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Let's do it as a top ten: My number 1 is


"Did j'all make this"?

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I have, very much, enjoyed reading all of our customers questions to us. Many have come my way too here on the west coast. As a functional potter, here are a couple of mine.

#2 fav is: "How long does it take you to make this piece?"

#1 fav lately is: "Will this break?"
I think to myself, let's just throw it on the ground and find out! Restraining myself, I would politely remind them to treat it like glass, and always add the comment about not setting any hot glass on a cold surface or it could crack.
Here's a show story. One day this grandpa looking guy came into my booth looking around and something caught his eye, turned to me with that same question. Well now, feeling a little cocky, my normal reply didn't happen and what came out my mouth sure shocked even me. What I told him was: "I'll tell you this, if you drop it I can guarentee it won't bounce"! We both laughed then told me he had to go find his wife. Little bit later they both returned. He showed her the piece he was looking at and low and behold here was that million dollar question from her. Grandpa and I looked at each other, laughed again, while he repeated what I told him. They ended up buying a few more pieces that grandpa did not notice on his first round.
Now I use that phrase all the time and always get the same reaction with some pretty good sales.

Oh man, this is a great thread. Here are a few I've been affronted with the past number of years:

  1.  "Must be nice to have a hobby" (  "Yah. I get to choose any 90 hours in the week to work that I want!")
  2. "You're so crafty!" ("And sly, too!)
  3. My favorite "This looks so professional!" (Ugh. Made it too good again!)
  4. "You didn't make this. This looks too good." (That's what I get for honing my skill!)
  5. "This came from China!" (No... it came from my studio. See these undereye bags? My hands? A true artist never has pretty hands. Chipped nails, cuts, scars, burns, paint, you name it.)


I've had the pleasure of diversifying my product line featuring my illustrations (originals > prints > jewelry) and most recently leathergoods. Those who walked into my booth understand the originality, hardwork, and investment that goes into our wearable art. We know who they are immediately and enjoy talking with them.


The remaining few who don't operate on all 8 cylinders are well, enjoyable too, just on a different level. I had a few strut right in telling me they're leatherworkers and want to know how to do what we do.

  • "Where did you get your patterns?" (We design everything ourselves)
  • "You must follow a pattern. Where I can get it?" (I'm sure there's something online you'll like, just go search)
  • "Where do you get your leather?" (From Italy)
  • "Just how did you make this?" (It's done with magic)

That's when we turn our backs and greet other customers


Good times.


Thanks for this! I'm loving your stories, too!!


I too, get comments from other crafter/artists- on the beadweaving-
"You have to teach me" ( I don't, learn it yourself, just like I did.)
on the wire work-
"where do you buy those components"- (I make them myself)then the inevitable- you have to teach me (see above for same thought)
on stringing- "What magazine's do you buy for inspiration"- ( I DON'T),
and the following from consumers and other artist/Crafters
all my metals are Nickel and lead free, due to my own allergies- I have signs posted in the booth stating this, and the following remark is a real stitcher for me-
"oh I love jewelry, but cant wear just any old thing because of my sensitivity"-( Well isn't it wonderful that all my jewelry is hypoallergenic!)
Where do you get your leather? How about "off of a cow". I get that same question all the time too, another reply: from the tannery
Yeah this past weekend a woman was asking me questions about how I made a certain glass necklace. I told her the basics, but she just kept pushing. I brushed her off and told her it took me a long time to figure out and that I enjoyed the process of experimenting and learning how to do it.  It isn't an especially complex thing at all and I would think that I gave her enough to information to figure it out but she kept inspecting this and other things in my booth and bringing friends back to look - like she just couldn't figure it out. I wanted her out of my booth! Some people just don't want to learn anything for themselves.
I wasn't too thrilled with a woman that wanted me to throw her childs poopy diaper in my trash. I pointed out the trash ben across the isle.
I haven't run into that one yet- Thanks be!! But when I do I will do the same. Who wants to smell that all day in the heat? UGH!!
Wow! Just made herself at home. Sometimes I think the less "aware" ones are just too self involved- they seem to have an attitude of "I am the most important person here". These are the ones that truly irritate me. I try to get the out of my booth as fast as possible. They can "critique" all they want- somewhere else.
UGH! I hate this. I have had a few of those lately - people who want me to google other artists. It goes hand in hand with another comment you posted about people who want to give you advice. It's kind of insulting that they think we're new or that they are just being a know-it-all.  I like the way you handle it!

My booth neighbor last weekend told me of something she'd read in a marketing book. She said that if a visitor compliments your work, you shouldn't automaticaly reply with "Thank you." It is a verbal acceptance of a verbal payment, and serves as a signal that they have permission to leave. Instead, segwey into an explanation, or comment on the work being discussed.
I tried this with next group of visitors and the theory seemed to prove true. It became an almost comical contest between us. The flattery grew progressively inflated and slavish the more I diverted the conversation into antedotal trivia about the piece. After a few more of these exchanges, the melodramatic performance was getting a bit ridiculous, and it was quite clear that they had no intention of purchasing anything, despite thier immense devotion to my creativite excellence. I finally took pity upon them and said "Thank you."


I've never seen a sharper and smartly executed "about face" since my days in the Navy. They were gone faster than anyone could have a chance to say another word and I'm sure quite relieved that I finally allowed them to leave gracefully.

I do enjoy compliments and encouragement, and very grateful for it. It was just an interesting insight into human behavior, and gave me a rather different perspective on compliments versus 'flattery'. "Looking" is free, and "talk" is cheap, and now I have another trick to keep my booth occupied and attract other pedestrians who hopefully just can't live without my artwork.

Bruce Baker says the same thing in his Customer Service CDs - DON'T accept non-monetary payment i.e. compliments.  Only say 'thank you' after they have given you money.    

It's awkward, because our first polite reaction when someone gives you a compliment is to say thank you.  But then they think they've paid you for you for their entertainment/enjoyment in your work and leave happily.   I try and turn it around with a response to "you just make gorgeous work" as "I enjoy making it....see this piece...."  It certainly does make them reluctant to leave, as you found Jim, and keeps the conversation going.  

I do let off regular clients as I know they'll buy something eventually anyway, and some people. as you mentioned, get really jumpy and obviously have no intention of parting with their $ so I usually let them go too with a thank you - but I make them work for it LOL.   Some people will eventually leave without the thank you but they're seem to remain unsure/off balance when leaving!

I have been trying to deal with this not saying thank you for over a year and it's still so awkward for me.  You offered some great suggestions!


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