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September 03, 2015

Want to Stand Out at a Craft Show? Try these Display Tricks


As we discussed in our previous article, relating your craft show booth to a store window is a good way to look at your space from a different perspective and ensure you have some elements that are going to catch the eye. You only have a few seconds to grab shopper’s attention as they walk by and encourage them to come take a closer look. Of course your amazing products will help do that but below are 10 other tactics you can use to enhance your booth and make sure you’re noticed from across the room.

You can add one or more of the elements below to your booth but be sure you don’t overdo it. The eye needs a change of pace so your display doesn’t start to blend together or become overwhelming. You don’t want your displays to take away from your products; you want them to compliment what you’re selling and to subtly (or not so subtly) tell the shopper: “Pssst! Look over here.”

We found some great examples of the elements below from VM (hmvm.co.uk) The blog is full of pictures of inspirational windows taken around London and we would encourage you to head over and browse around. You can also follow them on Twitter: @hm_vm. We wanted to show you examples from windows, as opposed to craft show booths, to get you thinking outside the box. You may not be able to apply these exact ideas to your booth, due to space constraints, but it gives you an idea on how to add excitement.


Color

Colors are a great way to evoke emotion and make a statement. The absence of color is another way to stand out, letting your products do the talking. White walls, floor, table cloth, props and your uniform for the day is bound to make shoppers stop and take notice.

How to use it at a craft show: most events use black or white curtains to separate and define each booth space; can you add overlays or backdrops in a bold color that fits your branding and helps set you apart from the other vendors? Repeat this color throughout your space for a cohesive look.

An eye-catching hot pink color is pulled from the product label and used in some over sized tassels that mimic the tassels on the bottle in a Jo Malone window (Image Source: VM)


An all white window with bright lighting at JOSEPH really catches the eye (Image Source: VM)


Lighting

A spotlight on a display or product immediately catches the eye and draws it to your product. Mood lighting can be effective too but you don’t want your space to feel drab. Shoppers need to be able to see what they’re buying so be sure you’re not impeding sales in an attempt to create dramatic lighting. You can get creative and not only use lighting to highlight your displays but make lighting part of the display.

How to use it at a craft show: if you can, adjust the lighting in your booth so it's directed towards your displays and products. Some venues have lighting out of reach, in which case consider bringing your own. You can add some picture lights above artwork or a couple table lamps to direct onto your pieces. Be sure to check that your booth will allow you to plug your lights in; you don’t want to plan your entire display around using your spotlights only to find there’s nowhere to plug them in.

The light fixtures and light draw attention to each individual shoe at Charlotte Olympia. (Image Source: VM)


Gucci directs spotlights on each mannequin to make their bold colors stand out even more (Image source: VM)



Macy's uses light bulbs and their cords to create a tree design and add extra lighting to the window. (Image source: VM)


Line & Composition

Try to create a composition that leads the eye around your booth. This is done by deciding which element is going to grab the shopper’s attention first (usually the bigger, brighter display at eye level or above), then creating a trail for the shopper’s eye to follow from one display to the next.

Line & composition can be a difficult element to master but is also an incredibly important one. Once you understand it, you'll notice it being used by multi-million & billion dollar brands in their store windows, in-store merchandising, photos, advertisements, etc. It's an art and it works.

It's important to use line & composition throughout your entire booth. When you stand back and look at your space, your signage, props, displays, etc. should all work together and create a flow. Within each element, you should also be using line and composition. Your signage should make use of different font sizes and styles so the shopper doesn't become overwhelmed with a big blob of text. Your product groupings should use different levels, shapes and angles to show off each piece, in order of importance, (you want your expensive pieces to catch the eye first and lead to the less expensive add-on pieces) and communicate the feel of the collection before sending the eye to the next collection.

Line and composition is explained in more detail with more examples in my e-book MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. I know what you're thinking: why would I spend money on an e-book when there's so much information out there for free? First, the cost of the e-book is equal to a Venti latte and a couple pastries from Starbucks and will likely improve your business more than caffeine and sugar...and caffeine is a hard one to compete with (I've actually been told by customers who have read the book that I should be charging more...so grab your copy before I decide to follow their advice;).

Also, the information you'll find in the e-book isn't your typical heard-it-before, that's-nice-but-how-can-I-apply-it-to-my-business-and-get-results, scratch-the-surface type of advice you've likely already read online.

Don't take my word for it. Download the free chapter MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT. Not only will it come in handy for helping you build collections that shoppers lust after and make creating compositions a breeze, it will also show you the quality of advice that's packed into just one chapter and 48 pages of the e-book's 291 pages.

Okay...back to how to use it.

How to use it at a craft show: Enlarge a product photo of your feature necklace being worn on a model. In front of that hanging photo, place your Zone 1 display, prominently featuring the necklace in the photo. Add a secondary display element the eye will be drawn to after the necklace, which leads to another grouping of products. Continue this effect to pull the eye around your booth.

Your eye is drawn to the brightly lit group of 3 mannequins in this Harvey Nichols window and then follows the angled line and writing to the 2nd group of mannequins. (Image source: VM photo credit Melvyn Vincent)


You could literally draw a continuous line from one display element to the next. The overlapping of products, props and mannequins, the way the mannequins are angled (even the line of the leg on the mannequin in the tan coat directs your eye to the next element) and the use of light and dark (notice how they've used different color mannequins in the second grouping. A white mannequin makes the black dress stand out and a black mannequin makes the light sweatshirt stand out. The sleeve of the light sweatshirt also pops out when place in front of the black dress).


