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My first day as a jewellery exhibitor


#1

I have a sign at my booth:

“I Hunt It, Buy It, Haul It, Wash It, Scrub It, Repair It, Fix It,
Patch It, Label It, Catalog It, Frame It, Display It, Brag About It,
Pay Insurance on It, Sometimes Break It… Now How Can I Take Any
Less?”

What I really like is when they say, “I can get this cheaper at
Walmart!” If they can get my handmade jewelry cheaper at Walmart, go
for it.

John


#2

I love this. But would you mind if I plagiarized and changed it a
bit? Here’s what I’d like to use.

"I Hunt It, Buy It, Haul It, Wash It, Scrub It, Repair It, Fix It,
SolderIt, Patch It, Wire Wrap it, File It, Polish It, Label It,
Catalog It, Frame It, Display It, Brag About It, Pay Insurance on It,
Sometimes Break It…

Now How Can You Ask Me To Take Any Less?"

Michele


#3

Hello kavitha,

Some people have a talent for selling and a tough skin for people who
do not know what it takes. I learned in the 70’s that I am not cut
out for sidewalk shows… galleries in some cases. So I work at night
and teach. It seems that people with bench skills are more prepared
for that kind of thing. Many of us feel the way you do. Hang in there
and keep your chin up!

Chris


#4

Hello Kavitha,

Don’t dispair. As with any skill/technique, closing/making a sale
takes a lot of practice, and even then, if the right customer is not
looking at your work, you won’t sell it. That is the rule in the
retail world.

You know the true value of your work, you know the effort and skill
that has gone into making it. you know the cost of the materials and
tools that the work requires. You also love your work. You only need
to find the words to describe that clearly to any and all who are
looking at it at an exhibition.

Since that takes practice, take the time to stage a practice
session, not at an exhibition or show, with someone(s) you trust and
develop a sales dialogue with them. Tell that person to be
aggressive, to comment negatively, to ask for a better price. And
practice dealing with that in a positive, non-defensive manner. And
do it over and over again, until you feel comfortable describing
your work in the best light. Praise it to the sky, cheer yourself
on. Afterwards, each time, go out and reward yourself with an ice
cream cone, some chocolate, a cup of coffee, or whatever is a
comfort taste for you.

For most of us, it’s hard work, selling anything, but especially
selling the work that is closest to our heart, the work that we’ve
made with our own hands.

Good luck and don’t give up,

Linda Kaye-Moses


#5

People love buying from artists. It gives them a personal attachment
to the art or product they don’t get from a factory purchased item.

However, buying from an artist isn’t an easy process for the buyer
or the artist. Buyers sometimes get overwhelmed by all the things
they see, they are at the wrong show for their budget, they get
tired, their blood sugar falls and they say the wrong things. Artists
are generally overly attached to their work and, being sensitive by
nature, take insensitive customers as a personal affront, which it
isn’t meant to be. Plus, the whole blood sugar thing works on either
side of the showcase.

I doesn’t sound like the market you sold at was a good venue for
your work. Still, try to separate yourself emotionally from your
product.

In the same way that you wouldn’t wear your best gown to do
gardening, when you are showing your work you have to wear a
different attitude.

You can no longer be the sensitive, obsessed, protector of your
nestlings. Instead, you are the mother bird who almost callously
pushes the fledglings out of the nest, stops feeding them to
encourage their departure and lets go.

I would recommend printing some small brochures that explain your
process in detail. Write a FAQ section that gives answers to all
those pesky questions, playing up all the advantages of owning your
work.

Good luck.
Larry


#6

Have you ever sold a home that you lived in for some time - one that
held memories, both good and bad, bittersweet memories of children
laughing, illness and maybe even death? A home is invested with your
emotions. But when you sell it, you have to begin looking at it as a
house, not a home.

Because not you have a product on the market. It is the same with
the jewelry you make - you can be proud of it but it is going to
someone else now. when it leaves your bench, it also has to leave
your heart in a way.

Does this sound like a tough thing to do? Yes it is and real estate
people know it. That is why they usually ask the owners not to be
present for an open house or for a showing to potential buyers. You
can even kill a sale as a homeower even when you say you want to sell
it. Real estate people sell a house to people to be a home for them.
I’d consider having pieces of your jewelry in different stages of
production - people get interested in the story of making it then
instead of thinking that it is knocked off in a couple of minutes.
“Anyone can do that!” is the statement you might hear - but the point
is - maybe anyone can, but somebody did - and that somebody is you.
You deserve respect as the maker and. the monetary value you place on
your work is one way of showing the respect. Would these same people
walk into a neurosurgeon’s office and ask for a discount? I think not

  • but maybe some would! Good luck and keep on making beautiful
    things that SOME people will appreciate enough to part with a little
    of the ready cash. Not all.

