Monday, April 18, 2011

Woes of a Vendor

Happy Monday, fellow bloggers.

With the pleasantries out of the way, let me begin my tale of woe.

Mind you, I am usually one of those glass-is-always-half-full kinda gals, so when I do go on a rant, it's either for letting off a little built-up steam or to get a chuckle.

This time it's a little of both.

Yesterday I attended a well-intended fundraiser as a vendor. The vendor booth fee went directly to the fundraiser, which made me feel good. (See how I'm staying positive?) And, yes, I actually sold some items to cover the cost of the vendor fee. (Barely.) And I "may" have made one solid contact with a potential new customer. This is usually the case at every event I have attended in my five years as a Close To My Heart consultant.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.

It's the whole vendor/trade show dynamic that's interesting to me. Here we are, all the same women moving from show to show, selling our wares. We've learned each other's names and networked over the years. It's actually very nice. Do we get customers this way? Not usually. We walk around and check out each other's booths, chatting lightly, exchanging business cards, but don't usually buy from one another. We're there to make money, not spend it, right?

Initially I enjoy the excitement of setting up my booth alongside the rest of them. We're all hustling and bustling, unloading our boxes, making our area pretty, commenting on one another's displays. It's fun, I have to say, and every time I set up at one of these I think to myself, "Maybe this will be my best show yet. People will flock to my booth and love everything they see and buy lots of it.... maybe I should have made more items... what if I run out?!"....

Ha-ha. You silly fool.

This particular event drew a fairly big crowd, I have to say. Probably the most I've experienced at any show. Women mostly, which was perfect. I was feeling encouraged by the crowd flow.

But as I sat and watched shoppers stop at my booth, pick up several items, ooh and ahh over everything complimenting my "beautiful work" then place them back down and walk away, I was left to wonder...

Are my prices too high?

Is my artwork not truly as beautiful as they said?

Did I forget to put on deodorant?

I'm telling you, I don't get it. Every single person (minus the four who actually purchased something) picked something up, reacted the same adoring way, set it down, and walked off.

I sat there screaming at them in my head, "WAIT! You said you LOVED it! You said how CUTE it was! How clever it was! What happened?!! Where are you GOING?!!!...."

It's a mystery still.

Do they just not have a use for my items? Who doesn't have a friend or relative that wouldn't love to have a handmade card or mini album made by Annette Green?

Apparently I'm not yet as famous as I might have thought.

There are always a few people who don't give you a single glance as they walk right passed. I don't even mind that. I prefer it actually. They  know what they like, and it ain't your stuff.  S'all good.

And there's always a few that are bold enough to declare to their friend right in front of you, with a mild form of disgust, that they "don't like crafts." Or "I don't have time for scrapbooking."

Again in my head I'm screaming, "DON'T HAVE TIME?! I've done all the work FOR YOU! For goodness sake, all you have to do is slap a few pictures into my already-made, apparently not-as-beautiful-as-people-are-saying mini album!"


There were a few fleeting moments of glee when I would make a sale, then two more, then another. But over all, not a huge success. It simply boils down to the question of "Do you enjoy doing these shows? Is it worth it?" I'm sure there are a few gung-ho consultants out there who would say YES. Any little bit helps, any contact you make can lead to more. Maybe I'm just getting old? Or just plain tired?

As a designer and artist, I often make the mistake of trying to imagine what people like, then making that. When what I should be doing instead is making what I like. There's got to be at least a handful of lunatics out there that like the same stuff I do.

But I digress...

Definitely feeling discouraged this morning and trying to figure out what the heck to do with all these "cute" things I made, but I keep remembering one great thing from all of this...

I spent the day with one of my favorite people on the planet, my daughter Jamie, who was surprisingly happy to help and to keep me company all day at my booth. We giggled all day together, and that certainly made it a wonderful day after all.


13 comments:

  1. I feel your pain!! I have found that when vendoring at craft shows in particular, people pick up the items and study them and oooh and aaah, then put it down and move on. I watch them and I just know they have just committed to memory every detail of the item, and they are going to scamper home and recreate it with their own materials. I know this because I used to do the same thing! But I still go, still hand out cards, still hope for some new customers. Sigh....

