I have never sold at a show so speaking from a customer's point of view, I like to be able to browse. i like it when the vendor acknowledges me with a smile or a hello how are you today?
Then more often then not I like to be left to look. If I want to pick something up I often find an enquiring look or a quick can I pick this up. At that point I have it in my hands I like the vendor to chat to me about the bear and quite often that can lead to conversation about other things.
I prefer to see the vendor to the side of their diplay or easily accessible to talk to.
I know quite a few who have a stash of bags at the front and back of the table so if Idecide to buy they don't have to walk all the way around the tables and the other thing I noticed a lot do is the bags around the waist so money is with them.
No matter what you decide now you will change it for next time until you are happy with what is happening.
Since I just finished the Schaumburg show, my first, I thought I'd add my 2 cents.
I agree with Eileen, it seems that once people stop and look others also stop to see what's so interesting. I went for long periods of time with nobody stopping but once someone did others also stopped. I also noticed that some collectors just want to look without speaking with their creator and others wanted to talk with me while bear browsing. I just had to learn when to jump in with conversation and when not.
Fewer bears on the table are better. I noticed some of the other tables around us were full of bears. They had lots of people stopping and looking but the collectors had a hard time of pulling the one out they were interested in then putting him back if they changed their mind. Also too many bears makes the decision harder because there are too many choices.
Be prepared to be tired at the end of the day. We stood better than 90% of the time the show was on. Fortunatley since there were two of us we gave each other back rubs when it was slow. I think after dinner that Saturday night we slept a good 10 hours, at least, from being tired from standing.
I do like Wanda's attitude about treating the collector's as a guest in her house. I will have to take that one with me to my next show.
I also agree with the idea to go and have fun. I had fun watching the people's smiles from looking at my bears.
I do have more fun making bears than selling them but I have to sell them or I will have to buy a much larger house to make room for all my new bears.
Since I have a full time job I do not have to make a living from my bears so I feel lucky that way. I hope you are in the same position. I have known people that started with their favorite hobby, turned it into their main source of income, and do not enjoy their hobby any more. I have already realized that I will not make a living from this so I can treat it as hobby.
I hope you have better luck at your first show than I did. I did not sell any bears. I'm certain it can only get better from there. But I did learn a lot from the experience and will take that with me to the next show. (I also learned a lot from this thread.) I also got to meet a lot of wonderful bear artists and collectors that I would not have ever met except though the show.
Happy bear trails,
Oh my! Kim with 5 posts.....this must mean another KIM has joined the family!!!
I think we now have 3 Kims- thats great....welcome I hope you you enjoy it here, I hope you stay and continue posting.....we are busy and lively and happy to have new beary people join!
WoW! I haven't been able to get to the computer for a few days and am wrapt and all your helpful comments! Thank you all so much!
I will have my 12 year old daughter Anna with me on the day...she is a great little helper at my craft markets and knows as much about putting a bear together as I do so I think she'll be a great asset.
I certainly don't need to be concerned about overcrowding my table....I'll be lucky to have enough so it doesn't look bare!
Having said that, whatever space I have left over, I will fill with supplies which will hopefully encourage people to stop too.
I like the idea of standing at the side so I am approachable...but my biggest fear is what to do with my hands! You know how when you are talking with someone, it feels awkward if you just hang your arms down at your sides?
I'm actually not overly concerned with whether I actually sell many/any bears or not. I'm trying to see this show as just getting my name out there and being seen. I have two projects coming out in magazines next year so I hope that by the end of next year, people will know who I am.
I think sometimes people are wary of buying from artists they haven't heard of...don't know. One thing that surprised me at the last Melbourne show, is that an artist whose bears are snapped up in a flash on her website and ebay, only sold one bear. This was the first time she had exhibited at this show..and yet the ones who exhibit there regularly, did well. Go figure!
Being on my feet all day doesn't bother me...I work two days a week and am on my feet from 8.30 - 5.30 on a concrete floor, so will probably be okay. The hardest thing for me will be staying at my table....it will mean I miss out on seeing the rest of the show, but I realise it's a sacrifice one needs to make when exhibiting, especially as a newbie when people need to put a name to a face. I remember at the last show...I returned to a particular table three times, hoping to catch the artist to comment on his bears...and he was never there! At the end of the day...he still had almost a full table...wonder why?
