My husband and I do art fairs together. After doing it for only a few years I have compiled a do’s and dont’s list..
I’ve participated in craft and art fairs, too. Even coordinated a large one about 28 years ago.
1. If someone says hello as you are walking by and looking, acknowledge their hello.
While saying “hello” would be courteous, if I had to run a gauntlet through the booths of artists and owners all greeting me with an expectation that I return that greeting, I’ll probably stay home. The booth owner/artist has a vested interest in greeting customers so as to provide a pleasant shopping experience in order to draw them in and increase sales. Standing there like an alien is off putting and will not get you sales.
2. Compliment the artist. They worked very hard on their art and they are proud.
I’m sure they are proud of their work but if it is not worthy of compliments, none should be forthcoming. Besides, the highest compliment is a sale.
3. Don’t tell the artist that you have a brother, sister, cousin who does the same thing. They might do something similar but it’s not the same.
Didn’t faze me a bit when people said that to me. My reply? A cheerful, “Great! I hope you enjoy their stuff!” And then I ignored them to focus on a new customer.
4. Don’t offer the artist suggestions on what they should do. If they wanted to do it, they would have.
5. If you break something you should pay for it, not just walk away.
This is true. But I would also suggest that valuable, breakable items be put in glass display cases or out of reach. I still remember the inlaid wood and brass belt buckle artist at a D.C. show who got offended that people were picking up her buckles to examine them. As soon as they put them down, she would pick the buckle up and wipe off the skin oils with growing angst at having to do it. I had no interest thereafter in buying one as her disdain for her customers was palpable.
6. If it costs more than you expected simply put it down and walk away. Don’t grimace or comment on the price.
Bartering and haggling is part of the experience. Bring it on, I say, because once they are engaged in a price battle, you know you have them on the hook. The only question is whether you can seal the deal. The problem with artists is they think their work is more valuable than it is. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and if you are not getting sales but are getting comments that the price is too high, then the price is too high. I’ve known any starving artists who would rather stick to their inflated prices than actually sell a piece and make some money.
7. Keep an eye on your kids. They could actually get hurt.
8. Don’t tell the artist that you saw something similar for cheaper.
Again, a cheerful, “Great! I hope you enjoy it!”