I have good shows, bad, shows, wet shows, and hot shows. Every show is different, but they all seem to have one thing in common; the drama. Uneventful shows tend to track with the size of attendance. Large shows will normally bring more drama than small ones. Drama can take on the form of bad weather, disorganized shows, or idiot customers. There is usually some mini drama at every show which can be easily dealt with by a polite comment. These are some of the more extreme ones.
I am normally a very laid back person and it takes a lot to spin me up. However, the biggest thing that gets me fired up is kids. Young parents today are raising a large crop of the most spoiled brats that I have ever seen. They come into the booth needing to touch, grab, and pick up anything within arm’s length while the parent completely ignores what their kid is doing. Even if the parent says something to the kid, they get ignored and the kid continues with their destructive rampage. There have been numerous occasions where I have asked the parent to leave and take their brat with them. It’s disappointing that I have to watch their kids because they won’t. The only exception to this is Asian kids. Asian kids will come in with their hands behind their back and just look. If one even thinks about touching something, their parents are quick to chastise them. Lazy susans are the draw for kids. They always want to see how fast they can spin them while the idiot parent stands behind them commenting on how fast they spin. No wonder the kid is a brat. I will also stop both the kid(s) and parents immediately if the kid has cotton candy or an ice cream cone in their hand. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
I had my post office banks sitting on a shelf at a recent show and a parent and her kid were looking at them. Of course, the kid had the desire to touch everyone on each shelf which didn’t bother me. When he finished touching all the ones he could reach, he proceeded to climb up my shelves to touch the ones on the upper shelves that he couldn’t reach. The whole time this was happening, the parent was standing there watching him do this like he was playing on a Jungle Jim. I promptly asked her “Lady, what the hell are you doing letting your kid climb up my display?”. Of course, she didn’t even offer an apology. She just told the kid “Let’s go!”. Consequently, she didn’t buy anything. Parents’ inability to discipline their kids brings out the worse in me. I don’t blame the kids, just the parent(s). I just don’t appreciate parents viewing artists as the entertainment for their kids.
There was a lady walking by my booth when her cell phone rang. She stopped and walked into my booth, plopping her large bag on a lazy susan and setting her soft drink on another one. She then rummaged around in her purse looking for her cell phone, sliding it back and forth on the lazy susan. About the time she answered the phone I walked over and tersely asked her to remove her stuff off my products. She started talking on the phone and gave me a stern look and raised her index finger telling me to hush while she was on the phone. That was like waving a red flag. I quickly picked up the bag and drink, walked outside my booth and dropped them on the pavement. She asked the caller to hold on a minute, turned to me and said “What are you doing?”. I replied, “What are you doing? Get out of my booth”.
A guy walked into my booth last month. He was about 6’4”, covered with tattoos, and wearing piecemeal military camo fatigues. He stopped in the middle and looked around at my products. I then smelled cigar smoke. Smoke from cigarettes and cigars don’t bother me because I smoke. However, I resent people coming into my booth smoking because it keeps non-smokers away and the smoke lingers. This guy had a lit cigar in his hand. I was sitting in my chair and I said “I would appreciate it if you took that cigar out of my booth”. He spun around, didn’t say a word, and glared at me as if to say “Make me”. I am 5’8”, so I don’t strike an imposing figure to someone of his size. After he stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, I told him if he didn’t understand what I said, I can have the local cops explain it to him. I then pointed to two of them standing on the sidewalk behind my booth. He immediately turned around and left.
Another guy came into my booth at a show in downtown Atlanta a few years ago, sat down in my chair, and plugged his IPod into my electrical outlet. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to charge his IPod. I politely asked him to leave and he commences to cuss me up and down and call me things I have never been called before. Of all my shows, this was the only one where I was getting ready for a throw down. Just as I got ready to cock my arm back and make his day, an Atlanta cop on a bicycle slowly rode by the front of my booth. His and my eyes met at the same time and he later said he could tell I was getting ready to fight. He came into the booth, and after I explained the problem, he told the guy to leave. This guy started cussing the cop, and before he could complete the sentence, the cop had him on the ground and in handcuffs. I will never do a downtown Atlanta show again. I can’t remember the last time I got mad enough to throw the first punch.
I hate baby strollers. Moms today push strollers that are about the size of a small SUV. They won’t park them at the front of my booth, but have to roll them into the booth taking up the whole middle. This blocks anyone else from being able to get into my booth. At one recent show, I had a crowd of people standing in front of my booth looking into it, but couldn’t get inside because of one of these monster strollers sitting inside. I said “You’ all be patient. You can some in as soon as this nice lady backs her SUV out of the booth”. They all laughed, but the young lady didn’t think it was funny.
I love dogs, except when they are in my booth. Many of the shows which are in neighborhoods have a large turn out of customers walking their dogs. These dogs range from little rat size to the size of a small horse. Some customers come into the booth with as many as three on a leash. Even the best behaved dogs will bump into table legs, drool on cutting boards on the bottom shelf, or even lick them on their way out of the booth.
Rude customers generally show up in force at shows. They can range from making snide comments about prices, or wasting my time telling me about how they made a cutting board in high school shop class. Social networking is a good example of this. It starts with a married couple in my booth looking serious about buying something. Then another couple comes into the booth that they know. Now they are chatting about everything except my products. Then another couple comes. The next thing you know, there are 6-8 people in the middle of my booth catching up on kids, ball games, etc. No one else can enter because all seats are taken. This also happens in front of my booth quite frequently. I have yet to figure out how to politely break up these social gatherings by people who don’t realize how rude their actions are. Most of the time I just bite my tongue and hope they will soon run out of things to talk about.
There was the show where an old hippie couple came into my booth and started making a big fuss about me using wood that came from the rain forest. I mentioned that my lumber supplier was FSC certified and I was pretty certain that they conform to it. They then demanded to see the chain of title for each product before they would purchase anything. I told them that I guess they were not buying from me, or any other woodworker at the show. I really think they were smoking dope in their VW bus before coming to the show. This whole conversation digressed into meaningless dribble that went on for a good 15 minutes. I finally got rid of them by telling them that I didn’t care if I had the last piece of exotic in the world. I was here to make money and they needed to go bother someone else. I occasionally get nuts like this that get wrapped around nothing and figure they have a captive audience to go off on. I always let them go on for a little while until my patience wears out and I’m forced to cut it off in a blunt manner.
Another form of drama is the occasional show from hell such as one I went though this past spring. I can deal with rain, but high wind is the most unnerving form of bad weather at a show. I am always wondering if the next gust is going to destroy my products, or if a neighbor’s lightweight EzUp is going to blow over on me. I set up my tent one morning in very windy conditions. I got the tent up, had 400 pounds of weights on it, and then a big gust of wind lifted it up and rolled it over on the top. I have a very heavy Trimline tent that I paid over $1000 for so I wouldn’t have this problem. But, I found out that even it has a limit. A fellow crafter ran over and helped me turn it back over and I took the legs off and put it back down on the ground. I jumped in my truck, ran down to Home Depot, bought four 24” steel rods and a sledgehammer. Once I got back, I drove the rods into the asphalt and tied off each corner before I raised it back up. It normally takes me about 20 minutes to set up my tent. It took me four hours this time. I was mentally and physically wasted by the time I got home that evening. By then end of the show, I had sold a whopping $300. Whoopee!
I have numerous drama stories. Many are humorous with some being just a little annoying. Experience has given me the ability to recognize and head off problems politely before it gets out of hand. But, occasionally something new will surprise me.
-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com