Worst thing you've ever heard from a buyer

One of the comments in the “cost of holding out” discussion
triggered a thought for a topic we could have some fun with. What is
the worst thing you’ve ever heard from a buyer at a tradeshow?

The worst that comes to mind happened to a friend that I used to
help at shows before I started my own business. It was at one of the
wholesale gift shows and she happened to be placed next to really low
end stuff (things you would see on display in a gas station). A buyer
came up to her and asked “Is this your dozen price?”

Lori Bugaj
One-Eyed Collie Jewelry Design

My favorite thing a buyer said to me is really funny only in
hindsight. I had gotten a really good order from a big name gallery
who had been looking at my work for years. At the next show when I
saw them speedwalking by my booth I asked how the jewelry had sold
and he hollered out that it had bombed. Everyone around turns to look
as he walks on and I’m standing there with my mouth open. Later, from
an employee of the gallery, I find out that of the 28 pieces that
they ordered, they had 5 left after 3 months. That was not a bomb to
me so I had to laugh. Within a year he was out of business. I felt

I have two stories. One wholesale, the other retail. When I was
making my slate work, I had a women tell me, “that’s the kind of
jewelry Wilma Flintstone would wear.”

For wholesale my favorite was a woman trying to get my work for
wholesale at ACC Baltimore said, “I’m in the beginning stages of
thinking about opening a gallery.”

I wanted to say to her, call me when your in the end stages of
signing the lease on the gallery, and then perhaps we can do some

Great topic.
Don Friedlich

The first show I ever did was put on by a company called “The Art
Show” and was outdoors in the Palm Springs, California area. Set up
on one side of me was a guy making and selling spin-art t-shirts, the
other side of me sold doggie hats. And there I was with my $150
earrings. One lady commented, “Gee, I didn’t know there was going to
be a swap meet here today.” Well, neither did I.


One of my dog-related items is a hard to get, out of circulation
antique foreign coin with a dog on the face. When I can get the
things at all, I set them in sterling silver coin mounts, and put
them on sterling chains. At one show, a woman asked what the
denomination of the coin was. I replied, it’s a six pence. She looked
me in the eye and asked me how could I have the nerve to ask more
than six cents for the necklace.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry

I did the Sausalito Art Festival about five years ago and a woman
came into my booth, looked around for a moment, and asked how much
one of my one-of-a-kind pieces was. When I told her, she looked at
me for a second and then let out a long, hearty laugh, followed by a
sarcastic “good luck!” as she left the booth.

Fortunately for my relatively young ego (I was 26 at the time) I sold
the piece in question later the same day… I still laugh when I
think about that show.

dp- Aah - r rothbard stories… At my very first wholesale show he
was one of the first buyers to show up at my booth. He told me that
he was going to “help me learn the ropes” and that usually new
artists would give “top 100” buyers a discount off their order to get
into the better galleries. Well, having worked in corporate america
for many years, I could smell bull**** a mile away, so I told him -
“Tell you what. You bring me 5 more top gallery accounts who will
place at least my minimum order, and I guarantee I will give you some
type of discount.” Well, I didn’t get the other 5, but he did send
someone back to place an order with their stores… At full wholesale
prices of course! Lori Bugaj

    a woman came into my booth, looked around for a moment, and
asked how  much one of my one-of-a-kind pieces was. When I told
her, she looked at me for a second and then let out a long, hearty
laugh, followed by a .sarcastic "good luck!" as she left the booth.

This took me back! Many years ago, I was at a local fair in a
well-to-do suburb. A woman came into my booth, looked around
briefly–and snorted! She turned on her heel and headed back from
whence she came, but took time just at the edge of “my” space to
stop, turn back, and snort again before stalking off stiff-backed.
Well, at least she didn’t find my work boring!


Worst thing/funniest thing: Three ladies were shopping a
prestigous Eastcoast craft show together…they kept coming back as
one was interested in a particular piece. At the very end of the
show they came back and I was busy with someone else. My sister
offered to help them, but no, they had to speak with me. Eileen
asked again …to shorten the story…tshe wanted to offer me $1,500
for a piece that was priced at 2,800. Eileen told them no…they
questioned her authority to speak for me and then one said" do you
mean to tell me, if I showed her $1,500 in cash she wouldn’t jump at
it?!" Eileen very politely replied" Marianne’s seen money before".
marianne hunter

