Vendor Tips: Top 5 Sales Tips from 5 Makers

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The holiday shopping season is upon us! With the first Renegade Craft Fair of the season kicking off this weekend (and even more fairs happening all around the country), we thought we’d consult some of our Makers whose expertise lies in costumer service. We’ve seen many Makers in action thrive at what some might find incredibly daunting. For those who are shy (me, especially), it can be difficult to talk about oneself and one’s work to strangers. From personal experience, I can say from personal experience that it’s very difficult to not feel weird or gross talking about myself or my work. But fear no more! Here are some top 5 tips from Makers who we’ve seen engage effortlessly with shoppers.

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Jocelyn Nguyen of Nous Savon

  1. I always say hi, how’s it going, or at least make eye contact and smile. I’m genuinely glad to see every person who’s made the effort to come out to the show.  I don’t usually jump into saying anything about my work unless they already look interested.
  2. If a person looks interested, I urge them to try things on. It’s helpful for them, and it’s helpful for me because (as I tell customers all the time) I otherwise have only seen some of the pieces on myself in the studio and that gets old real quick. Plus, with new pieces, I like to see if I’ve gotten the proportions right for the average person. This leads into the next thing:
  3. I bring my tools with me to shows so that I can do simple alterations like shorter chains or extra jump rings or whatnot. People are so endearingly pleased when they realize that a necklace CAN be made to fit them. I don’t balk at changing my designs in this way because every person is different and their proportions are not the same as mine. That said, if someone asks for an alteration I’m not a fan of, I’m honest about it and will probably suggest an alternative.
  4. People really appreciate honesty. It’s not like I drive customers away, but I’m honest about whether I think a piece suits them. I think I get away with it because I have such a wide range of pieces and I’m helllla opinionated so I always have suggestions for other pieces that I think would be great on them.
  5. I have fun at shows. This is possibly just my personality type, but I really like being outgoing and familiar and having fun with folks at shows. The rest of the time you can find me in a cave reading and hiding from the world and recharging (don’t underestimate the need to recharge), but I think it’s just great to meet people who are interested in supporting small designers. I find that sometimes conversations veer wildly away from the work and the customer and I will get on a ridiculous tangent, but it’s fun and shows are a big chunk of my life so I really don’t mind and just enjoy myself. I guess this directly affects sales because customers are comfortable with me, and indirectly because I’m having fun and keeping my energy up so even if the person I just spent ten minutes talking to about the crystal caves in Mexico doesn’t buy anything, I’m in a good mood for the next person coming into the booth, and they really feel that.
  6. Oops I know this is 6, but lastly: display! Have a kickass display that’s distinctive, and that is a representation of your aesthetic that someone can see and take in in one glance.

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Alana Rivera of Etta + Billie

  1. Smile ALL THE TIME. Seriously, this can make the difference between someone deciding to approach your booth or not. Your face might hurt by the end of the day, but it’s worth it.
  2. Stay standing whenever possible. I’ve noticed that people are far more ready to engage with me if we are both at eye level. It can be rough on your back so invest in some good supportive shoes or consider buying one of these stools from Ikea. That way you’ll be at the right height even if you’re sitting down.
  3. Engage with people when they come into your booth. Smile, ask them questions. Get them talking, even if it’s just about the weather.
  4. Take a break, away from the booth every few hours if possible. If you’re able to get a friend to cover for you for even 15 minutes, it can make a big difference in your energy level. You’ll return refreshed and ready to chat it up with customers.
  5. Communicate your Why. Tell them why you do what you do. Tell them about the process, the ingredients, your inspirations. Don’t just try to sell a product. Get signage, photos, etc to help you explain your why.

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Kristen Pomphrey of PF Candle Co.

  1. Look happy, even if it’s slow. Nothing turns off a potential customer like a sour puss – although if you’re smiling maniacally, that might be a turn off too. My happy medium is chatting with a booth mate or neighbor, and if I’m by myself, I’ll busy myself by arranging the booth. Smiling and being happy is sometimes one of those things you have to just DO, and the feeling behind it will come later.
  2. Acknowledge your customers – then allow them to shop. Let them know you’re there if they have any questions, but don’t hover over them. My phrase is “how’s it going! let me know if you have any questions”. Said with a smile of course.
  3. If you like their purse, shoes, bike, dog – tell them! It’s a great way to break the ice and allows them trust your taste more.
  4. Have giant signage that does most of the work for you. In large letters, state what you’re selling and how much it costs. Shoppers can be shy, too, and that way they don’t have to ask you the hard stuff unless they want to.
  5. When you make a sale, be ready for it. One of our keys to success is getting a system down for processing orders – whether it’s two or one of us. Know ahead of time if you’re going to wrap their item, and how you’re going to do it, or if you’re going to ring them out first and then wrap it. I always use checkout to chat customers up, but I make sure to be relatively speedy about it. You don’t want to be Mr. Bean from Love Actually, especially during the holidays.

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Demetria Chappo of Demetria Chappo Ceramics

  1. Have a good time. It’s not necessarily saying ‘hello’ or striking a conversation with every person that comes by, but definitely having a cheerful, pleasant energy and be you. It seems obvious, but of course there are going to be unexpected stresses when you’ve set up storefront in less than two hours.
  2. I consider how I like to shop. Personally, I don’t like to ask for prices, so  labels are important. I also like to make cards with product stories, sometimes just a few words, which can give someone the opportunity to engage or get to know more without having to interact if they prefer to look silently.
  3. Take it in too. There’s a lot you can learn from direct interaction with customers. An unexpected response to a piece could mean adapting how you talk and write about it or give you an idea for future iterations.
  4. You never know who just walked into your booth and where it may lead, especially with many retail buyers and press attending markets. Just as often a customer will tell you about something they think you’d like or an out-of-towner mentions a great shop in their city where they could see your work. I like to keep notes so I can remember names and shops to follow up with later.

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Chris and Paige Lea Curtis of Alibi Interiors

  1. Smile.  Yep, ALL day.
  2. When customers approach, say hi!  Acknowledge their presence, but don’t immediately jump into describing your product or a sales pitch.  If they want to know more, they’ll ask.  I usually say “Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help at all.”
  3. Set up your booth with as much free /walking space as possible.  Create an interesting zone people can come into, rather than a standard table situated up front that they can easily view and just as easily pass by.
  4. Make your space as inviting as possible- don’t crowd the customer, don’t intimidate them by facing your chair directly towards them, give them space, busy yourself with something other than staring at them (but pretending not to) such as re stocking product, re arranging items, supplementing biz cards, etc.  This basically falls under the same category as the advice above!
  5. Have a glass of wine to lighten up!

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If you have some expert tips you want to share with us, comment below or email hollin@renegadecraft.com.

One thought on “Vendor Tips: Top 5 Sales Tips from 5 Makers

  1. I have not yet done a craft fair but applied for the Brooklyn Holiday Pop-ups. This advice is extremely helpful. Whether or not I get accepted, these tips will continue to help me as I apply and hopefully get into future fairs.

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