Show etiquette for my first show


Well-Known Member
I'm going to be doing my first show the middle of this month. It is just a small local gun and knife show so nothing fancy.
It is a small community so I doubt there will be a very high traffic rate. My thought was to have a couple sheaths ready to stitch and I could work a bit on those. I don't plan on ignoring anyone of course, but would it be considered rude to work on something or use it as a demonstration of sorts while at the show? If it is acceptable, what other ideas could one use to pass the time and/or interest potential customers?

I had thought of getting a sign, but I think I'll leave that for a later date. Advice on what to use for a table cover? Is a solid table cover more desirable than a patterned one?

Thank you for your thoughts,


Well-Known Member
Personal opinion, Treat it as if it was the biggest show ever. Get a sign made, have business cards ready, use a nice table cloth, be engaging, don't sit down or work on any projects.


Forum Owner - Moderator
The worst thing you can do at any show, is something besides being attentive to the patrons. If people see you doing something while sitting behind the table, more often then not they will simply walk on by.

Choose a solid color table cloth, one that will excentuate your knives, this sounds eaiser then it is..... you don't want a color that causes the knives to blend into the table cloth....but you don't want something too "wild" either. Personally I think that greens and purples tend to make knives stand out versus darker or earth toned colors.

Unless my legs wear out, I try to stand as much as possible. The most important item I pack for any show is an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. :) If I am sitting, I am on my feet any time someone gets near the table. Often times I will be out in front of my table, sticking my hand out and introducing myself to anyone who gets close enough.
It doesn't matter who you are in the knife world, or who you think you are..... its always necessary to be friendly and pleasent. Any show type situation is as much about the knifemaker, as it is about the knives. People can buy a knife almost anywhere, the reason they go to knife shows is to meet, and get to know the name behind the knives. That means presenting not only your knives, but also yourself, in the best manner possible.
I can't count the number of times I've been at a show, and seen makers who sit behind their table, with their face in a book, or engaged in something other then then the show....and later hear them complain about how terrible sales where/are at the show. Those are the people who simply don't understand what a show is all about. Knife shows are hard work. If you're not exhausted, with a horse voice by the end of a show, then you're probably going home with most of the knives you took.

The "Golden Rule" is key....treat EVERYONE as you would like to be treated. I've had people step up to my table, and buy knives simply because they had been standing off to the side, watching and listening to how I greeted and talked with others. Several years ago, I had a an older "biker" looking fella, step up to the table and purchase the TWO most expensive knives I had on the table.... he told me that he had been standing watching me, and heard me answer the same question at least 10 times, each time with the same zeal as the first time.... just goes to show you that your actions and attitude matter.

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
That is some good advice Ed, as always I learn some things from your post.
Chris what show is it?
Maybe some pros on here can share there table pics to give Chris...and me for future reference how to set up a table?


Well-Known Member
Thank you fellas. This is exactly what I was after. I had thought maybe people might find it interesting but I can definitely see how it could be considered rude. I don't want that. How about just having some in progress projects at the show? Not to be working on them, but just to have them so people might be able to see what I have coming up.

So, I need to get a nice table cloth and I'll see if I can get a sign made in time. Just got a batch of business cards to take. I was thinking on the way home from work today that it might be nice to have cards made with basic care instructions. Does anyone else do this or is it just better to tell them?

Justin, it is in Mound City, KS, about 20 miles south of me. It is being put on by the American Legion and will be at the Linn County Fair Grounds if you feel like a road trip that weekend. :biggrin:

Please, any other advice is welcomed. Also, I'll likely only have about 15 for sale so I don't think numbers should be an issue, but if I had more available, what would be a proper number to display at once? 10-20 or less?

Thanks again,


Well-Known Member
My experience of working on something has been quote the opposite. While I agree with ed whole heartedly to be engaging, polite and cheerful.

I am over 6' 4" and find that sitting, polishing up my knives with a wax & soft cloth with a smile works very well to engage people that then ask me, What are you working on? Then they have broken the ice for me.:biggrin: Put the knife in the hand. Looking & getting tactile are two very different senses and both are even better!