[Compound] Worst thing you’ve ever heard from a buyerand Visible

I rarely jump in to conversation I didn’t start it but I have been
reading everyones observations about open pricing and some of the
Worst things customers have said and I had to put in my two cents as
it reminded me of an incident I experienced at a show once. I am
for open prices and all my jewelry is priced in my booth… …At a
show I had a customer (making a long story short) spend about 40
minutes looking over my jewelry with my assistance and paying me all
the compliments in the world loving it all. I figuring with a
customer that liked my work this well I was anticipating a big sale
and after 40 minutes of picking out jewelry for gifts for his loved
ones he asks if I could take a local check to which I agreed. As I
am boxing his purchases and adding a mile a minute He asks for a
total to write the check. To which I replied 946.tax included…! He
never batted an eyelash and began to write the check and looked up
smiling stuck his hand out with the check in it for me to take… And
I had this bad feeling! I don’t know why BUTt something felt wrong.
Maybe his check was the rubber kind or what but it was a feeling…
Anyway I reached out and in an exchanging gesture, my hand extended
with his gift boxes neatly stacked in my hand and the other attaching
itself to his check in a yin-yan motion … And just about to thank
him for such a good sale I looked down at the check and it was for
9.46… My jaw dropped as I retracted my other hand with the boxes
still in it… and asked “You are kidding right?” To which he said
"what is the problem ?"and I explained the total sale was Nine
Hundred and forty-six dollars NOT $9 dollars and 46 cents!! He
reached up grabbed his check which I had now extended like it was the
plague and ran from my tent… Other customer observing all this as
if I beat the man with something. After explaining what he had done
,I wasn’t the only person in the booth asking Can you believe
that??? True story!! What could be worst than this??.. It happened
again in the same year at an art show in Virginia… I couldn’t
believe it! Two people in the world that REALLY wanted a bargain!!!

Well not the worst thing, maybe the “best thing” depending on your
view point. I was demonstrating carving at our local club show and a
well dressed woman walked by, apparently looking down her noise at
most of what she saw. She did a double take when she looked at my
carvings, stopped, looked me in the eye and said “what are you doing
at a show like this?” While I appreciated the compliment, I was
disappointed she felt she was not seeing high quality work at the
other vendors. I know not all the work displayed at club shows will
be of high quality, but mixed with the lower quality you can find
some exceptional work, you just need to keep looking. At least she
bought a carving and thought it was priced reasonably.

Dick Friesen

I’m changing the subject slightly to “Worst thing you’ve ever seen a
customer do,” but I can’t resist telling this story.

I was exhibiting at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Santa Monica.
I had just finished a pin that I really loved which featured, among
other things, a dentalium shell (thank you Andy Cooperman :-)).

A woman came up to my booth, admired the pin, wanted to buy it but
only if I would discount it. I think I had it priced around $800.
We had quite a conversation about this as you can imagine. At one
point, right in the middle of a sentence, the woman’s front tooth
fell out onto my table! She picked it up, put it back in her mouth
and kept on talking. I was aghast … and then utterly flabbergasted
when it happened a second time! This woman was the last person in
the world I wanted to own that wonderful pin.

She finally gave up and walked away. The friend who was helping me
in my booth said, “Don’t be a jerk, Beth. If you sell the pin
through a gallery, you’ll only get $400 anyway, so why not give her
10% off?” I had to admit that she had a good point but the woman had
already walked away and I wasn’t sorry.

So, of course, the woman came back for one more try and I gave in
and agreed to the 10% discount. I also explained to her that while
the dentalium shell had been filled with epoxy to strengthen it, it
was still relatively fragile and might not survive a drop onto a hard
floor. This concerned her a little (but not enough!).

A year later, at the same show, this very same woman came up to my
booth wearing the pin … and the dentalium shell was broken in
half!! She had stopped by to complain, not about the broken shell,
but that all of the stones in the pin had faded since they weren’t as
bright as they looked on my postcard mailer. I explained that it
would be impossible for all the stones to fade equally and that the
discrepancy was due to the colors of the postcard being
over-saturated. I showed her another of the pieces I had used on the
postcard and compared it to the printed image. She somewhat
reluctantly accepted my explanation.

She didn’t say a word about the broken shell and neither did I.
I’ve never seen her since.


1 Like

On my rings I have tags with prices on one side and ring sizes on
the other. At a show recently, a gentleman spent a long time looking
at the rings and finally picked out two as gifts for his wife and
daughter. I put them in boxes and said that would be ninety dollars.
He had pulled out a twenty dollar bill, and he said that he thought
they were seven dollars each. That’s the ring size, I answered. He
went away shaking his head.

Janet Kofoed

[Compound] Worst thing you’ve ever heard from a buyerand Visible

itself to his check in a yin-yan motion .. And just about to thank
him for such a good sale I looked down at the check  and it was
for 9.46.... My jaw dropped as I retracted my other hand with the
boxes still in it.. and asked "You are kidding right?"  To which he
said "what is the problem ?"and I explained the total sale was Nine
Hundred and forty-six dollars NOT $9 dollars and 46 cents!!  He
reached up grabbed his check which I had now extended like it was
the plague and ran from my tent..  Other customer observing all
this as 

I guess the lesson here is to never rattle off the price using only
the digits, especially for big sales. Instead of saying “nine
forty-six”, say “nine hundred forty-six dollars”. That’s like that
urban legend about the Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe. ;D But I’m really
glad for you that he hadn’t grabbed the boxes and tried to run off or
something, although that would have been just as bad since you’d have
the check with his contact info on it. Unless he thought to grab back
the check too.

