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How to Handle Difficult Customers

Lesson 31 from: Secrets of Selling at Craft Fairs: How to Get In, Make Sales, and Grow Your Business

Nicole Stevenson

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Lesson Info

31. How to Handle Difficult Customers


Class Trailer



Craft Shows Should be a Part of Your Business


Introduction: How to Have a Successful Craft Show Experience


Why You Should Be Doing Craft Shows


Is Your Business Ready for a Craft Show?


Now is the Time for Craft Shows


Get Your Product Ready


Branding Your Business


Lesson Info

How to Handle Difficult Customers

So let's talk about how to handle difficult customers. Let's talk about the top five difficult craft show customers that's actually, my friend angel he's, not a difficult craft show customer. I just needed a picture for that. He looked like a sassy pants, so I thought I would. I thought I would put him on there. The first one is the pick up artist I for some reason, it seems like I'm the only one that's ever encountered this. We talked about this yesterday, but you have yeah, so it's it's it's cool if you're looking, you know, and if you're looking for some action from somebody that's totally into craft show people, but if you're not, then then it's not cool. So usually pretty easy to get out of you just casually mention your partner. Oh, it's so funny. My husband and I just had chicken last night for dinner or whatever it is that you can casually mention. I don't know why chicken? How chicken would come into the conversation yeah, lisa will have to buy stuff, man. Sometimes you said t...

