‘Why you shouldn’t be scared of stall holders’. That seems like a strange title for a blog, doesn’t it? By scared, I don’t mean ‘scared’ as you may feel walking through a dark alley, or as in the sweaty mess you become when you see a spider/snake/clown/buttons (delete as appropriate). I mean scared as in ‘a little bit wary’. But ‘why you shouldn’t be a little bit wary of stall holders’ is frankly a terrible blog title. So. Let me explain what I mean.
Me: in the beginning
I’ve always loved craft, long, long before I learned one myself. For those of you who know me, you will be fully aware that I was not an art success at school. I couldn’t draw, couldn’t summon up the courage to try the potters’ wheel and thought I’d got away with not doing a screen print in Design Technology until I read my report from that teacher which said ‘it’s a shame Rebecca decided not bother with a screen print.’ (I honestly thought she hadn’t noticed – that if I stayed really quiet, slunk under the desk or squeezed between the slats in the blinds…I was a very tiny teenager…that she wouldn’t notice me). In metalwork, I filed my aluminium key fob to the width of a dog hair. Obviously to be a successful key fob, it needs to be wider than this.
Too scared to approach
Being this inadequate myself meant I loved to visit a craft fair. So many talented people in one place! The downside of this was although I wanted to look at every stall and talk to the artist to find out how they did something, I was just too scared. This wasn’t because they all looked like they’d happily knife you in the head but simply put, I thought, if I engaged with them, they’d expect me to buy. This resulted in me only being confident in approaching a table if there were already people there so I could both look and fade into the background simultaneously. There was one time when I did look at something. I liked it, but under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have bought it. I felt I had to because we’d had a conversation. Luckily, it wasn’t a diamond seller.
From the ‘Other Side‘ as a stall holder
Life being strange even in ‘normal’ times, I now find myself the other side of the stall. What I notice more than anything from the Other Side, is that there are an awful lot of visitors to craft fairs who think like I did. I look at them to say hello but an awful lot of visitors don’t want this. To say hello is to in fact say ‘don’t you dare leave without buying something from me because I can send you to hell and eternal damnation, just with my thoughts’. Those who do reply then scuttle off as if their clothes have just caught fire and they need to find a puddle of water pretty damn quick if they are to survive.
Readers, I know how you feel. This was me. But you have nothing whatsoever to be scared of.
I’m rarely enthused. But I am about my craft
Clearly, I can’t talk for all crafters. However, I think I can when I say that we like to talk about what we do. When I was 13, I could talk about Duran Duran until the New Moon on Monday came up. I was that enthusiastic about them. These days, this is how enthused I am with my craft. And I can talk to you for as long as you want to. Want to know how I have done something or how or why I choose certain colours? Want to know if I have a furnace at home? Let me tell you! I am not telling you because if I explain everything that’s involved you’ll feel sorry for me and feel obliged to buy because otherwise I won’t eat for a week. I’m telling you because I love what I do and you’re interested enough to ask.
Of Course we Like to Sell…
Now don’t get me wrong, all crafters like to sell their wares. I am no different. If you talk to me and want to buy something I have made then yes, I am a very, very happy person. I believe this is something a lot of crafters refer to as ‘doing a happy dance’. I can’t bring myself to do that in public so I just say thank you. But inside I feel like a spaniel in a tennis ball factory.
However, we crafters also know that not everyone can afford to buy; not everyone can find a place for what we make in their home; not everyone who can afford to buy, wants to (one lady told me she couldn’t buy because she’d be dead soon and then what would happen to it?). And do you know what? It’s totally fine! If you have come over to say you like what we’re doing, to ask how things are done or even remark on how shit the weather is, this is all good! Because otherwise, we would all be stood behind our stalls, bored shitless, with each second that passes feeling more like the hours they’re made up of. Selling and talking to enthusiastic people is fantastic. Not selling but talking to enthusiastic people is certainly the next best thing. But not selling and not talking to anyone is just soul-destroying.
Not convinced? One final tip…
I’ll leave you with this: please don’t be reticent at a craft show. For all the reasons I have stated above, you really don’t have to be. Here’s a little tip: If you still feel uncomfortable walking away with nothing, then just pick up a business card and mutter something about it being Christmas soon. That works, too.
Note: want to know where we are exhibiting? Click here.