If a lady has a pretty outfit or a man a hat I appreciate, I offer a smile with , That's a pretty outfit young lady, or Sir, I like that Stenson. Keep all comments to females appropriate:3: and they are ALL, Young Lady!

I suggest you work on your leather sheath for awhile and then don't, as a little test. Everyone has their style and what works for Ed or myself may be different for you?
Be your true self is probably the best advise I can give and find what works for you..

One bigger to never do even if you are tired is to cross your arms for any reason. Our body language speaks louder than our words and when we fold our arms we are blocking people from us.

Wear what clothes you feel more appropriate in? I wear a nice long sleeve shirt and a newer pair of jeans & boots. I've had Jot Shigh Kalsa in the flowing white garb & Turban of his faith and others near me in their suit & tie. Be a nice clean you!


Dealer - Purveyor
i agree, treat all shows as if they are the BIG ONE. have cards ready. have a "more info" sign up sheet and be sure to send an email to all who sign. bring a comfortable chair and a small soft mat to stand on. i always have something in work, a handle to sand, blade to sharpen, sheath to finish. If you are former military, wear a tee shirt or ball cap that says so. (Mine is from USS America, CV-66) be extra polite. remember there is no such thing as a stupid question, never give a stupid or wise ass answer.

BossDog & Owner
Encourage people to pick up and handle your knives. Keep a micro fiber cloth handy to wipe them down (after they leave).
Knife tips toward you or sideways to allow people to pick them up a little easier.
Spread out some business cards for customers to shop your web site or contact you.
A few good pictures of sold knives you are proud of don't hurt if there is room on your table.
If there are sheaths with the knives, have them next to the knife.
Some mint candies to hand out costs a few bucks but nearly always gives someone a reason to talk to you.
There are strong feelings about visible prices on knives. I know I prefer to see the prices clearly.

Knife shows are an investment in your image as a maker and relationships with potential future customers.


Well-Known Member
There are strong feelings about visible prices on knives. I know I prefer to see the prices clearly.
I think Boss has the right idea there - put the price on the merchandise!!!! Of course, there are some folks who just don't care what the price is, but I do think most will find the price interesting. I KNOW I have spent more money than I planned sometime when I saw an item that had a price that caught my attention.... and I asked more. Without the price I'd tend to just glance over and keep going.

Ken H>


Well-Known Member
Tablecloth, candy/candy bowls, sign, T-shirts, business cards, and a handful of window decals to pass out are ready to go. An attractive person to help with sales... crap, the wife can't go! :34:
All kidding aside, I just pray my work is up to par. I have about a dozen knives to take. I had hoped to finish about 5 more to take but it just isn't going to happen in time. I figured I'd take the quiver and wrist guard I made a couple months back to show some pure leather projects. In an effort to catch a few extra sales on the low end, I also made a couple dozen key chains out of some antler tines similar to these.

I'm likely overthinking all this, but I want it to be right.
Thank you very much for all of the extremely helpful advice. If I'm missing anything blatant or doing something faux pas, don't hesitate to smack the rookie in the back of the head.

Please give us an after show report, with pics of your setup if you can. I have been invited to a community craft show type thing in July, but turned it down because I just can't enough ready in time. I'm also invited to a hunting expo in October that I might shoot for, so this thread has had my interest too. I was thinking about making up a bunch of paracord bracelets in kid sizes and come up something so kids could "win" one easily. Use the kids to drag Dad over to the table and start conversations.


Forum Owner - Moderator
Anthony makes a great point about having something available for those other then "Dad". For me thats been my damascus pens. I always try to have several on the table, and often times they will catch the eye of a wife or girlfriend..... and in many cases I end up selling a pen and a knife.

