Art Fair Insiders

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





OK.  I'm trying to stay 'in the zone' of positive thoughts, positive vibes and auroas.  And people -love the jewelry and the glass.  Lots of compliments.  Sometimes identifying which piece should go to whom.  Thanking both of us for making the jewelry and glass.  Ooos and ahhhs. 

And then they say: 

   Do you have a card (all over the table - cards and postcards).

   Do you have a website (yes but pricing is higher) and I think that the website holds us back at shows because most people - 99.99% do not contact us after shows.

  Will you be showing anywhere else?  (If I say yes, will you promise to buy there?  And what's wrong with buying it at this show).  If I say yes - and tell them, they walk along.  If I say no this is it for this city -- or 'we'll be in  atlanta (not chicago) -- they walk away.  I sometimes think they ask the question and don't listen tot he answer.

    So, does anyone have any suggestions on closing a sale?  Sometimes I ask people - which design speaks to them.  or I see that they keep on going back to a particular design and I suggest that's the piece that is pulling at them ... it works sometimes and not others.

   I'm all ears -- and would love to hear from people before show opens tomorrow -- but even after that, suggestions would be valued.

Thanks in advance -

Views: 1843

Comment by Bev Gallerani on July 22, 2012 at 7:50am

I can't tell you how many times I've experienced this, too.  Wouldn't it be fabulous if we could come up with the answer?  All I can say is that it's not you ... it's not that you have a card and a website and it's not that you're doing another show in the same area next month or anything else pertaining to *you* that keeps people from buying.  It's the elusive customer.  I try to keep in mind that there are probably lots of wonderful things they're seeing at the show and they can't buy them all.  The gesture of asking where they can see your work again is an indication that they really like your work.  Your customer is the one who can't get a particular piece out of their head once they leave your booth.  That's the value of a multi-day show.  After a night of tossing and turning, they might return and buy.  Corny as it sounds, the right piece has to be seen by the right customer for the sale to happen.

Comment by Katherine Graham Sarlson on July 22, 2012 at 8:20am

Patti Stern has the best answer ever.  Hope I don't mangle it (Patti step in and correct me if I wrecked it). When asked if she had a website, she responded "Yes," 

How about another point in the arsenal: "I appear at very limited shows and cannot guarantee that what you see will be there. I would love for you to buy it now."


Comment by Colin Murray on July 22, 2012 at 9:05am

I can totally relate Deborah. A couple ideas that have helped me a little. (1) Once they identify a piece that "speaks to them", get it in their hands. Take it out of the case or off the wall and hand it directly to them. Don't ask, just do it. This activates a bonding between the customer and the piece of art. I find it works about 30% of the time. Don't over use the technique, during the day. And I only do it when someone has spent a few minutes looking at your art and then says something positive. Once its in their hands, ask them where they would use the piece. (In my case: Which room in the house would this go?) It gets them to visualize ownership of the piece. (2) If that doesn't work, and they start to leave the booth, I offer a list of other shows that I will be attending. Or if it is the last show of the year, in that area, I point that fact out. Its not as effective, but sometimes the next show in the area, produces a sale. (3) One of the  best piece of advise I was given, when we first started shows is ... No matter what happens: Keep smiling. I have told myself that many, many times during shows. (Yesterday, I had a 3 year old in my booth with his mother. He was eating ice cream, which was all over his hands. He was putting his hands all over the glass frames. I wanted to slap his hands, but I smiled and got out the window cleaner. :)

Comment by Linnea Lahlum on July 22, 2012 at 12:40pm

I hear this all the time, “Do you have a card”, “do you have a website”. I think we all do. I’ve heard it for 22 years. I have come to the conclusion that it does NOT mean that they “do want to buy, just not now”. They have come into the booth, admired your work, and feel they need to thank you in some way. In some way they feel that asking for the card or website is a way of thanking you for providing the entertainment.


I no longer use cards. I hand the person a show list, and take the time to point out when I will be in their area again. If I won’t be, I point that out too. But not one time in 100 has that led to the person deciding to buy now.


I don’t have a website either. I am not going to make it easy for them to defer a purchase, then forget about me. I may tell them that my focus is on making the artwork, not maintaining a website.


Sometimes I’ll hear, “I hope you will be here next year.” I have to say (in a tone of sad regret, not angry), “Unless sales pick up drastically, I won’t be.”

