Anatomy of a Craft Show Stand (Craft Show Tips Part II)

Part II in a VI Part Series

A well thought out and organized stand is an extremely important part of the craft show experience and how well you will ultimately end up doing. I think that you could have a lovely product, but people won’t know if it isn’t displayed properly. They might walk right on by. I will give you the layout of my personal stand and tips for your own stand.

Most important is uniqueness and the ability to stand out. Thus, take these tips, but not necessarily the exact items that I use for my stand. I mean for you to be inspired. My stand fits in with my style and products and may not work for yours anyway.

1. First, you need tables. I started out with small tables 4 footers, and they were sort of low. Honestly, they were too small and too low. People walked right by. I now have 6-foot tables that are normal height and they have worked out so much better. The standard size for a craft show stand is 10 foot by 10 foot, so they fit quit easily. I actually still use the little tables as well. I use one for my checkout area and one is part of my stand, although I should upgrade it to a 6-foot table as well.

2. I have my checkout area behind my stand because I keep my cash box on it and it actually works the best with my set up. I keep my bags and tissue paper ready to go, my knuckle buster for credit card sales, extra promotional materials and cash box (concealed) on the table.

3. After you have your tables, you will need something to give your tables some height and depth. I use little shelves under the tablecloths to do this. I have used books as well, or anything sturdy to put things on.

I have been told that you could use some PVC pipe on your table legs to rise up your tables. I haven’t done this yet because I don’t really think it would work with the type of tables I have, but it may work for you. Raising the table up is helpful because people don’t have to lean over as much to see your product and it also keeps little toddler hands from reaching it. Of course, you may want to rethink that if it would help for toddlers to fall in love with your product.

4. Tablecloths are an important part of your stand. I have heard advice about tablecloths from white to black and every color in between. When picking out the color, think of your products and the overall feel you would like for your booth. Also, if you are doing certain juried events, this may already be dictated for you. Check out any information from the event before making a big purchase.

I actually use sheets because they are less expensive. In fact, Twin sheets work fine, although the Queen size a little better, although they are slightly too big. I also use white, which I think is different for a jewelry stand. Most that I see are black. However, white goes better with my theme and the whimsical mood I try to bring to my stand. My jewelry is more on the playful side, so I think this works well with my product. Plus, I am trying to stand out from other jewelry stands. Perhaps your product is more serious, and you would want a more serious color. Another idea is to make your cloths match your color scheme for your promotional materials and that helps with the branding of your product. I tend to like nice clean white spaces, so I think that is why I am drawn to the white.

5. The next thing to think about is how you are going to display your products. You can get really creative here. I think my displays bring most of my customers into my stand. In fact, they have told me so. Sometimes I get offers on my displays, which, of course, I always politely turn down.

All of my displays are either secondhand from friends, yard sales or thrift stores, or were bought on clearance for next to nothing. You do not need to invest a ton of money to have a super-cute stand.

Before purchasing anything, however, you need to really think about the feel you are trying to create with your stand. Once you know that, things will start appearing to you all over the place.

EXAMPLES from my own stand:

Mannequin heads: My girls (I have 2 of them) are the #1 thing people comment on in my stand. They are awesome because I can display jewelry on them. They have come in handy because I have one product that is difficult to really understand how to use it unless you see it and I use a mannequin to show this item. When people are confused, I just show them on the mannequin. Plus they are funky and fun and attract a lot of attention.

I was super lucky to get these girls because I had a friend who closed her store and I bought them from her at a great deal! I have never seen anything like them and neither have the people who are drawn into my stand to see them.

My mannequin heads sit atop little stacks of books. I picked out the books because of their size, but they are actually really interesting books, too, so they also attract some interest from time to time.
Necklace displays: I found these cool iron displays at Target on clearance. Actually, I found them the week before on clearance and decided they were still too much. I kept thinking about them and went back a week later not expecting at all to find them. Not only were they still there, but also they were marked down even more! These are great because they are practical – they hold necklaces – and they also are the perfect fit for my stand. As one customer put it, “I can’t imagine them anywhere else used for anything else.” (Me either.)

Jars: As a jewelry designer, I have seen all the different displays available for jewelry. There are tons of things. They all look the same to me. Plus with the amount of jewelry I peddle, I would have to spend a lot of money to get enough displays to hold all my jewelry. Before I was doing craft shows, I would photograph my jewelry pieces on glass jars to upload online. I have a lot of jars and I don’t know where I came up with the idea – or if I took that idea from someone else. So, when I started to do craft shows it seemed like a good idea to put my bracelets on jars to display. I think that they hang nicely and they look really beautiful on the jars.

I had many of these decorative jars around my house. After I had this idea, I started finding jars all the time at yard sales. Then I found the mother load of awesome vintage decanters at a yard sale and that is mainly what I use now. They are each unique and so fun. And, of course, they go along really well with my stand.
Earring Stand: I have been struggling with my earrings for a while. I just couldn’t get them into a type of display that I liked, so I kind of gave up. Then just recently we were at a yard sale and found FREE shutters. They were perfect. Perfect fit for my stand and my earrings will work perfectly with the tags I have made.

