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FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

I will tell you straight away I love fairs, the hustle and bustle and meeting new people

I am wondering if that love, colours my judgement?

I am strongly in favour of fairs and feel that I should support them even when the return for me can be minimal and often result in a loss. I have always taken the view that they are another form of advertising and as such it may take a collector a few shows to commit to buying a bear. Since the start of doing fairs 4 years ago I have seen each set of fairs I attend reap greater rewards, subsequently resulting in growing sales at them.

Since the recession I came to the conclusion that collectors were frequenting more shows as they want to see the bears in the fur, this theory has been put to the test lately as I have noticed a falling number collectors and my sales have only come about by my collectors attending the show specifically to see me and new bears that are on offer. Resulting in all my sales taking place in the first hour. I must admit that I really appreciate their support but if the decline continues it has a serious effect on the atmosphere and then results in a spiraling downward pattern.

Do I have a rosey view, do you disagree...................all opinions welcome x

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,399
Website

I do think personality plays a good part in fairs.  I also agree that they are important to the industry too.  I am also sure that there are many collectors who prefer to buy at a fair so that they can see and hold all the bears before choosing.

I have the kind of personality that says no fairs.  I did do a couple the past year, and I have done many in the past, before the internet, but I am just to quiet and reserved to feel comfortable doing them.  It is hard for me to talk to people I do not know.  It is harder for me to listen to conversation, whether it be good or bad about the bears.   So I am very grateful that I can sell the bears on the internet.

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

I see two factors:

1)  Making art that gets noticed immediately.
2)  Producing art consistent with the style in which people know your work.

I make traditional (non-digital) photographs for display and sale in a few local galleries.  When a photo is hanging in a gallery with, literally, a hundred other works, it has to be unique enough to make people stop and look.  If you display Bears at a fair, there are so many things going on that people's attention is split among too many competing stimulii.  Your stuff has to be noticeable enough to be "heard above the noise."

Getting noticed is one thing but being consistent is more important.  If, for instance, you make purple Bears and everybody knows you are the "Purple Bear Maker" but you suddenly start making brown Bears, you are back to square one.  Nobody knows your brown Bears.  They won't recognize you amidst all the noise.

As an example, I made several photographs of sunsets and landscapes but the one photo that got noticed is a picture of a tall ship in full sail.  I displayed the sunset and the landscape at a gallery show but people kept asking me, "Where is the picture of the ship?"  I took down the other two and put up the one of the ship.  That photo is now on display (for sale) in two different galleries and it won $100 prize in a juried art show.

Now, when I display photos, I have to have a copy of that tall ship nearby or else the people who see my photos won't recognize my work.

I see that people are coming to adopt Bears at the beginning of shows and fairs but tail off at the end.  So, I think that you have the first thing; recognition but I'm guessing that, somehow, more of your Bears need to be consistent with what people recognized in the first place.

The trick is to figure out what people recognized and why they liked it.  For me, it was easy.  People ASKED to see the picture of the ship.  I don't know if people will ask for a particular kind of Bear as readily.  That means you're probably going to have to watch closely to see which Bears people stop to talk to and which Bears people pass by.

Yes, people at art shows and fairs and the like are finicky.  They will see something at one event and come back to buy at another.  The trick is to be there and be recognizable and consistent at the second and subsequent shows so that people will come back to buy.

Well that's my 2¢ worth...
but, given the state of the economy, it's probably only worth about 1¢.  bear_happy

Carlyle Bear Co. Carlyle Bear Co.
Ft Myers FL
Posts: 492

:lol:
Joanne, you made me laugh!   Too funny!

