Metro-East Living

How customers should treat craft fair vendors

File photo of Debby Pointon and Lynn Breeze at the 27th Annual Art and Craft Fair at O'Fallon High School.
File photo of Debby Pointon and Lynn Breeze at the 27th Annual Art and Craft Fair at O'Fallon High School.

Q: My girlfriend makes knitted shawls and ponchos. She does a lot of art shows, craft shows and boutique events. I help her in her booth sometimes and I can’t believe how people treat her products. For example, they’ll often bring a drink inside her booth and either set it down in between her products where it could easily be spilled or they’ll keep the drink in one hand and hold it over the products while they pick up something with the other hand and try to hold it up to their body to see what it looks like. Or they are eating a gooey cookie, don’t wipe their fingers and start handling everything. Many have little children with them and kids will be kids. They like to touch things especially when Mommy says, “Don’t touch.” And, of course, Mommy doesn’t watch them so they touch and pull and want to try on something ten sizes too big for them.

Pictures are another issue. Some people will take a picture of one of the products without asking, or better yet, two girlfriends grab two shawls and put them on, turn and then the third member of the party take a picture of them to “post on Facebook,” giggling all the time. They take off the shawls, pitch them back on the table and walk away. I think other people have experienced that with some of their products, too. We have a lot of shows to go before Christmas so I was wondering if you would please provide some “do’s and don’ts” to bring some awareness to those who go to these events.

A: Yes, it is unfortunate that some people show such little respect to people who work so hard creating and making their products to sell at these events. Hopefully, some of these “good manners” reminders for customers will bring awareness to the problem and make the event more enjoyable for everyone.

▪ Do not bring a beverage of any kind into a vendor’s booth area. Finish the beverage before entering the entire vendor area altogether. Never set a beverage anywhere on a vendor’s table.

▪ Do not eat food of any kind in a vendor’s area.

▪ Check to see if the facility hosting the event has a specific area identified for consuming beverages and foods. Remain in that designated food area until you finish and discard your cups, plates and napkins into the proper trash receptacles provided.

▪ Do not leave trash of any kind on a vendor’s table.

▪ If the vendor has a product that can be tried on, ask permission first and ask for assistance as necessary.

▪ Do not take pictures of any vendor’s product without asking permission first. If permission is granted, do not post on Facebook or Instagram or any other public technology media without also asking permission.

▪ If you bring small children with you, provide them with instructions on how to behave while at the event. Be firm in telling them not to touch items in vendors’ booths. Remind them not to remove any product from the booth area. Do not allow them to have food or beverages while in the booth areas. Do not allow them to chew gum. Do not allow them to run in or around the booth areas. Hold their hand to keep them close to you.

▪ Be kind and considerate of those customers in wheelchairs who attend these events. Give them plenty of space to maneuver and allow them to get close enough to the booths to view the various products.

▪ Because of crowds and space limitations, some event organizers do not allow strollers. If strollers are permitted, and you bring one, be very careful not to bump the stroller into other people. Do not place the stroller in a position that blocks other potential customers from viewing the vendors’ products.

▪ Remember that not all vendors accept credit cards; therefore, be sure to bring cash in order to make purchases. Personal checks are also not always accepted.

▪ Do not demean a vendor by attempting to haggle with them regarding the price of an item you wish to purchase.

▪ There is often a crowd of potential customers in a vendor’s booth area. Be polite and patient and wait your turn for assistance.

▪ Ask permission to try on a product before doing so. Ask for assistance rather than attempting to try on something with one hand.

▪ Do not attempt to step in front of someone who is already in line to view a vendor’s products or make a purchase.

▪ Females should be careful to control their purse and other packages while in a vendor’s booth area so as not to carelessly break an item or cause it to fall on the floor and get soiled.

▪ If you pick up a vendor’s product to examine it, and decide not to purchase it, return it to the spot from which it came, or hand it to the booth attendant to replace it for you. Thank them for showing it to you.

▪ If you want to place an order with a vendor for a custom-made item, be prepared to pay for the item, or a portion thereof as stipulated by the vendor, at the time you place the order.

▪ It’s great if you run into other friends while at a vending event, but do not block a vendor’s booth while carrying on an extended conversation.

▪ If you are attending an event where food and beverage samples are offered, do not go through the same line for the same sample more than once. Place empty sample cups, plates, etc, in the appropriate trash receptacles. Do not throw trash on the floor or the ground.

▪ If you are looking at a vendor’s products and they do not interest you, or you feel they are not constructed as well as you would hope, or are a color not of your choosing, etc., do not make unkind remarks. Simply leave the booth and move on to the next.

▪ If it is necessary to carry a wet umbrella inside to the event, be careful not to allow it to touch vendor’s products.

▪ If you come into an event near or at closing time, do not expect vendors to keep their booths open for you to look at their products. Closing time for a vending event is equivalent to the closing time at a department store. Be considerate of the vendors who are often required to pack and remove their items within a certain amount of time following the closing of the event.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to