because the vendor fee is quite expensive, but one of my CP soaping buddies has been wanting me to do it for a couple of years now. I KNOW that sounds a little crazy, but we've done markets together and our styles are so different that we really aren't competition for each other - AND we enjoy each other's company to talk 'shop' :) She has been a vendor at this festival for the past 4 years and has consistently sold over 500 bars of soap over the 3 day festival!!
So this year I went to check it out for the first time. There are at least 100 booths (not including the 20+ food trucks) and huge crowds. As my husband and I walked through the festival we encountered pretty much everything you mentioned in your original post, along with things others have mentioned.
I didn't post about the experience at the time because - like you - I didn't want to come off as being critical just for the sake of complaining about/judging the vendors. But if any of my thoughts as a consumer/vendor are helpful to new vendors, then maybe my thoughts are useful?
I'll start with the positive:
1) The exotic plant vendor who sold us her last pitcher plant and told the couple behind us who offered her $10 more for it that she didn't do business that way. She told them that she would have more available the next day and that she would save one for them if they would like for her to do so.
2) The wood turner who makes gorgeous bowls/serving dishes/utensils from whom we bought a few very reasonably priced items. While we were in his booth he brought out a bowl made from the wood of a willow tree to show me, saying "I think you might like this." At first I was a little horrified since the willow tree is sacred, but he told me that the tree in question was on his property and was felled during a storm. He saved the wood to make beautiful things to honor the tree, and said the he didn't display these items because he wanted them to go to people who would cherish them. Good call on gauging your customer and knowing what will 'speak' to them for a $$ sale that made us both happy!!
The negative:
1) Multiple vendors who gave the hard sell mentioned previously - "If you don't buy this right now, you're going to miss out/ it's the last one left / I may not be here tomorrow/ I don't have a website/ etc." Seriously people....I'm a vendor myself. I would bet my behind that you have a healthy stock of whatEVER it is that you're trying to sell me, AND there is NO WAY that you've paid this $$$$ vendor fee for the festival and you aren't going to be here for the duration!!
2) Vendors who made outrageous claims. There was one CP soap vendor who made the craziest claims I've ever seen. Their soap was actually named/labeled by what it would 'cure'...they had a cancer soap, a fertility soap, a weight-loss soap, a baldness soap, a diabetes soap, etc. I can't even make this mess up!!! But the soaps were beautifully and professionally packaged and they were doing a brisk business. The couple manning the booth talked a good talk about how essential oils could cure everything, yet they used obvious FOs in many of their soaps!! They didn't have business cards and in hindsight I wish I had taken a picture of their signs and packaging in order to report them for being charlatans.
3) Soap/BB vendors whose booths were cluttered /sloppy and didn't seem to care about anything other than making a buck. Think extravagant soap cupcakes and bath bombs packaged in cellophane with multitudes of ribbons - mostly displayed in wicker baskets with no signage other than price. I don't mean to sound snotty, but most of these booths looked like they belonged at a flea market. All hat, no cattle. When I asked some of the vendors what these items were and what ingredients/process they used, it was pretty obvious that they had no clue even though they touted their products as "Natural/Handmade/Wholesome/Organic" just to quote a few of their signs. Also noted in several of these booths - body butters with open containers for 'testers' that were unsupervised (some were dried out and some had obvious foreign bodies in them); bottles of lotion that had clearly separated; and sugar scrubs with a layer of oil on top.
I was taking notes on my phone to refer to later to determine if I wanted to be a vendor next year. My analysis was that of over 100 booths, only 2 vendors focused on CP soap (one was my friend and the other was the the bat-poo crazy people). As for the other 8 vendors who sold soap/BB products - not even ONE of them should be selling their products anywhere unless they have really good insurance!!
 
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Lin19687

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@cerelife Just curious, with 8 soap/BB bad vendors.... will you still do the show next year?
I have to say that THAT would make me say no only because it might turn people away. Since many don't know any better and I don't do Flea Markets or Re-Seller Fairs/FM/Show (except my one Country fair)
 

Misschief

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3) Soap/BB vendors whose booths were cluttered /sloppy and didn't seem to care about anything other than making a buck. Think extravagant soap cupcakes and bath bombs packaged in cellophane with multitudes of ribbons - mostly displayed in wicker baskets with no signage other than price. I don't mean to sound snotty, but most of these booths looked like they belonged at a flea market. All hat, no cattle. When I asked some of the vendors what these items were and what ingredients/process they used, it was pretty obvious that they had no clue even though they touted their products as "Natural/Handmade/Wholesome/Organic" just to quote a few of their signs.
Is it possible that these vendors were resellers, or sellers on behalf of the maker? The only reason I ask is that we have a vendor at "my" market who sells knick knacks and some woodwork that (I think) he makes; he came to my table one day and commented that they used to sell handmade soap in their store but it wasn't them who made it. They were nothing more than resellers.
 

cmzaha

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@artemis
" body butters with open containers for 'testers' that were unsupervised (some were dried out and some had obvious foreign bodies in them); bottles of lotion that had clearly separated; and sugar scrubs with a layer of oil on top.
I have a couple of salves I sell in open jars, but they are as clean as they can be. I spritz with alcohol before and after my markets or scrape of the top so the scent is still decent. These samples are in small 1oz jars that I can switch out for new samples.