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,399
Website

US Bears,  I completely agree.  I am know for my "real" bears.  When people see them they know they are mine.  I also make a vintage type bear that really no one knows me for.  I still love them, and they are very well made, but really don't get much of a second glance.  It is just not what people expect to see from me.

tcfolk TC Folk Originals
Tempe, AZ
Posts: 1,553

I am not a fair person.  I've only been to 2 of them and then only as a collector, and I never bought anything!  I am a lot like Joanne!  Not the fair type of personality, and when I've been to them, I avoid the people who jump out and scare me to try and get me to look at their bears!  I agree that once you have developed your trademark bear, it is very difficult to change it.  I think my trademark is "action" bears: they do something like play golf, baseball, the violin, go on picnics, etc. There are times I have tried other themes and was not too successful.  And there are times I would like to try new themes, but I ask myself why.  Is it because I want to actually meet a challenge, or because I want to get in on a trend.  Mostly, the answer is the trend.  It is very challenging to me to figure out how to make my bears stand and pose at their intended theme, not to mention the needed accessories!  As our profession changes, there will be many times we ask questions as to why and which venue and what we must do next.  There are no hard answers, for we will each find what works best for us.  Just my opinion and probably only worth 1/2 a cent!

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

Joanne............I must be the opposite of you, to stand in front of a 100 strangers and speak holds no fear for me but family and friends, yikes that is another matter.

Us Bears........I love the analogy of the sailing ship and what you say is very true, being able to stand out above the noise is very important. I feel that I am only just developing "my style" the bear that was in my head all those years ago and as a result have been selling quite well of late. My daughter has given similar advice regarding analysing why this bear sells and that doesn't, we have a full debrief on the way home.  bear_grin As you say "be there and be recognizable and consistent at the second and subsequent shows"

Thelma..........a good seller should gauge your demeanor to see if you want to be approached, I hate pushy ones too bear_thumb I thing that you are right it does take all sorts

I think for me I pay for a fair to socialise, which is really bad business bear_grin

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Do I have a rosey view, do you disagree...................all opinions welcome

but I am just to quiet and reserved to feel comfortable doing them.  It is hard for me to talk to people I do not know.

This is a slight off-shoot but still related: I've always felt that one must put themselves 'out there' for the day and sell yourself as much as sell your work. Until I was about 8 or 10 years old I was known as Shy Roberta/Bobbie in my immediate family; I still don't answer the phone unless I know who it is and am prepared to talk to them. I guess it's part of the complex Social Anxiety Disorder; it's hard for me too to talk to strangers and even people I know most of the time.

But I did become quite comfortable at shows because it was much like an actor assuming a role: I was taking on the role of a salesperson and selling this art work. Taking it from that standpoint it was easier to talk about it from the technical aspects instead of thinking like ppl were going to judge-my-worth based on whether or not they purchased anything that day or not. And that was in the Good Ole Days when sales were better.

But what I could not tolerate (because it gives ALL of us a bad name) is sellers who are there and completely ignore the people who took time out of their day—at what expense out of their day we'll never know—and then act as if they're in a LIBRARY!!
The following two images were taken at a woodworking show, the first by me of a woman minding her husband's supply booth, and the second was shown online of a (Brit?) teddy show several years ago - not for this purpose - but it's rather hard to miss the obvious.
In both instances, their sellers-not-selling have their noses are stuck in a book...


1342035788_notsellwood2.jpg



I especially love this second one: on the left shows an exhibitor in front of her booth, talking & rearranging her pieces and a collector is obviously writing a check. Across the aisles are clusters of collectors admiring and holding pieces they are probably considering purchasing. Everywhere in the room there are interactions going on between artists and collectors - - - - except the two artists right down in front. Their body language is huddled together, bent over their books (though the reduced size of this image doesn't show it as well..) they actually look to be hiding BEHIND a screen - and the lady in blue appears to be ruuushing past...

This image should be burned into every exhibitor's mind's eye at every venue, making it so much easier to stand up, smile at every one passing and at least say a few words in greeting. They came to see YOU! They like BEARS and like what they see or they wouldn't have taken time out of their limited-time, busy busy weekend to come and see what the artists are offering. The least we can do is stand up, smile and say Hello!


1342035818_notsellbears2.jpg

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

Oh Bobbie what a wonderful post

Recently I was asked by a magazine what career I would choose if I couldn't make bears ...........................yes you have guessed it, an actress  bear_whistle

The photographs say it all. I stand ALL day and the only time I am behind my stand is if I eat, the rest of the time is spent in front, I do feel for those that find this very uncomfortable and in this industry it is made harder by the fact that our creations have come from within, so promoting them to collectors can prove very very difficult.

