When you’re selling your handmade items at a craft fair, or even online, you’re going to run across several types of shoppers. The first type of shopper is someone who understands the value of our crafts, who appreciates them, and is more than happy to pay for our wonderful items. These are the shoppers who make a purchase willingly, with no qualms or quibbles over price. Sadly, these shoppers are few and far between.
How do you handle this type of shopper? Obviously, this is the easiest type of shopper to deal with because you’re going to be thrilled they’re handing over their money so readily for your amazing jewelry. You may just want to utter a quick “thank you” and move on. After all, you’ve got other customers to think about, and they’ve got other places to go and things to do. But don’t cut the interaction so short, if you can help it. If you’ve got someone standing in front of you who’s truly interested in your jewelry, try to engage them in some sort of conversation. Show them some other pieces of jewelry that will perfectly complement the one they just bought. Try to find out if they have any friends or family members who are as interested in jewelry as they are. Selling is (or, at least, it should be) about building relationships. Try to get to know a little something about every customer who comes into your shop (whether online or off). And then use that information to your advantage – but not in a creepy way
The second sort of shopper is the one who doesn’t currently have the money for the handmade price tag, even though they wish they did. Usually you can work with these shoppers by offering some sort of payment plan. Say, $5 today and $5 per week (or biweekly, if the customer can’t afford $5 a week) until the total is paid off. Whether you want to actually give them the piece that day before it’s all paid off is up to you. To protect yourself from being cheated, though, I’d make arrangements to deliver the jewelry after the final payment has been made. But then be sure you’re being respectful of the customer with whom you’ve made the deal and take that piece off your shelf (or off your site, if it’s online), so that you don’t sell it to someone else.
The third type is the one who walks by and sees the $35 price tag on a piece of jewelry (without seeing the thought and the sweat that went into creating it) and exclaims, “My goodness that’s a lot!” In response to this type of shopper, you’ll need to explain why that particular necklace costs $35.00. Something like: “Well, I used real natural gemstones and sterling silver spacers and clasps to complete that piece. If you could provide me the materials to make another necklace like it, we could knock $20.00 or so off the price, so I could give this necklace to you for $15.”
You don’t have to mention that you can probably make two or more necklaces with the $20 worth of supplies. You want to be honest, but not too honest that you give away all your trade secrets. Besides, the likelihood of them actually purchasing supplies for you is pretty small. By making a statement like the one above, you’re giving them a better idea of how valuable the materials (and the necklace in question) really are. This type of statement from a shopper indicates that they don’t really understand the true value of the piece they’re looking at. It never ceases to amaze me how the same people who don’t think twice about throwing down $5 to $10 at Wal-Mart for a pair of mass-produced earrings made out of plastic will balk at a $10 to $15 price tag on a pair of gemstone and sterling silver earrings handmade by the person sitting in front of them.
This is the most frequently encountered shopper, and you can usually turn a good majority of them into paying customers either that day or some time in the future (be sure you have business cards handy so you can give one to them before they walk away) by just helping them think differently about the piece of jewelry in front of them.
The fourth type of shopper is one who is going to gripe, fuss, bicker, and try to get you to give them your item for free. These are the people who have miserable lives and think it’s their responsibility to make other people miserable too. Use your best judgment when dealing with these sorts, and don’t waste much time on them. Most of them will never become actual customers.
You always should be as kind as possible, though, because you never know who might be part of the 20% who will become your customers. NEVER let any potential customer leave without a business card, and if you can manage to send them off with a free gift that will help them remember you, that’s even better. Perhaps you could make up some beaded safety pins or small zipper pulls to use as giveaway items. Make sure you’re using inexpensive acrylic beads for these, so you’re not giving away your best materials.
There’s another type of shopper you may encounter – especially at local craft fairs. That is the shopper who walks by and glances at your table (or at you), with absolutely no interest in buying anything from you. These people (especially men) may engage you in conversation (especially if you are an attractive female) for reasons that have nothing to do with making a purchase. I had this happen to me once at a craft fair. A man can up to my table with his teenage son, who asked (because his dad was talking to me), “Dad, are you looking to buy something for Mom?” The man replied, “No. Just looking.” I knew, of course, he was just looking at me for reasons that had nothing to do with my jewelry, so he did not get one of my business cards. Follow your instincts when dealing with people like this. Don’t put yourself (or anyone’s marriage) in danger. You want to sell your jewelry, but some personal costs to you may be too high when it comes to certain personal interactions.
What do you think? Did I nail the types of shoppers you come in contact with? Have you dealt with other types of shoppers? Let me know in the comments.
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