I have actually been deterred from speaking with an artist before because she was working on a bear and I didn't wish to interupt. In my opinion, it kinda gives the impression that you think the show will be a long, boring day, and so you have bought something to do. I may think about a little album with some pics on the process of bear making and have it open.
I wonder about a sign that says, 'Feel free to pick up the bears'. Although some artists say to me to go ahead and pick up the bears, I may not want to, and feel obligated if told I can.
I would NEVER take my mum to a show with me. She is like your mum only ten times worse!
I had some of my artist bears at a market stall once(I was mainly selling manufactured bears) and mum minded the stall while I went to the loo. When I got back, a Taiwanese fella was holding one of my Pandas...one that was quite expensive. Mum was going on and on about my talents :redface: :redface: :doh: and I was thinking 'Gosh mum, leave the guy alone..he's not gonna buy an expensive bear like that at a market". I was wrong. Not only did he buy that bear, but he emailed me a few days later and bought another! He commented that he thought it was so cute that my mum was so proud of me too! Turns out that my two bears were his first ever artist bears so I may have nabbed a new collector.
Anyway..that story turned out well...but I wouldn't take mum to a bear show with me...she would embarrass me to pieces!
Wanda...I think I'll take your advice above all, and adopt the attitude that I'm going to the show to have fun and enjoy my bears being shown. And if I sell some...even better. But I'm sure I'll come home with a ton of ideas on how to do things better next time.
Glenys, thanks for your offer of support, it's much appreciated.
Melissa, I'm glad you'll be there again. Are Trace and Alexis and Larraine coming again too? And maybe Mel? Hope we can catch up after the show again....dinner maybe?
Thank you all so much for your input..your the best! :hug:
I only ever did one bear fair but i used to have a stall in Covent Garden in London and in other various places and i found the best approach was to........
........get one of your kids (if you don't have one of your own borrow one) to sit crying in front of your stall, when the potential customer asks him/her what's the matter the kid says "Mummy can't afford to feed us 14 kids and i'm sooooo hungry and cold as we had to sleep on the street last night cos daddy locked us out of the house again".................
You get the idea Hayley
ONLY JOKING! :dance:
When MaeLynn is a little older I might try this...
This is too rich!
When mom and I are both at the booth...
She usually greets everyone and I just stand there and smile like an idot. (you can see an example of this in the gallery pic I posted).
Then she asks them about how they are, where they are from, or if they have a bear that she likes she asks to see him. We then ooo and ahh over the bear. (This must be sincere! If you don't like the bear don't ask to see him.) Usually people are proud to show off their new bears.
If I am by myself I stand at the end of the table so that people know that it is my booth/stand. I smile and greet them.
If I am fixing my something on my table I turn and greet them an excuse myself out of their way so that they can see all of my bears.
I always make a point to greet my long term collectors. I will be honset here... I remember faces better than I remember name. But a simple smile and a cheerful greeting go along way.
Don't sell your bears. Let your bears sell themselves.
Just a quick thought- Do you ever have problems with people picking up a bear and handing it to their child, whose hands look like they've been eating chocolate? What would you say?
OOps- second thought- What if someone is clearly buying your - not safe for children labelled- bear for a toddler? Am I as the maker liable if they give it to their child and the child breaks the eyes and swallows them or somehow stabs themselves with the cotter pins? Someone told me they wanted to buy one of my bears for a baby and when I said they weren't child safe and told her why, she said it didn't matter. I was dumbfounded and didn't know how to respond.
Jared, MaeLynn.... LOVE that name! It's beautiful!!
Suzanne, I've made it a point of making it very clear that the bear is NOT child safe if I know someone is buying the bear for a little one. They always buy it any way! I've said it verbally and it's stated on my hang tag. In some states/countries I believe it is a law that you state it on your sewn in tag. I'm not sure.
As for dirty hands, I'll just jump right in with my box of handi-wipes and say "I'd love for her to hold him, just as soon as she cleans that chocolate off her hands! That bear LOVES chocolate and I wouldn't want him to nibble her fingers!" This has more often than not resulted in giggles. Only one little boy was horrified that the teddy bear might bite him and didn't want to hold it after that. Both ways keep my bears clean!
I also sold a small felted bear that was to be a baby gift.
I guess the parents wanted to start a teddy collection, so I don't think the bear will be played with ( hope not ).But there were VERY happy to find such a unique bear.
As long as we warn them, no much else we can do.