Outdoor Market Etiquette

A Vendor’s Please Don’ts

This is a post I have been sitting on since last market season. I thought it would be appropriate (and I finally have the confidence) to put it out into the world instead of letting it languish on my computer. Market season is gearing up to start and since I've seen these behaviors the last 2 years, I'm assuming I'll see them again this year. I'm seriously thinking about posting a copy of this to my stall. Phyiscally. 

I'm going to be up front and say this list sounds a little bit harsh. I know it does. Vendors are people too and (often) don't have the backing of a large corporation behind us. If you yell at us, are rude to us, belittle us, and then we make no sales on that market day, it's not like we can (generally) fall back on a salary from our business. Kindness is a must. Even if you aren't going to buy anything. Please. 

A Vendor's List of Please Don'ts:

  1. Not show up due to weather.

    1. Vendors still gotta vend, Baby. Rain or shine we are out there, setting up and tearing down. It just makes for a long and depressing day when customers don’t show up. We know it’s hot, or raining, or what have you. And, yet, we are still out there. Please don’t leave us hanging!

  2. Scurry away like cockroaches when vendors make eye contact/say hello.

    1. Seriously, this is just rude. We are only trying to act friendly so that you won’t be completely turned off from buying our stuff. We make it, we need to sell it. Or there’s no money in it for us. Simple math. Being nice = Sales. Please don’t be rude and shut us down. The majority of us aren’t going to cram our wares down your throat. We are just being polite.

  3. Say you will come back later.

    1. If I had a nickel… This is a brush off, pure and simple. A) We don’t care what your market plans include since it’s none of our business and B) We know you just don’t want to hurt our feelings. I can count on one hand the number of people who have come back and it is always worth noting. Just say, “Thanks!” and walk out. Don’t lie, it’s embittering.

  4. Say, “You know what you should do…”

    1. Nope. This is what I’m selling, and your suggestions, though well meaning, are condescending and unnecessary. If you have a great idea, do it, and get yourself a booth. Otherwise, keep quiet. Better yet, just ask if I carry the item you would have made a suggestion about. If enough people ask about something, it will probably be introduced to the world. Vendors aren’t oblivious and eventually will pick up on market trending tips.

  5. Take a drink/bite/whiff and say, “This is disgusting!”

    1. First of all, rude. Second of all, not everything is for everyone. And, if a booth features something you know you aren’t going to like, don’t stop there and partake in the samples. It’s going to sour your experience, the vendor’s experience, and possibly the experience of the people around you at the time. The specialty liqueur isn’t disgusting because you don’t like the taste of any alcohol. You just don’t like alcohol and probably shouldn’t have stopped at the booth in the first place. Don’t be rude and dramatic. No one likes that.

  6. Complain loudly about a product while still in the booth.

    1. This is related to the “disgusting” thing. Just don’t complain about someone’s product while still in their booth. The more confrontational vendors will give you the what for, the others will probably just wait until you leave to show their hurt for a little bit. Vendors work their asses off to put out a product that is of quality, is relevant, and is unique, often while working a “real” job somewhere else. Show some respect and conduct yourself accordingly. Don’t complain that the sugar scrubs are too sugary, the wooden chair is too hard, the custom-made wine totes aren’t the right size. Remember that your experience and your opinions are subjective.

  7. Deliver a bunch of compliments before wishing the vendor luck and leaving. Without buying.

    1. It comes off condescending and patronizing. Sure, my display is brightly colored and cute. I know. I designed it. Compliments mean nothing to vendors without money behind it. Cute displays can’t be run on sunshine and rainbows and will wither and die if their vendor goes out of business. The same holds true for business names. Yes, it’s a play on words. It will be available very soon for purchase if more people don’t start to buy my stuff.

  8. Tell us we are going to hell based on our business name, product offerings, or display.

    1. If it offends you, it’s not meant for you. Walk on by. Please, most of us are aware of the more heathenistic aspects of our stuff. And even if we aren’t, it’s not your place to let us know. It sours everyone’s mood to be told they are headed for damnation. Not a good way to experience a market.

Please, just remember that vendors are people too. They run these small market stalls, often in weather extremes, because they have a serious desire to share their products with their customers. If you don’t like something, just keep going. Tell your friends, if you have too. Chances are, someone in your group will be interested, even if you aren’t. If you do like something, leave a positive review! Tell market staff! Talk them up on social media! Give them repeat business! Most of all, be nice. It’s hot or cold and we are trying so hard. Golden Rule it and get over it.