Now that spring is here, it’s time to apply for summer craft shows! After doing 15 consecutive weeks of shows last summer, plus several years of doing shows in general, I want to share with some tips on setting up your craft show booth.
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The first and most important thing is your Tent or Canopy
This will be your new pop-up store, and if you do a lot of shows, it will be your home away from home. Can I give you some advice? Buy a decent tent – with sides. Years ago, I used a flimsy canopy that had no sides. It sufficed, but it wasn’t very attractive – and honestly, probably didn’t look very professional.
- Get one that is 10′ by 10‘, which is the standard craft show space.
- White is the best choice for colour
- Side walls that zip on are a real plus – and a necessity if it is windy or starts to rain. (don’t ask how I know this). The sides also make nice backdrops for your products.
This one is ideal:
E-Z UP ES100S Instant Shelter Canopy, 10 by 10′, White
- Some shows require that your canopy is fire resistant (which is very sensible!)
- A roller bag and storage pocket for the sides makes it easy to get to your space once you arrive to the craft fair site (and these things are heavy!)
- Having a clear plastic sleeve on the top front of the canopy for your business sign is a nice, professional touch
- (my canopy, as well as the one linked from Amazon have all these features)
- Pro tip: read the instructions on how to set up the canopy BEFORE arriving at the craft show
Creating a Pop-Up Store
Once I get my tent set up and the sides zipped on, I slip my custom made sign into the front pocket. Mine is made from white plastic – sort of the same thickness and feel of corrugated cardboard. It was well worth the $80 to have it made.
Next, I put down a 5′ x 7′ area rug down the center of the booth. It adds a nice, homey touch and makes my booth stand out from all the others. Where did I get it? My friend’s aunt was moving from her gorgeous home, and was going to throw away three of these matching area rugs. Damn right I took them all! They all have a touch of aqua in the design, and I just happened to have several yards of aqua cotton fabric that I rescued from another near miss with the dumpster. (More later in this post as to what I did with the fabric.) But that is how I ended up using aqua in my branding! True story.
You are going to need a few folding tables for displaying your merchandise. I’ve chosen 4′ long folding tables. Anything larger was too heavy to move from the truck to my space at the show. These are the ones I bought. They fold up nicely, have adjustable height legs, and there is a handle so I can carry two at once. I custom made fitted tablecloths for each table (out of an inexpensive set of twin sheets!). The tablecloths hit about 3″ from the ground, and I hide my empty storage bins under the tables during the show.
Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table, 48 by 24 Inches, White Granite
TIP: be very aware of how heavy things are! I’ve seen lots of gorgeous displays on Pinterest, but wonder how many strong men it took to lug all that stuff to the space and set it up! Oh, speaking of Pinterest – I have an entire board just for Creative Craft Booths! When I Pin, I try to keep in mind that these display pieces need to be lifted and set up – usually when it’s wicked hot out – and lots of times by only one person.
I also have two small, round decorator tables in the booth. The legs of the table unscrew, so it’s easy to pack and move to the space. One I keep free to wrap merchandise for my customers. Each one is covered with a 70″ round tablecloth.
You can add some other touches to make your booth stand out. From the rescued aqua cotton, I made two panels that I clip to the back of the booth frame. These make nice backdrops for the garments I design and sell.
I used the remaining fabric to make runners for each of the 4′ tables, and for the wooden risers that I have on top of the tables. (The risers are great for bringing some height variation to your display, and the ones I bought have two levels. And they are really shoe racks!)
Whitmor 6026-3562 Natural Wood Household Shelves
Do a Practice Run
Before your first show of the season, it’s really helpful to do a practice set-up. I set up my canopy in the driveway. Then I played around with the layout of the tables and merchandise. Once I was happy with how it looked, I took photos with my iPhone so I could refer to them while setting up for the show.
Over the course of the 15 weeks of shows, I experimented with different layouts and how merchandise was displayed. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot in addition to making sales.
Free printable Craft Show Checklist
Rather than go into all the things you should bring, (unless you really want me to), here’s a free printable checklist with everything I bring to a show.
Now that you have your tent, tables and displays all set up, it’s time to fill your booth with merchandise and have fun at the show!
I also have a closed Facebook group called Craftpreneurs for crafters who do shows. Please request to join!