29 Nov 09

How to Set up a Craft Booth that Customers Can't Resist

Are you about to take the leap into your first craft show?  Got the goods, but don’t know how to display them?

At a craft show, appearances ARE important and how your booth is set up can have a direct impact on your sales. Great products can lose their appeal if they're surrounded by a poorly-designed display, so think about setting up a booth or table that makes people look and keeps them browsing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your craft show display:

Research: Before anything – do your research (reading this article is a great first step!).  Erin Niehenke from the lovely Etsy store Creekbed Threads did a lot of research before creating her recent craft show display (see photos above and below). She browsed various Flickr craft show groups for inspiration (here are three examples of  craft show displays), visiting local craft shows (including the one that she was going to participate in to get a feel for what to expect), and getting staging ideas from her favorite magazines.  In addition, she decided to ask the experts, and created her own Etsy forum topic, asking experienced crafters for their craft show ideas and advice.  Thanks to her research, Erin had a very successful craft show experience.

Theme: Having a theme to your booth reinforces your brand.  For example, if you sell linens, you could use vintage wire laundry baskets from a thrift store to display some of your items, or an old-fashioned washboard as a display holder for your business cards.  It’s great to have functional props, so try and choose ones that can be used as levels or stands – you’ll be killing two birds with one stone!

Color: When planning your displays, choose colors that make your products pop. You don't want to your items to be washed out by a color that's too bold, or overwhelmed by busy patterns. Also, keep your theme and brand in mind when choosing colors.  Think about the mood you want to create when people visit your booth.  Think about the moods created by different colors.

Levels: Include interesting levels and depth in your displays to draw people into your booth. From far away, your booth will look empty and uninviting if your products are all lying horizontally (and facing the ceiling) on the table.  Set them up to face the customer! If your booth turns people's heads from a distance, their feet are sure to follow.

Signage: Make sure you have a clear sign showing your store name.  Make it interesting and unique – anything to make people remember your name.  Another important tip: Just like when they're shopping at a retail store, people want to know prices. It can be a turn-off for them to have to ask you how much everything costs (what if you're busy with another customer?), so label each item clearly.

Keep it Subtle: Your displays should never outshine your product; they are there to make your product stand out.  Even if you come up with the most beautiful, elaborate display in the world – it’s of no use if people spend all their time admiring your display, and don’t even notice your products.

Keep your Display Affordable: I know what you’re thinking.  All these ideas are great – but how much will it all cost?  You're there to make a profit, and there's no need to break the bank on this. Kristin Walters is the owner of the Etsy jewelry store One 9 Designs (see photo below).  For her craft show booth, she found ways to cut costs on her displays. Here are four great tips:

  1. If your show is around the holidays, take advantage of holiday sales.  Kristin was able to get a six-foot table from Target as part of their Thanksgiving sale.
  2. Kristin wanted something more than an ordinary tablecloth or sheet to cover her tables, so she used a long window swag that she found on sale at Linens N Things, and paid less than $5 for it.  Remember that it doesn't have to be a tablecloth by definition to work in your display.
  3. Kristin created varying heights in her display, using some rattan tip baskets that she got from Target. She filled them with styrofoam and covered them in some lovely chocolate brown fabric that was once a curtain (also on sale at Linens N Things).  Displaying her jewelry at different levels really made a difference.
  4. Kristin recommends buying display props that you would be able to use in your home.  That way your items are multi-functional, and will not be wasted if for some reason your first craft show isn’t as profitable as you had hoped.

Please share your craft show stories, experiences and tips. I look forward to seeing you at a craft show in the future!

Dionne Christiansen is a graphic designer based in Houston, TX.  She is the face behind the Etsy store City of Dionne and writes at her blog Notes From Dionne.

Posted by: Dionne Christiansen

Posted in: selling

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1 MYSAVIOR.etsy.com commented on 11/29/2009

Fabulous advice and great photos! Love the shops also.

2 Erin commented on 11/29/2009

Great advice, and thank you for such a nice writeup!

3 Sheila commented on 11/29/2009

I totally agree with all the suggestions. It really does make a difference as to which tables people really are drawn to, if your display is appealing and well thought out.

4 Teresa Penrose commented on 11/29/2009

Great blog! Might I make another suggestion? If you take sturdy boxes, fill them with something slightly heavy, tape them up and wrap them with cloth, paper, they can also be used to give depth to your table! I got some remnants at Joanne’s for about $3.00 to cover my boxes.


5 Dionne_C commented on 11/30/2009

That is a great tip, Teresa! Thank you!

6 Terri commented on 11/30/2009

Thanks for the interesting tips!