Something else that popped to mind when Anthoney mentioned "craft show" and "hunting expo"..... its also important to know/understand the mentality of the patrons you'll likely deal with. For example, those who attend "craft" shows, tend to be looking for ideas, and while they MIGHT purchase something, they tend to be "low dollar" items. "Hunting Expo" can be a mixed bag. Often times those are going to draw patrons who's interests will either be guns, or hunting gadgets. In my experience, you may run into a couple of patrons who know and appreciate a custom knife, but don't be surprised or offended if you get a lot of "shock and awe" when they see the prices of you custom knives. (these are the folks who think of a knife as an "accessory", and can't image why anyone would ever pay more then $20 for one) In either of these environments, chances are that you will spend the majority of your time educating patrons on the attributes and advantages of custom knives. Sales may not be stellar at the show, but depending on how well you represent the custom knife community, it might just turn into purchases/orders down the road.
As I mentioned previously, think of these types of shows as introducing yourself to the public, and if you sell some knives....look it as a "bonus"! :)


Well-Known Member
Anthony, I had thought about taking some paracord. I haven't messed with it much so I might spend a few minutes this evening reminding myself how to do it. I also need to see how many buckles I have left. I don't have time to do it for this show, but your kids comment gave me another idea. What kid doesn't like stickers? I might see if I can get some 'Made in the USA' stickers or maybe even some with my logo made up, just to pass out.

Ed, having the keychain items kind of follows the train of thought about having something for everything. That and I'm fully expecting to sell more of the trinkets than knives. I'm hoping to use that to cover expenses. I had also hoped to have another leather purse made, similar to the one I did a month ago. Time just didn't allow it. I'm fully aware of having something for "her" as well. Heck, I've even justified buying what I wanted before by buying something for her too! lol

I'll probably do another small show in September the week before the ICCE. Then in October there is a huge craft fair locally. I'll probably take as many leather items to it as I do knives.

Thank you all for the input. It has helped immensely!


Well-Known Member
Well the first day of the show went as expected. Didn't sell a knife but sold enough trinkets to cover the table expense. Then my wife showed up and spent double that at the "Scentsy" table. There was an older gentleman there who made "rustic" knives that probably made half a dozen sales, but most were knives priced at $40 and he was taking $30. I just can't do that. I had 1 knife there under $75 and it was just a little cord wrapped kiridashi. He was a nice guy and openly admitted to me that my knives were a lot nicer than his and he didn't have the patience to finish them out to that quality.
Though I didn't make any actual knife sales, I have a short list a people I need to contact in the next week about possible projects. We shall see. The candy deal surprised me. I bet only about 10 people took a piece.
My favorite line of the day was by a gentleman who had given one of my nicer knives a 2nd look. I asked him if he had any questions about it and his reply was, and I quote... "For that price I'm looking for a name like Gerber or something". I chuckled a bit and replied with, "Sir, your are holding a handmade knife, made in America", and left it with that.

I did have a few new likes on my Facebook page today though, so a few people are looking. Going back again tomorrow, even though my wife thinks it is a waste of time.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Chris - from what I see on your table, it's really well thought out. I REALLY REALLY like the prices shown as you have them - or perhaps a smaller, but still easy to read price tag. The prices you show do seem to be VERY reasonable, and a good spread of prices to appeal to all levels.

Ken H>
Well, Chris, I had my fingers crossed for you. Hope you sell one today, but maybe it will be worth it in future contacts. I like your banner, where/how did you get that made? Only thing I see that I'd do a little different is the price tag/cards. IMO they need to be a smaller and not so "in your face". If you don't mind people picking up the knives, you might even have the price covered up so they have to interact with the knife to see it. But, hey, overall that looks good to me, I'd have stopped and checked it out.


Well-Known Member
Thanks fellas. To be perfectly honest Ken. I was hesitant to post that photo because of how well the prices showed for fear I was way off base. Thank you, I at least know I'm in the ballpark for where I should be. As for the show, today was even worse than yesterday, but I guess that means things can't get any worse! :les: I bet there wasn't 25 people come in all day. Next time I'll be neater and smaller with the pricing. Anthony, I had the banner made at a local sign shop. It was only like $50.
Honestly, I don't think half the people knew mine were handmade. All of us obviously would know because we know what to look for. I think I need to be more proactive in making that known as well. I had thought it would be obvious, but I guess I was wrong.



Well-Known Member
Gearing up for my 2nd show this weekend, let's hope it goes better than the last. This gun and knife show, though in a small town, has 70 tables and they are sold out. Much better advertising and quite a bit closer to the city. I finished 4 new knives up this morning and am working the sheaths to have them ready for Saturday. Also hoping to finish up a couple book covers to have my leather work represented.

Thanks again for all the advice and support a few months back.