Sh*t Craft Show Shoppers Say

Ok, let me set the scene with a video…

The holidays are just around the corner and ’tis the season for craft/art shows, holiday boutiques, and plenty of opportunities to buy local and handmade for the holidays. In the past seven years, I have pulled all-nighters, woke up at the butt-crack of dawn, spent countless hours packing and unpacking cars, hauling heavy tables and props, begging my husband to keep me company, putting up tents in the rain, taking down tents in the rain, hanging from the framework of tents in order keep my livelihood from blowing away, playing catch and tag with said livelihood, Tetris-ing myself into a clown car to fit my products, my husband, and myself in the car, added countless miles to the clown car, and SO much more than the average holiday shopper would know. Ask any of my crafty friends and they will tell you the same and raise me by a bad story or two.

As we approach the holiday season, I ask that you take some time to really think about the following craft show etiquette as a shopper. I too need to be reminded myself at times. It may not be the most polite or politically correct approach (ask anyone…I really am the nicest person ever), but unfortunately, it has to be said (over and over and over……… and over):

Please treat our handmade art and merchandise with care and respect for the artist.

61 Responses to Sh*t Craft Show Shoppers Say
  1. Carol Reply

    This is so right on! I’ve been doing shows for 40 years. At my biggest Christmas show, I’m the first booth inside the door, so people congregate there to synchronize their watches, decide where to meet up later, bumped into someone they haven’t seen for ages (that’s when I walk gently in front of them, as if I’m straightening out my booth, and gently bump them! They move over, totally oblivious, and keep talking (but at least they’re not blocking my booth! Asking for deals is the other pet peeve! One item I have is $2.00 and someone tried to get 3 for 5? How low do you have to go??? Really enjoyed reading this!

  2. Barbra Reply

    You nailed it! I do alot of things with buttons and so I hear “Now I know what to do with my stash of buttons”…you think? Bargaining is not tolerated at all. Also don’t say “I’ll be back”…you won’t and we both know it!!!

  3. Tom Harrold Reply

    Great article and video. We just finish the biggest show we have ever done and we bombed. Our hand made items were not seen with all the hand made items from China , the overpriced oil the women was rubbing on customers backs, the scarfs made on some island selling for half of our price and in a room of 16 vendors 6 were selling jewelry. There were 3 of us in the room that made our own products and the outdoor part of the show was not much better. there were will over 150 booths and about 1/4 were not handmade by the vendor or anywhere near the USA. This was an old will established juried show and we had not made a visit in years, but were very sad to see this happen. When the director of the part we were in got word that a group of vendors wanted to speak to her she bailed out of the meeting and could not be found again for the 3 day show.

  4. Rebecca Reply

    I hear ya! I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable attending a show, but the whole point is for the artists to sell work and get some recognition. So, if people aren’t there to spend money or to promote the artist in some way, they should stay home. When I hear, “I can make that” I want to say, “Let me know how it turns out.”

  5. Penny Reply

    This blog is so right there!

    One time a woman was trying to convince the man she was with to buy something. He told her that he could make the same thing. She quickly said,

  6. Katherine Reply

    You forgot to add people taking pictures without permission b/c they or their friend can make the same thing.

  7. Mitch Reply

    I used to sell my work in a large warehouse art space. The mouth breathers and their commentary eventually lead me to move out; I realized I was losing faith in humanity. Note: if you are an artist in a shared gallery space, don’t offer free food, it attracts the wrong people and it will destroy your happiness.

  8. Ashley Reply

    “I can make that” drives me nuts! I’m a pixel artist and work with Perler beads, but I don’t make the same bead creations your kids do! I’ve taken to responding to this by showing off my embroidered pieces, which I can guarantee most kids cant make, or picking up one of my 3d pieces and showing them that. My last show this weekend, I even had someone tell their kid they could get ideas from my work!

  9. penny lang Reply

    loved it…have been on both sides of the table and this is so right on!! loved it!

  10. Kandi Reply

    My biggest pet-peeve is when I hear “I/We/You can make that/this.”

