I am going to put in my 2 cents worth of advice as well (even though it's not much worth nowadays, Randy ), but from the point of view of someone who doesn't stand (or sit or reads) behind the table, but in front of it.
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.
I beg to differ! I am totally convinced that your vintage type bears would sell like hotcakes in any show (certainly in Europe)! :thumbsup:
And even though you feel you are too quiet and reserved for teddy bear shows, I think your bears would do most of the talking themselves. :teddybear:
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.
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!
You are absolutely right, Bobbie. I visit 2, 3 or maybe 4 shows a year and I plan them carefully months in advance. When I have to plan my holidays at the office every year, I check the teddy bear calendar first. And I know that many other visitors are like me; especially for shows like Hugglets in London or the big German shows, people travel hundreds of miles, with the sole purpose of seeing BEARS! So reading a book is fine when there are no visitors at your table, but when someone is showing interest, put the book down.
SO much depends on what happens..does it rain..is there a big sports match on tv...school holidays ..etc.
But the real die hard fans will come anyway: rain, sleet or snow; football, Olympics or a Wimbledon final; ... The people who won't go to a teddy bear fair, because it rains are probably not the people who are going to spend hundreds of pounds. I remember a friend of mine queuing at Hugglets two hours before opening time, because she wanted a particular bear...made by you! ;)
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!
Fairs will of course be harder for disabled people, but I know of at least three artists in wheelchairs (Andy is one of them and so is our own Jane, of course), who regularly do fairs and who love it (I think Andy West does one at least every month :whistle:)
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.
That isn't silly at all, but a very interesting observation. I admit that at first I felt a slight hesitation handing over "cash" for a teddy bear. However I have overcome my reluctance by allowing me a certain "cash" budget that I can spend on the day. When the cash has run out, then it's time to go home! I rarely pay with a credit card at a show, because I know that would be like opening Pandora's box. :D
AND FINALLY TO SUE:
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
That is very sound advice, Sue. There is nothing more off-putting for a shy collector than an overbearing salesperson. You will probably be able to make a sale, but that will be the last sale you ever make to that collector. :mad:
I think it's important to give the collector the necessary time to see and maybe feel the bears without being pushed. If I am really interested, you will certainly see the signs: dilated pupils, shaking hands, stuttering, turning red, .... -once I nearly snatched a teddy out of a lady's hands, because she was stalling and I wanted him :P- and then it's time to close the deal.
On a final note: the teddy bear shows I visit are the highlights of my year (yes I know: "get a life" ) and I really wouldn't want to miss them for the world. Apart from seeing fantastic bears by talented artists, it's also an opportunity to catch up with friends, share stories and experiences. It's so much more that just a big teddy bear store.
I am very fortunate to live in the center of Europe and within a radius of about 500 miles there are dozens of shows each year. And in my opinion these shows are very much appreciated by the public and by most artists as well. And I for one hope they will never disappear.
P.S. Sorry for being long-winded...
Peter, what a great commentary! Thank You!
And to Sue, you've given a wonderful, insightful directory of salesmanship that should also be burned into everyone's minds: learning how to 'read' a collector by their body language. You're so correct about the eyes - it truly is the first giveaway into how the next few minutes will play out.
Knowing how to respond to each individual will be the best experience for everyone involved!
I wish there were more meaty discussions like this - it's what Becky is referring to when she is posing all of her recent threads (Thx, B!), attempting to recreate the old days of many lively ongoing topics!
Peter.....................you are a priceless darling (in a great big beautiful way) Your opinion is worth a lot believe me and not just because you are a collector
But the real die hard fans will come anyway: rain, sleet or snow; football, Olympics or a Wimbledon final; ... The people who won't go to a teddy bear fair, because it rains are probably not the people who are going to spend hundreds of pounds. I remember a friend of mine queuing at Hugglets two hours before opening time, because she wanted a particular bear...made by you!
What a food for thought paragraph, I have lost count of the number of times these things have been used to explain why a show is slow and I for one have used the rain, the sun etc as reasons many times but it actually ultimately boils down to which shows collectors like and which they don't.................ooooohhhh another topic?
That is very sound advice, Sue. There is nothing more off-putting for a shy collector than an overbearing salesperson. You will probably be able to make a sale, but that will be the last sale you ever make to that collector.
Bobbie, ah thank you, I did miss out the evil 4th type of shopper, didn't want to frighten people............you know the ones "pick up, scowl then put down, move off" In one look they put you on your knees LOLOL xxx
I just want to say what an uplifting experience to read a thread on a forum where literally everyone has made valid points clearly and respectfully , no-one can possibly feel ostracised or upset. The chat has been informative and useful..
That's a credit to everyone who has taken part.
Completely agree Jenny this has been a great post to read
Don't really feel there's anything more to say but as I'm a talkative one I will say a few words - I love bear fairs as I get to meet new people whether they're interested in the bears I have or not, I'm super talkative and talk to just about everyone who passes by even if they weren't looking at my table lol. I manage to get most people talking and then through general conversation even those not interested in bears will talk about my bears, many sales have come through this but I don't do it just for sales, I'm just talkative hehe. Ask anyone who knows me in person they will tell you I am just as talkative to everyone 24/7 lol.
I do think it's important to look approachable and friendly at your table even if you don't say anything at all, so people don't feel like they may be a nuisance if they want to talk to you (like the lady in Bobbie's post photo).
But as long as you have a great day and meet some new people and share your bears with the visitors, I think that's the main thing