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Best approach for breakage at a market


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So had a mishap yesterday where someone’s little boy accidentally knocked over and broke a handful of mugs, frankly could have been a lot worse.
 

Usually when this happens it’s no big deal as the “you break it you buy it” universal law applies for most. This situation differed where the mother just flat out refused to want any part of it and walked off. I ended up getting compensated by her finally, thankfully quite a few people were watching and heard so I think she felt the pressure. 
 

I have some wonderful display racks but this entire thing made me rethink how I show stuff in case of accidents, or to prevent them best I can. I was also just curious as to others experience and ways they handle this when it happens.

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If it was one piece I agree and if they want to pay for it that’s great but we are talking an entire display of mugs that fell over…guess I should have said about a dozen mugs not a handful. 
 

I usually also just ask for production costs if they are willing to buy but this was a chunk of change that broke, so does that make a difference or is it just something we should just accept that happens and hope for the best? Clearly I do not want to be rude or make a scene etc but this one kinda hurt. Anywho…

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Hopefully, this is a once in a lifetime accident. It’s painful, but still I would accept that it happens. I once lost about $1k worth of inventory to a weather incident. In hindsight, I see clearly what my own mistakes were, which I corrected. I don’t know if your display was at fault, but this is a good time to think about how to kid-proof it even better. 

Edit to add link: https://www.goodelephant.com/blog/mother-nature-vs-artscape

Edited by GEP
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Yes we do have an obligation to make sure our displays are study.

Sadly, unruly kids and oblivious parents can be a force of nature.

I had something similar happen. A young, very energetic boy, was running around my booth flaying his arms all around and picking things up while his clueless mother ignored him. I walked up to his mother with a warm smile and as pleasant as I could be and asked her for her credit card. A little surprised and with a look of indignation she said she wasn't sure if she was going to buy anything.  I then, with the same smile, pointed to her son. She slammed down the mug she was holding, roughly grabbed her son's arm and left with a huff. 

Mission accomplished with very little fuss and making room for interested buyers.

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Geez @Morgan That's a tough call.  But it does sound like the Universe came through for you, thanks to others around your booth.  If it's just a piece or two, I usually just shrug it off, but most people will want to make it right.  Or at lease offer some compensation.  And customers will remember your graciousness.   I was the "breaker of pots" in a shop years ago.  My purse knocked a hand thrown mug off the display and the handle broke off the mug.  I took the pieces to the checkout and said I wanted to buy it.  The shop owner nicely said she would charge me the wholesale price.  I did buy another piece and the broken mug now holds my carving tools!  Stuff happens.

Roberta

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@Roberta12  An accident is one thing and I wouldn't charge a customer in that case. But an unruly, undisciplined child is not an accident.

To finish the story above, there where 3 women waiting to enter my booth but where hesitant to do so because of the boy. When the mother & child left one of the women said as she walked in,  "Thank god they're gone! They were making me so nervous just watching them."

With a smile I picked up a mug and held it out for her to hold and said, "If you break it you don't have to pay for it. I'll just make another one."  They all laughed and the 3 walked away with a total of 12 pots. Truth is I say this to anyone in my booth that looks afraid to touch anything. Believe me when I say it helps to close more sales than not.

 

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If it was truly an accident then I let it go. It's part of the risk of doing shows. I lost $1200 of work at a show once due to a rogue wind gust that literally slid my canopy 5 feet, right into my tables, weights and all. It was on an outdoor square in downtown Chicago with a granite tiIe floor. Too slippery for booths, even with 45 pounds on each corner. I took a gamble and lost! However, if it was a kid being unruly and the mom wasn't controlling him, I might ask for some sort of compensation. But definitely not retail price.

As for keeping your booth safe, I think it's nearly impossible to have a setup that's light and portable but immune to the risk of things falling over if bumped. I use 4 foot long plastic tables with shelves on top. A good thump against the table could easily send a lot of things tumbling, but it's never happened (knock on wood). I know it's a risk, but people are generally pretty aware of the fragility of pottery and take care not to bump things when shopping, and I'm not willing to haul around a display that's heavy and bulky and takes forever to assemble. My biggest fear is at shows where the ground isn't level (happens on pavement and grass both) and becomes a trip hazard as people enter the booth, especially for seniors who aren't super stable or able to catch themselves if they trip. I'm extra vigilant about making sure people are aware of the hazard during those shows. It's exhausting, but easier than cleaning up shards or worse having someone get injured in your booth.

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I agree with @neilestrick’s take. We can make our booths as stable as possible, but it needs to be balanced with being easy to transport and setup. The rest is about vigilance when the show is live, both towards the public and towards the weather reports. 

I once spotted a child eyeing the button on my tent leg, the one that would collapse the leg if pushed. He started reaching for it, and I immediately stood up and said “DO NOT TOUCH THAT.” He wasn’t listening so then I turned to his dad. “PLEASE STOP HIM FROM TOUCHING THAT.” The dad stepped in. If the dad had not stepped in, then I would have come out from behind my counter and grabbed the child’s wrist. It’s not pleasant to be cross with people, but sometimes it’s part of the job when dealing with the public. 

