Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lessons In Buying Handmade

I've been thinking about compiling a list for quite a while for customers who go to craft shows or to festivals about some rules for buying handmade directly from the manufacturer.  I like to call crafters manufacturers because that is what we are.  Quite a few of the crafters at shows are their own boss.  They manufacture and market their own product in many ways, either at shows, online or selling to stores.  They are the creator from the birth of the concept, through production, marketing, sales, customer service and yes, sometimes even returns.  Some of us work 16 hour days producing and marketing our own product.  Most of us don't necessarily do it for the money (even though money doesn't hurt).  Most of us do it for the love of our craft.  It's our passion.  It makes our world go round.  We do it because we love to create!!
We have probably done over a hundred shows since we have started our little business and have come in contact with thousands of people.  We have talked to hundreds of other manufacturers and have found several "pet peeves" that almost all of us have in common.  This is a list of how you should treat a crafter at a show (even if you're not interested in their product).
  1. When a crafter says "hi", say "hi" back.  We're friendly and sometimes bored at shows.  We don't necessarily want to sell you something.
  2. Look us in the eye when we say "hi".  We don't have the plague.
  3. When we say "hi" don't say "I'm just looking".  Good...because we said "hi", not "Are you going to buy something?".
  4. Ask us how we make stuff and what our inspiration is.  We love telling people about what we do.
  5. We make what we make because we love it.  PLEASE don't scoff at it.  It's hard putting your heart on the line and we're not a fortune 500 company who's publicly traded. We have feelings.
  6. Don't say "I can do that".  We know you can.  BUT.... are you really going to take the time to learn to do it right, spend money on displays, spend $100's of dollar on materials & show costs and get rejected by tons of customers?  I don't think so.
  7. We really DON'T want to hear how you just went to a big box store and just spent $100 on something similar. 
  8. We really DON'T want to hear how the local dollar store has something similar for $2.00.  HELLO!!  It was made in China!!  Our materials cost more than that.
  9. Don't complain about our prices.  We pay expensive table costs and insurance and not to mention we have families to feed and bills to pay.
  10. Did I mention don't tell us "I can make that" or "It costs THAT much?! or "I just bought a ton of that at Wal-Mart"?  Well....I know I already said those but I just thought I'd mention it again.
So that is a little list to help you when buying at craft shows.  Sometimes we're like little kids.  We love praise and to have our egos stroked.  Buying from the person who makes the item that you bought is a completely different entity that buying from a chain store.  It's more personal, and we expect to be treated how we treat you.  :)