Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

6 Pet Peeves Artists & Crafters Have When Selling at Shows

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As an artist or crafter, you’ve put a lot of effort into making certain that you are prepared for the shows you attend. However, dealing with other vendors and even your potential customers can cause a lot of frustration once you're there. Make sure you're prepared mentally by checking out our list of five things at fairs that drive artists and crafters crazy:


Fairs, shows, and festivals are intended to be a gathering place where you can meet new people, network, sell your goods, and just have fun. Often you see many of the same vendors from one fair to the next. With that being said, some vendors at fairs just don’t know how much talking is too much.

Most of the time you’ve gone through an application process and paid to be there, so you want to be sure you make the most of the opportunity. However, it’s frustrating when there is a “chatty kathy” who sells homemade honey at the booth next to you and she keeps distracting you. Trying to politely excuse yourself so you can engage a potential customer before they move past your booth can be a struggle.


This might be one of the worst things about selling at a fair. For some reason people think that just because you’re in a temporary location instead of a brick-and-mortar store that they should get a discount.

outdoor fair

After putting in hours making a quality product, designing your booth, and getting ready for the show, it’s quite offensive when people come to your booth and expect you to drop your price. Odds are you’ve put a lot of thought into your pricing. You may think to yourself, “how would you like it if I asked you to lower your salary or pay for your job?”


You know this type of shopper like the back of your hand. They are the ones who come in and start to check the price tags on everything, or worse, bombard you with questions about how much things cost. They always seem to think that your competitively priced products are way too expensive, and they let you know it with a big sigh. Or they scoff, exclaiming that, “It costs what?! I could get it cheaper at Walmart.”

It makes you feel like saying: “No, my unique handmade items are higher quality and therefore a little more expensive than any mass produced “Walmart fall apart” product. Second, if you don’t like the price, feel free to move along.” It's no real loss to you since shoppers like these clearly don’t appreciate the time, effort, and quality materials that go into the making of your products.


When customers engage with your products, you get excited, but the same can’t be said when their children run rampant in your booth. A child has the uncanny ability to turn everything you’ve worked so hard to create into a pile of rubble.

Is it really too much to ask for a parent to monitor their children? If they are not up to the task of watching their child and shopping at the same time, perhaps it would be best for them to find a babysitter before the show or at least bring backup to help while they shop.


While it’s true that there are many fascinating things that are created and brought to art shows and craft fairs, some people cross the line from appreciation to just plain rude. Many times this happens when someone brings a camera or pulls out their phone and just starts snapping photos.

Sure, you understand that sometimes people want input from their friends or family before they buy, but that’s not what these people are doing. These picture takers are the ones who are only there to take a massive amount of pictures and post of your work on social media or to copy your ideas for their own gain. Again, move along people.


If you’re like most artists and crafters, you probably showcase your work and engage with your customers on social media. While this has the potential to drive your business and increase sales, it has also created the “craft/art show groupie.”

This is a tricky group of people. They act like (and sometimes even make you think that) they are real customers. They explain how they are your most loyal of followers on your social media or website and that they are excited to see you there. They may even engage you in the sales process by asking you about the items in your booth and telling you how great each item is. But, in the end, they lose interest and never purchase.


It is true that art and craft fairs and festivals should be enjoyed. However, as an artist or crafter who vends at these events, it would be nice if you could just focus your attention on those who are genuinely interested in it and serious about buying. What are some of the biggest pet peeves you've experienced while selling at a festival? Share them with us in the comments!

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Comment by Christine Jarvis yesterday

#1)  My #1 complaint is jury fees!  If an art festival cannot afford to take the time to pre-view an application, than they should not be holding the festival.   All the seller fees for the show should be part of the booth or space fee.  Otherwise the show becomes for the rich or lucky and not necessarily the skilled.  Too often the same exact sellers and items are at each show.  

#2)  Disorganization at set up.  I have been part of shows at parks where I am given a specific set up space and then they add other people in at last second.  The last second seller then blocks my booth or sets up a route that diverts people away from my booth.  

#3)  Charging for parking.  Too often I hear this comment by buyers for days after a show.  They resent paying for parking AND entrance to a show.  Wrap the parking cost into the entrance fee.  

Comment by Richard L. Sherer yesterday
  1. Not necessarily neighbors but families holding their reunion in front of my booth blocking or diverting traffic away. Good old boy realtors who haven’t seen each other for a while holding court in my booth. “Hey guys, I’m running a business here and folks can’t see my stuff”. Nice, apologetic, sometimes people just don’t realize they are being rude or inconsiderate.
  2. I don’t mind people who want to bargain, but my standard reply is “I cant discuss any sort of discount or deal on sales less than $500”. The pretty much settles it or we do a deal.
  3. Price complainers: Standard reply: “Not everyone can afford my work”.
  4. Kids: I like kids and show them leathers from different critters and ask about their art at school.
  5. I don’t mind picture takers as most leatherworkers at shows could not duplicate my work. I steer them to my web site where they can buy my ‘how to” articles. People, especially foreign and eastern tourists like to take pictures of toddlers in saddles, sometimes with me. It’s fun.
  6. Umbrellas: afternoon thunderstorms are a fact of life at Colorado resort area shows in the mountains. I have to be vigilant so people do not come into booth with dripping water which can spot stain leather.
  7. Pets: I will visit pets other artist bring to shows because I mis mine. Dogs tend to approach me for attention. They are conversation starters with owners who I can direct to my collars and leashes.
Comment by Cindy Welch on Sunday

Mona, we’ve had pets over the years too ... a dog and some cats.  I also love animals but not at shows.  I am concerned with dogs leaving liquid deposits on products, floor length table covers, or our tent sides.