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

I think that's Hugglets Bobbie because I recognise that stage..and I also think I can see Julie Shepherds husband ...LOL!!
I love fairs but the last two I have done have been a wash out on the day...for me. I do think it does depend on the mix of artists there on the day and that effects whether the fair attracts a good footfall that day. If its advertised well and people know its on and which artists will be there. SO much depends on what happens..does it rain..is there a big sports match on tv...school holidays ..etc.
I think it is an expensive way to socialise but the days have gone when I would sell out so I ask myself if I should therefore stick to selling online. I am a very gregarious person...people who have met me know I don't hide my light behind a bushel...so I am not phased by meeting people and do love to chat and meet both artists and customers. As for using it to sell bears on the day I do think it has to be a PR exercise now...and that selling is a bonus. I did the Sheffield fair in November and sold only one bear.. There was a great deal of feedback following the fair though and it was the catalyst to get me thinking about how to improve my business. I feel that I have learned to be  less disappointed at poor sales on the day, and know that bears get seen and put on the 'must have' list for new customers. I have had more new customers this year than any year...and I think it's because I have put myself out there a bit more.
So all in all it's a day out, I might sell a few bears..have a laugh..spend all my money on fabric....put the bear world to rights and go home doing the post mortem in the car.
I think you need to be friendly to customers without being pushy or desperate ...and look like you want to be there...

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

I think you need to be friendly to customers without being pushy or desperate ...and look like you want to be there...

Exactly!!
As for shows in general, here in metro-Chicago I'd done mixed media juried shows here on the West side and on the North Shore before I focused on TBs exclusively; there was a sort of unwritten rule that in order to be a success you had to 'look' (and act) as if you didn't need the $$.
A terrible model to live up to....and a real tightrope of a game to play.

And I think you're correct about the venue, Sue - I do recall that may have been it. I'm glad I have no ties to it, don't recognize a soul and hope I haven't stepped on any toes there.. I'm simply calling the shots as I see them - from the participants' body language, for good & for bad!
It was just a reminder of a quote I've read" "Be Kind" - Everyone is fighting some kind of battle......

1342053467_nosellwood3.jpg

Another image - I actually stood in front of this woman for several minutes, then looked at all of the wood blocks, then backed up and took this second image. If she hadn't turned a page in her book, I would have doubted that she was a real live person. I wasn't going to be the one to break the silence first, as I felt I was the more experienced salesperson and wondered what it would take for her to recognize that she might just be missing a huge sale....she never even glanced in my direction.
I wonder if her DH knows what a bump-on-a-log of a salesperson he left at his booth while he was gone????

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

I agree with you.

Only half the job of a fair is to sell product or to adopt Bears.  Maybe even less.
If you aren't greeting people you should be selling something.  If you aren't selling something you should be greeting people.

People don't go to fairs or craft shows JUST to buy things.  They go there to see stuff.  They go there to find out what people are selling and they go there to meet the people who make the things they buy.

I can buy almost anything via the internet except for personal contact with the person who made the things I buy.  For that, you have to pry your lazy butt away from the computer, get into the car and drive some place.  Frankly, I'd be peeved if I went to all that trouble to find that somebody just sat there, reading a book.

Noticeable product and consistent style go beyond just the product or the Bears you make and sell.  They extend to YOU.  There is a link between the art and the artist.  People don't just buy my photographs.  They buy ME.

Whenever I go to an art gallery, even if I'm not showing my photos, even if I'm just going there to look, I *ALWAYS* take my vintage 1956 Rolleiflex camera with me.  Whenever people see me, I want them to know that I'm that "crazy guy" who still shoots pictures with film.  That's my style and my personality and I want people to associate that with the pictures I take when they see them.

The same thing goes for Bearmakers.  You could make the cutest Teddy Bears in the world but, if people think you are a schlump, they'll think you make schlumpy Bears.  Who would adopt a schlumpy Bear?

So, if you want to display your Bears at a fair, not only do you have to have a noticeable, consistent style in your Bears, you have to BE the kind of person your Bears want you to be.

If you sit behind a table reading a book, what does that tell people about your Bears?