I wonder if that’s what he was thinking to do, though? I mean, I
can’t imagine someone spending forty minutes at a jewelry booth (one
that has prices shown!) and not realize that paying $9 and some
pocket change is a ridiculous way of misinterpreting “nine forty-six”
for the amount of jewelry he was picking up!

Hi all; I’ve heard so many I can’t remember them all, but the one
that sticks in my mind isn’t about a sale, it’s about a repair. I
got this job once, and as usual, I inherited a box of “stinkers”,
repairs that got put on the back burnerby the last jeweler. One day
the new owner, worrying about cash flow, decided to clear out the old
repairs. One was an electroformed silver cuff bracelet, a big clunky
thing. It was a microscopic layer of sterling over a wax core and
the corners had worn through to the wax beneath. I called the
customer and told them it was unrepairable (difficult after we’d
held on to it for a couple months). The customer got snotty with me
right away. “What kind of a craftsman are you? Can’t you just
’smear’ a little silver on it?” To which I replied, “I’m an
experienced craftsman, and that’s how I know that this can’t be
repaired, and you can’t ‘smear’ silver as if it were frosting”. She
said, “you must not be very good, because I bought this from Stern in
Tel Aviv”. I lost it. I leaned over the counter and looked her in
the eye and sneared, “I don’t care if you bought it from the Dalai
Lama in Tibet, it’s still a piece of junk.” The owner quickly wisked
me out of the showroom and back to the shop.

David L. Huffman

A wealthy enganged couple had comissioned a very modern wedding and
engagement set of rings from me in diamond and ruby. I had gone
through the process with them of design sketches, paint up and all
the way through to the final constrction and setting. The box had
been hand made made and the rings settled comfortably into their
velvet and rosewood nest.

They arrived to pick up the comission and I had champage on hand for
them. She opened the box and put them on and I noticed a little
flicker of dissapointment in her face - so I asked what was the
matter. From her voluminous handbag she withdrew a catalogue from a
high street jeweller and pointed to a Princess Di lookalike set and
said. “I though they would look more like that.”

"Aaaaaaggggggghhhhhh hhh hh!

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida

Dear David, I cracked up over your encounter with the lady who
thought that Stern/Israel could do no harm. It reminds me of the one
of the reactions that we get regularly when, after changing a
battery in a customers watch and discovering that the watch is no
longer functioning , the customer gets a shocked look on his or her
face and loudly exclaims , " HOW COULD THAT BE? It was working fine
until it stopped ! Depending on the individual, I usually suggest
that their turn is coming also.

Or, with a touchier customer, I ask: " How long did you expect it to
last ? Absence of deductive logic is a pervasive disease ! Ron
at Mills Gem, Los Osos, Ca.

I was demonstrating making conchas at an art fair. One lady comes up
and remarks she didn’t realize my conchas were really made by hand,
and she had thought they were always made by casting or a similar
mass production method. I tell her how mine are hand made, and show
her differences to look for when looking at similar items. I remarked
I hand made all of my conchas and I didn’t have any little elves
helping me. She quipped, “I thought it was more along the line of
little Mexicans!” I’m not sure if the comment was intended to be
offensive, but on reflection, I took it as a compliment.

This was hilarious, at least to me anyway. A customer who was a
retail jeweller, and in actuality a third generation retail jeweller
in this particular family business came by the shop and asked me to
make 2 size 5 rings out of one size 10 ring. I even checked the
calender to make sure it wasn’t April the 1st. She just couldn’t
grasp the reasoning why I needed to charge her for so much extra
gold, especially when they needed to be the same thickness. It’s easy
she said, cut them exactly in half, and just bend them around and
solder them closed. I replied, "If you can do this I will give you a
$1M. She said, “really?”

Best Regards.
Neil George

I’ve resisted answering to this one but this morning I find myself
compelled to jump in:

This one isn’t one of the worst things heard, but must be
amongst the funniest I have heard.

I was working a a local jewelry store as their custom jewele=
shortly after moving to Colorado Springs and on of my tasks was to
deal with customers that the sales staff were having a difficult
time with. Usually this involved designing from ideas the customer
had that were difficult or impossible to create or changing designs
that were too dangerous for their stones to be mounted in.

One day I was called up front to help a woman who had a larg=
plastic bag of inherited jewlery mounted with a lot of melee diamonds
she wanted to make into a single ring. It seems that the sales people
couldn’t convince her that her request wasn’t possible. I asked her
what it was she was looking for and said we could could build almost
anything she could imagine. She then said she wanted all of her
little diamonds melted down and cast into one large one to which I
responded simply: " M’am, if I could do that I wouldn’t be working
here, I’d own the city!"

It took a while to convince her why; but we still sold he=
r a
few nice pieces made from her jewelry as gifts for her three
daughters and a pendant for herself.

Paul Reilly