Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Things You Need to Know to Be a Rockstar Craft Show Customer

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture
The temperature is rising, flowers in vibrant hues of the rainbow have popped up from beneath the earth, and the trees are filling with green leafy goodness. It can only mean one thing.
You totally thought I was going to say spring is here, right?
Wrong! What I was going to say is it means that craft show season is finally upon us.
From ceramics to jewelry, photography to graphic designed prints, whatever your heart desires can be found at your local craft show. And whether you crave the thrill of scoring something beautifully handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, or you are a craft show newbie, these 7 steps will help you be a Rockstar Craft Show Customer.

The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
1. Scope things out
Before you blow your budget on the very first stand you stop at (unless you favorite artist who sells out of her one-of-a-kind handmade beauties faster than you can say "Do you accept credit cards?"is there) take a moment to look around and see what is there. "I like to walk through the show and see what is there before I get serious with my shopping. I have been known to stop at a particularly eye-catching booth to browse on this first pass," says Liz Stewart of Lush Beads. And you might come across something you missed on your first run, so do that second (or third) walk-through with an open mind.

The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
2. Come prepared with warm-weather necessities
The last thing you want on a glorious day of perusing for handmade goodies is to get dehydrated or finish the day looking like a lobster. Unless you plan to spend your entire day under the tent of a single vendor, chances are you will be walking around in the sun. You want to protect your skin, so make sure to load up on the SPF and bring a small bottle along with you. And Dana Garczewski of the Painted Peacock recommends bringing something to quench your thirst. "I've been to shows that have no refreshments whatsover so I've learned to take a water bottle with me. Nothing ruins a fun day of shopping faster than being cranky because I'm dehydrated."

3. Bring an extra bag
And while we're on the topic of things to bring with you, Kerrie Kubinski Beck of Cody's Creations recommends bringing a tote bag. "I throw all my goodies in one bag instead of multiple bags so I can keep my hands free."

4. Ask before taking photos
Before you start snapping photos, nicely ask if you can. If the artist declines, don't take it personally. Many artists for a variety of reasons (and justifiably) do not want want their products being photographed.
The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
5. Be reasonable about pricing
Making something from hand takes a lot of time, and chances are the things you find at a craft show will be considerably higher than some of the cheaper, mass-produced items you find at your local chain store. If you don't feel comfortable spending that much money, we won't be offended! However, please know that craft shows are not flea markets. You might be tempted to ask for a discount, but this is not a time to be the Queen of Bargaining. We put a lot of time into what we make and thought into our pricing (and often times artists actually undercharge for their items). No one wants to make less than minimum wage for their hard work!

6. Ask the artist questions 
How often are you face-to-face with the maker of something you want to buy? This is the perfect opportunity to get your questions answered. Things you might want to consider asking are about the artist's process, what materials he uses (if it is a a wearable item and you have any skin sensitivities this is especially important), and how he got started doing it. Just be careful of monopolizing the artist's time--they are also working and need to tend to all their potential customers!
Photo by Kerry Hawkins
7. Don't be afraid to splurge
For many, one of the appeals of buying handmade is the uniqueness of the item. The downside? Often times when it's sold, it's gone for good. So if you see something you truly love and know you cannot live without it, give yourself permission to splurge a little. (And don't worry, we won't tell!)

What is your top tip for being a craft show patron?


  1. I love to purchase handmade, too. One of my top advice is to try the item on. Ask first, of course. Yes, the packaging is pretty and you don't want to break open that sticker or ribbon BUT the reality is: If it doesn't fit theres no use. So TRY IT ON BEFORE YOU BUY IT. Lovely article!

  2. Yes, good advice, Vicky. How sad would be to get home and discover that you lovely new purchase doesn't fit? Thanks for stopping by!


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