Boogaloo Bears Boogaloo Bears
united kingdom
Posts: 1,096

Ooh what an interesting topic!

I love the bear fairs, however only do one a year currently as I am very slow at making my bears  :whistle:

I exhibit at the Birmingham Motorcycle Museum around Sept or Nov and have always had a wonderful time.  It is sometimes a bit stressful carting all the equipment in, as I exhibit on my own and then setting up in time for the opening, but I love to peek out and see the queue of people forming waiting for the doors to open - rather like the opening night of a theatre production!  :lol:

I met my best customer at this very bear show a few years ago, she does not have the internet, or buy bear magazines, so without the bear fair she would never see the wonderful creations that everyone has made.  I am very lucky to have found homes for 40 of my bears to this special lady now and if she cannot attend a show, she calls me to bring some bears to her home to view.

I love the atmosphere of a bear fair, seeing the beautiful bruins in the fur and touching the wonderful mohair which I spend far too much money on if I can escape my stall for a few minutes!

I am still laughing at the photo above of the 'wooden lady' with her wooden blocks, I really would feel I was disturbing her if I was to ask a question regarding her wares - not a good image and one which I will bear in mind and be sure to never replicate.  I find at the end of a tiring bear fair I have 'face ache' from smiling so much at everyone!

Hugs

Lisa x

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

She was probably reading 'Fifty shades of Grey' ...my sister says its enough to bore you rigid!

lovenshire Love and Cuddle Nursery
Missouri
Posts: 945
Website

Ha ha ha ha ha ha....love the lady reading the book.  I wouldn't be reading a book but I would be sitting in my wheel chair and you would have to come to me if you wanted something.  Fairs are just too hard for me so...I give up!

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

I know you're going to yell at me for saying this but you could really make hay with that!

Yes.  Just go there and sit in your chair.
Have somebody mind the store for you while you preside over the goings on.  Make a Bear while you are there.

You would, of course, talk to people and make a pitch when appropriate but the image of a lady in a wheelchair who makes Teddy Bears could sell if you do it right.

Yeah, I know it sounds really crass and manipulative and opportunistic but that's not the intent.  Just step back and look at it from the customer's side of the table and I think you'll see the image I'm thinking of.

I know it must be really hard to haul everything to the venue and drag yourself, too, then drag everything home at the end but, if you could do just one show per year, it might be worth it.  It would also make your work a premium.  (e.g.  This is the one and only time when you'll get to talk to the Bearmaker until next year.)  Rarity adds value.

rowarrior The Littlest Thistle
Glasgow
Posts: 6,212

Lenora, one of the best characters at Hugglets (IMHO) is Andy from Westie Bears.  He has MS and is in a wheelchair, but he always has an audience in his corner of the basement, he really is a hoot!  Don't let the wheelchair put you off, you might just need to slightly rethink how you set yourself up.

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

Katy..you are so right. I have spoken to Andy a few times and the organisers always position him so he can manouver around his stand very easily  bear_thumb

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

I don't have a wheelchair but I did do the shows/fairs by myself. It was a pain having my DH anywhere near the venues (he made me too nervous just by being there because I felt rushed; I couldn't even get things packed away decently afterwards.) If we were out-of-town and he was to pick me up at the end I would tell him the 4 PM closing was at 6 so that I had a cushion of time to get myself organized before he arrived to re-pack the car... so set-up—multiple trips to the car, hauling in the boxes, raising that tables(s), everything by myself was a bit of a problem. Even staying at the table all day to not miss a sale or an interested party with questions. Yes, I know that face-hurt from being genuinely happy and smiling all day and the hoarse voice as I'm Chatty Cathy there and pretty silent here at home.

Make a Bear while you are there.

But this was the best part and THX Randy for mentioning it. Crowds tend to cluster around tables that are approachable because there is something interesting going on! It's easy to talk about what you love when you are actually working on it and it makes you very approachable! Visitors love to see artists working on their pieces and love to ask questions on how you're doing things.