My tips for booth decorating is to look in Thrift stores. I found a beautiful tablecloth and a lace cover(curtain panel) for a couple of dollars.
Also bought a couple of display racks from a store that was going out of business

7 Maggi Saar commented on 11/30/2009

I love a good craft fair!

8 Chaitra commented on 11/30/2009

I enjoy reading your blogs. U really have made art a science..
I will apply for my son’s art. He is really the budding artist. I need to keep myself upto date:) afterall I am his mom.

9 Tammy commented on 12/02/2009

Thanks for that lovely insight into the booth world. This advice works for so many genres. And I’ll be sure to use some of those tips in the future. Happy crafting people!

10 Tam Catterall commented on 12/02/2009

Thanks so much for your helpful tips, I look forward to putting these tips into good use at my next show. Easy to read & beautifully written. Thanks again

11 Rita commented on 12/02/2009

This article consists of really helpful tips :D

12 Flitterkit commented on 12/03/2009

Wonderful advice. I really enjoy craft booths with multi levels and good marked prices much more than ones without!

13 Anna Joy Walsh commented on 12/04/2009

This is fantastic!!! I have a small stall at some Sunday markets in my local community and have been finding my display very boring and unappealing for customers. Definitely will be making use of the levels suggestion and am going to try to theme my display from now on. Thanks for the help here!

14 Amanda commented on 12/07/2009

Great tip on clear pricing. I’m normally reluctant to ask how much things are. I’d rather walk away without asking than feel like I’ve disappointed the stall owner if I don’t then buy the item!

15 Ellie commented on 12/08/2009

Hey great tips… does make a real difference :)

16 Melanie commented on 02/18/2010

Great article. I am going to be doing my first show with my dragonflies and this article was a big help!

17 leo manning commented on 02/26/2010

i would like to start selling my barnboard wood creations at craft shows and was hoping you could share with me how well or not so well wood products sell at craft shows. I do benches, picture frames, sayings, planters, almost anything with wood, and hoping you could share with me if these things do well, and what wood products do, do well, thank you so much in advance for any and all help.

18 Tana commented on 08/17/2010

Thanks for a very informative post about booth display! I wanted to share some pics of a few of my booth displays. I'm especially fond of the booths from October and November 2009.

19 Kathleen Payne commented on 08/30/2010

Great tip and suggestions!

20 gina argyrou commented on 11/19/2010

Thank you so much for the wonderful information. I am creating my first time ever Christmas ornaments using vintage look brooches and I am so excited. I have 3 craft shows coming up and I appreciate your great tips!

21 Courtney Dirks (Meylah) commented on 11/21/2010

@Gina - We'd love to see pics of the finished product (the ornaments) Gina!

22 sydni commented on 11/22/2010

these are wonderful ideas.thanks so much!ill use some of these for my booth.It's not my first arts show.actually my second.This will be better than last year.thanxs again!

23 Maija commented on 01/04/2011

For my first craft show I had a wonderful display that I reconfigured a vintage suitcase to display my jewelry. The display got way more positive comments than items for sale- it stole the show.

24 Lindsey commented on 03/15/2011

Thank you for the helpful advice and links. It has helped to get me thinking! xx

25 Veronica commented on 04/16/2011

Thank you. I'm going to be doing my very first craft show, and I appreciate these great tips. I love the basket idea.

26 cathy moore commented on 06/17/2011

I've bought things at the dollar stores and thrift stores. I needed a picture frame that I found at Salvation Army for $2. It was mahogony in color so it fit in perfectly. Wanted vase of flowers. Got both at the dollar store (flowers should look nice though). I got 2 long wall shelves through Craigs List for $10 ea. Got risers at dollar store or even around the house. Buckets, boxes etc covered with cloth work. I found nice looking, metal napkin holders for $1 at Salvation Army for holding my handmade books.

27 Marysia Carroll commented on 07/12/2011

What lovely ideas! Thank you. I'm preparing for my first craft fair and this will be very useful.

28 Nancy J. Ingvalson commented on 07/19/2011

Excellent ideas, Thank you

29 Lucy Kelly commented on 10/11/2011

Thank you for the wonderful tips and inspiration. Im hoping to do my first stall in December, im excited and nervous.

30 Gina commented on 11/07/2011

Thank you for your blog, as I'm a new crafter unfortunately with NO eye for setting up. People like you and a couple ladies i met at my first craft show are sooo helpful I look forward to being in the crafters community...
I have one pressing question though... What are those metal grate type walls called that I see at craft shows... I've been on craigslist and amazon and can't figure out the name.

31 Courtney commented on 11/07/2011

Hi Gina...check out this link, I think this company sells the wire displays you are looking for: http://www.marvolus.com/
I hope this helps!