    I usually respond by pretending to be really enthused asking them what their technique is and how they create similar products to mine, asking for their business card while thrusting my business card in there hand. I sometimes even offer to partner up or maybe purchase in bulk from them. Some walk away embarrassed some get insulted, most all take my card and none ever email me. Killing with kindness 🙂

    • Wanda Giggles :o) Reply

      I’ve told every sinle one of them, “If you DO make it just like that, come back and show me, I’ll give you $50”.

      I haven’t heard from a soul ;~)

  11. Fenna Reply

    I’d like to add in the children section… If you have absolutely no intention of buying your children anything, don’t bring them. It just makes it worse for those of us who make children’s things and it makes it worse for your children too. (Personally, I don’t know why you’d come to a show with no intention of buying.)

  12. Scavenger Annie Reply

    Best article ever! Loved it and the video is ace. In the couple of years that I’ve been doing fairs I’ve heard all of the same comments as well. They do stick with you, for as you say, we crafters are people too! My particular one was a woman passing by my Christmas cabin and saying “I got those from the supermarket, get them from there” pointing to my tea towels – erm, not with my stitching on you haven’t my dear!
    Thank you for a good read and I hope people take note. Right now to head back to the machine to make stock for all those lovely craft fairs coming up! 😉

  13. Anita Reply

    Spot on – agree with everything you have said and good on you for speaking out. Have a great day. Anita

  14. Daisy Crowe Reply

    Oh yes! This is so so so true! Thank you for putting it all in to words!

  15. Amy@10th Ave. Reply

    This is SO accurate–I can’t help but laugh!! I sell handmade soaps, etc. and some of the most common comments I get are “It’s too pretty to use” (no, it’s not) and “does it really work?” (Ummm….) I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s come home after a craft show a bit baffled. Thanks for a good read.

  16. naomi Reply

    Can I add my tuppence worth to this.

    Believe me I’ve had my fair share of the above comments, “I can make that” ( usually to someone called ‘Ethel’) or “Oh remember we did that at school ” or” so and so spent the other day making those roses like that ” (not in raw silk she didn’t or as I put it the PPPP ( pick up,philosophise, put down and push off ) collective.

    One I’ve had quite a few of it people looking at me funny when I explain that not all my scarves are the same price as they are not bulk made in another country and you won’t get hand dyed muslin, printed chiffon and pure silk all for

    • Nicole Reply

      Yes, please add on! I think I will post a part two soon. I get the “remember you made that at school once” comments all the time…and the “oh, aren’t you clever” comments. Nice, but agreed.

  17. Aaron Reply

    I will admit, I’ve said “I can make that” myself at craft shows. I hope (crossed fingers here) that I’ve said that to my wife far enough away from the crafter. Of course, on the flip side, I am now making things myself and am attending my first holiday bazaar next month as a vendor. Thanks for putting it all in perspective. Both as a buyer and a seller, I need to keep other peoples needs in mind.

    • Nicole Reply

      I am sure we have ALL said that before. I just do not say it in front of people. How many times do I actually go back and do that? NEVER. I always purchase now, even if I can make it. Good luck at your first show and let me know how it goes!!!

  18. Poppykins Reply

    So so true, they have all happened to me on many occasions. Another one is taking photos with out asking and that ever annoying comment ‘ how much’ in a high pitched judgemental tone. People seem completely un aware of the hours of work that go into creating the things we make. Setting up displays, lugging it from fair to fair etc oh I could rant on for ever but for everyone one of those ever so slightly ignorant people there are many more nice and friendly and complimentory people.

    • Nicole Reply

      I totally agree about the photos. I am going to do a part two with some of the comments and additions I am getting! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and read! we work VERY hard!

  19. anne Reply

    I just want to high five you. This is so true.

  20. Cheryl Reply

    I’m more of a consumer than a producer, so it’s good to be reminded how to be a considerate shopper.
    And I love your Etsy shop! I try to make a few things for fun, but I’ll probably visit your shop again when my grandson is old enough to enjoy your goodies.

    • Nicole Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment. It is great that you are a consumer and I appreciate you taking the time to read the post and comment!

  21. Jacqueline Reply

    So true! I’ve only done 10 plus shows and I’ve seen all of these happen. The worst is when they say they can make that. Thanks for sharing this. I hope many shoppers read this.