It's much easier to start conversations if you can save some of your more mundane handwork for the shows, where you can work without having to totally concentrate or mess up a bear by putting a st wrong but be able to converse while sewing, or be able to demonstrate some easy steps to help a collector improve one of their basic skills. You really make someone happy that way and may just make a client that way, too!

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

You can be MAKING a Bear but you don't have to finish the Bear.

Remember how Jed Clampett (from the TV show) always used to be sitting out by the "CE-ment pond," whittling on something but he never quite finished?
Do it like that.  Just sort of "whittle" on a Bear, mostly for show but also to show people how you make a Bear.

Or...  If you have an "almost finished" Bear, bring him along and let people see you bring him to life, right there at the show.
How many people have the chance to adopt a Bear right on the same day as he was born, handed over from his Bearmaker to his new human?

Whenever I go to an art show, I always bring a vintage camera and it's always loaded with film and I always take at least one picture with it.
I have had a couple of people hit me up for digi-copies at the galleries.  Nice thing about the way I work is that I HAVE to get their e-mail address because I have to develop scan and convert the film images to JPEGs.  I can't do that in one day so I have to e-mail it to them.  A great marketing ploy?  I think so.  bear_happy

edie Bears by Edie
Southern Alberta
Posts: 2,068

I love bear fairs but haven't been to one in a long time now - none a reasonable distance from me anymore. What I really liked was going to one that was a FULL convention not just a sale as then there were so many other things going on that selling bears was just a small part of it and not your total focus, and therefore totally justifiable even if you didn't sell a lot!
I have so often seen sellers that are SO unapproachable - although not as often at bear shows as at antique shows. Really makes you wonder what they are thinking!  I should have to work so hard to find out if they will sell me something from their table/booth???
This discussion reminds me of a teddy bear show back in the early days. I had seen some bears, entered in the competitions, by an artist I wasn't familiar with and just fell in love with them so when the sales room was setting up looked for her intending to buy one of her bears. Well, she just totally put me off by her pushy, "I'm the best", manner and my desire for a bear died on the spot! Throughout the events of the convention, I got to know said artist a little better and realized she was a very nice person - just very shy and overcompensating for that and not at all like what my first impression was! I did end up buying a bear from her - which I still have and still love, but if I had been a collector there for one day, and not a seller there for the whole weekend, I would likely not have ended up with one of her bears!

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

I agree Edie. So much can depend on the person doing the selling. There are many times where the old adage ' the customer buys the person doing the selling ' I can think of many times where I have gone from one shop to another to buy the same item just because I couldn't stand the sales person in the first shop. So there is much to be said for putting on your best sales face.
That is not being overbearing or full of yourself,  or being so painfully shy that you can't talk. Just being confident and friendly is the main thing...people have come into the fair of their own accord..nobody dragged them in so presumably they are interested in teddies. So it should be easy to just share your passion for making bears. Looking nice is the thing that I think is important...not like a fashion model but just nice and smart and businesslike. I stood by someone at a fair once and they had clearly crept out for a cigarette and they smelled of cigarette smoke..and I could smell it ..so if I were a customer I would not buy a bear because of that. In fact I went to buy some lovely Victorian lace at the Motorcycle Museum and asked the lady if I could take it out of the bag to see it properly ( she was asking over £40 so I wanted to check it) when I opened the bag it just reeked of cigarette smoke and I just said to her that it smelled. She suggested it could be washed...that's just so bad for business.
So all in all I think it's about just being approachable, business like and awake!

Kayleigh Bungalow Bears
Posts: 24

I don't post too often, mainly because i can only just about fit in the bear making around my 3 year old Im not left with all that much time to do all the million and one other things I want to do but this is really "on topic" for me at the moment. I'm at the point now where Im looking to do my first show. I've registered my interest at exhibiting with Hugglets and I'm really pleased that the feedback I received was very promising and positive so at some point I hope to be able to be offered a stand. The thought is daunting I must admit and I have deliberated so much about whether I should do a show or wait, what if people like them? What if I don't sell any? what if because I have never been before people take no notice whatsoever of me. You know all the negatives a person can think of completely shutting my eyes to the positives just incase I get my hopes up for success- silly I know. I feel if I am ever to do just one show whether it be a one off or I am lucky enough to return regular it will be Hugglets - for now.