One other issue with dogs.  I have personally known people who acquired a “service dog” (for a visually impaired person) that was not really a trained and qualified service dog.  They got it through a breeder of a well know line of dogs.  Then they worked with a local trainer.  It was more obedience training than training to assist a person with a disability.  Then the dog is brought out in the public with a vest and harness as if it’s been appropriately trained.  I have also seen “comfort animals”(dogs) that were allowed to roam free in a brick and mortar store.  It was a very *discomforting* situation to me.  There was no control on the owner’s part (who was an employee) to protect customers in the store.

Why do I bring this up?  It seems that if the owners of these dogs act this way in traditional social and business settings, they will do it at shows.  We are there to conduct business obit in a sense have no protection from untrained or poorly trained animals who masquerade as service or comfort animals.  I am not blaming the animals but I do blame the humans who want the service animals without the responsibility of proper training for the dog and the disabled person.

So when an animal shows up in your booth in a vest/harness, don’t assume it’s a property trained service animal.

Comment by Mona Martin on Saturday

Pet Peeve #7 but right up there with unruly children and people who eat messy things in your booth is people bringing their dogs. I love animals and have had several beloved dogs over the years. An Art Festival is no place for them. At the outdoor shows, I'm always concerned that some dog is going to be an art critic and lift his leg on one of my paintings or on the corner of my booth.

Comment by Kaytee Sumida on Friday

For the #2/#3 "problems", I've offered "wholesale"; 40% discount if they are a legit business which sells such items (and have the resale certificate AND business license to prove it), plus meet a minimum order requirement. Only have had one "sort of" taker for the "deal"-- he was a legit business, selling such items, but couldn't afford the min at the time; didn't charge him tax (took down tax ID info), and gave him a smaller discount.

Comment by alicia buckler-white on Thursday

I had new and pristine pro panels with tables against them forming a U-shaped display area for my jewelry at an indoor show when I noticed the tables on one side shaking.  I looked over and saw that the panels on that side were pushing the tables because there were more than twenty hooks from wire clothes hangers protruding over the top, and when my neighbor pulled down one of her items, the hooks were catching on my panels.  I had not noticed her placing them there because I was engaged with a customer as soon as the show opened.  When I politely asked her to not use my panels for her clothes rack, she loudly and indignantly informed me that all of her items were within her booth and she had no other way to display them.  I did not want to start a scene and as I was solo in the booth I couldn't leave to find an organizer.  Several of my panels still have roughed up carpeting along the top edge, but few customers would notice.  However, I have specifically requested not having a booth next to her again at that show. 

I also politely let organizers know that I am multi-chemically sensitive and cannot be next to anyone selling highly scented items after one show where my eyes swelled.  I have never had a problem since.  Most organizers honor simple requests if they know about them well in advance.  

Comment by Cindy Welch on Thursday

I remember a time a lady was selling children’s clothing in a booth next to mine.  One of her racks at the front of her booth extended to the edge of mine, in such a way that some customers thought it was my merch.  (I do not sell ANY clothing in my booth.). More then once I had to refer them to the seller next door.

When we were still new to doing doing shows, we had not yet come up with any sort of wall or pipe/drape system.  We were in a show and our neighbor did not have a wall system either.  Customers would stand in my booth ... shopping one of his tables that was adjacent to one of mine.  They even asked me questions about HIS products on the table.  Quite curtly I said. Ma’am/sir, you’ll have to ask the gentleman who is selling those items.”  Before we got home from that show we said. “Never again!”  We ordered drapes and bought pipe to make a wall system.

Comment by Larry Schneider on Thursday

Although the six things are annoying, they are not frequent happenings. I can live with them.    Common things that I hate are neighbors extending beyond there booth with....... noise from their radios, smoke from there cigarettes', blockage of my booth with their hanging clothes or baskets of flowers,  blockage of my booth with groups of their friends and relatives,  yapping of a little dog,  sounds from there lousy flute music tapes there selling, there little noisy electric generator, and there constant bickering and arguing.  I wish they would get a job somewhere.

Comment by Terri Cheatham on Thursday

It was drizzling at my last show, and a woman stood inside my booth and had a long and lengthy conversation on her phone without so much as acknowledging me!  I wanted to physically throw her out but, of course I didn’t.  Then when she was finished, she walked away, still without acknowledging me or even saying “thanks” for using my space.  It’s unbelievable how rude some people can be...

Comment by cindy devine on Thursday

Yes!  Can I hang this in my booth?!

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