  22. chwilowki Reply

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    • Nicole Reply

      The website has only been live for a week and it is BRAND NEW! I am so happy to hear your comments and I appreciate the feedback.

  23. DdKQSkHk Reply

    490894 172071hi and thanks for the actual blog post ive recently been searching regarding this specific advice on-line for sum hours these days as a result thanks 271216

  24. Anik Reply

    Great article! I also have a “horror” story to share. At one of my first shows, a woman and her teenage daughter stopped at my table… they were telling me they really liked my bracelets when the daughter caught sight of one of my necklaces/earring sets on another display. I could tell she didn’t like it much by the look on her face, but what did she do? Pointed at it and let out a loud “Ewwww!” I was speechless! This was not a child, but a teenager! Her mother laughed (genuinely!) and said “Kids are brutally honest aren’t they?” And they walked away… Now, I didn’t care that the girl didn’t like the necklace because I knew someone else would love it, but I couldn’t believe that she didn’t have better manners! Especially at her age. What made it even worse was that the mother was actually another artist selling her wares at this show and didn’t see anything wrong with her daughter’s reaction! People really need to teach their children (whatever their age) to have good manners and some parents could use a little refresher course too!

  25. Jenny B Reply

    So beautifully said! Now if you could just post that outside every craft fair for customers to read, that would be awesome!!!

  26. jeanne/juNxtaposition Reply

    perfect !! exactly on the nose … on every level … the only word missed in your video is ‘clever’ ..haha… i hear that ALL the time!! as much as “cute”

  27. Kristyn Reply

    I’ve been considering doing a booth at a fair. The one thing holding me back has been that I don’t want to hear the shopper commentary about the things I’ve made.

  28. Beqi Brinkhorst Reply

    When people congregate in front of my booth, I have found a quick way to disperse them without being offensive: I use that moment to rearrange my setup or put out more business cards or generally use up the space in front of my booth so they have to move. I have been known to get my phone out and use that moment to photograph the front of my booth for Instagram, backing up in the process so they have to move further and further away. Always as if it’s an accident, always with Retail Face. Polite, but firm. Works every time.

  29. Beqi Brinkhorst Reply

    And I am fine with kids, so parents, don’t think all crafters feel this way about them. I’m much happier to see kids than dogs. Or smokers, especially since I make clothing.

  30. Gayle Reply

    I agree totally with all of that. Plus the person who screams “Hi Susan! Haven’t seen you for ages!” to the person who was trying to decide which necklace to buy. They both then walk off gleefully chatting without spending a penny!

  31. Deb Reply

    I can’t remember the vendor who did it, but my favorite way I have seen to deal with the I-can-make-that crowd was a sign posted in the booth that said approximately:

    “”I can make that.’
    Yes, of course you can. BUT:
    -Do you have the time, energy, and focus?
    -Can you source these materials cheaply enough you won’t end up paying more?
    -Are there other things you should or would rather be doing instead?
    -What’s your time worth to you?
    -Will you?”

    There were some other lines I forget. That particular vendor noted that they had a number of people who saw the sign the first year, and went off saying that they were going to do it, by George, and came back the next year saying, “You know — you’re right,” and made the purchase.

  32. Carolyn Hasenfratz Reply

    I also sell craft supplies, so I don’t mind if people say they can make that. I have tutorials on my site so if anyone says that I hand them a business card and say check out the tutorials on my site if you want to make that! They may be able to make that but it will take a lot of time and it will take some practice before they can make it as well. I realize there are some drawbacks to this, for example I’m disqualified from many shows because I sell supplies on my web site even though I only bring handmade things to handmade shows, so it limits the number of shows I can do, but I get in enough shows to keep me busy and I sell a lot more supplies online than I sell handmade items.

  33. scruff bags Reply

    I HATE it when people tell me they can make that so I congratulate them, give them a business card and tell them to bring it to the next sale to let me see if it is as good as mine. In 14 years only two have returned, one had a total disaster and bought one of my bags so her mates wouldn’t know how bad she was and the other couldn’t work out the basics and bought me a cake she made as an apolgy! I shared it with her while booking her and her sister to attend one of my beginners sewing classes.