Comment by karen cooper on July 22, 2012 at 1:29pm

-a comment in response to Colin and his episode with a three year old ice cream terror:  yes, smile.  Smile, and tell the mother the child needs to stop that.  Say it with a pleasant face, polite words AND a very firm tone of voice, that leaves no doubt of your sincerity.  There's always an underlying concern that you'll scare away a customer BUT if the person was seriously in the market to buy you work, would they be letting their child smear ice cream over it?  Educate them of the value of your work, so they learn it's NOT there to be trashed, but respected. 

Comment by Alison Thomas on July 22, 2012 at 1:43pm

On July 4th I got a call from someone in Oklahoma who had seen me at a show and picked up a card.  That one sale made me enough money to pay for all the cards I have ever handed out.  And it is not the only one that I have gotten months, even years, after the fact.  Sure there are people who pick up a card from every booth and the children love to collect them but they're cheap.  I guess I sell to people the way I like to be sold to.  I don't like to be pushed.  If I say I want to think about it or talk it over with my husband I mean it.  Anything you say after that other than to hand me a card and say "I hope you'll be back" is going to lose you a sale forever.  

Comment by Annette Piper on July 22, 2012 at 8:52pm

As Linnea indicated - I've seen and heard it all too - they like your work and a way of appreciating it is to take a card instead of buying.  Same as giving you lots of compliments to which you usually, automatically, say thankyou.  The deal is now done, you have accepted their compliment with your thanks and they can leave happy. 

I actually try NOT to say thank you unless they make a purchase.   I will say things like "I certainly do have fun making all of these", or "I do enjoy making them" or similar.   They will often look a little puzzled and then give another compliment -trying to get you to say thank you and let them off the hook.  Surprisingly, this can occasionally (not often though) lead to small sale, as they DO like your work and they want your approval of this appreciation! 

I do have cards available and most people take one without asking.  Occasionally they come back at a future show.  If people ask if I have a website I say yes, adding that not everything is on the site.   If asked if I'll be at a show in the near future I tell the truth (if I know) and sometimes they do show up to see what new pieces I have.  Eventually they buy, they just need to either see the piece they can't resists, turn up with a friend who talks them into it, or just give in to their impulses (finally!). 

However some people you're NEVER going to sell to, regardless of what you say, how many times you give them exactly what they're after, as they always find an excuse.   Just breathe through it and try not to take it too much to heart!

I would recommend the Bruce Baker CD 'dynamic sales and customer service techniques for artists and crafters'.   It gives lots of great ideas - that I must listen to again before my show season starts up again!

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on July 23, 2012 at 9:54am

I can surely relate to this, Deborah.  I think that we all can.  Lots of times I think that the person asking all of the questions is looking for an excuse NOT to buy.  I've decided that sometimes there's nothing you can say that will make the difference, so I just keep smiling, and hoping and occasionally, the sale is made.  I agree with Colin, that touching the piece is a huge step on the sale trail.  Trying something on is the next step.  Even so, sometimes the sale just doesn't come.  It isn't you, as has been said before.  I have had people come back and comment on how nice we are in my booth as they purchase.  Genuine niceness works.  Hope that the show was successful for you.

Comment by Alison Supple on July 23, 2012 at 10:05am

Such great responses. To add to your bag of ideas....

I have been known to give out a playing card when asked "do  you have a card?" . I have also given out "Get out of booth free" cards. At first it was out of frustration but after awhile, i found my customers laughed and often came back the following year to see what I was going to give out.  I have also tried to think of it as if I was selling shoes at a shoe store. ( would they compliment me on the shoes in the store?) 

We sort of get sucked into "letting the customers off the hook" with a compliment instead of a purchase.

I feel your pain here Deborah. I know we all do. When all else has failed, and i have been doing this for 30 years now, I have down right asked them for the sale by saying....." Which one can I wrap for you?"......."how would you like to purchase that?"....." I take credit cards"......" by the way, your husband called ahead to say it was okay to buy some earrings". 

I know a few of these sound pushy, and I am not a pushy person, BUT.........

I too would recommend Bruce Baker or some kind of Gorilla Sales tape. 

And btw, your smile is wonderful!!!

Comment by Susan J. Cole on July 23, 2012 at 10:07am

I have been using a technique that I picked up from a neighbor at an art show.  I print up an "I'll be Back" certificate, with my booth number and the dates of the show.  It offers a 10% discount if the customer comes back during the show and makes a purchase.  I only give it to those who I feel are "on the edge" about buying a piece of jewelry, but say they'll be back.  I have had an average of 4 customers per show who actually come back and make that purchase and oftentimes, more. 


You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Want to sell more online? Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the 2018 Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2020   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service