I do see the importance of show casing the bears, having attended as a collector and looking at bears and artists from that perspective I think shows and fairs gives too good of an opportunity to dismiss, people do like to see and feel what they are buying what quality they are getting and that all important question.... does it really live up to in person the beauty of a photograph they see on their computers? even if it's not on the day they purchase the seed has in a way been planted for a later purchase and might just give them a nudge to take the plunge when one is available. I know this ring true for my own collecting habits.

Another thing for me I know it's silly and I don't know if others may think this way, but I once travelled to a show with a good few hundred in my purse ready to make a purchase and when I was there I just couldn't spend it! But give me a computer and my PayPal and I'll spend all day long. It didn't mean I didn't love the bears enough I dont know if i just couldn't justify handing over the cash knowing how much it actually physically looked or maybe i was too overwhelmed with all the choice on offer, and making THE choice But with PayPal you don't see the cash actually being passed over and its usually funds from me selling something already in my collections to buy something new so it doesn't seem so bad. Maybe this could be another reason people like to look but don't always buy on that particular day.

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Kayleigh - that's is too funny! In this 'plastic' age, I do know what you're saying. Handing over our cold cash IS much harder to part with that the anonymous transactions within the banking institutions! We're very used to not actually laying out the money on the shopkeeper's counter for our goods these days plus a little bit being overwhelmed by having to make the choice between the limited number of choices on offer that day as opposed to there being an unlimited number online - where the choices just keep coming - so it is more restrictive and easier to keep the purse snapped shut...

On Edie & Jenny's line of thought, when we did have conventions with meals and workshops and sometimes other off-site adventures involved nothing was more off-putting than seeing all of the artists stick together like gum. I'm not patting myself on the back—please don't sling arrows!!—but there were (and always will remain) many cliques in any long-standing group of acquaintances; when they get together at weekends like this they spend all of their time together.. 'catching up' with each other'... my show days, 1990 - 2005 were mostly before the days of email, FB, tweeting, LinkedIn, etc...

My thoughts were: didn't the collectors come to meet us and hopefully purchase our work? We didn't go to the show to get together with other artists but for selling our work. It's the collectors who we want to meet and want to meet us and we should be taking every advantage of that which we can!
We already know our fellow artists (who we can visit with behind the tables and after the sales are over at night, in the hospitality room or in our own rooms) but mealtimes and in classes, etc is an opportunity to get to meet and get to know collectors in a very relaxed social atmosphere, and chat with a small group with the focus being off bears for a short while if you choose. I specifically chose tables which had no other artists sitting at them for this reason: the collectors already seated didn't know each other. They often sat looking like a group of 'misfits' in the sense of only the most gregarious had already introduced themselves and begun talking. The rest were silent and looked like deer-in-the-headlights. I felt like a hostess whose only role was to make them all feel at home and get the comversational ball rolling.

Here again comes the role-playing; it's not a fake thing either. What was it Mary Poppins sang in I Whistle A Happy Tune? You can talk yourself into anything and pretty soon it becomes second-nature. Just as standing at your show table the collectors came to see YOU or they would have stayed home and bought online. I liked to think that they felt good that an artist chose to sit with them and 99 times out of 100, spending an hour or so having dinner at their table had different aspects for me because were usually more interesting than a tableful of other artists I'd known for years because they have interesting stories to tell, about their collecting plus what else they do in-their-real-lives. And before you know it a tableful of former strangers is chatting merrily away about all sorts of topics, among them - teddy bears! It certainly makes artists more approachable and they carry that with them into the show room the next day, particularly as I would see them come to my table, too.

