Setting Up Your Booth
So you’ve scheduled your first craft show and you’re ready to go, right? Have you given any thought to how you will present your creations in their best light? Some tables, a few tablecloths, some price signs, and poof – you have a booth, right? Well, not so fast.
Let me tell you, it is NOT easy. Our booth is a work in progress. We started with two tables and a display my brother-in-law made from my vision. (He’s really good at that, by the way, so if you’re in the area and need an intro…) And it worked. For a good long time it worked. It was a folding wooden display with hooks to hang Book-Inz from the metal rings.
And then a customer told me about magnetic paint. Kind of like chalkboard paint, but magnetic. Six coats later, I had a magnetic display. Which, had I thought it out, made perfect sense! How better to display the magnetic properties of Book-Inz than on a magnetic display?
And then I needed more display space for all the new Book-Inz I was making. Enter two black picture frames with metal flashing. That worked even better! So now I’ve got a mishmash of displays, two MORE tables…
And then I saw a vendor with raised tables and discovered bed risers. You know, those large plastic upside down cups that lift your bed height? Yep. Four sets of risers later, we had an even better display.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Because it didn’t stop there! While trolling Pinterest (a fantastic website if you haven’t been), I saw a diagram showing how to make a frame for canopy walls and away I went!
So I went from this:
And whatever your display, you’ve got to make it fit into whatever amount of space the show organizers are offering. Sometimes it will be 10×10 (typically the standard), other times it will be 8×8, and then other times it will fall somewhere in between. I’ve done shows where the space was 20×10, 6×8, 5×8, and even 6×6. And that’s another consideration to have when deciding how to set up your space. Is it configurable to fit ANY size space or will I have to start all over with a different display each time I get a new booth size? Of course, you could also only apply for shows that have the space you want, but then you’re limiting your customer base. And not only do you have to make sure it’s configurable, you also have to make sure it’s not so unwieldy that you can’t set it up and tear it down in less than thirty minutes. Well, you could take an hour if you wanted, but why would you? Our old set up had us torn down and in the car within thirty minutes. Our new set up takes a little bit longer, but also looks so much better and gives more space for customers to browse. Ask yourself these questions: How many dollies will you need to load/unload? Can you set up and tear down by yourself if you had to? Will you have help available if you are by yourself?
I want to stress that your booth does not have to be perfect from day one. Just like with your creativity, inspiration will come from the most random places. Your booth set up is going to be ever evolving. At least until you have discovered that sweet spot of display, time, and space. Because having multiple configurations is a headache, I’ve been there. Some of the best advice I never took was to set up your display at the house the first time and time yourself, work out the tweaks, catch those little things you might not have noticed while constructing it from pieces. In your mind, you’ve probably got a wonderful vision of what it looks like – real life isn’t always the same. And did you catch where I mentioned I never took this advice? Don’t make my mistake.
And look at others’ booths while you’re out and about, scoping your next craft fair application, there are also a few other ways to get inspiration for your booth. One of the best I’ve found is Show Me Your Booths, a Flickr site. There are actually a few craft show booth sites on Flickr. Meylah.com has a great ideas post about your booth set up.
And all the materials you use for building this fantastic display are deductible expenses on your income tax. How’s that for nifty? Now I’m not telling you to go out and build the most expensive thing you can find to have a big deduction, it doesn’t work quite like that. I’m just saying that you need to save those receipts from Home Depot and Lowe’s for your tax return…
So go find inspiration, get some supplies, and get to building! Until next time, Keep Calm and Read On!
PS – I have had several readers contact me with further questions. I am more than happy to answer them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I will also post your questions anonymously with my answers – if you’ve got the question, chances are someone else does, too!