Barbara on a dreary day in May that feels a lot more like March at
10 degrees C and grey skies


#7
People love buying from artists. It gives them a personal
attachment to the art or product they don't get from a factory
purchased item. 
However, buying from an artist isn't an easy process for the buyer
or the artist. Buyers sometimes get overwhelmed by all the things
they see, they are at the wrong show for their budget, they get
tired, their blood sugar falls and they say the wrong things.
Artists are generally overly attached to their work and, being
sensitive by nature, take insensitive customers as a personal
affront, which it isn't meant to be. Plus, the whole blood sugar
thing works on either 

A delighful outside look inside a sale! I think the very first
paragraph says it all!

Thanks Larry for your insight.
Kay


#8
I would recommend printing some small brochures that explain your
process in detail. Write a FAQ section that gives answers to all
those pesky questions, playing up all the advantages of owning
your work. 

Great idea, and I would add, super large photos at the back of the
booth, showing her working.

Elaine


#9

Kavitha,

Take heart and don’t be dismayed.

Value your work yourself and don’t feel inclined to sell at rock
bottom prices because of baseless comments made by some of the people
who look at your work. Over time I’ve learned that there will always
be people like that. and there really isn’t anything that you can say
to them which will be received as meaningful.

The best reply that I’ve come up with is to tell them that your work
is unique, quality hand made jewelry, but then again, it is not for
everyone. Then follow with a shrug while looking them in the eye.
Nothing rude about it, just the facts.

You may be surprised that some of these bargain hunters will then be
willing to buy at full price.

All the best,
J Collier
http://jlcollier.com


#10

A lady once came up to me in a show, looked at my stuff, and said,
“Oh, I didn’t realize silver was so expensive.”

I said, “It isn’t. As it happens I’ll be going to the scrapyard next
week and can probably get you a lump. How many grams did you have in
mind?”

Cheers all
Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada


#11

I am fine with indoor venues, but street shows can be overwhelming
for just one person. It often takes two people to keep a weather eye
on everything when it gets busy. When I do street shows, I have an
assistant, my best friend who just loves selling. I call her my
secret weapon. She can frankly brag about how beautiful my work is
and leave the explanations and technical questions to me.

I can talk to anybody about jewelry making and wax enthusiastic about
my techniques, but I’ve always had trouble with the “hard sell.” I am
so lucky to have her with me, and she absolutely loves doing it. I
occasionally gift her with her choice of pieces, and she often wears
them to shows and points them out to customers.

Janet Kofoed


#12

I used to be overly sensitive about what people said about my
jewelry, but now, after working in a retail store, I’ve come to
expect it. Probably the best lesson I’ve learned at my job is that
its not about me. The one I still struggle with is the concept that
a high price tag equals better in the customer’s eyes. I like to
make money but I just price things at what I would probably pay for
them if the situation were reversed.


#13

Ok, now that I’ve read the original post…

I’m not cut out to sell at shows, either. When I do though, I try
and find shows that attract people who collect art. Usually, the
ones which would be more lucrative for the artist also have the
highest booth fees.

Stay away from markets at churches or any markets with “flea” or
"vintage" in the title. People who go to those usually aren’t looking
to spend a lot of money, they are looking for a deal.

Have a nice display for your work. Be creative with your displays
and make them look nice. The more you have and the higher up you can
display it, so its closer to eye level, the better.

I wouldn’t argue with anyone. And price your pieces at a fair price
for you. Tell all your friends and family where you’re going to be
so they come support you. If your customers are concerned about
fragility, be honest.

Hang in there!


#14

I have done hand carved leatherwork for years. I unabashedly tell a
skeptic that the material cost isn’t why that piece is X-hundred
dollars, it is because it took me 30 hours to make it look like that!


#15

I for get who said this but thank you anonymous maker. His story
went like t. The shopper asked if he might give her a better price.
Looking the shopper right in the eye he replied Sure, I’ll make it
$220.00! I’ve never had the nerve to say that but thinking about the
story makes me smile every time acustomer asks fora discount instead
of making me angry.

Tamara _Thinking I need to get busy for the summer shows!


#16

I actually ask this people if they had to bargain this week their
check with their boss to get payed, or if he just pays what he owes,
they usually get it !


#17

Hi

You get to meet all sorts of people at shows and markets. You never
know how Dumb or Pushy or Rude people can be.

One of the winners for me was a lady who offered me less than the
metal price for a piece of jewellery.

And could not understand why I did not sell it to her.

I repeated 3 times “The price you want is less than the silver
cost.” She would not stop. Trying to bargain and driving customers
away. So I asked her to leave.

“Is your carer here?” AKA You are an outpatient from a psych ward.
She went away.

Now I do get genuine out patients look at my stall. I am always
polite and kind as.

Had one the other day tell me over and over "My daddy had a ring."
Let her try them on etc. Knew she would not buy. Her carer thanked
me.

Not a problem I work with the abused/damaged. They respond to
kindness.

Also if they do want to buy, I often take a loss. They do not
understand money, but hey they have a good memory in a sad life.

Have one come by my stall on a regular basis wearing a ring I sold
her. Cost price.

“Richard you make my ring.” Smiles and laughter. Her carer is a
friend of mine.

I wish the rest of the world should treat the these people with
kindness.