hat if you're if you're ready to put up with it and yeah, and I can see I can see you for some reason, like you seem like the kind of girl that like I don't know you've got that like long hair and you're kind of like earthy like maybe it's just guys that I know but I feel like they'd be all like my brother I don't think he's washing right now but I'll be all over you you know and you will be really hard to get him out of your movie but believe you me he would be buying stuff it is hard to get them out of my booth and yes, they do buy stuff and the names you go yeah so but they're also my repeat customers there also you know he's have to be very clear and honest you're so funny and hysterical and I'm so taken would you like another belt? Yeah, yeah I like that. Yeah so that's that one we have the bargainer way all oh gosh we all just collectively we're like the world order um yeah, I I didn't actually want to put any pictures of people here, so I made these little illustrations for this one so I wanted to talk about my brother again all of a sudden so my brother is a bargain er um he will come to our shows and walk up to a vendor's booth in the leg oh man, this is this is really awesome really I totally love this, um you think I could get this for twenty? My sister actually is the one that puts the show on, and I'm just like, my man, now you're making me look bad, so but my brother has what? What, you know, a lot of people have, which is what I call garage sale mentality, you know, we're used to either shopping in a brick and mortar store, like a department store or one of those stores we closed our eyes and imagined ourselves in that smells good is, like, sparsely decorated and, like, the sales person, you just want to be them, and then when we're not there, we're the garage, so we're at a flea market, you know, we're at a place where we're bargaining so it's, you know, educating that customer, the you're not had a garage sale, and part of that education is how you present yourself remember when we talked about perceived value so that's one way to start to start that education without saying a word, uh, when having your products clearly priced, you know, there's that that will that will say it, I also so I used to give discounts, like somebody would be in oh, you know, I really can't afford forty but I really like this shirt can I get for thirty five? Okay, you know, I'm going to sell a shirt I really you know, when you're desperate you're like great, you know? But my dad was the one who told me why are you why are you discounting that it's devaluing its devaluing your product? You know, if you do it for one person, you have to do it for everyone. One, two you don't know who's in your booth and it's making it seem like your thing is it isn't worth what you were charging when it isthe so what I instated instead was having multiple multiple item discounts, so my shirts would be forty, forty dollars each or knowing there were twenty five dollars each or two for forty five so when somebody asks like, oh, can I get this for thirty five? Actually, I have a deal to for forty five so and a lot of times people shop it crashes with a friend, so they'd both be looking because people tend to hang out with people that like the same stuff that they dio so then their friend would end up buying a shirt that was like that haven't a lot a lot a lot when then educating them, which we've talked about a lot educating them about handmade doing what lisa did about her process, having pictures of the steps like you're gonna have in your booth you guys excited to talk about this one? So this is the one that we've all encountered so many times that I could do that or right? Uh, so explaining explaining your process is one thing that you can d'oh, which we talk we talk here about that. I always had a lot of a lot of I can do that because my stuff really looked handmade. It was catholic. It was applicator, a lot of applicator work. Um, this is this is so cute. Uh, you know what? I have a sewing machine. We could totally do something like this. Look, and then they start examining it. Look, she sos on with a zig zag there? I think she's using like, a number five stitch with I think, doing a, uh all the while, I'm like, right here standing there. So eventually I started making kids so not kids for the shirts that I made, but they were like applicator kits so you can grab this kid and just applicator any shirt that you want, people aren't going to actually do do that. You know, they just want to act like fate act like they can and that they could if they were going to do it great, and then I have had other people like they're actually going to start a business doing that and they will start to ask me questions in the booth. How did you get started? Like where do you get these playing shirts that you d'oh? So I'm just like I I order them from american apparel and then I applicator them and then I saw them you know, it's really not that hard. You should you should do it. Good luck. You know, good luck like, obviously this isn't that easier. We wouldn't all be here educating ourselves, you know, there wouldn't be more for us to learn after doing over fifty craft shows last year. You know, um and the other thing like when I talk about explain your process, I think what I would do is say oh, and like, go into everything that it takes to do it first I started my sketchbook coming up with an idea I get that inspiration that I draw the picture and then what I do is I create a screen so in order to create a screen, you need to take emotion, put it on your screen and then you make a transparency and, like, explain everything way too much like, oh, you want to know how I do is I want to tell you every detail uh, we all love this person, right, the chatty time waster such over sharer oh, my gosh this necklace is so cute it totally reminds me of my dog's collar he just had surgery yesterday I've had my dog for ten years and when I first got him he had a little little like node right here and then I was thinking about taking him in but somebody said not to so that I had it looked at and they said it was fine but then last week he was acting funny so I took him in and he got surgery and now he has a oh my gosh like I don't care I don't even know your dog like what do you know where you guys like so just like when is she going to end this dog story right? Okay, so if you want me to end the dog story then you just start talking about your dog to me right? You just give them a taste of your of their own medicine like you tell me all about your dog oh that's so funny my dog has surgery last week and let me tell you all about my dog surgery or you just start working you know, I'm really sorry but I'm actually working right now on and I have a lot and I have a lot to dio you walk over to another customer you excuse yourself to the restroom I mean was somebody like that you do whatever you can to get out of there I won't tell you some of my other tricks because yeah okay the root of the root vendor okay this last one was a surprise not a customer to fellow vendor so the rude vendor is the thing I get the most often this space you know your mannequin is blocking my shelf well if you're in your space it shouldn't be a problem so you want to try to handle it yourself before going to producers it's kind of like when you fight with your brother your sister you guys try to solve it but for going mom dad mom dad so um and I like to try to make friends with my neighbors right when I get there remember in our packing kit we've got snacks we've got water hey I just want to let you know I brought extra water today you know if you need a water I'll let me know oh I notice you don't have anybody with you today I I have my assistant with me if you need a bathroom break or you you know when we get lunch we can grab you lunch you know you just make that friend right off the bat you've got some beer your booth offer them a beer if you're allowed to drink in your at your booth but uh and then just stay your space you know don't be the encroach our nobody can tell you there you're in their space if you're not and then bring your measuring tape remember I had that have definitely had had people I've needed to break that out before you know yeah what do you do when someone actually is in near space when somebody is in your space yeah I had a show where the two people next to me built these huge like wooden things like on either side of me and it literally shrunk my booth so so I wasn't sure why they were in your space at an hour at that point you need to go to the producers like it was something like if it's something like you know a little mannequin or something that they can scoot that they could scoot over that you feel is blocking the view you can ask them like hey you know I I love your mannequin here's a water I love your back I love your mana can I love your stuff but I'm just like I'm I had my booth set up in my mind set up like this and I feel like your mannequins kind of blocking like this key part of my book that I really want people to see when they walk by you know if it's something like that where they can't just like move their mannequin over that's when you need to go to the producers and the producers should have your back and if it's something where they can't you know adjust their space you know, I think if I were in that position what I would say is like, hey, you've encroached onto this vendor space next to seat next to you you need to either move it back or you need to pay for her booth believe me, they'll be moving that back a real fast before paying for another booth so but that is definitely a situation where you need to go to the producers you know, that's not something that you should handle on your own and maybe taking these questions a little further we have someone from online wondering if people are so standing and talking in front of your tent kind of waning and all stickles should you ask them to leave or kind of hope that they walk away what are good ways to ask him to step aside? I just start doing stuff in their area so they're standing there I just say, oh excusing it I have to I have to adjust this here, you know, and I just I just kind of pushed them out push them out of your area you take up that space um yeah, that actually happened opened at the patchwork show and I had like, the tiniest little display oh yeah and somebody was standing infront