8 Negative Booth Behaviors that Lose Sales

By Carolyn Edlund

Art shows and fairs involve long hours working in a booth. It can be boring or frustrating at times, especially if you are having a tough show. Are you guilty of any of the following self-destructive booth behaviors?


Art and Craft Show in California


Are you making the most of your time taking advantage of sales opportunities, or are you sabotaging yourself with these common behaviors that turn off customers and lose sales?

Reading a book.

This sends a message that you aren’t doing business and you really don’t care to. Then why did you set up your booth at the show anyway? Put down the book, and start speaking with potential customers.

Talking, texting or surfing the internet on your cell phone.

When others use their phone during a conversation, we feel ignored. So do shoppers when they see this behavior. Turn off the phone or leave it in your car. Get refocused on the show and on making sales.

Complaining to your neighbors.

Ever have to put up with another exhibitor who spent their time grousing about the show, the crowd, other vendors and everything else they could think of? This bad attitude permeates their booth, and their sales suffer. Don’t be that person.

Complaining to shoppers.

This is a huge no-no. If you’ve got issues with the show and how it’s run, the proper venue is the show office. Can you imagine a shopper wanting to make a purchase from you at this point? Not likely.


Guess what – there are no stupid questions when it comes to speaking with potential customers. With a little skill, you can turn that questioner into a buyer. Treat all your customers with respect, and you’ve got a much better chance of closing the sale, and earning new collectors for your work.

Showing up late.

If you got lost on the interstate and arrived late, do your best to set up with as little disruption to the show as possible. Plan ahead to avoid this type of problem, knowing that show fees are expensive, and you are paying for every minute you are there.

Leaving your booth.

You never know what opportunities you miss when your booth is empty because you are walking around or socializing. One great sale can make a show. Are you present in your booth for that customer?

Packing up early.

When you start packing, you signal that you are closed. Many times the biggest sales of the day are made right at the end of the show. Did you miss them because you were too busy trying to be the first exhibitor out of the gate?



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  1. Great tips! Things I already knew, but great reminders and good lessons for all of us involved in artisan shows.

    • Lucy, I think anyone who has done a few shows has seen these – and knows intuitively that they lose business. Sometimes it’s tempting to “zone out” when you’re not having a good show, but I’ve also seen slow fairs turn around quickly when a couple of great customers turn up.

  2. another bad behavior are artists who sit waaaay in the back of their booth reading the newspaper and don’t even acknowledge your presence!

    i find that if it’s not too hot in the sun i like to sit on a stool out front and work on a drawing. that really draws people in (no pun intended!) for a good conversation and sales!

    • Kathryn, I agree that demonstrating can be a good draw (!) and I’m glad you added “good conversation” too – because that’s the next step to earning new customers. Good thinking!

  3. Great advice.
    Here in Japan the people who seem to do the best at art/craft fairs are the ones standing, greeting people with a smile.

    • David, you have hit upon a major point that well-known expert Bruce Baker makes in his CD for artists and craftspeople titled Dynamic Sales and Customer Service http://www.artsbusinessinstitute.org/cds-and-books. Bruce says “Never sit down. In fact, don’t even bring a chair.” He suggests wearing comfortable shoes and stand on a mat in your booth. When you are seated in a booth, and stand up to approach shoppers, it is a subconsciously dominating movement that puts them on the defense. They will say, “Don’t bother to get up. We’re just looking.” He’s got a lot of other great suggestions too!

  4. Agreed! I definitely think it is easy to zone out, especially after a long day! Plus it keeps things fresh and engaging when you interact with the public!

  5. Hear hear! Good list.

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