Sunday, July 7, 2013

Advice from the Queen of Awkward: How to be less awkward in nifty artisan shops

I think we've all probably been there:

That neato little shop where you get to meet and talk to the owner, who also happens to be the artist selling his or her work. You've had a great conversation, you've genuinely spent five minutes or so inspecting the pottery, wool sweaters, photography, or whatever else is on display. And then that horrible moment when you have to leave. You flash a slightly sheepish grin at the shop owner, mumble out an even more sheepish, "Great work... thanks," and duck out.
If you're lucky, sometimes you can manage your exit under cover of some other customers who have come in. 
But often this is not the case. 

It's not that you don't greatly admire (or at least appreciate) the artwork (or boutique goods) for sale; it's simply that the goods for sale fall into one or more of the following categories:
1) they're too expensive
2) you can't fit anything else in your suitcase
3) it's just really not your thing after all
4) you remember your family member or best friend can do equally good work. That you get to enjoy for free.

Now, you should never, ever feel pressured to buy something from somebody out of guilt. Still, you want to be polite.

The past few days, I've been in situations (aka small Scottish villages) where one of the few ways to occupy my time was to go browse in the shops. I figured out an easy way to save face. Probably many of you all know about it already, but I thought I'd share anyway.

DUH. It's to ask for a business card. 

I don't know why this never dawned on me before, but it's allowed me to express my interest in the artist's work without having to actually buy anything. 
It's better than simply asking, "do you have a website?" 
In the cases where I used it, I was actually interested in the work for sale. It just happened to fall into both categories 1 and 2 from above. But even if I hadn't been interested in maybe eventually someday ordering something from these sellers, it still was a more polite way out than simply leaving the shop. 

Also, below are pictures from my walks around the Clan Donald grounds today! I spent about 4 or 5 hours meandering about, visiting the Museum of the Isles (which is on the property), and even visiting a few shops (one of which I employed the business card trick).

This castle was actually built in the 19th century (I think), but is already a ruin.

I found this view while out running last year. This year, I found it again, just coming from the other direction!