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Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

By Ashley Brooke, Kewpie83 @KewpieDoll83

For a doll collector, attending a doll show can be as exciting as stepping through the gates of Walt Disney World. Even the most narrowed minded collector is sure to find something they find appealing when they’re faced with tables filled with dolls of all shapes, sizes and ages. Doll shows are great places to shop for your next favorite doll, mingle with other collectors and learn about doll lines you may not have seen before.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

At the most recent show my mom attended she started a conversation with a vendor who shared some less than flattering interactions with customers shopping the showroom floor. It prompted me to write this post. Why? Because we, as collectors, should be better than what this man and his wife experienced.

So, let’s talk doll show etiquette. Just like you’re expected to follow unspoken rules in schools, churches or life in general, there are some unspoken rules that you should follow when attending a doll show.

Rule #1: Ask Before Snapping a Photo

I’ve definitely broken this rule before. Since my doll show videos are some of my most popular YouTube videos, taking photos at the shows I attend is pretty important. Since most of us have access to a camera all the time via our smart phones, it’s pretty much second nature to whip it out and snap a photo whenever we want to. However, at a doll show, we (myself included) really should ask permission before snapping a picture of a doll we’re admiring. There are a few different reasons for this. Some sellers are leery about photos, because they’re worried about con artists using that doll photo on eBay and scamming people. Other sellers find it insulting or just plain sad when all it seems the potential buyers want to do is take a photo of the dolls on display and aren’t looking to really shop.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

This was what the dealer my mom spoke with said. He mentioned how disheartening it was that people didn’t seem to care at all about buying anything in the booth, but they would happily snap a photo. It made him and his wife sad to see people not taking an interest in the booth for the reasons they were there (to sell). In this case, he and his wife were lifelong collectors selling a collection that no one in their family wanted. So, seeing people pass by these dolls that were taken care of and loved by a collector (and not a doll dealer) or just snapping a photo made them a bit irritated.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

To be honest, this rule is also a generational thing. Most older collectors aren’t chained to their cell phones. They don’t ‘do’ apps or sometimes don’t have or understand social media and the importance of sharing information visually on those platforms. So, it’s important to ask before snapping a photo, just in case you are dealing with a dealer who isn’t as wired to post or share on the internet as many of us younger collectors are.

Rule #2: Don’t Just Walk By, Open Your Mind

Not every sellers merchandise will be to your liking. That’s just how it goes. But, next time you go to a show, consider stopping in and looking at everything the show has to offer by going into every booth. It’s sad when you are walking around a show just to overhear sellers saying, “no one’s even stopping to look at what we have.” You may know that you won’t be leaving with something from a particular sellers table, but throw them a bone and give it a walk through. It may make your stay at the doll show a little longer, but is that really all that bad? Not to mention, you may make someone’s day by just showing a passing interesting in what they brought to the show, especially if it’s a collector selling their collection of beloved dolls.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

Rule #3: Strike Up a Conversation

Small talk is not something everyone is comfortable with and I completely understand why. It can be hard sometimes! To be fair, some sellers at doll shows don’t give off an approachable vibe. They’re looking at their phones, chatting with other sellers or they’re just… staring. Were I working a table, I would make an effort to greet people or acknowledge them, as a way to get them into my space. Not all sellers do this, at some shows very few do this– so this is not just a rule for buyers, it’s for everyone. Sellers, acknowledge people as they browse or pass your booth. Buyers, engage with sellers as you enter their booth. A smile and a simple hello will suffice.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

In some cases, striking up a conversation with a vendor might help you find just what you’re looking for. If you’re shopping for something specific and a seller has something in the same vein, it never hurts to ask if they have what you are looking for. You never know, they may have it, but didn’t bring it. It also is completely allowed to ask questions about a doll that you’ve never seen before. A good seller knows what they have and on a slow day, they may welcome the chance to talk about the history of the doll you’re looking at.

Rule #4: Just Because It’s In a Cardboard Box Doesn’t Mean It’s Trash

Lots of sellers will bring dolls in plastic bins or cardboard boxes. Sometimes, for the ease of packing them up after the show, they’ll keep the dolls in those bins and let potential buyers sort through them. Not every plastic bin or cardboard box is a ‘bargain’ bin, so they shouldn’t be treated as such.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

The gentleman my mom spoke with at the last show she attended recounted to her a story about an attendee haphazardly tossing around the fragile dolls that were in a box, resulting in her breaking three of them. That’s not right. Don’t assume because something is in a box or bin that what you’re sorting through isn’t worth something to the seller, whether it’s money or memories.

Rule #5: It’s Not Hard To Clean Your Dolls (Sellers, I’m Talking To You!)

This rule is completely in the hands of the sellers. You don’t know how many sellers I’ve seen stock their tables with dirty, dusty dolls and slap them with a huge price tag. Newsflash– if it ain’t clean and priced as a ‘fixer-upper’, then it isn’t going home with me or probably anyone else. Sellers, please take heed of this and before your next show, make your dolls presentable.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

If they are the kind where you can comb their hair, why not try? If they’re composition or hard plastic, pick up some special cleaner to make them look fresh. (We use Dream Clean Doll Cleaner for our dolls and it works great!) Spruce them up a little to show buyers that you care about your merchandise, because that is what will sell your doll and allow you to lighten your load a little.

For those who missed it, here was our latest Doll Show Haul video:

These are just five points of etiquette I thought I would point out. Feel free to add your own in the comment area!  What tips do you have for those who are attending their first doll show? Share them in the comments!

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October 16, 2018. Tags: Article/How to, Review. Uncategorized.


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