Recently, I attended the Western New York Pottery Festival at Studio Sales Pottery in Avon, NY. Nearly two-dozen contemporary potters exhibited under tents.
They needed the tents. It poured Sunday morning when I attended. And it was cold.
The Festival’s first day was held under perfect, blue skies and comfortably moderate temperature.
The potters arranged themselves across the lawn in front of the old schoolhouse that serves as Studio Sales Pottery’s retail space.
Despite the downright crummy weather, 30 or so customers prowled the property inspecting, reviewing, commenting, and fondling the work on display. I noticed more than a few purchases being made.
There were bowls and vases on display. The hardly-in-short-supply coffee mugs were also present. There were decorative pieces and some art pottery with wonderful glazes (the latter being “just for nice,” as the Pennsylvania Germans would say).
Beyond the Festival itself, what’s the point?
First, note the presence of eager and enthusiastic customers. I haven’t seen such creatures in some time.
More significantly: the craftspeople displaying their work were invariable in a good mood, unfailingly greeting customers entering the tents (even when it was quite clear the “customer” just wanted to get out of the rain), and cheerfully seeking to engage potential customers.
The ceramists said such novel things as: “Hello.”
One potter, observing my short-sleeved arms, said: “I see goose bumps!”
It wasn’t especially effortful – on their part or my own. But we had a brief exchange and I went on my way, through the rain, and to the next booth.
Seems trivial, right?
In another venue, the monthly printed newspaper named the New York-Pennsylvania Collector, I have on occasion remarked that antiques dealers at shows seem much more focused on reading the newspaper or checking their phone than interacting with customers entering their booths.
OK, I exaggerate and it’s true: I’ve commented on this on a more than occasional basis.
And it’s not only because the behavior is rude. It is.
It’s also stupid. And it isn’t business-like.
There are three rules for journalism: Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.
There are three rules for real estate: Location, location, location.
And there are three rules for selling to collectors: Engage, engage, engage.
And as for the collectors, the same rules of engagement apply when seeking information or a discount from a seller: Talk-to-them.
So why aren’t we all doing it?