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234
FenBeary Folk wrote:
edie wrote:

I love bear fairs but haven't been to one in a long time now - none a reasonable distance from me anymore. What I really liked was going to one that was a FULL convention not just a sale as then there were so many other things going on that selling bears was just a small part of it and not your total focus, and therefore totally justifiable even if you didn't sell a lot!
I have so often seen sellers that are SO unapproachable - although not as often at bear shows as at antique shows. Really makes you wonder what they are thinking!  I should have to work so hard to find out if they will sell me something from their table/booth???
This discussion reminds me of a teddy bear show back in the early days. I had seen some bears, entered in the competitions, by an artist I wasn't familiar with and just fell in love with them so when the sales room was setting up looked for her intending to buy one of her bears. Well, she just totally put me off by her pushy, "I'm the best", manner and my desire for a bear died on the spot! Throughout the events of the convention, I got to know said artist a little better and realized she was a very nice person - just very shy and overcompensating for that and not at all like what my first impression was! I did end up buying a bear from her - which I still have and still love, but if I had been a collector there for one day, and not a seller there for the whole weekend, I would likely not have ended up with one of her bears!

Edie, why don't you organise your own small fair, we have found in the UK that in the last few years quite a few shows have started. I know it's not as easy as it looks  bear_grin  but it might be worth a shot

I think it's very difficult to gauge it just right as you say too pushy or too shy and over compensating can really put buyers off. Years ago I had a baptism of fire by opening a shop and the lessons have never left me.

jenny wrote:

I agree Edie. So much can depend on the person doing the selling. There are many times where the old adage ' the customer buys the person doing the selling ' I can think of many times where I have gone from one shop to another to buy the same item just because I couldn't stand the sales person in the first shop. So there is much to be said for putting on your best sales face.
That is not being overbearing or full of yourself,  or being so painfully shy that you can't talk. Just being confident and friendly is the main thing...people have come into the fair of their own accord..nobody dragged them in so presumably they are interested in teddies. So it should be easy to just share your passion for making bears. Looking nice is the thing that I think is important...not like a fashion model but just nice and smart and businesslike.

That is so true Jenny especially in the teddy bear world, when collectors are very interested in the maker


Kayleigh wrote:

I  The thought is daunting I must admit and I have deliberated so much about whether I should do a show or wait, what if people like them? What if I don't sell any? what if because I have never been before people take no notice whatsoever of me. You know all the negatives a person can think of completely shutting my eyes to the positives just incase I get my hopes up for success- silly I know.

My first fair I didn't sell a bean, cried all the way home LOLOL Collectors do like to know you will be back again and again



For those that find fairs difficult a few tips (maybe others would like to add)
1 Never be anything other than yourself
2 Never be anything but truthful, lies will find you out
3 The first moment of speech and eye contact is key..... more on this below
4 Never take your daughter who has just split up from her fiance (collectors are more interested in consoling her) LOLOL
5 As Jenny says, be presentable, not flashy but smart
6 Get on with your neighbours, not just for toilet breaks but you can create a great atmosphere that attracts buyers, I have done this a number of times

Point 3..........the most difficult, I usually start with a "hello are you alright there, feel free to pick up any bear" all the while making eye contact
This usually results in a few reactions

No eye contact, virtually ignoring you, I usually fade backwards at this point, the buyer has made it very clear in body language they are not interested in engaging in small talk and I respect that

Some eye contact but looks away and mumbles, this is the shy buyer who doesn't want to be pushed into a purchase, I usually take a small step backwards and smile whilst retaining eye contact, I am respecting their personal space but saying I'm here if you want to talk. At that point you will have one of two reactions, they walk a way (your bears are not their cup of tea) or they linger and pick up a bear, at this point it's tempting to jump in and speak again, don't you will scare them off. Just smile and if they make eye contact with you then speak, it means they are inviting you in, be gentle.

Open face, direct eye contact buyers, now these are friendly souls who are easy to deal with if you are a gregarious person but if you are shy they can be difficult. If you are shy try to be open back, chat about what they want to chat about, let them take the lead because they will, it might not be about bears it maybe something topical in the news that they end up talking about but it doesn't matter, they will be all the time looking at your table at the bears. At some point they will hone in on a bear and reach out and pick it up. They maybe the easiest to talk too but the hardest to sell to, they are happy to talk to anyone regardless whether they have any money, like your bears or have just come for a day out LOL I know I'm in this category.

I do hope this might help someone, at the end of the day you can't beat experience of actually doing shows. My tips are not intending to trick buyers into buying but to help you make the most of your opportunities, as Edie points out a wrong approach can kill a potential sale

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