  34. Ann Reply

    Is that your best price?? No, actually, my best price is 50% higher. Oh, you meant for *you*! I meant for me!

    • Nicole Reply

      That is awesome. Exactly!

  35. Gary Reply

    Cameras. A pet peeve of mine at craft shows. Even after posting several signs saying “NO PHOTOS PLEASE” I have almost come to blows with some belligerent customers. My booth is not a photo op for you to photograph my work and post somewhere where my product might be knocked off. If you like it enough to photograph it – buy it.

  36. Jane Reply

    I have thought about doing craft fairs BUT I’m not sure my skin is thick enough where my products are concerned. I working on my confidence so that maybe by next Christmas I’ll have enough nerve to face the buyers! I loved your article and must confess to having uttered some of those words myself in the past but vow to do better as a shopper in the future

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  38. Julie Reply

    Saw this via Etsy and absolutely love it! I shared it on my FB page.

    Yeah, “loved” having a booth next to someone giving out free samples of messy, sugary sweets – that they weren’t even selling. (It was just to entice buyers.) I make mostly fabric/quilted items, and folks would cram a sweet into their mouths, brush of their hands (they meant well!), then pick up an item of mine.

    And not buy anything.

    Thanks for the smile! 🙂

  39. Elizabeth Schultz Reply

    Loved your post. Years ago, before jewelry got as big at craft and art fairs as it is now, I used to sell my chain maille and beaded jewelry at craft shows. My pet peeve was shows that allowed new merchandise vendors along with the crafters. I was competing with people selling truly cheap jewelry made in China and I would hear, “I can get that over there for 1/3 the price.” I would try to explain that I used all sterling silver and gold filled metals, genuine Swarovski crystal and that my items were all hand made, but many shoppers didn’t care – all they wanted was to spend as little as possible regardless of quality.

    I’ve just started doing craft and art fairs again with my original photographs and it is amazing how many people ask, “Who took these?” and then act surprised when I say,”I did.” It makes me wonder if there is something in the way I look that suggests I don’t have much talent.

  40. Christine Hughes Reply

    I have a few personal rules of thumb I incorporate when going to a craft and/or jewelry show:

    I try to go to an event on opening day. I feel like if I wait a day until the crowds die down , I run the risk of encountering a crafter who , for the previous two days, has had to endure all the I stuff you showed in your video! By the time I show up, they’ve had it, they want to be done and go home! I show interest in the booth I am visiting and attempt to strike up a conversation with the crafter to show interest in what they have to offer.

    If I see a sign that asks for “no touching” or “ask for help”, that’s what I do.

    I try to always go by myself the first round. If I see something I think a friend might be interested in, I grab a pamphlet/business card/phone number/website for my friend to look at.

    I NEVER take my kids to an event. If I have to take my kids, I don’t go….period!

  41. Emma Jane Reply

    I agree with what you say – except for the ‘I can make that’ part. It certainly does not undermine your work or show a lack of appreciation because they say that. It means that they admire it. And you know, I really could make it. I sew, knit, crochet, paper craft, hand print and bead, embroider and more. If I see a new craft I know I can probably do that too. Sometimes my style is so completely different that I will buy it from the person because I admire it. Other times I will make it because yes I will do it better. All crafts people can do it themselves. What we need is people who admire and can’t make for themselves, but many of those who admire can and do make for themselves.

    Who of us hasn’t said that we could make it ourselves and stitched up a skirt we liked in the mall ourselves, just because we could, regardless of whether its cheaper or not. Hand crafted goods are expensive. In the main I can’t afford what they are worth (many of them are under priced as well.) I can’t even afford my own prices! So if I want something I have to make it. A beautiful quilt? A crochet blanket? Only mine if I make it myself. I haven’t hundreds of dollars to buy one and neither would I, for I am crafty and like to do it myself! We all do, so I don’t get this blaming of people for being like ourselves. There just isn’t much of a market for handmade because it is too expensive for lots of people who might buy it (not unfairly so but expensive nevertheless), and the rest of us squeal when we see something beautiful another person has made because we find it inspiring. That is not rude! It’s just life.

