With the holidays upon us, I thought I would pass along some thoughts and experiences I had with my latest shopping trip (Round Top) that may be of some help to you shop owners and/or show vendors.
I would like to take a moment to remind those who may be new in joining us on Shop Talk that this blog is designed for those brand new in the business and for those who have no or very little experience with retail or being a vendor. I write to that audience, as I hope to help those who have no one to turn to who are trying to break into this fun, but challenging field. My intention is to help and not to insult anyone's retail savvy. Sometimes, I think I need to stop every few months or so, and remind new readers that my posts are written with beginners in mind, although I welcome anyone to join in!
With that in mind, I will continue with my thoughts and observations. I am almost sure this man's beard (in the photo) wasn't nearly as long or as white when he first entered this booth. If he is the vendor, then he earned his beard from the hard work in hot the sun. If he is a buyer, then he grew his beard while waiting for the vendor to notice him so he could ask about a price of an item because most likely, most things were not priced in the booth. And that is my contention!
While walking around from booth to booth, old feelings of once having been a vendor of antique markets returned. The hauling, loading, and setting up. But something that I noticed as I walked around was how so many booths had so many items not priced! That made my shopping not fun at all. And having been a vendor myself, I had little sympathy.
My personal opinion is that all items need to be priced at a market. I become immediately suspicious if a booth is entirely unmarked. At one booth, I overheard the vendor give a woman a price for an item and when the vendor finally got to me, he gave me a different price for the exact same item (higher). I didn't buy anything from that booth. I don't even think it was intentional, I think he just didn't know his prices.
Sometimes, maybe a vendor just runs out of time and can't get all the tags on the items. I can even understand that...if there are signs of her/him still sticking stickers on items or if I see a roll of stickers out with a marker and the vendor is interrupted. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about booths that intentionally do not price their items and then the vendor just walks up to you and tells you, "If you want to know anything about an item, just let me know." Or worse, you ARE interested, but can't find the vendor to find out a price, OR, the vendor is too busy with a customer to give you a moment to price an item for you.
I will walk away every time without buying a thing. I am too frustrated with that booth and feel I am wasting my time. And if I feel that way, then chances are, others feel that way too.
If you are getting ready to do any holiday fairs or craft shows, I would encourage you to really take the time to make sure ALL of your items are clearly marked or signage stating the prices are clearly shown. Having items marked for craft shows (or in the store if you are having holiday open houses or big sales) are so important. Customers are rushed these days, trying to cram too much into too little time, and if they have to wait to find out a price....guess what? They won't and they will move on to the next booth.
Something as simple as a little price tag that is firmly stuck on an item or tied tightly to a product can be the difference of a customer lingering in your booth to decide on a gift for the holidays, or setting down the product and moving on to the next interesting booth or store because she got frustrated of having to look up to find you just to ask for the price. I probably did just that over a dozen times in one afternoon at Round Top.
One particular booth frustrated me to the point of my having to say something to the owner (European). I really wanted to know the prices on many, many items...mainly out of curiosity. So, I waited and waited and waited while he was busy shuffling around with what seemed like two very wealthy younger women who wanted "one of those" and "three of these" and "I must have that" sort of thing. I know he must have been glad to have the sales , but there seemed to be other help all around who were completely ignoring me. After almost 30 minutes of wandering around the very large booth, waiting, I finally caught one of the guys and said, "Can you help me, or what?" His heavy accent mumbled something about "What do you need?" And I walked over to a section of his booth and said, "None of your items have prices." And he said, "What do you want to know?" I just stared at him and said, "Prices!" He said, "On what item?"
And I was so frustrated at this point, I said, "So, in other words, you will walk around with me as I point and tell me the prices of everything as I shop?" He didn't understand my sarcasm. Understand, this was at the end of a long, 104 degree hot day. He seemed not too happy with me, as I with him. I pointed at some items and went down the row to get some prices and he seemed impatient with me as if I was wasting his time, as it became obvious that all I wanted to know was prices...not necessarily wanting to buy. I then told him that if he had priced all his items, he wouldn't have to do this. He got very huffy with me and I then asked him that if I came back later, would the prices be the same, or would they be different depending on his mood? He said he didn't understand, but I knew darn well he knew exactly what I meant. And that is how customers feel. They feel they are being sized up (whether they really are or not) and judged on how much they can afford before they are quoted a price...or they are being sized up for their knowledge on how much something is worth and so on. And maybe they aren't, but maybe they are. But it starts the whole buying process on a negative level. And it is exhausting.
I just don't see why a vendor would want to go through the hassle. As a vendor, I had all my items priced before I loaded my items up in the first place. Or, I had good signage for items. I just didn't want to have to remember prices or get a price wrong, or keep people waiting. Many, many times, my booth would be so busy, I would literally have customers come up to me, interrupt my transaction with a customer, hand me cash, and hold up the item they are taking and say, "I am getting this, sorry to interrupt," and not even haggle. They wanted to move on to the next booth, but wanted to purchase my item, and because it was priced, they just pulled out cash and put it in my hand as I was helping another customer and kept on moving. Now that is selling!
But with so many booths not having any sale tags or so few items priced, I was getting a little disgruntled. And just when I was wondering if times have changed and maybe not pricing was the "new trend" and I was behind the times....I come across this little dandy in a salvage yard, Discoveries, in Gonzales, Texas, with over 40,000 sq feet of space...and yet...these people managed to have EVERY SINGLE thing priced....right down to the yard of fabric....
Now, does that make you want to just buy a yard or what....just so you can use the scissors and snip away? Who says we need bar codes or fancy tags? They are nice, but if they aren't attached to the product, they don't do a bit a good.
Happy selling....and get to pricing...your customers are wanting to buy all of your goodies....they are just busy rushing around and the quicker they can pull out their wallet and pay you...the better for the both of you!
From my house to your house,