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Types of people who visit your vendor booth

Updated on March 21, 2016

Surprise buyers

These are people that show up, and they seem totally uninterested in your products or just totally aloof. They may not even touch the goods – just stare at them. But then, when you least expect it, they ask for something or purchase something that you didn’t know they were even interested in. A perfect example of this for me often has to do with kids. I was working at a craft fair, and a family came up to me. The little boy, who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9, reached out and grabbed one of my Lego necklaces. “I want this,” he told his parents. Now, that happens all the times – kids *love* the Lego stuff. But this time, instead of the parents telling the boy he couldn’t have it, his father reached for his wallet and bought it for him! Surprise! In a good way. Never assume someone won’t buy what you’re selling.


Time wasters

This isn’t necessarily a bad category at all. I sometimes absolutely love my time wasters. They are either customers, potential customers, or really, really bored. They come by and talk about different things that they like, that you may not have, or even things that are only sort-of on topic about what you sell. Often they will ask for a business card, saying they will purchase something later. This may or may not be true – and they probably have the best of intentions. But don’t be surprised if you never hear from them again.


One weekend at an event, I sold three things to the same person. He kept coming back. It was awesome. We wound up talking quite a bit about books (since I sell book-related goodies and it was a literary-type convention, it made sense). The first time he came by, I thought he was just going to be a talker, but then he began to touch the goods on the table. After he’d touched one of the items several times, I told him, “Once you touch it three times, you have to buy it. It’s the law.” He laughed, and we started talking about rules of magic in books. It was a fun conversation, and it kept him coming back to buy more. Repeaters can be excellent customers.


You’ll always find at least one hanger-on. They might be there for another customer or they might be there for the stall next door. They aren’t interested in buying anything, and they might not even really browse your products. But they stand there, either waiting for their friend(s) or wanting to hang out near another stall that’s too busy for them. Hangers-on can be annoying because while they aren’t interested in buying things, they may take up the space that a paying customer would want. At one event, I had a stall next to mine that was selling hair bows. They were extremely popular, and I wound up with a number of hangers-on who were waiting for their friends or who were trying to get into the stall. Because of that, my stall was blocked, and people who might have browsed and bought got shoved into the hall, and I may have lost some sales. Don’t be rude to hangers-on, though. Just because they’re not buying from you doesn’t mean they’re not buying…and who knows, maybe if they hang out in your stall enough, they’ll buy something after all!

Bad Customer Service Montage from Movies


My father qualifies as a talker. He knows the name of all the full-timers - and some of the part-timers - at the grocery store and can tell you about their families and hobbies. Talkers really, really like to talk. Not necessarily in a way like the over-sharers who give you too many of their personal details. But they will talk to you about the weather, about the traffic, and about anything else that they can think of that’s in a nice, generic way. It’s their way of being friendly and personable, and it’s not too bad. When you’re stuck at a table all day, it can be really pleasant to hear about the world around you because, if it’s a slow afternoon, there’s something to be said for a friendly face – and voice – hanging around your table.

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The only problem with complimenters is that they don’t put their money where their mouth is. (If they did, then they would fit into my ‘perfect customer’ section.) Most complimenters just say nice things. They provide lip service, but they don’t follow up what they say. Now, I don’t mind people who want to stop by my table and tell me how pretty my jewelry is, and how clever my blank journals are, and how impressed they are with my imagination. As you can guess, those are all very welcome comments. But after saying all those super-nice things, the complimenters just move on. You may hear them providing similar comments to other tables. Are they sincere? Or do they just feel the need to be accepted by complimenting people? It’s hard to tell. Personally, I take the compliments to heart because…well…because why not?


I honestly don’t understand insulters. Why trash someone else? Do they really feel better by saying nasty things? Are they jealous that someone else went out and tried? Do they need someone else to fail in order for them to feel like they succeed? I really don’t know. What I do know is that it’s no fun to hear an insulter talking about you or your products. One of my worst sales days was also a day when I heard an insulter. She was a hanger-on to a woman who was purchasing a purse in the stall next to mine. She told the woman, “I’m going to go over into this booth where I won’t be tempting to actually buy anything.” And then she walked into my booth, smiled, and looked around. Ummm, thanks? Did she think I couldn’t hear her? Well, I smiled, said hello, and treated her like I would any other potential customer. And know what’s funny? She wound up buying something after all! And so did her friend! So while insulters can make you feel pretty low, remember that they may not mean what they say and you still might be able to impress them and sell to them after all.


I think we’ve all met an over-sharer somewhere or sometime. For me, the first time I really got an over-sharer was at a weekend event. I was there for two and a half days. And so was she. Wow. I learned a lot about her life, her menstrual cycle, her ex-boyfriend, and her struggles with meth. No, I’m not joking. She was one of the repeaters, and she was also a serious, serious over-sharer. There was nothing she wouldn’t tell me. Not that she bought anything. She also shared that she had no money to spend; she was there with a friend, and she was just a hanger-on. However, I had given one of my pieces to the auction for a non-profit, and her friend bought it for her. So she came back to show it to me, and tell me how happy she was to have one of my pieces. Overall, not as bad as it could have been, and I know a lot more about meth than I used to know.


The event staff often stops by to check on you, assuming it’s a good event. These stop-bys are you chances to ask questions. Things like, “where is the bathroom?” or “can you send some more paying customers my way?” Always be friendly and courteous to the event staff. They generally worked very hard to pull the event together, and if it’s a slow day (or weekend), they are just as stressed out as you are about it. Yes, they get paid regardless since you had to pay for your slot or table, but they want it to be successful so that they can get their own repeaters. They don’t want people to trash-talk their events. So even if your day doesn’t have as many sales as you’d like, remember that there are good and bad days everywhere. One bad day doesn’t make or break you, and it’s not always the fault of the event organizer. Weather and other unexpected events can make what should have been an excellent day into a so-so one.

Other vendors

Make friends with them! Seriously, other vendors shouldn’t be your competition. Chances are that you aren’t selling exactly the same thing, even if it’s in the same family. Yes, people might have to decide between the two of you when they choose to purchase, but having an antagonist relationship with other sellers doesn’t do anything positive for you. There’s plenty of room in the world for everyone, and the differences between your products are what will decide who the customers buy from. Buy from your fellow vendors. Offer them discounts if they buy from you. Getting along with your fellow vendors make it easier to get someone to watch your stall if you need to run to the bathroom, and it also lets you help them out if they need to make a run, too. You’re all on the same side – the selling side. Treat them well.

Perfect customers

People may define perfect customers in different ways, but for me, I’ve only had one perfect customer. He walked up to my booth, pointed to a necklace I had cross-stitched, asked me how much it was, and handed me cash. That was it. The easiest sale I had ever made. He took the necklace and walked away. There was no real talking, no real communication – just cash for a product. Now, to be fair, I would have liked a bit of conversation. I do like to connect with my customers. But there’s nothing wrong with a customer who knows what they want and they get it.


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