Crafts and DIYs

The Unwritten Rules of Craft and Vendor Show Etiquette

This past year, Unplanned Whimsy has made huge strides to grow from a simple Etsy Shop, to this lovely website, and then to selling in-person at Craft and Vendor Shows. This past season, from September to December (and into December) I had a craft show booked almost every weekend. It was a bit much for my first year diving into shows, but it was so much fun and truly I made such wonderful memories with really nice people.

You don’t have to jump head first into the Craft Show world with back-to-back shows every weekend, but if you are thinking of doing a Craft and Vendor Show here are some tips that I have learned to help you be successful in keeping things classy. So here are…

The Unwritten Rules of Craft and Vendor Show Etiquette

Look Professional

You MUST look professional for a craft and vendor event. Why?

  • This is your JOB. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and although someone may be drawn to your product before they even see you, YOU are the representation of YOUR BUSINESS.
    • Do sweatpants best represent your business? If so, go for some dark stretch jeans.
  • It is RESPECTFUL to the hosts of this event to dress nicely.
    • Imagine all of the work that has gone in to planning this craft and vendor show. Dressing professionally, letting them know that you take this seriously, is a simple way to say ‘thank you’. Which leads me to the next reason…
  • You not only represent your business, but you also represent the EVENT COORDINATOR’S BUSINESS.
    • This craft and vendor show is a living display of their ability to create a memorable event. You are helping in that effort by being a ‘good looking’ representative of the type of business this event coordinator can attract; they want to show the best because it makes them more of an attractive company.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to break out your evening dress or black suit and tie, but I am saying that you need to step up your ensemble for a craft and vendor show. This is a professional gig (no matter the location), so look professional.

Thank the Hosts and Introduce Yourself

Again, these event coordinators have spent months planning this event, so show them some appreciation by thanking them in person, introducing yourself and the business you represent.

Yes, you will most likely meet someone at the beginning of the day who will check you in and assign you a ‘spot’ to set up; however, do not make the assumption that that person coordinated the event. (I have coordinated enough events to know that those in charge are usually too busy putting out fires during the beginning of an event to check people in themselves.)

Make the effort to see them during the event when things are calm. You’ll be more likely to have their full attention and may even make an impression enough to gain knowledge of or an invite to craft and vendor shows yet to come. Networking!!

Respect the Space

Event spaces vary depending on the location. Whether you have a 12’x12’ or simply a 6’ table and one chair, do not try to go beyond your allotted space. Don’t stick items out into the isle thinking ‘it’s just one more foot of space’ or ‘no one will notice’ because just a few inches into the aisle can be more than rude; it can be dangerous.

Don’t believe me? When grandma walks down the aisle to shop and her walker runs into your set up knocking things over, she’s going to feel embarrassed over the fuss, guilty for hitting your stuff, or maybe even obligated to pay for something that got was damaged because of the incident. NO NO NO How dare you make some adorable grandma feel bad on the one day she gets to get out of the house and shop for crafts. Why would you ruin grandma’s day?

If you are wanting to branch out into a bigger space, ask the event coordinator if there are larger spaces for purchase before the event.

Meet the Other Vendors

If you have the opportunity to walk around during your event, DO IT. Think of the benefits:

  • Gain insight on how similar products (to yours) are priced
  • Pick up new display ideas
    • That small shelving unit display across the isle is really cool… Ask about it.
      • Where did they buy it?
      • How did they make it?
      • Would they be willing to sell it? -Some people actually make their displays and are more than willing to sell unique pieces. You’ll never know until you ask.
  • Meet new friends
  • Learn about upcoming shows
  • Gain insight on shows that have passed and you missed out on
    • Was the show a success or a dud?
    • Is it something worth signing up for next year?
  • Shop! Purchase unique gifts for loved ones or yourself from the other vendors
    • *If you are low on cash you can always try to swap one of your items for something from a different vendor, if they are willing to make a trade.
  • See what other vendors are doing to gain customers
    • An email sign-up sheet, samples, coupons, blog links, give aways (I pass out Unplanned Whimsy pencils), etc.
    • What are others doing that you may want to think about implementing in your own business plan?

Do Not Tear Down Until the Designated Time

Every craft show has a designated start and end time. That time does not just apply to shoppers, but to the vendors as well.

It is a pet peeve of mine at craft shows to see vendors pack up early. As a shopper, it is confusing to be at an event at 2:30pm and see that half of the sellers have their inventory in boxes as they run around like they’re trying to rush out of a burning building. The event ends at 3:00pm. Where is the fire?

Think of this cautionary tale from one of my first craft shows:

My family is a blessing and they like to come with me to help at craft shows. Once upon a time, my dad convinced me to tear-down early. It had been a slow day of kind people, lots of small talk, and only two sales. I thought of how tired and discouraged I was anyways, and it was only 20 minutes until the end of the event. I stood at my booth and saw some of the other vendors tearing down, so I thought it would be okay. It wasn’t.

It was 10 minutes until the end of the show. My eager-to-leave dad had already taken a box of product out to the car, when a little girl came up to my booth. I had seen her earlier in the day with her grandmother looking in my booth and as she pulled on her mom’s arm to come see me, my heart sank. She was there to purchase a child’s craft kit, which had just been brought out to the car. The mom didn’t want to wait for me to retrieve it; to make it worse, she wouldn’t even take my business card. I lost a sale, but more importantly I lost my credibility as a reputable business that day. That mother’s only impression of Unplanned Whimsy is that it is run by a woman who doesn’t have the patience to stick around until the end of a craft show and enjoys making little girls sad.

It isn’t just rude to pack up before a show, it can be damaging to your business.

Have any vendor tips of your own to share? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

Thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed this post and have a whimsical day!

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