    Everything I make, so can other people. It’s so silly to pretend we are so unique. We really are not. Often the people complaining the loudest are those that have the most ubiquitous things to buy – like bows. Yes we really can all make them believe it or not. Our ideas have all been done before and by people with great skills. Why not share that instead of withholding the joy?

  42. Amanda Reply

    excellent lol, the one I really hate is ‘who made this? You did? Wow, you made this?? ooh, you’re really clever!’
    Why not just pat me on the head as well and tell me I’m a good girl while you’re at it?

  43. Susan Reply

    I totally agree with everything you have saidI can empathise with nearly every situation ! So glad I am not doing that type of event now. Can I just add don’t take pets even on a leash.They can cause havoc.

  44. Vivienne Fagan Reply

    I totally agree with this. I do a lot of machine knitting. People will look at a sweater and say oh, it’s been made on a machine as if I stick a ball of yarn in one end and a fully fashioned patterned sweater drops off the other end. I once did a fair where I recycled 5 cabbage patch dolls, dressed each one in an individual set of sweater and skirt or trousers, made shoes and hats, and had additional garments which could be purchased. Some bloke told me he would take the lot off my hands for a tenner (

  45. Kay Warner Reply

    The best (or worst) for me was I make dolls. I made “spirit” or “friendship” dolls, heavily embroidered and beaded. The fabric was a collage laboriously produced by needlefelting scraps of silk and roving to a piece of scrap fleecy fabric layered onto a piece of ecofelt, then quilting it on the sewing machine. Clearly, these little dolls were quite expensive. A more experienced craft show friend suggested that I also make a simpler version that I could sell more cheaply. So I did. Fabric, little embroidery, simpler face. At the next craft show a customer looked at the heavily embroidered dolls, then picked up one of the the simpler ones and asked me why “those ones are so much more expensive than these, when they are both the same size?”. I patiently explained the process for making them and how the hand embroidery and beading took manyh house. Because they take longer to make using more materials, they are more expensive. And her reply? “And you expect US to PAY for THAT?”. I held on to my hat, restrained myself and replied “Sweetie, I don’t EXPECT you to do anything!”

  46. Kay Warner Reply

    sorry, that should read many hours!

  47. Pixie Reply

    Ha ha, that is so true, i make jewellery and sculptures from polymer clay, i used to get loads of comments of ” are they made with fimo? I used to make stuff like this when i was a kid” generally accompanied with a sneer, I always found this doubly insulting as they insinuated they had grown up and i hadn’t as well as they could make what I make when they were much younger,
    I don’t do fairs anymore.

  48. Julie Reply

    Oh there’s a book here – some of these have made me laugh out loud due to the sheer audacity!!

    I’ve had *great* ones [one woman strode up to my stall and told me that no-one would *get* my cards, only her … and she didn’t buy any … and another woman asked me if I felt like a fish out of water – I was at a Yarn/knitting festival, I sell yarn/knitting cards and prints]

    A friend who makes beautiful one of a kind linen toys was told by a woman, who had been lingering for ages over one particular toy, that she wouldn’t buy it afterall as it would keep falling off her daughter’s bed … Speechless!!

    I’m going to have to bookmark this and share!!!

  49. Lyyy Reply

    I once had a lady announce as she walked into my booth, “I wish all you people would ship, I would buy from you”, I firmly said “I ship anywhere” “Oh! well I wish you took credit cards then I could really buy.” I firmly again said “I take all credit cards, cash & checks.” She couldn’t get out of my booth fast enough.

