Vendor Show Etiquette

For those of us that like to rent booth space at craft shows and other types of vendors shows, it can be awesome weekend of fun. Aside from being a vendor myself, I am also the person that organizes some of the vendor shows where I live.

At one show or another, we’ve all checked out other vendors and booths and compared their show personality and attitude to our own.

Do they sit behind their table during the entire show and not greet people? Are they friendly? Are they making money? Or not?

Here’s a list of things that I notice at vendor shows that make me want to invite them to another show I’m organizing….. or NOT.

  1. Stand up at your table! This is probably THE most important to me as a consumer AND a show organizer. Yes, it’s a long day. We ALL understand. Usually, around 2 o’clock, you start getting tired and your feet really start to hurt. You’re probably hungry because it’s past lunch time and you’re ready for the day to be winding down. The thing is, if you don’t stand at your table when potential customers walk by, they will probably think you aren’t interested enough in having their business to greet them. So they walk on. Whether you’re behind your table or in front of your table, you should always greet people walking by, just so they know you mean business when you’re there. Otherwise, why spend the money to rent the space to just sit there for people to notice you or not? Standing and saying ‘hello’ is a great way for people to remember you, whether they are shopping for what you have or not. Maybe, a few weeks down the road, they’ll need something you have and remember you. Of course, you should sit down if you’re tired and your feet are aching. Just be ready to jump back up when people come back around. Make sure you’re making eye contact and greeting people as they walk up to your table or even walking by.
  2. Don’t pester people. Just don’t. If there’s anything that will turn a potential customer off of purchasing anything from you, it’s pestering. I’ve attended shows where vendors just would not let up. One particular lady that I remember selling candles, would not let me go until she told me why buying her ‘new’ candles were so much better than the next vendors candles. I confessed that I was allergic to soy candles. She still went on and on about how much better they were for me. If someone isn’t interested, tell them to have a nice day and let.them.go. Let them walk away happy to have just spoken to you. Don’t let them walk away with a negative feeling about you.
  3. What are you wearing? This really hasn’t been an issue at any of my vendor shows. The only thing I know to say about this, is to wear something comfortable. Especially comfy shoes. Don’t wear anything revealing or something that’s less than appropriate to meet new people and potential customers. I always wear a pair of jeans or leggings and a tunic with comfortable shoes. I wouldn’t wear dress clothes, unless it’s a dressy vendor show. I don’t want to make people feel like I’m above them in a dressy suit. I think the key word would be ‘comfy’.
  4. Your cell phone. This goes right along with not standing at your table. My cell phone goes with me everywhere. I use it when someone wants to pay with a credit card or if I need it for an emergency. There’s a number of reasons we carry our phones with us everywhere. However, if you aren’t using your phone for one of these reasons, it should not be in your hands. If you are looking at your phone, people (again) think you’re uninterested in your business or having their business so they keep walking and won’t stop.
  5. Don’t pack up early. This happens at every vendor show. At least one person gets bored or finds some reason to leave early. It really doesn’t look good on the person/business that’s leaving. Usually, shows start winding down around 3 o’clock. There could be a hundred more people come in during the last hour(s) of the show and you could be losing out. Seriously though, it’s rude and it doesn’t look good. If you’re leaving hasn’t been planned ahead of time, this could cause you to be banned from future shows by the show organizer or venue.
  6. Respect the space around you. Sometimes our booth space may just be a table with a couple feet behind it for us to stand. Or it could be a 10×10 space. Odds are your space will come with a table and a chair or two. Not a lot of space. Try to keep your merchandise out of the aisles and within your own space. If you have to stack things up, instead of spreading them out, then do so. You don’t want people tripping over your items and getting hurt and you don’t want other vendors irritated with you because your items are spilling over into their space.
  7. Lunchtime! You’re going to notice, probably all day, the people walking around with snacks and drinks. And you’re going to get hungry. Usually, your organizer will have someone sit at your table for you while you get something to eat, or they will have someone bring something to you. To keep hunger down, bring small snacks with you: fruit, peanut butter & crackers, protein bars, cut veggies, bottled water or tea. This way you’ll be able to keep yourself from starving all day. Also, some organizers may have breakfast waiting for you when you arrive. Don’t always count on that, however. Eat a good protein packed breakfast before heading out that morning.

Some other tips….Play nice with others. Some would say vendor shows are a great place to ‘people watch’. Just don’t talk about people to other vendors or to customers about vendors. This looks really bad on you, your business and on the entire show. It creates a very uncomfortable situation. If you have a problem with someone, whether it’s a customer or another vendor, let the organizer know. Know what you’re selling. Make sure you know everything about everything your selling. Be ready to answer questions. You should believe in your product and want others to believe in it too. Without being pesty. Offer a giveaway. This is a great way to get people to your table. Have them write down their email address and tell them what you’re giving away and when. Make sure to ask them if you can sign them up for your newsletter. Otherwise, use their email address for the giveaway only. Be ready before you get there. Don’t sit in your booth space looking in your mirror and putting on makeup or fixing your hair all day. You’re there to sell your items so you need to always engage people.

And speaking of ENGAGING people. Have you ever thought about what you say when you inquire about a vendor show? Usually, you’ve seen an ad or a flyer about a show you’d like to join so you email the organizer or the venue, right?

Do you email someone and say, ‘Hey, I’d like an application please’?

May I make a suggestion? From an organizer to a vendor? Use an email like this.

“Hi there. My name is Tracie Mallari and I’m interested in being a vendor in your show. I am an artist and I specialize in whimsical acrylic and oil paintings. Below are some examples of my work.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to be JUST like this. Just tell them who you are and what you do. When you email and say ‘can I get an application,’ the organizer will most always email you back and ask what you do before they send you an application. Because they don’t want, and they know you don’t want, to have duplicate vendors. So fill them in on your first.

Happy Vendor Show to you!!




About Tracie Mallari

Tracie is the editor of The Planner’s Plate. She’s worked in the hospitality industry since she was 15, eventually focusing on hotel and restaurant management and later planning and coordinating for caterers and other private employers. She has owned her own event company and loves the organization and detail it takes to plan an event. She lives in Tennessee with her husband of 25 years, Ben, and they have three boys and a daughter (in law).