And to be fair about the sugar scrubs, mine in the summer can melt and leave a layer of oil, it is the nature of the beast. Don't be too judgemental when you are not regularly doing markets. My lotions are kept in an ice chest in the summer and my samples are in pump bottles which are checked for temp on hot days. I also keep 2 sets of samples so I can exchange them with the cooled samples. I have a digital probe in my supply box.

I also would not sell in such a market. I have always found in any long-running market there will be the main B&B seller, which sounds like your friend, which will get most of the business. Any other vendors with the same products will get the leftover or new customers. I have even been known to not sell at a market because there is a smallish vendor that I would hurt. While I am not bragging it is a fact with my amount of stock the little one does not have much of a chance. When the new seller with low stock comes into my market it is their decision and they usually do not stick around too many weeks. On their flip side, there is a huge market I would love to attend, but I know which vendor has the market cornered, even though there are 10+ B&B vendors. She has been selling there for many years. I would be no competition for her even having the same amount of stock and large display. So I would not sell where your friend is especially if it is a high cost market.
 

Marilyn Norgart

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I have totally seen the vendors argue with customers and I cringe every time. I mean, do they really think they are going to get a sale by being a bully. I saw one vendor (was not a show I was vending at thank goodness, I was just there with a friend as a consumer) actually tell the customer that if they didn't buy "they must be stupid or something" I was floored!! Needless to say I didn't even approach that booth. (wasn't something I wanted anyway, but if it was, I still would not have gone over to it)
I just will never understand that mentality.
there is one that is next to me that sells a product with horseradish in it and gets really pushy when the people tell her they don't want a sample--she told all them that they "needed" to try it. I just cringe every time. she tried telling some one at my booth that they needed to try my lard soap when they were vegan--I very firmly but politely (unfortunately in front of the customer) told her that everybody has personel choices they make and I respect that
 

jcandleattic

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I think I understand the feelings behind it-- you've been there all day, you're hot and tired and you just want the customer to understand how great your product is, but they're not getting it. I imagine you start to feel like, "why did you even come in to the booth if you weren't interested in buying anything?" But, maybe that shows a need for a booth partner, so you can take a break.
Yeah, I understand the mentality, but to actually tell a potential customer out loud that if they don't buy "they must be STUPID or something" Nope. Don't care what the excuse is, how tired they are or how much they need a break, that is not okay. It just isn't...

Think it, don't say it...
 

cerelife

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@Lin19687
YES! I am planning on doing this festival in 2020!
@Misschief
I don't think so - when I asked questions (of 5 of the 8 vendors I took the time to talk to) they ALL told me that they got the idea/recipe from YouTube - so it must be good. I'm completely serious.
@cmzaha
"And to be fair about the sugar scrubs, mine in the summer can melt and leave a layer of oil, it is the nature of the beast. Don't be too judgemental when you are not regularly doing markets. My lotions are kept in an ice chest in the summer and my samples are in pump bottles which are checked for temp on hot days. I also keep 2 sets of samples so I can exchange them with the cooled samples. I have a digital probe in my supply box."
Actually, I DID do a regular weekly organic farmer's market in the same town as this festival (literally just 3 city blocks away) for over 2 years and I was out there as a vendor in temps over 100 degrees on a weekly basis. So I'm well aware of the 'the nature of the beast' for BB products in the heat of our summers here in the deep south.
But to be fair, I didn't give details about the lotion/sugar scrub separation, so I can understand where you're coming from :)
To clarify: The lotion bottles and sugar scrub tubs that were for sale looked old to me. By that I mean that many of them had an obvious layer of dust (not something light/new that I would attribute to the festival), and many of the labels looked old and dirty. I understand that things can get dirty and mussed when you do a lot of markets and festivals, but this combined with the lackadaisical attitude of the vendors made me think that they just didn't care about their products. The temps during this festival were mild, so I really don't think that had anything to do with the separation issues.

I also would not sell in such a market. I have always found in any long-running market there will be the main B&B seller, which sounds like your friend, which will get most of the business. Any other vendors with the same products will get the leftover or new customers. I have even been known to not sell at a market because there is a smallish vendor that I would hurt. While I am not bragging it is a fact with my amount of stock the little one does not have much of a chance. When the new seller with low stock comes into my market it is their decision and they usually do not stick around too many weeks. On their flip side, there is a huge market I would love to attend, but I know which vendor has the market cornered, even though there are 10+ B&B vendors. She has been selling there for many years. I would be no competition for her even having the same amount of stock and large display. So I would not sell where your friend is especially if it is a high cost market.
This isn't a normal 'market'. It's a 3-day 'Arts Market' for a large international festival held every spring that attracts visitors from all over the globe. No one is going to have this market cornered because most of the business isn't from local people. My friend does very well here because she sells a superior product and has an attractive booth. I can say the same for myself, but our business style is so vastly different that we've never really been competition for each other. Her style is rustic, down-home, and farm-based; while my style is more of the fanciful southern belle type. This market isn't about creating repeat customers so much as doing volume sales in the 3-day period. Hence the sup-par vendors looking to make a quick buck.
 
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