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?