Beneficial Beyotching: Learning How to Complain at Crafts Fairs.

It's a beautiful day, you have an amazing booth at a fabulous, perfect location...but no shoppers appear.


You set up at what promises to be a successful craft show, only to have an inconsiderate neighbor strategically place display fixtures so that they block your product.

WWTNND? (What would The NewNew do?)

We spoke with several of The Etsy New York Team members to find out how they handle situations like the ones above, and to two local show promoters to find out if squeaky wheels really do get the grease.

Yania, from Yania Creations says "I have complained a couple times and always to do with low foot traffic when it was obvious the right promotion was not done. When you are at the right location, right weather, all is good and nobody shows up, that means no promotion was done and that pisses me off."

But many crafters feel that making a complaint about the lack of traffic at a fair can hurt their chances to be accepted into future events that might be well attended.

Holly Ellis from Ellis Design explains: "It took me quite a while to get the backbone to complain to a promoter. But after a while I realized that I pay entry fees, jury fees, and invest my time in being there, so if I have an issue I should speak up." At a poorly attended venue Holly didn't just give the show promoter an earful, however. She explains:"I approached the situation more as an inquiry about what promotion was done. When the promoter fessed up that she was new to organizing events, I expressed my disappointment at the turnout. I explained that I had promoted quite a bit and had a good number of my peeps come but that it simply did not feel like the community had any idea the event
was being held. I could have just fumed all day under my breath and vowed never to do the show again but after speaking with the promoter I felt better and she seemed to appreciate the feedback and knowledge that what she did do was simply not enough."

One show promoter we spoke with agreed that the way Holly approached the situation was helpful. "It is awful when someone comes at you in anger and accuses you of not promoting an event." said one Brooklyn fair organizer, who said she is happy to engage in constructive dialogue with a vendor who asks reasonable questions about what marketing strategies were employed for an event. "Sometimes we can discover new ways of promoting, or get really good suggestions from vendors who position themselves as more of our partners than our adversaries in discussions like this." When asked if speaking up and expressing disappointment in an event can effect admission to future shows,the promoter said simply "we prefer to work with people who seek solutions and don't particularly enjoy working with people who only seek to lay blame, but speaking up will certainly not get you banned from a show."

One vendor who did speak up and saw a good result is Nordea from Nordea Soaperie who spoke up about an overcrowded vendor situation at a recent event. "I wasn't the only one complaining," Nordea said, "but not sure how many actually spoke to the promoter." having the gumption to address the problem in a constructive way paid off when she returned to a later event and found the layout and the spacing much improved. Nordea stresses this about complaining: "Sometimes if you don't let an organizer know what the problems are....they cannot correct them."

One Manhattan show promoter who runs very large events in the city gave us a few simple tips for complaining about craft shows:

Complain at the right time. Chose a moment when there is time, will and energy to deal constructively with the problem. If dealing with an issue like an obnoxious show neighbor- you need to complain immediately--but for something like lack of promotion it may be even better to hold your feedback for a time when you are less emotional and annoyed.

Don't just complain, point out what is good. Balanced feedback includes an appreciation of the positive aspects of an experience. Make sure you are not mired so deeply in the negative that you forget the positives.

Coming forward with a complaint can be a very positive experience for both parties because it can lead to great change. So Speak Up! Please share any experiences you've had with complaining in our comments section below.

We have extended last week's giveaways from Wabisabi Brooklyn and PrismPop. Please read our older posts to enter and win prizes from these great shops.