32 The Dog Lake Trading Company commented on 02/10/2012

Great ideas and suggestions...going to put them to good use at our debut.

33 kiperly aiken commented on 03/04/2012

i will be entering my clay sculptures in the flame tree arts festivel on our island this year...it will be my first time to try it.........im a little scared...but alot excited..wish me luck!

34 Jenni Speed commented on 03/23/2012

Do you recommend some places for large backdrop type stands to hang pictures from? I can't figure out what to do for that. I need something sturdy to hang my canvas wraps & metal prints.

35 Beverly commented on 04/08/2012

Wonderful ideas. Thank you. I have some wonderful products which I am failing to show off. I now realise that making the products is only the beginning. Display is everthing! Thanks again.

36 Eileen Longe commented on 05/20/2012

+Hello, I have participated in quite a few craft fairs with my own photography and fine art. I completely agree with the advice given in this article. I do intend to make better signage due this the piece. I have also found that having music that is appropriate with the ctaft fair setting is also an attention getter and tends to invite people to linger longer at your booth.

37 Claudia Hepler commented on 05/22/2012

This is a timely article for me as I am doing an Etsy vintage one day show in Pittsburgh on July 29th and am beginning to think about my booth! Thanks so much!

38 Meg commented on 05/23/2012

I'm new to the craft fait circuit and found this article very informative. Not only are the tips great but it also include links and graphic examples! Thanks and look forward to more. -Meg from Meg's Minions

39 Claudia Hepler commented on 07/04/2012

Thanks so much for all of the great tips on setting up a craft booth. I am participating in Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer...a one day vintage event this summer and needed some sound advice on displaying!

40 Frances Wood commented on 07/04/2012

We are doing a show in a 6 x 16 booth we always have a 10 x 20 booth have had for the last 25 years. Not real sure how to display Christmas and everyday any suggestiosns
Thank you

41 Ronel commented on 08/30/2012

Thank you so much for all the great tips! I have my first Craft Show on Saterday 1 September 2012 and although I had an idea of how I want my stall to look like... reading your article sure did help a lot! So thank you : )
Greetings from South Africa!

42 Jeffrey Washington commented on 09/03/2012

Thanks for the tips. I'm doing my first show about a week after reading your info. This was really helpful.

43 Fadia A House commented on 09/03/2012

Thanks to everyone for all the tips. I have participated in craft fairs before and my booth was very boring! Decided to search and I am very happy to have found your link. All the ideas mentioned are great, hope this time my booth will be better.

44 Laura Grisham commented on 09/13/2012

Years ago I sold Tupperware...you have to really be creative to sell plastic bowls !
I purchased several yards of black velvet (after the holidays) and would take various shapes & sizes of ordinary cardboard shipping boxes to add height/vertical appeal to my display. Place a larger box ( all upside down) and then place a different size& shape box on top of it...turn the top ox at an angle. Set up your entire table with stacks of boxes & even upside down bowls.
You'll need some extra "hands" now...lay the heavy velvet fabric on over the boxes. Shift & drape it...you h
Will end up with TONS more table display room & no one will know how you achieved the effect! TIP: tape the boxes to the table & each other to prevent shifting .
You'll love the way the heavy velvet drapes & looks so professional.
Now...can someone ive me some advice on how to display purses?

45 Meg commented on 11/05/2012

I am looking for ideas for a craft fair. Maybe using birch limbs to display necklaces and bracelets. Some sort of fantasy theme. Thank you!

46 Pearl commented on 01/27/2013

I Found a lot of really good advise, and will make good use of it.

47 Yolanda Crisostomo commented on 02/11/2013

Thank you these are such wonderful tips! I especially like the one about not having the display outshine the merchandise. Good one!

48 Kathy Norris commented on 02/27/2013

I have a show coming up and have never been very good at setting up my booth. This time I am selling homemade wallets, purses, checkbook covers, cosmetic bags, etc. I just don't have a clue how to display them. Thanks!

49 sheila commented on 04/27/2013

I just read all your information because I make a lot of things like pillow's purse's slipper's and diffent outhers things like that

50 Tina commented on 07/19/2013

Wonderful Wisdom!! Thank you!

51 Chantal G commented on 08/20/2013

Thank you for the tip I will use them next booth :)

52 Amy commented on 08/24/2013

Thanks for the ideas. I have my 2nd show coming up in a month and needed ideas!

53 Pamella OConnor commented on 01/18/2014

I need to stop borrowing pro panels and create my own walls! I like the idea of fabric, perhaps even canvas. Any pictures of walls like that?

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