How to Deal with Rude Craft Fair Vendors

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I consider myself very fortunate in that I’ve only dealt with a handful of rude vendors over the years doing shows.  Sadly, when inconsiderate vendors set up next to you; it can really put a damper on sales.

Sometimes other vendors don’t intend to be rude.  Perhaps they are new to sales and haven’t really learned the “etiquette” yet, and with a bit of guidance they will clean up their act.  Unfortunately, as with any other area of life, sometimes you just encounter nasty people who are inconsiderate of their neighbors and only care about themselves.  I’m very happy to have not encountered the latter very often!

Here are some common issues and how to address them in ways that keep the peace and improve the quality of your shows.

Vendors setting up outside designated areas or spilling over into walkways.

This practice is against show rules and can also be a potential hazard for injury.  If you see someone doing this, politely suggest to them other ways they can create an amazing display without creating a hazard.

If they are set up over their boundary line, politely point out the error and ask if you can help them adjust their canopy etc.  If they refuse to move; seek out the show host who can insist that they move within the designated boundaries.  It is in the contracts we sign that we are to be within an assigned space.  Those rules are for everyone.

Shouting down passing customers.

Nothing is more annoying than this and it is one of the key reasons I avoid setting up at shows that allow commercial product vendors.  Very often they are shouting down people to enter for drawings or have free samples etc.

That process can make leery shoppers walk out of the way to avoid the area because they don’t want to be solicited they just want to look around or shop.  Check show rules and see if this is allowed.  If so attend a different event or specifically request to not be set up near commercial vendors with your handmade items.

Smoking AND vaping. 

This is usually only a problem for me when I do outdoor events, and even they tend to have rules about smoking in the show area.  Cigarette smoke is unpleasant to breathe and can leave an unpleasant odor in products and around the sales area.

Vapes are no different and can be just as offensive.  If you must smoke or vape, please move away from sales areas.  If a vendor refuses to comply with a polite no smoking request, contact the show organizer and let them address the issue.

Trash talking a competitor’s product or other vendors.

There’s room in the world for all of us.  Some vendors take the low class route of trash talking competitors instead of focusing on the benefits of their own products.  Don’t do that.  It’s petty and selfish and when you get caught; you will get black listed by other vendors who will no longer cooperate with you and will likely warn other show hosts and vendors about unscrupulous behaviors.  Most vendors are eager to cooperate and get along with one another.  Every so often, you will encounter those who don’t understand “friendly” competition.

Trying to pass off cheap Chinese manufactured crap as “handmade”.

We can all spot it and it’s unfair to those who actually do take the time and energy to produce handmade products.  If you spot a vendor doing this at a show that is required to be “handmade only”, report them to the show organizers.  This will likely ensure that the same fraudulent vendor is denied access to next years event.  If there are many of these types of vendors at an event, feel free to talk to the show organizers and explain to them why you may not be able to attend their events in the future and the importance of keeping “handmade” authentic.

Too many strong scents

A lot of people make handmade goods that smell great.  Some commercial vendors sell things like “Scentsy” and I understand that not all are the same and that we are all trying to earn a living.  Unfortunately, I always request to never be set up next to Scentsy people because at two separate events I experienced them aggressively soliciting walk by customers and overpowering the surrounding area with overwhelming fragrances.

Some of us have allergies and get headaches from being exposed to these products all day.  It is wholly possible and preferable to keep scented items available for customers to smell – without overpowering everyone in the area.

I make handmade soaps and other products and manage to do so without bowling over people in the area around me.  I can make my booth smell nice without scenting the next 5 city blocks ;).  If you can’t avoid being set up next to a super smelly vendor; explain to them politely why it bothers you.  If they won’t “tone it down” take it up with the show organizers.

So, these are the most common vendor faux pas that I’ve encountered.  How about you?  Did I miss anything you would include?  Please comment and share 🙂





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Comments 7

  • We live in an area where there are quite a few local jewelry makers, and most sell bulky items made with gemstones for high dollar amounts. It’s not my style. That’s totally okay, but hubby and sell our jewelry for much less, and don’t focus as much on the components, although we do use precious stones and metals.So I may have a pair of genuine turquoise earrings for sale next to someone who has a similar pair at three times the price. I’ve been asked if I price my items low to undermine other sellers, or if I set up next to certain booths on purpose. My favorite was when I was asked about what I sell by another jewelry seller. She said jewelry doesn’t sell for pennies like my stuff does. I replied, well people seem to like it because it’s pretty. Maybe I should call it “Pretties for Pennies!”

  • Vendors who ignore their children while their kids try to talk me into giving them my items for free.

    • Hi Beverly,
      unattended children in general get on my nerves. I have kids; I ensure they are well behaved. I would like to believe that others would do the same, but that isn’t always the case. I remember one time a child of another vendor grabbed a dangly earring on my rack and spun it hard – almost broke my display and the earring so I told him loudly “Knock it off. Do not touch things that are not yours” and you should have seen the look the mother shot me. Oh well, it’s not my job to let your kids ruin my display and destroy my hard work. I have not one ounce of a problem telling shoppers and/or other vendors to keep their kids in line if they don’t take the initiative to do so on their own. I have very little patience for that.

  • I had a vendor come up and tell me my items “don’t fit in at this venue, so you aren’t going to do well”. She then spent a half hour telling me what was wrong with most of my booth set up, my branding, my business name, and why she thought it would be better for everyone if I just packed up and went home early. I smiled sweetly at her, thanked her for all of her ‘advice’ and shooed her off to her own booth. After a day of amazing sales, I happened to have a friend watch my booth for twenty minutes so I could run to the restroom – spotted Miss Negativity, turned out we both sold stuffed animals, though mine are more realistic in fun and funky colors and hers are more of the ‘ugly doll’ style. I let the organizers know what had happened on the survey they posted, and they assured me that they’d love to have me back anytime.

    At another show, I found a group of five vendors who were wandering the show, making nasty comments about how other vendors were dressed. (They had their teenage daughters running their collective booths.) When they got to my booth the leader of this bullying gang gave me a once over, smirked, and said “I’m not even going to start with that fat mess.” The other four started laughing, and I stood up, walked out of my booth, and walked right up to them. (I’ve been defending myself from fat-shamers since I was small, after all.) “Hey, why not? I’m dressed well, my booth is doing well, my hair is gorgeous, and I had a pro help me with my makeup this morning. If the only negative thing you can come up with is my weight, hell, I’m awesome! Now, move along, and find another hobby that makes you feel better about your depressing sales.”

    But in most cases, I find that most craft vendors are honestly very cool, supportive people. We’re all in this together, after all!

    • Wow Jeannie – just wow! That really takes the cake. I’d like to say the behavior of these women shocked me, but sadly, it doesn’t. Fortunately, most of us are very nice to one another though and I think you handled yourself very well. There’s no room in this business for those who can’t conduct themselves professionally. I’ve found that when I’ve received snarky comments on my items, it’s often other vendors too who think they do it better – oh well.

      Thanks for the great comment!


  • Other vendors gathering as a group and discussing how poorly you’ve sold a few feet away from you. Happened to me yesterday even though I actually did really well for myself but I have a more varied inventory than they do. Rude and just plain mean.

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