talking and I just went over and started talking to them and then they placed in order the following monday so I was like, well, see, there you have it helps not to be super room to this yeah yeah and it's never I mean, we never want to be rude to anyone well, maybe like the chatty time waster but you don't want to be straight up route you want to what do they say kill him with kindness? You want to start out that way? All of these kind of guerilla tactics are last resorts you try the gentle stuff first you try to ease yourself out gracefully and then you move on then you go to the producer then you do this, stacey but people honestly don't know that they're in the way so that's why it makes sense to come out and just start fixing stuff for started conversation because they don't they saw a friend oh, great and we're just gonna carry a conversation on in front of her booth for five tim and hit yeah, I even I mean, I find that because when I walk around the show and I'm talking I'm talking to vendors the vendor is there, I'm talking business with them sometimes I'm buying stuff, but and I'm and I'm standing here so I'll find myself when I first walked up staying there and say, oh sorry and then I stuff like this and I talked to them like that you know that is your that's your front door nobody going to get in your house? Uh okay are you guys ready to work? Uh yeah, so we're going to do some difficult customers so we're gonna do it the same way we did it last time you gonna pick pick a customer out of the jar or you can make your fears your own up I mean, I had my fight there maybe you've encountered another one that you want to throw in and the then we're going to utilize the points we covered and how to deal with them so we're gonna have camille is our vendor for the first round and then uh who wants to be a customer? I want a scoop my cats over ok, ok do you have one in mind? Er do you want to pick one out? No uh or you can pick it out and then not use it not even tell us if you're using it or not. Okay. Okay. Hello? Hi. How are you? I'm good you good? You don't have that much stuff. I thought you'd have more stuff out for what? You d'oh? Well, I do have a lot of things but my space is a little like left too big so I have like I'm packing like as much as I can and here is also the my line sheet so I feel like everything I have in all the colors wow, great. How can we not showing all the colors why unfortunately I don't have this pace but if there's one color you really like, I'm sure I have the caller here is like you I can show you like you're interested in something together you know, it's just kind of hanging over a little bit of kind of taking up a lot of space up here. You should put more stuff on to the table. Well, that's a good suggestion I might think about that. Yeah, thank you for sharing that with me. Looks like it's gonna fall off maybe you know, I don't look it is that the leather that I smell uh yeah, everything everything is really a fake no it's all real letter on and I'm working with a local producer and here is also the seven steps of how to make a belt. You know, I saw another belt person down there to use the same supplies. Uh, no, I don't know. Uh what what suppliers used but I can tell you about my supplier, which is awesome and go okay, okay, I feel like this is good hell, you could go on with you did a great job, you did a great job, so can anybody guess, uh, I guess guess what, kelly ways she way kind of took in a different direction that's why I was the rude vendor that was nearby. Yeah, I was kind of like not sure how to say that she's taken too much space and I don't like her space and and like like a lot of very thinking out my boo my area so you did a great job handling that angry angry job being so yeah, what happens are my last event they went teo actually, he was the boot next me and it was so slow it was the slowest day, but he just kept coming up behind me behind my table. So what we doing selling anything? Well, you see, I'm not selling anything next book next to me. Oh, just what he kept in normandy get to standing behind my table that gives you what you keep going behind the table can't come in front of the table but you just kept coming back and then he'd stand with me for a while then a customer would come up I'm like you're gonna leave you just stand there nice stuff, huh? I'm like, oh my god, it just gets so annoying I couldn't get rid of him so I was so I was I saw my friend nearby, my come rescue me like give me a look like come rescue me. You finally left, but I couldn't get him to leave and a wedding. Kelly, how can we get a root vendor that's doing that annoyingly it's annoying suggest that they go back to their own booth. There's no action either. We're all bored kind of standing because there's not a lot of traffic. So it's, like I don't mean mean sometimes, but, um, go get something to eat or talk. Excuse me. I see somebody I need to talk to you. I'll be right back. You can just step out of your booth first. Second, if you're comfortable, you know, if you're pretty sure they're not gonna take anything, just go talk to somebody else come right back, you know? And if he continues to do it said it was throughout the day he just kept coming over and coming over like, oh, my god, you know what I would do if I had to spend all day next to this person what I would do is pull my stuff out from under my table, make it so there's just enough room for me to stand and that's it. You know, I would rather have a customer when you're back here, you can't see it if my customers this close and they see I have a bin back there I would rather have that happened then them see this annoying dude back there being like so it's on anything you saw anything what's up what's up what's up that's so um yeah I thought camille handled that really well what do you guys think? Yeah okay any any other commentary on this because I would love to do another one yeah so I feel like some of the concerns that kelly brought up even though she was supposed to be the root vendor I've had about other vendors sometimes people who aren't necessarily selling fragrances but their booth has like a smell something going on and I want to address it with them but I don't really necessarily want you know if you're next to that person you don't want to make an enemy that you're next to all day right right so if you're not comfortable you go to the producer I mean that's really what we're there what we're therefore as producers you know most of our job is like all leading up to it then once the event starts the people come and then we handle all these crisis situations so that that would be something I mean I've had people come up and say you first next piece playing music and it's really loud and and it's bothering me because I'm hearing your music and their music and double music and I can't think lisa is there ever opportunity even if it you pay a little bit more for your booth cost where you khun select your location at some shows every every show is different at some shows there are at our show out no we don't do that so but I have had have had it before and then I think when urban air very first started out it was a hate he's valley you you know you became like kind of an approved vendor and then once you pay you would pick your spot so it was like first come first serve I don't know how it is now I think it's a little bit different but it really does just depend on the show and sometimes it is it is worth it to get a corner space you know for extra money it's just going to depend okay let's do another another role playing exercise anybody want to come up lisa get okay now I need a new person what do we have kathleen come on oh I was just about todo okay you can pick either one of those since you picked up do you want to be that person that you wanna pick again? Ah hey you think you can pick again a again I don't know I don't see what the other one again there's only there's only three more piece of paper so okay let's see if I can do this one great I have a feeling that uh this is gonna be great hello hi. How are you? I'm good how are you? I'm good thank you. I really love your necklace well thank you. Fantastic this's so beautiful great things. Thank you that thanks to here this would go nice with my necklace. Um so how much is this about one thirty five thirty five well hand cut these air really interesting little pieces right here these came from a vintage necklace and these beads they're called white hearts and they bring good luck to you. Well, um you know, would you take twenty five for no there's a lot of work in that one. I think twenty five is just too little for me but if you buy two of them I'll give you two for forty two I'm learning for sixty e o do you like that? Do you see two in there that you would like? Mm or you could pair it with the um while it and we could do it too for on the wallet to first sounds like a good deal off the way you can handle that handled that really well and I like how kathleen I didn't start out as a jerk, you know? She was like, hey, this stuff is this stuff is really pretty I I really like this stuff I'm connecting with this stuff so it felt genuine and then lisa did did her great I mean rebecca and I were looking at each other going she's got this she's got this she's so good she's so good she's great you mean you could sell your stuff is great but I feel like you could sell me I don't know great pain so um so yeah what do you what do you guys think anybody have any commentary like that too for I like that too and lisa had mentioned earlier she wanted to do like a his and hers thing and I was thinking maybe you could have even gone there with that like oh you like this bracelet? How about a belt for your husband for whatever great idea yeah, I made it the day they were starting to go down she made it a possible look look at all the work I put into this and then the vintage where that where they actually be everything came from mean that right there would have changed my mind set right there and it wasn't in a jerky way wasn't and I really like the specific information that she gave about her product not just this is handmade but she could see that there was enough interest so that it was time to do that you know these these pieces are good luck mean good luck or something like that I can remember everything you said but it was it was great I really enjoyed that

