Fourth of July Market Report

So our first-ever fair experience went quite well last Sunday. The set-up went well; nothing broke and we didn’t forget anything. (Unlike the vendor next to us who woke up thinking it was July 3 and raced out of the house without her change box.) The weather was perfect (not too hot but none of the usual July fog we get around here) and the crowds were happy and plentiful. But they weren’t in the mood to spend a lot of money. The day was more about bringing the kids and dogs outside to listen to music and play games.  Some lovely people stopped by to sniff and admire our soap, but there was not a bonanza of sales. Which gave me a lot of time to look around and think.

Right next to our booth was a couple who was selling a combination of things: beaded jewelry, art prints, little purses. But what struck me was that once their booth was set up, they hunkered down in some chairs and each read a book. I’ve been to markets myself where I’ve seen vendors like this. It has always made me feel like they didn’t really care about me as a customer, and I don’t usually linger in booths like that. Maybe they just knew something from the beginning of the day that I didn’t: that this wasn’t going to be a big day for business.

But then on the other side of the spectrum (I realize now) was me: so excited and passionate about my soap that I tended to hover too much over customers. I wasn’t pushy, but I wasn’t giving customers much space either. I couldn’t sit very much because I felt like I had to be the “face” of the shop. And every time a customer came up to one of the tables and took a sniff of something I waited expectantly for their reaction. I worry now that my desire to be helpful may have seemed a bit desperate and creepy. Note to self: Chill.

Will we do more fairs? Probably. I’m thinking that a crafts/gift fair may be a better venue for us, assuming that customers there are more in the frame of mind to buy things like handmade soap. Until then, I’ll have to practice looking aloof without completely tuning out. Maybe I can find some teenagers to give me some tips. 😉

So what kind of vendor do you prefer when shopping? Is it better for vendors to look like they care, or just leave you alone?


15 thoughts on “Fourth of July Market Report

  1. You’re too funny Ruth. Thanks for sharing this honest & humorous account of your weekend soap experiences. Sorry to hear you didn’t sell more soap… but it sounds like it was a valuable learning experience for sure. Look on the bright side… hopefully you have some of those amazing Fourth of July soaps to sell. You might want to bring them to show off at your advanced CP soap class this Saturday. Students just might want to buy some 🙂

    • We learned a lot, Lori! And yes, I have quite a bit of soap now. I’ll be listing that and a couple of new ones on our website soon. Bringing them to my class is a great idea!

  2. Well, I for one came prepared to buy! 🙂

    As someone drawn magnetically to craft fairs, I have some thoughts on your question. I don’t like it when the vendor gloms on to me immediately and I feel like I am getting the hard sell. I like to have a few minutes to look at stuff before being approached, and then maybe a quick explanation of the glories of the product, and then let me look on my own again. I don’t mind if the person is reading — I know they have to sit there all day. As long as I can get an answer if I have a question and find someone to take my money, it’s ok.

  3. Hi Ruth,
    Great recap, sorry we were out of town Sunday and missed you. Next time, bring a deep fryer for more booth traffic, I guess…See ya soon!

  4. I haven’t been at a fair yet, but I am worried that I might be the hovering quasi heavy breather down your neck type. 🙂 I cant help myself. When I give out my goodies I want to know what someone thinks right now! Who cares if you are in the middle of fixing the fridge honey – go wash your hands!!! Step away from the sewing machine and go scrub your feet . . . you know that sort of thing. Oh well, at least I am aware of it and can hopefully keep my excitement in check when I do set up a booth! 🙂

  5. Every time we do samething for the firt time, we also learn from that.Better luck next time, and keep a handfull of busines cards to give away and tell them, to look at yours soaps on website.

  6. I LOVE color, and your display would have drawn me in like a magnet! Absolutely beautul eye candy, and I’m sure your soaps are as wonderful to use as they are to look at. I do craft fairs also, and it’s tough to know what’s the best approach. I usually smile and say something like…”Hi, how are you this afternoon? If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to ask.” I don’t like a hard sell when I’m on the buying end, so I hope this leaves the door open for customers to engage and get more information if they choose. I wouldn’t want a vendor to hover, but I’d like it if they would at least acknowledge that I’m there! LOL

    • Thanks for the kind words and the advice, Janet. That’s exactly the feeling that I want to go for. Next time, I’ll remember to rein in my hovering a bit.

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