Want to know who is really good at telling you what booths work and which ones don't? Craft show producers! A couple of our favorite show producers are the ladies behind Indie Craft Parade (they are accepting apps until 6/20 so get on that!) and they are sharing standout craft show booths from the stellar artists who sell at their shows. If your booth needs sprucing up or you are about to create your first one, then read on for some inspiration and tips!
Every year, we get to watch 80 artists set up their displays for Indie Craft Parade. With the wide variety of work that has been exhibited over the last seven years, we've seen our fair share of booths! But it’s not always the biggest or fanciest table that gets the most attention. You can do a lot with a little, and we’ve been taking notes on the elements of the most successful craft show displays.
Here are a few tips for not just creating a unique and memorable booth display, but one that works:
1. Create a branded environment
No matter what you make or where a show is being held, you can create a cohesive display that stands out from nearby vendors. This can be accomplished in many different ways, but usually an artist will focus on a particular color or style that’s already present in their work and use that as a starting point. Another approach is to consider where your items will be used and create a space that feels similar.
For some booths, it can be as simple as bringing in a rug or a plant, but don’t let any of these ‘extras’ distract from the products themselves. Any bins or baskets used should subtly complement your work, and not steal the show.
2. Use all of the space
When you’re working with limited space, it’s important to use everything at your disposal – a wall or curtain, the table, maybe even the floor! Make sure you understand the space limitations of your particular show and then practice. Set up your products on a folding table in your kitchen, garage or driveway. Look at it from different angles and consider the placement of your pieces.
If you’re primarily working with a tabletop display, use a variety of heights to give yourself space and create some visual interest on the table. Think tall and if you can get some of your products to eye level height, that’s usually a good idea.
Tall signage behind your booth is not only a space saver, but it guarantees that shoppers can see you from a distance. Many artists hang their signs on the front of their table, which is only helpful if you don’t have shoppers standing there.
3. Think like a buyer
The goal is to make easy for people to choose your products. If you sell wearable art like jewelry or scarves, include a mirror as part of your display so that shoppers can immediately see how your pieces look on them. Approach your setup from the buyer's side and see if it’s missing anything.
As a general rule, people don’t like to ask questions, so provide them all the important information they need to make a purchase. Simple things like easily visible price tags can get overlooked in the chaos of show prep, so plan ahead for those little things.
One major benefit craft shows have over selling online is that people can see your product in person, pick it up, and – in the case of food products – even taste it. Studies have found that if a shopper touches or picks up the merchandise, they are more likely to buy it, so (unless it’s extremely fragile) encourage interaction with your work!
4. Be available
The best booths make it easy and comfortable for people to interact with the maker. You never want to be pushy, but you should be available. Give yourself a place to sit and a way to get in and out of the space. Bar-height stools are great because you can be on eye level with your shoppers and not have to stand for the duration of the show.
Preparing for a show is exhausting, so after months of planning and setting up it can be tempting to hide behind your table and not make awkward conversation with strangers. Even if you’re not a people person, this point of contact can be the difference between a sale and someone just walking on by. Use these conversations as a chance to let people in on your process. Tell them the story of your work so that they can share it with others. Your customers can be your best advocates.
Make sure you have business cards on hand or some way to let people know where to find you after the show. Are you on Instagram? Do you sell on Etsy? Even if someone doesn’t need what you make now, they may want to purchase from you in the future.
5. Make it easy on yourself
When you’re creating your display, give plenty of consideration to ease of load in, setup time and load out. You may have a display that looks amazing, but it weighs so much you can’t lift it or it doesn’t fit in your vehicle. Think about display pieces that are collapsible, foldable, modular, etc. (IKEA can be a fantastic resource here).
You’ll also want to think about how you will ‘live’ in the space with your work. At a busy show, you will spend the better part of your time in the booth, so make sure you’ve thought about your own needs. Should you have a special area for wrapping and packaging items? Where will back stock items be tucked and are they accessible enough? Do you have a place for snacks and water?
The most successful setup keeps your comfort in mind!
Our biggest piece of advice for creating a unique craft show booth: don't be afraid to let your style and personality show in your display. Nothing is more authentic than you.
The 2017 Indie Craft Parade will take place September 15-17 in Greenville, SC. Artist applications are open to Southern US artists from June 1-20. Visit indiecraftparade.com for more details.
All photos taken by Carlton Riffel at the 2016 Indie Craft Parade.