Class Materials

Free Downloads

Craft Show Secrets Syllabus.pdf

Bonus with Purchase

Craft Show Readiness Checklist
Craft Show Timeline Checklist
Profit and Loss Worksheet With Examples
Packing Checklist
Craft Show List
Benefits and Goals Worksheet
Branding Worksheet
Post Craft Show Checklist
Craft Show Application Checklist
Brand Mood Board Exercise

Ratings and Reviews


It was an awesome experience. I learned so much from Nicole. She is entertaining and so knowledgeable that I feel I left the show with soooooo much info. I loved being in the studio audience, I met so many great people, crafters and new friends I feel we all became one big support for each other. I am putting to good use everything I learned. I look forward to coming back to Creative Live for another learning experience. Craft Show Secrets taught me all the ins/outs of craft shows ...I'm excited for my next craft show. Time to Create!!!

Lisa Jones

Great Class! Full of practical information + tools about how to REALLY succeed doing shows. I have attended many a craft show and found an enormous amount of useful tips. I especially loved the bonus material! Thank you Nicole and Creative Live for keeping it real + FUN!!

a Creativelive Student

I've been growing my business successfully online for the last six years, but hadn't shown my work in person for a decade. As a refresher, I took Nicole's craft show class to be sure that I made the most of the time I would have in front of my customers. Because of the preparedness and mindset that I gained from Nicole's teaching, my show was a huge success. My interactions with the customers, producers, and other vendors were genuine and joyful, building a stronger foundation for future business and relationships. This course took the worry and stress off my shoulders so I could enjoy the opportunity that I had. Thanks, Nicole! Tamara Kraft Pithitude

Student Work