This goes to show you, keep an open mind and you never know what could be the perfect display!

6. I have added signs to my stand and I think it is important to do so. My signs clearly have my business name and my own name, as well as my web page. Also, most importantly I have “Handcrafted Jewelry” on the sign. Many people ask me if I made the jewelry, so I figured many others wondered but where too shy to ask. I think we sometimes assume people will realize that our items are handmade, but this is not always the case. If you are doing a “craft show,” you may not need to worry so much. If you branch into different venues like farmers’ markets or other places, then people may not be so sure that the items are handmade. Tell them in a sign.
I also have made a cute little banner that goes across the front of my stand with the name. This is actually more for decoration, but it is also important for your customers to see your name a lot.

Make sure to have a sign up if you take credit cards. I find that usually half of my sales are credit cards, so I definitely want my customers to know I take them.

7. Add your products to your displays. I think it is good to give your customers an easy way to shop. Similar colors together or keep things that go together in the same place. Jewelry is an easy example because sometimes people like to buy a set of necklace, bracelet and earrings or some combination of this. Make it easy for your customer by keeping the items together.

8. It is important to make sure that your products are clearly priced. Many customers are too shy to ask you for a price. If you are really busy, they may not even be able to ask you. I mostly have each individual item priced. However, if I have many of a type of an item that are all the same price and will be grouped together, I will make a sign instead. An example of this is my Game Tile Pendant line. Each domino tile pendant is the same price and each scrabble tile pendant is the same price and I have many of each, so I just made signs.It is also important to make sure that people can read your price tags or signs.

I have gotten comments and compliments from my hangtags on my jewelry. One side has my business name, logo and website. The other side has materials, size and length and price. People like to know exactly what they are getting. I probably am that particular because I sell online and am used to having to be so specific because people can’t actually pick up and touch my pieces online, however, I think it is a nice touch in person as well.

9. I think that promotion is a very important part of my craft stand. In fact, I really started doing shows just to promote my online shop. This, of course, has flipped completely upside-down because the huge majority of my sales are in-person at shows. Put your promotion materials out for people to pick up and take along. Maybe they won’t buy anything this time, but they may look you up later. I have recently made a brochure that includes a bio of myself and a schedule of all my up-coming shows, and a couple for 10% off and free shipping on an online order. This way, people who want to shop in person can find me again, but people also have an incentive to shop at my online shop. My brochure is simple and I used Microsoft Word to create it. It is all black printing and I copied onto pink paper (to go with my aesthetic). Simple, inexpensive and effective. I will eventually have more professional brochures printed up, but these are effective for now.

I had business cards spread throughout my stand in holders so that customers can find them. Finally, I have an email newsletter sign-up sheet so that my customers can get updates for my next shows and sales, etc.

10. A large amount of my sales are credit card sales. I think it is important these days to take credit cards, and it is easier and less expensive than you think! I have my account through propay (www.propay.com) and they charge a yearly fee and a portion of each transaction. Then you just transfer the money directly into your checking account from propay. At shows I use a knuckle buster to imprint the customer’s card information, get their phone number and ZIP code and have them sign the sheet. When I get home I run their credit cards through propay. If you have the capability, you could bring your laptop to the show and run them there, or you can even call in the cards. I haven’t had a problem so far by not doing either.

Before you attend your first show as a vendor, you will probably want to set up your stand to make sure you have everything the way you want it. I originally set up my stand in my studio and left it there for about a week and would make changes and tweak things each day. I looked at it fresh each time I walked in. I had the room, but I know not everyone could do that, but I still recommend setting it up the way you think you want it and walking away for a while. When you get it just the way you want it, take photos of everything and take the photos to your show. You will be glad you did when you are setting up for the first time. I was so nervous, having those photos was so helpful and calming.
My stand is pretty over-the-top from others I have seen. However, I also get a lot of comments and compliments...and sales because people come into my stand. As I said before, make your stand fit your product. My stand would not be appropriate for many different types of items, but it is perfect for mine. Make yours perfect for your products!
Next, Part III, Packing for the Show
P.S. Check out my shop! I have started to add some new items. Fun Domino Pins and Barrettes...and even more will continue to be added!


Lenox Knits said...

What a great stand! I love your girls. I was given a green glass head that I'm going to make the center piece of my stand. I got some great inspiration from your article. I have my first show in a few weeks so I'll be setting up my booth for a dry run this weekend.

B.B. Bellezza said...

I am so happy you found some inspiration! That's why I wrote it! :)

Your green glass head sounds interesting! I am sure it will bring people into your stand! People always want to pose with and take photos of my mannequins... The more people you get into your stand, the more people see your work, the more sales you will get!

Good luck to you!