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1 hour ago, GEP said:

If the dad had not stepped in, then I would have come out from behind my counter and grabbed the child’s wrist.

Never, Ever, Grab A Child's Wrist. It could be considered an assault and we live in an increasingly litigious society.

When dealing with children in my home, related or not, and they are touching something I don't want them to, I find it works better to put something different in their hands and talk about it. I bet this would work with children at a show too. Personally I'd rather lose a mug than having my whole canopy collapse.

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Touchy subject.

The collapsing tent scenario brings back a flood of memories - the ones where instant action seems warranted, else someone may be hurt. A falling tent could hurt someone.

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7 hours ago, GEP said:

I once spotted a child eyeing the button on my tent leg

5 hours ago, GEP said:

If they are about to collapse my tent

You said the child was only eyeing the button, that is a lot different then reaching for the button.  If  he was reaching for the button I would have grabbed the canopy leg instead of his arm the called for his father

Don't say I didn't warn you

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4 hours ago, MartinD35 said:

You said the child was only eyeing the button, that is a lot different then reaching for the button. 

You might want to read my story again.

I can agree that every situation is different, and the specific nuances of a situation will determine the correct response. There isn’t an answer that will fit every situation. 

Edited by GEP
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I'd like to add in one thing that I hadn't thought about until recently, which is wheel chair access in your booth. A woman in a wheelchair was eying my tent and said, I guess I'll have to back out instead of being able to go through or turn around. People with walkers or canes need to be able to move freely also.  It made me realize I needed to move some of my price tags to more visible spots also. I also have 2 tables like Neil with shelving on them, plus freestanding shelves that are pretty narrow. Most little kids couldn't reach too far onto the tabletop and I have little dishes nearer the edge which aren't a big deal if they are dropped or broken. I did have one show where wind blew some pieces off my shelves and onto the ground!! Overnight, the wind was so bad the tent walls flapped in and knocked a table over. Lesson was to box most of my stuff up and move everything into the middle of the tent overnight. If I have another windy show, I will put on the bottom of my pottery the white putty meant for attaching posters and things to the wall. It's reusable, removes easily and doesn't leave goo behind. 

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@GEP  

Yes, I have reread your posts in this thread and I get the feeling of a lot of pent up anger. That said, I'm sure if you and I were sitting on a park bench on a nice sunny day, each enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation, we would see each other in a different light and many things about pottery that we would agree on. Written words in social media can take a life of its own and sway far from the writer's intent.

Yes, every situation, show, potter, child and parent can bring  a multitude of different responses. It is my thought that this thread is how to deal with difficult situations when dealing with children at our shows and not about the weather. Its good that there are plenty of differing suggests. All very helpful to us all. Maybe we can start a new thread about how to deal with all types of situations at out shows.

Now, if you reread my posts you will see a common thread of using words without physical contact.

It is my opinion that violence, especially towards children, is never warranted.

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When I asked you to reread my story, this is what I meant:

On 11/16/2021 at 9:36 AM, GEP said:

I once spotted a child eyeing the button on my tent leg, the one that would collapse the leg if pushed. He started reaching for it,

You misquoted me, and now you are assigning emotions that I did not express at all. Now you are labeling my words as “violence.” Seriously? Again, if you reread my story, the whole situation was solved with words, not contact. You seemed to have missed that too. I’m not going to discuss this any further with you. 

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I can see both opinions of the tent leg situation. One thing that probably isn't politically correct to bring up is the size and probably gender of the person giving the redirect to the child.  Even when going for a walk and smiling or giving a little wave to a  child can get some parents agitated these days. I seem to get away with this just fine but when my husband (big guy with a beard) does this he can get a hairy eyeball from the parents if he is not with me. It's not fair but it's reality these days and he won't put himself in that situation. I'm going to hazard a guess that if he gently redirected a child's hand from a tent leg button he would get a different reaction than if I did it but I think both he and I would hold the tent leg rather than the child's wrist or hand. Like has already been said, every situation is different.

I'm going to start a new thread on "What can go wrong at a Market".  

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@MartinD35 Enough. 

This conversation has devolved into the personal, and that’s not how we roll here.

If people want some tips on how to diffuse a hyper child quickly,  gently and without physical contact, I have been trying to work on a response that isn’t a complete novel on how to do that. My son has ADHD, and was most definitely “that kid.” These are techniques that work on neurotypical children as well. I have been prepping for my last out of town show for the year, so please have patience for that. 

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19 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

If people want some tips on how to diffuse a hyper child quickly,  gently and without physical contact

Isn't that what I've been saying all along?  I'm not the one who suggested to grab a child's arm. I'm the one who pointed out to a mother that their child needed some supervision.

I understand your troubles and also have experience with ADHA.

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Morgan

One option when breakage occurs is offer them to buy the same value as the breakage then they get pots and you get some $$. They feel better and you split the loss and feel ok.

This has worked well for me over the decades (5 of them)

Edited by Mark C.
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