The “Sampling” Dilemma – Advice wanted!

So, now that I am an old pro as a market vendor with a grand total of 3 under my belt, I have learned quite a bit. The good, the bad, and the ugly. First of all, the main thing that I have learned is that this "Carney" business is hard work! Not like my previous career as a graphic designer hard work, but physical hard work. Cooking, cutting, wrapping, set up, tear down, all in a short time slots. Who needs the gym? I've noticed most of my fellow vendors are pretty buff - now I know why! And I just love said fellow vendors. They are really a fun group of people who are more than willing to offer their help, advice and encouragement. It's like a little community - knowing everyone on a first name basis, the ever present "how were your sales today", smiles and bartering each others goods. Is this what markets were like since the beginning of free trade thousands of years ago? There is something truly wonderful about it all! Now to my dilemma...samples I provide prepackaged "samples" of all 9 flavors of my caramels. I offer them up in those little plastic cups with lids, you know, the ones you make jello shots in. I place them in little baskets on my presentation table for folks to take and try. At last weeks market, I ran out early.This week I doubled up - and still ran out. It's great to have potential customers actually try my goodies, as they really sell themselves, but there are a few "bad apples" that might bring the sampling thing to a screeching halt! More than a few times, this has happened: A large group of people will come over, show interest and chat me up whilst the rest of their group literally cleans me out of samples! I actually witnessed them pick up the whole basket and dump it into their rather large bags. Then, of course, they just saunter away... and leave me with a WTF look on my face! So, herein lies the dilemma - what do I do? Any and all advice is welcome! Here are a couple of suggestions that I received from other vendors: - Personally hand out samples and not have them out for grabs. - Display a sign that states "Free samples - just ask!" What say YOU?


  1. Karen says:

    Those are 2 good suggestions. Keep control! Good luck!

  2. Robyn Freeburg says:

    Being in the food service business for over 28 years, Cheryl, and also done some of the vendor craft shows like yours, I would have someone stand out in front of your booth with a wicker basket and handout a sample. Have them taste and then start the talk up from you. It will bring them in to your booth rather than let them take the samples and move on. You aren’t there to give them dessert for the family later! It works and people will try them right in front of your booth so they see the product in front of them. Just a suggestion. Good Luck!

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