Street Fair Etiquette

Bill, Zack, and Colin

We are a Street Vendor Family

 

I want to thank everybody who avoided the malls and the chain stores to purchase holiday presents from independent merchants and craftspeople. My wife is one of those craftspeople She crochets and knits her little fingers to the bone to create the best quality hats, headbands, and other accessories for your enjoyment. A major part of our income is from selling her work on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley. As she is also a professional clown, (yes, I said clown, so stop snickering at me.) she was hired to work the Telegraph Ave Holiday Fair. I’ll give you three guesses as to who manned her stand while she twisted balloon animals for the kids.

It was a profitable fair for all the vendors despite the bad economy. We noticed that there were a lot of people who never shopped at street fairs before, which made things better for all of us. In gratitude for their patronage, I wrote up this quick etiquette guide for street fair shopping. There are going to be more street fairs leading up to Dec. 25th, and you can refer to this guide to make your shopping experience (and our selling experience) the happiest possible.

  1. The Management is Always Overworked. Remember this if you have a problem or complaint. The city has little to do with street fairs, except collecting fees and taxes. The actual management is usually a few vendors who put their hearts and souls into putting the fair together every year. They organize it, they get the permits, they sell the spaces, and they run it. The couple who put on the Telegraph Ave. fair even put on reflective vests and paint the spaces on the street. So if you have trouble or need help, be patient. They will get to you. Better still, if you had a good time, thank them. They deserve all the appreciation they get.

  2. We Are Not Employees. We vendors are neither paid employees nor city contractors. We are independent business people, licensed by the city. We have no influence with the guy beside us. If you have a problem with him, we cannot help you.

  3. Nor are We Abercrombie and Fitch. Hell we’re not even Wal-Mart. We don’t have managers emptying and renewing our cash drawers every half hour. On an average day, I go to the Avenue with only twenty dollars in change with me. On a Holiday Fair, I might start the day with fifty. So please remember to bring small bills. Don’t purchase a five dollar item and ask us to change a hundred. That’s the sort of thing that inspires street vendors to take up voodoo.

  4. On the Other Hand. There are special blessings to people who have exact change. There is a street vendor superstition that suggests angels follow people with exact change, and god makes flowers grow upon the ground they walk upon.

  5. Remember That We are Adults. We understand that not everybody who sees our wares will like them. We also understand that not everybody who wants to purchase our crafts can afford it. It’s okay if you don’t buy from us. I promise you, we won’t take it personally. If you say, “thank you, we’ll be back,” we’re big enough to know you’re unlikely to do so. There is no need to slink past our stalls like the puppy who stole the roast. If we wave, it means we like you. So wave back, smile, or even say hi. That way we know we made a friend even if we haven’t made the sale.

  6. We Love Dogs! I have only met two street vendors who don’t like dogs. One is allergic and the other is a very unhappy person. The rest of us love doggies to pieces. Some of us even bring our dogs with us to sleep under our tables. They are a wonderful thief deterrent. My wife and I bring our princess with us because she is old and likely to have an accident if we leave her home. As a rule, our doggies are friendly, but don’t assume. Please ask before you introduce your four legged family member to ours.

  7. Please Don’t Toss our Tables. We work hard to set up our tables. It takes an hour’s to set up our display, and it’s relatively simple. Other vendors work a lot longer to get their tables just right. People who pass by, pick up a handful of goods and thoughtlessly toss them back, are very inconsiderate. It’s okay to look at everything and not buy. Please don’t jumble everything and walk away. I am always surprised that a just and merciful deity doesn’t send a bolt of lightning up the spleens of people who do that.

  8. If You Buy Something For Yourself, Wear It. There are few things that make us happier than sitting at our booths watching happy customers wearing our work. It is a guaranteed smile.

  9. Don’t Give Your Toddler Red Juice or Soda and Bring Them To Our Tables. I don’t need to elaborate on that one, do I? Also, make sure you wipe the ice cream off little fingers. Thank you for your consideration.

  10. Remember To Tip The Clown. We can’t afford to pay the performers and musicians all that much. Like waiters, they depend on tips to make ends meet.

That about covers everything. If you follow these ten simple rules, we will all have a happy holiday shopping experience. Plus, you will have street vendors praying you into heaven rather than the opposite. My thanks to everybody who shopped at the Telegraph Ave. Street Fair. Even if you didn’t buy from us, chances are, you bought from one of our friends, and we are a very supportive community. You did a good thing by spending your holiday dollars with us rather than slave labor from China. You are all good people, for shopping at any street fair or from any American craftsperson. Thank you.

Have a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.

Dozo on Telegraph

Remember to Tip the Clown

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