A Garden For All: Summer festival, market etiquette
“My sister is coming from Issaquah to see you!”
Those were the first words I heard from one of the vendors at the Sorticulture set-up in Everett yesterday. A twinge of regret rippled through me. I’ve been vending here for five years now, or has it been only four? It’s all a blur.
“I’m not vending this year, I’m only doing this display.”
And, I will miss them.
It takes a certain kind of person to be able to put it out there, to meet and greet a whole bunch of people, all day long – for days in a row sometimes. I didn’t realize this until I hired a helper for the big Northwest Flower and Garden Show one year. She really wasn’t able to handle the busy-ness and commotion, she kind of wigged out and became manic – I had to fire her on the third day because she was scaring me.
A good portion of these vendors that sell at the summer festivals travel from city to city and drag their wares from show to show ~ set up, tear down, move on, set up, tear down, move on, the modern day American gypsy. (Try doing it with living plants.)
It gets hard, it gets stressful and it grows tiring after a few years. But “the toast falls butter side up just often enough to keep us interested” and that’s why we do it.
So, on behalf of my fellow vendors, here are some pointers for you festival-goers – from the other side of the table:
– Realize that the vendors at these art fairs and garden festivals are more than likely creating the product themselves. Many of them have full-time jobs, on top of doing everything else for their business: the marketing, advertising, product development, bookkeeping, etc.
– Don’t brag about how much you do their medium in your own way. They really don’t want to hear it unless you are buying a bunch of things from them.
– Don’t hog their time unless they look completely bored. And, if that is the case, then pleasant, entertaining conversation is always welcome, but be wary of other customers coming into the booth that do want to buy – vendors need to eat. too.
– Don’t zero in on the plastic garland they use for decoration and ask how much it is.
– Don’t put things on hold and then don’t return for it. It’s rude.
– Don’t kick the tires (hum and haw) for too long – it’s irritating. Either you like it and want it, or not.
– Don’t barter for peanuts. Normally things are priced to sell. It’s insulting to barter for $5 off and then pull up in your new Jaguar to pick it up.
– If you break it, you should buy it.
– The vendors have “show-brain.” It’s what happens when you’re completely worn out, overworked, not eating right, short on sleep and generally running on adrenaline. Testing their knowledge of obscure information, or names, is just downright unfair.
– Don’t just walk by and complain loudly about the vendor to your friend. Be an adult and complain directly and quietly to the person that sold you whatever it was that you killed/broke/let go bad or didn’t water correctly.
– Don’t disturb them, or take up their time – unless you’re buying something – when they are setting up or tearing down. More than likely, they are short on time and need to focus.
– Make a point of noticing the person behind the table. Acknowledgement of their efforts would be the minimum appreciated contact. If you’re not spurred on to buy, then a pleasant smile and a compliment is great. Then move on…