re. sticky fingers and jewelry, and kids playing with your
bracelets. I've done outdoor shows for 20 years, some particularly
attractive to kids, so I "feel your pain." My biggest sources of
delight for little fingers are the bracelets and bead rings.
My first bit of advice is to stop with the candy. You #1, don't want
your booth even more kid attractive, and #2, as you've found, many
parents don't want their kids to have the stuff. You've already
discovered reason #3, the wrappers.
Second bit of advice, stop them immediately! The worst result from
telling them, politely and firmly, not to handle your jewelry is
that their parent will leave in a huff because you "reprimanded"
their dear little darlings. This is not a big loss, ever. I usually
say something on the order of, "sorry, you have to be 4'8'' to touch
the jewelry," as I reach towards the jewelry tray (don't reach for
the child). Any comment on that order, along with the reaching
motion, usually stops them, at least momentarily, so you can take
appropriate action. My husband tried, "You can touch, but with only
one finger," but some of those little buggers are very inventive. I
even had one stick out 1 finger and hook it through a ring to pull it
out. So much for that "rule." As to sticky fingers, if someone,
adult or child, is holding a sticky source, be prepared to hand them
a hand-wipe, and mention that: candy apples, ice cream, sno-cones,
fill-in-the-blank, don't mix well with... and pick the piece up for
them. Try different wording, you'll find the one that works best for
The simplest is to raise the tempting things up a bit out away from
the level of the littlest fingers, and as soon as it looks like an
older (read taller) child is reaching for your bracelets, or
whatever else, you tell them not to touch. You must be quick with
the response, before they actually touch, and do it every time. You
won't catch them all, but you'll get pretty good at it. If
appropriate, you should be prepared to hand them one to try on if,
perhaps even slipping it on their wrist for them. That would also
serve to show the proper technique for wear.
It all boils down to diligence, a firm but friendly manner, and not
leaving up to the parent to parent sometimes. Oh yeah, the problem
never goes away. Sorry for the bad news. but you'll get pretty good
at "heading trouble off at the pass."