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  2. Oh, Annette, I feel your pain. I finally admitted my ego was too fragile to do craft shows & stopped!!! Your work is absolutely beautiful & your display looks fabulous!!! Maybe you could put some items in your Etsy shop?? Glad you spent some fun quality time with your daughter :) Hang in there! I think if people don't have a specific gift in mind, they don't buy. I always said to myself, who doesn't need a card?? Really? I have heard that I don't have time comment one too many times. I finally would say to people, "Do you watch tv?" This is what I do instead of watching tv all night. Another one is that you need to make time for things that make you happy :) (that is from my fabulous upline). Okay, now I'm venting - lol!!! Have a great day :)

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  3. Okay, so now I know that I'm not the only soul out there that feels this way... ;) Thanks for posting your feelings about this. I've so lived this over and over and over again! I just took a year off of doing the vendor shows and I think it was a much needed break. I might give it a go again this year. Wishing you better luck next time! :)

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  4. I'm with Vicki! After a disappointing show, I take a break for a while, and then suddenly think "I should do another show!" after the feelings have faded... A couple of years ago, I decided to set my sights high, and doubled my sales goal for a show that I had sold $1000 of cards at the year before... worked my butt off for months, had tons of inventory...and then the economy crashed right around the time of my show... I was left with 100's of cards and didn't feel like making anything for months (I didn't need to!) Starting a blog has kept me focussed on making a great individual card, rising to the occassion for challenges, and really doing it for myself - while still being able to share it with others. I love how our blog "audience" are all like-minded people who appreciate what we do! I think the general public just don't get it? I'll be back here checking out your stuff regularly - it's awesome. :o)

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  5. that is exactly how i feel. i was so bummed after my last show. i thought it would be different here. but alas it was not. but on the plus side i had christmas card to give away as presents.

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  6. Oh, Annette, so sorry to hear the show didn't go over as well as you had hoped. I too did a craft show and only sold 4 cards out of the 100 I had to choose from. Everyone thought they were wonderful, but no green backs came my way. To live and learn. Keep your chin up, your art is amazing and is appreciated by us all.

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  7. Oh my gosh, you so gave language to how I've been feeling. That "Don't have time" comment really bothers me when it's accompanied by a general attitude that only losers have time to scrapbook. I work full time as a biology and chemistry teacher, I work for a local college in the summer - and I still have time to craft because I love it. Besides - isn't that the point of going to the show... to buy crafts someone else made? I finally gave up vendor shows when it seemed like the only sales were from friends and family who were feeling sorry for me. The problem is I don't have anything to do with the endless stream of crafts I keep churning out.

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  8. I read everyone's comments and have a suggestion for those of you who are interested. There is an organization called Operation Write Home which takes card donations and send them to heros overseas to use to keep in touch with their families. Their website is www.operationwritehome.org if you would like more information. I enjoy practicing papercraft techniques and having an outlet to share the products of my efforts. Something to think about. To quote another, "keep on making it a better day".

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  9. Annette, your display is fabulous and your products are beautiful! How frustrating...I'm so sorry you went to all this work for very little reward. I feel your pain! I've never done a vendor table, I don't think I could handle the rejection. I have heard this complaint from everyone who vendors, so blame it on the economy and don't take it personally. My experience at craft shows has been that most of the lookers are crafters themselves, and are just there to get ideas for themselves (guilty!) Maybe you'll have better luck moving your artwork on your Etsy shop?

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  10. I haven't been to a craft show in probably 6 years. I always used to love going, but never really had a lot of money to buy the things I saw. From a customer perspective, I would feel so sad and guilty for not buying something beautiful that clearly someone had put so many hard-working hours into creating. I could see their labors of love, and occasionally I would buy something just to put a sparkle in that sweet lady's eyes. My husband's grandparents used to make cabbage patch dolls and wooden toys for their grandkids and then they'd sell the extra's at the craft shows. How I wish I knew their secrets now.... :) Good luck, ladies! Annette, I love your work. I browse your blog every week.

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  11. Can I buy it ALL!!!!!!!!? I just love all your artwork. You are such an inspiration to me. I feel the same way after the shows I have done...that's why I'm not doing another one! (until my next one, that is ;-) )...I feel your pain!

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  12. I have done craft fairs for years with one company or another and that is one of the reasons that I don't do shows any more either. Even still, when I make things for people and give them away, people ask "do you sell these"? "You could make a mint"! Ha! I don't sell them any more because it gives me more pleasure to give things away then it does to hear the things that people say while they are browsing my booth! Didn't make sense to me then and doesn't make sense to me now, guess it never will!!! Sorry to hear about your show Annette, my vote is for making what makes you happy and forget what the rest of them say!

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  13. You go girly! I loved your presentation at convention last summer. You are awesome.
    I can relate to your ENTIRE funny commentary! Have done the same thing. Not a waste of time really...especially if you were with your daughter.
    Love your talent!
    Form another ad person,
    Anna Jarnagin

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Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have a question you'd like answered, please e-mail me at AnnetteGreen@me.com.