Holiday Fair Tips and Etiquette – Part One

Candle Moments Vendor

PART ONE – For customers and event organizers.

One of our favorite activities since starting Candle Moments is attending holiday fairs and vendor shows. It’s our opportunity to engage with customers, do informal tests of the appeal of our products, and to generally socialize with people of the community. Throughout our experience at shows, we’ve learned a few tips and encountered a few breaches of etiquette that will help you, as either a vendor, an organizer, or an attendee, gain the most value from your time.

For Customers Attending Holiday Fairs

  1. Bring cash with you – preferably, smaller bills. While in this day and age, many vendors will accept credit cards at shows (we do), cash will often give you greater discounts. For example, when we accept cash at shows, we will include tax in our base price, so to the customers, it feels like you are getting a tax discount.
  2. Ask before handling goods. Most of the time, vendors will be happy to let you touch and feel their products, but sometimes, there are certain items that have a sampler. For example, we once had a customer open one of our sealed body scrubs. While we certainly are happy to let you sample our scrubs, that item was now no longer hygienic and we had to toss it aside both losing money on the item and creating an awkward situation.
  3. It’s okay to ask for a receipt. It’s always important to keep track of your purchases, and asking for a receipt can protect you if you potentially need to contact the vendor about your purchase.
  4. Arrive early! You are most likely to get the best customer service and have the most options if you are one of the early birds. Vendors are freshly set up, and you can avoid the mass of people that will always arrive late.
  5. Be polite, please. This holds especially true if you are visiting a set-up with hand-crafted goods. People who hand-make items put at a lot of time and effort into their items, it’s rude to make comments such as “Wow, that’s expensive!” or “I can make that myself!” If it’s too expensive for your taste, simply move on, and if you can make it yourself, you can surely get your own table next year.
  6. Ask questions and engage with the vendor. We don’t expect you to make a purchase simply because you’re curious. We’re happy to just talk and get to know you.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for fair specials, but be mindful of haggling. Most vendors will offer specials for fairs, if it’s not clearly posted, go ahead and ask if there are any deals going on. But be cautious about haggling, not all fairs or events are geared towards that. The best guide is if it’s called, specifically, a flea market – vendors expect you to haggle at a flea market, at a regular holiday fair, not so much.
  8. Read the signage. A good vendor will have signs posted offering various information. Read away! Ask for a brochure or a business card.

For Event Organizers

  1. Plan your event early! Give customers and vendors plenty of notice so everyone has time to plan and attend. Make it easy for vendors to contact you about joining your event. If you have a policy about squatter vendors, make sure squatters and new vendors are aware.
  2. Please notify vendors whether or not they have been accepted in a timely manner. Time is money for most of us, and if there is no room for us, give us the opportunity to book a different event.
  3. Advertise your event. It’s so easy to advertise for free! Make a Facebook event, post it on all other forms of social media, and you can usually announce it in the local paper cheaply or free. There is nothing worse than having an event that no one shows up to. You’re not likely to get vendors to re-sign the next year if it wasn’t worth their time.
  4. Introduce yourself to each vendor. Ideally, a vendor will come up and introduce him/herself, but in the circumstance that there is a limited amount of time for set-up, make your efforts to introduce yourself.
  5. Make yourself available before and during the show. You can simply offer your cell phone number, but be available to deal with any situations.
  6. Make clear signage. If you will have vendors and activities in different parts of the area, make it clear for customers to navigate their way around. The same for vendors; make it clear where they should be set up.
  7. Be clear about expectations. If you expect vendors to be set-up by a certain time, make that clear; if you don’t want them breaking down until a certain time, make that clear, as well.
  8. Have a Plan B. If your event is outside, plan a rain-date in advance. Offer alternative solutions for varied circumstances.
  9. Plan out the floor appropriately. If you have more than one vendor of the same type of product, keep them far and away from one another. Good etiquette also suggests you inform the vendors that there will be more than one.
  10. Follow-up after the event with vendors. Invite them to make comments and suggestions for the next event. If people feel like you are giving them the opportunity to offer input, it leaves the impression that you care about their success, and that word will pass around.

I (Kristen) spent four years as an event-planner, and I am also a certified Wedding Planner. If you would like more detailed tips, or if you have specific questions about planning, please feel free to contact me directly or comment below.

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