Craft Show Discovery-Exit Statements

From the first year of my career all the way to the second year of my encore career in furniture making I sat with my work, in a booth, exhibiting at various craft shows.  From day one I kept getting all kinds of complimentary comments about my work.  I was convinced that the people loved my designs and craftsmanship.   But my sales told a different story.

Then it happened, I finally noticed that those nice comments were always uttered as the people were leaving my booth, empty handed.  The comments were fulfilling some kind of need of the people to exit my booth gracefully.  Sometimes exit statements were more of an explanation why the person couldn’t do business in my booth.  Examples are:

  •             I’m in that stage of life where I am getting rid of stuff.
  •             My house is full.
  •             I don’t have any money.
  •             I have young children.

So I officially named these comments “exit statements”.  In 2011, at a large show in Chicago, I collected over one hundred unique exit statements with many of them collected many times.  A few examples:

  •             Beautiful.
  •             Gorgeous.
  •             Wonderful.
  •             Thank you for coming to this show.
  •             You are a master.
  •             You must be very patient.
  •             My grandfather used to do this kind of work.
  •             I love the feel of your wood.

After that I went into a funk and found it hard to acknowledge each comment.  I would automatically say the thank you thing out of pressure from my upbringing to try to be not rude.  I asked fellow exhibitors how they handled these comments.  Some said they ignored them, others said they smile and nod and some said that they uttered “thank you” after receiving the comment.

I continue to do shows and hope to get some really unique exit statements.  I endeavor to try to receive each exit comment as if I never heard it before.  I guess that makes me an entertainer.  And I enjoy the occasional sale.


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