Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gem Faire Judy's

Many good and some even great people attend Gem Faire events. Periodically, some even remarkable people attend Gem Faire and I have the honor to encounter them. However, that does not mean that all the attendees of Gem Faires fall into those positive categorizations.The longer one does the Gem Faire circuit the more patterns of personality types one notices and is able to define in a well-constrained fashion. I have never been able to come up with an all-encompassing word or phrase for the segment of them that is, how shall I say this delicately... ill-mannered or off-putting?

Jewelry design and making expert Jade Gunnarson of Gargoyle Beads recently shared with me her expression for them which I have enthusiastically embraced, to wit: "Gem Faire Judy's". Nearly all Gem Faire Judy's are women because most Gem Faire visitors are women. The occasional male who fits the mold as a Gem Faire Judy is I assume a Gem Faire Jack. However, most male Gem Faire visitors are accompanying a woman.

So what behavioral norms define a Gem Faire Judy? Below are ten varietals. It is worth noting that some Gem Faire Judy's are actually hybrids of more than one of these categories

I'm A Big Shot Judy: This type comes swanning into the booth floating on a wave of misplaced or feigned self-confidence and self-assertion and demands to be treated as if they are a big-spender and an important jewelry-maker. Only problem is they are suffering from delusions of grandeur: they typically spend little money and aren't that good at making jewelry. Oh, and they typically aren't particularly pleasant people.

Dumb-Dumb Judy: This type traditionally will point out that other booths are selling things for 70% off while your booth has no such discounts. Our typical response is "70% off of what?" A 700% mark-up? That nearly always shuts down the conversation right then and there.

What Are Your Wholesale Prices Judy: This type typically comes in and immediately before they have even begun to look around ask what the wholesale discount off the marked price is. They seem to have no concept that wholesale is bulk as in buying a large volume as in getting a whole lot of shit. We as retail sellers can only make our profit selling wholesale based upon the scale of our sales (selling on a narrow margin but with big volume... kinda like wholesalers) which means a product we can quickly sell out and then go back to the source and quickly get more at about the same replacement cost as before.

Credit Card Judy:  This type is sometimes a Gem Faire Jack but most often a woman. They will make a tiny purchase of let's say $3 and want to place it on their credit/debit card. With the fee structures involved that just won't do as it ends up costing the merchant more money than not selling the item at all.

Resale License Judy: This type will come into a booth and spend a bunch of time (your's and her's) and create a tempest in a teapot within the booth, typically also being self-important not to mention penny-wise and pound-foolish. After making much ado about nothing as their purchase sub-total is always small (even tiny) they then whip out a resale license and want us to go through all the rigmarole with paperwork so they can save 21 cents in sales tax. In the meantime, were they actually as important as they try to project they have spent more than 21 cents of their time in labor costs in the booth getting the resale thing taken care of and come out of the deal with a net loss and don't even realize it.

Bait & Switch Judy: This type will come in and start asking for prices for a litany of medium to higher end items based upon the context of those items being purchased in the aggregate. What ends up happening with this type is they will then at the very last minute put back the vast majority of the things they had set aside to get priced. Yet at check-out they demand to be charged the discounted rate quoted for the relatively few items they end up purchasing in the context of the larger aggregate transaction price they were originally quoted. This type tempts one want to yell at them.

Disappearing Set-Aside Judy: This type will come into the booth and spend some time and then come up to the proprietor while holding some thing or things and occasionally even while holding an entire tray of merchandise. They will then ask to have these things set aside while they go do this other thing and will be right back to complete transaction... but then never reappear. Well, typically they won't return but on rare occasions they do but only after so many hours have passed that their selections have been put back out and then sometimes they are a bit huffy about. In the case of those who never return we lost out on the possibility of selling those things the entire time they were needlessly put away.

Cheap, Cheap, Cheap Judy: This type regardless of how nice they are or not really don't belong in the business they claim to be in because they are unable and unwilling to pay what things are actually worth and don't seem to have any grasp of what material is intrinsically worth. Basically, like most Gem Faire Judy's they are posers and wannabees who don't buy a whole lot of anything but cheap Chinese glass or altered-stone trinketry.

Sacred Geometry Judy: This type is the typically emotionally-wounded/emotionally-crippled type of  metaphysical/New Age person (gender breakdown is more equal for this type) for whom empirical knowledge is of little to no value but for whom some sort of rock placebo effect is being attempted. This is not to indict all New Agey/metaphysic-y peeps as they come in multiple sizes and shapes and configurations. However, it is my observation that most folks in this "faith" are psychically-traumatized, damaged people. These folks typically ask a whole litany of questions regarding alternate marketing names for various minerals which have been marketed renamed with a hokier but more ethereal-sounding name (like Merlinite) to sex it  up for the metaphysical people.

Exchange Judy: This type will come into the booth with a small baggy containing two 50-cent beads they purchased the other day or the last time the show was in town and request to exchange them for two other 50-cent beads. We try to accommodate everybody we can within reason and this case is no exception. However, when we see this we're thinking :"Really? You went to all that trouble and expense for two 50-cent beads?"

Resale License Judy Revisited: One more thing about the resale license thing. How it is currently used at Gem Faires and no doubt a myriad other types of trade shows and such is a misuse and abuse of what it is supposed to be: a stimulus incentive for getting people to go out and purchase raw materials at the unfinished end of the market and then turn around and sell them at a higher cost as finished products which can be taxed at a higher rate than the raw materials to which it is comprised.  What is actually happening is that a whole lot of folks are simply acquiring resale licenses for no other reason than to indulge their personal hobby while avoiding paying sales tax. This hurts all of us.


  1. You didn't mention the "Looky-Loo Judy"; They appear often in a group and spend a long time handling the merchandise while keeping a serious customer from getting close to the table.

    1. Wes, you make a valid observation! I missed that one but it certainly belongs on this list.

  2. While composing this list last night another name for Gem Faire Judy's came to mind and that is Gem Faire Walmartians.