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  51. Olivia Reply

    I’ve been doing the same Craft Fair in November for the last 5 years and this upcoming Novmber which is 11 months away will be my 6th year. I have heard it all like you all have. In 2013 I had this little girl looking at my hairbows I make. I wouldn’t say she was little little I say she was probably around 8 to 11 maybe. She looked at me and was like did you make this. I smiled at her saying why yes I do and in the back of my mind I hear myself saying no I have this fairy that does it. She eventually bought the hairbow after she walked off I had to shake my head. Of course I have heard some negative stuff like for example this one woman was looking at my hair bows and she was like well this won’t fit my daughters hair do you have any other kind. I was like no ma’am I don’t I said the ones here are on a lined alligator clip. She was like well they won’t hold in my daughters hair and as she was walking away I heard her say to her mama I wouldn’t buy those hairbows they are ugly as *beep* I won’t repeat the cuss word she said. I get the oh that is cute and I will be back pft yeah right you won’t be back we all know it. Anyways I make some baby things cause I know there is always someone looking for the perfect baby shower gift or just for their baby. Well I knew who the person was and well I got upset after she was like to me “You having a baby”. I politely told her no I am not however in the back of mind I am going seriously do I look pregnant. The only reason why I got upset though I didn’t show it to her is cause I am not able to have children. Then later I got did you really make this? I looked at them with a smile and say yes I did. She was like yeah ok whatever. I am in the back of mind ok huh ok seriously and bad thing is I knew this person too.

    • Barbra Reply

      I had a button made that I wear and it says “Yes, I did make it”…shuts them up! My “classic” remark for this year’s round of shows was after a woman touched nearly every scarf and cowl she then turned to me and said “I bought a scarf last year. I don’t need any”…..!

  52. Glasstastic Reply

    I do a weekly craft show in a pretty touristy city in the southwest. I work in blown glass (real blown glass, not lamp worked), so the stupid questions are kind of different than your average.
    I don’t ever get the “I can make that” comment, because not many people will kid themselves that they can be a furnace glassblower with no training, but I do occasionally get the person who wants to talk my ear off about the fusing class they took. It’s not offensive, but I know they are not going to buy anything, so being friendly is less easy.

    The dale chihuly conversation is the one I dread the most. When people talk up and talk up chihuly, I immediately know they will not buy anything, so generally I tell these people I think his work is ugly, and there are way better glass artists out there., That ually gets rid of them. Often people ask me if I trained with chihuly…I say “no, but I took a class with the guy who makes all the chihuly glass”…which is true !

    Last but not least are the photographers. I have considered a no pictures sign, but it only means that if they do try to take a picture, I’m going to be pissed and will start yelling. If there is no sign, I’ll politely ask them not to. Most people are embarrassed or immediately apologize, I shoot them a smile and say “no problem ” and hand them a post card and say “this one has a picture”. If they argue, however, I can turn into a monster. The only time I said curse words to an attendee was over trying to take a picture. The best, however are the people who you tell not to take a picture, they look at you, brazenly take a picture anyway, and leave. I eve goodbye to these people with one finger.

  53. Anonymous Reply

    I laughed so hard at the stroller comment. We’re all guilty of these comments, especially if you are an artist or crafter. I always hated going to craft shows with my mom – who has a mild form of aspergers and therefore no filter to her rudeness. She would loudly state things were too expensive or if she didn’t like something, I’d have to apologize for her behavior or try to recover by complimenting the vendor.

    My mom often tells me that she’s a much better artist than all these vendors she’s seeing, only she isn’t! She’s pretty mediocre at painting and she refuses to take my advice on improving her skills even in the simplest ways (I have a bachelors in vis art and she’s never respected it). My mother is your worst customer!

    One of my biggest pet peeves for craft shows is quite contrary to the video and that’s vendors who sell things that anybody *could* make; I mean those unoriginal diy projects popularized on Pinterest. I wouldn’t object if the price was right, although it does bug me that these crafters will flat out copy another artist’s work right down to the same colors. One lady was selling jewellery holders using dollar store picture frames and wire and wanted a ridiculous amount of money for them. I’ve even been into a “high art” gift shop that was selling the exact same glass coasters from the dollar store, same packaging and all, for $12! And then there are those vendors selling that crap jewellery from China that you could easily buy on Ebay for less than a dollar. It’s people like this that are killing our craft fairs. Even juried exhibits are loosening their standards. Everything looks like one big gaudy flea market any more…

    For proper fair etiquette I think it’s always better to say hello, tell vendors you’re just browsing, don’t fake interest and instead of pulling a terminator and saying “I’ll be back”, thank them for their time or compliment their wares before leaving. It’s better to say something kind than to not say anything at all! Hopefully you won’t end up with a crazy vendor who won’t shut up about their products, like this one lady who took my polite comment as a cue to prattle on about her paper weights, while shoving business cards in my hands. XP

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