However if you are a real nasty piece of arrogant trash then it is
all on.

“$^ off.” Literally. Thankfully they are few and far between.

Richard


#18

First impressions are very important. Not a secret. You have heard
it before. But I am not talking about the customer’s first impression
of you.

Think about and think past your first impression of this experience
as an exhibitor.

Artists like to think they are unique and special. A good friend of
mine who made electronic temperature control devices went to his
first trade show, spent a lot of money, and was very disappointed in
a very similar way. His bad experience and negative first impression
convinced him that trade shows were a sham. Believe it or not people
with other kinds of products and businesses are also very emotionally
attached to their enterprises. The main difference is that our
culture does not automatically get all sentimental about the tragedy
of a failed technical designer the same way we romanticize the
struggle of an “artist”.

It didn’t go well. Exhibiting, selling, presentation and all that is
work, involves skill and like everything else you get better at it
with experience. You can get all philosophical about it and blame it
on insensitivity, ignorance or blood sugar. Maybe you will just quit,
as my friend did, because the whole experience was so difficult and
humiliating.

People who succeed in business will very often talk about “The
School of Hard Knocks”. Get a bunch of older entrepreneurs together
telling stories and before you know it they are trying to one-up each
other with their biggest mistakes (and what they learned from them).

It is not easy to overcome the bias of a first impression. If you
want to really learn from this you have to see beyond the bruises. My
best advice would be to tag along with someone else who is an
experienced exhibitor.

Ride shotgun on someone else’s shows and get some on-the-job
training.

Stephen Walker


#19

Kudos to those who are brave to sell to the public. I used to sell
at street fairs with my lovely hand made jewelry that nobody seemed
to appreciate. The hardest was when I was squeezed into an area with
six other people selling work with inches to spare around me. It was
very frustrating and I was drained.

However, for awhile I was doing pretty well and chose CAREFULLY the
venues that the audience would understand the work. I rarely do
shows anymore because I discovered that people like learning and my
passion is teaching. Saying that, here is what I learned for
successful shows.

I do one show a year. It is for the Wellesley Junior League in
Massachusetts. The booth fee is $250 for a table, two days. Ouch. It
is a juried show. I grossed $4,500 for the weekend selling my resin
inlay earrings for $125 a pair. Lots of earrings.

  1. Work is at eye level and well lit

  2. work is colorful and eye catching

  3. I don’t sell pairs. I sell singlets and let people choose their
    own. This is a good strategy for me, as it keeps the ladies at my
    booth, and creates buzz.

  4. If somebody complements your work, NEVER SAY THANK YOU. Weird,
    huh. The ONLY time I say thank you is when I take their credit card.
    Thank you closes the deal and stops it cold. Mention “Wow, these are
    my sister’s favorite colors and patterns. I’m so glad that you like
    them.”

  5. If there is nobody at your booth, that’s the time to go in front.
    Tidy something up, re-arrange a display. In the corner of others
    eye, there is somebody at the booth and they will likely come over.
    Be engaging, friendly and smile.

  6. Compliment the work of your neighbor.

  7. Never, never, never apologize.

  8. Be consistent. If somebody wants to learn from you, have a
    brochure ready for them to take.

  9. Business cards are throw aways. Nobody ever contacted me through
    a business card. Get THEIR names, phone numbers and EMAIL. You need
    to follow up.

  10. Yes, everybody can buy their jewelry through TJ Max, Walmart, or
    the Everything for a $1 in NYC.Compliment them on their taste and
    selection. Weird I know, but eventually they will come back and
    purchase something. Has happened, especially when their cheap bling
    breaks and they want you to fix it for three times what they paid.

  11. Pay close attention to everything that Linda Kay Moses tells
    you. :frowning:

Karen Christians
www.karenchristians.com


#20

Greetings,

I’ve been meaning to chime in here with my take on “the best thing I
ever did in regards to shows”. But Steven got there first:

want to really learn from this you have to see beyond the bruises.
My best advice would be to tag along with someone else who is an
experienced exhibitor. 
Ride shotgun on someone else's shows and get some on-the-job
training. 

Absolutely! I helped out with a couple of friend’s booths at big
shows like ACC Baltimore, or the Smithsonian show, and got to see
(A) what it took to do one of those shows, and (B) How to do one
of those big shows, all without having my name or money tied to it.
Absolutely invaluable experience that has stood me in good stead for
years. Was also a good way to meet people in the field (at dinner
after) and develop a reputation for being helpful, which is never a
bad thing. That too has helped save my tail on more than one
occasion. (Do enough shows, and you all start to know each other.
Being able to borrow duct-tape or tools from each other is deeply
helpful. Because somebody’s always forgotten something. It’ll be
your turn next time.)

So, ask around. See if you know, or your friends know, anybody who’s
going to be doing a larger show somewhere in range of you, and ask
if you can help out. It won’t pay anything, but the experience will
be well worth it. Believe me, having another hand on deck to help is
always welcome, even if it’s just so you have someone to cover the
booth while you get food.

Regards,
Brian