The beautiful piece of floral art grabs your eye at LK Bennett as the over sized paint tube & brush lead your eyes down to the product (colorful shoes). On the other side, if your eyes are down as you walk by, the flower paint spilled on the sidewalk will lead your eye into the window in the reverse direction. (Image source: VM)



Scale

Adding in some larger than life elements can immediately grab a shopper’s attention. As they walk around the venue seeing everything in proportion, an over sized picture or prop will make them stop and take notice. You don't need to spend a lot of money either...you're crafty! Cardboard, foam, paper mache, etc. can all be used to create lightweight, larger than life objects that can easily be hung using some fishing wire.

How to use it at a craft show: Do you sell knitted or crocheted items? Why not make an over sized ball of yarn with large knitting needles to hang above eye-level in your booth and catch people’s eyes? A vendor selling children’s games might hang some over sized puzzle pieces made out of foam-core. An artist may display a larger than life paintbrush or pencil.

How fun is this over sized pop can mimicking the print on the mannequins dress in a Moschino window? (Image source: VM)


Larger than life beauty tools draw attention to the makeup Kate Spade is selling inside. (Image source: VM)


Big props create color and interest through needles knitting a pattern at H&M. (Image source: VM).


These hairpins in a Hermes window go with their hair accessories on sale. (Image source: VM)






Contrast

What objects, shapes, colors or textures will make a shopper stop and take note of how polar opposite they are to your products? You can also create a contrast to the surroundings. If the event is busy, bright and loud, your quiet, serene setting will be quite the contrast to the rest of the atmosphere. If the weather is cold and snowy, a warm beach theme will also stand out in contrast.

How to use it at a craft show: Soft and delicate items such as silver necklaces on hard, rough surface such as concrete will make the shopper take note of how delicate your pieces are. A dark space with the contrast of bright spotlights on your displays will immediately draw attention right where you want it. An all white booth, table, and props will make your bright colored accessories stand out.

The crisp, clean Alexander McQueen dress stands out in contrast to the dark background. (Image source: VM)


Repetition

Repeat your displays, colors, shapes or products to get a message across and create an impact. Odd numbers tend to be more pleasing so if you’re going to repeat an element, repeating it 3, 5 or 7 times is the way to go.

How to use it at a craft show: have a photo of your product enlarged and print 3 copies. Hang them slightly higher than eye level in your booth, at the same height and same distance apart. Use a pop of color throughout your booth, as a backdrop on your wall, in your signage and in your display props.

The same product is repeated 3 times to highlight these accessories at Tods. (Image source: VM)


Color, pattern, lines and products are all repeated throughout this Louis Vuitton window. (Image source: VM)


Again, a clutch is repeated 3 times in a window at Anya Hindmarch showing off the product and varying color options.(Image source: VM)


Humor

Who doesn’t love to laugh? Humor immediately helps us let our guards down and feel more comfortable…and a comfortable shopper is more likely to stick around and buy. Don’t try too hard; you don’t need each passerby to keel over in laughter; a simple smile or chuckle will immediately make them relax. Be sure your humor isn’t offensive or need explaining…keep it simple!

How to use it at a craft show: Is there a product you sell that people always get a kick out of? Make sure that’s predominantly displayed. Vendors selling children’s products may have a hilarious outtake image from a photoshoot. Was that darling little girl supposed to be happy as she wore your handmade tutu but is wailing in dismay? Enlarge that photo and hang it in your booth; shoppers are sure to get the irony and crack a smile.

French Connection uses their FCUK campaign to have some fun with phrases that will make you chuckle and maybe even shock you at first glance. (Image source: VM)



A giant whoopee cushion uses humor, scale and nostalgia to make you take notice of Fred Perry's back to school children's clothes. (Image source: VM)


Nostalgia

Don’t you love seeing something that reminds you of your childhood? Items from our past or before and afters reminding us how far we’ve come will encourage people to stop and have a closer look.

How to use it at a craft show: perhaps you’re creating vintage inspired pieces or re-purposing vintage items. Can you find photos of the items in their original form or of the vintage inspired items being worn in their original days? If your products aren’t vintage inspired, can you work in some props that will make people nostalgic? If you’re selling soap, an old wash board would make a really interesting prop. A vendor selling home baked cookies may have an antique Kitchenaid mixer on their table. An artist selling paintings of action heroes from comic books and video games may display some Marvel comics or a vintage Sega gaming system with controllers.


This Moschino window brings us right back to playing dress up with our Barbies. The over sized toy packaging grabs your attention and makes you envision how the bright and fun outfit will look on the mannequins...or you! (Image source: VM)




Theo Fennel's window immediately reminds you of the sound and feel of spinning the tin top that's used as a prop, along with wooden blocks (spelling out Theo), to display beautiful jewelry. (Image source: VM)





Motion

Something moving among your static products (aside from other people) can catch a shopper’s eye. You don’t want it to become a hazard or annoying (strobe lights are not the way to go) but something that makes people want to stop and watch a prop go through the whole motion can work to your advantage. The more complex the movement is, the further out of reach it should be (up higher or behind your table). You don’t want moving objects to be in the way of products shoppers are trying to browse, or worse yet, become a hazard. Movement can also be implied through displays to show off components of your products or to create a feeling.

How to use it at a craft show: a monitor or picture frame rotating photos of your work or products in action can easily sit on your table. A small fan gently blowing a chiffon scarf displayed on a mannequin behind your table will draw the eye in and point out how delicate the scarf is (and maybe even keep your booth nice and cool;). Turntables are another prop you can use on your table or as a display behind it. These are especially effective if you have a piece that is interesting from all angles; a sculpture, piece of clothing or an accessory. Place the item directly on the turntable or on a bust form that sits on top of the turntable.

This Anthropology window is so serene. Fans gently blow scarves to show how delicate they are while sunlight highlights the beautiful colors. (Image source: VM)



Movement is implied in this windy Hackett window, creating an interesting scene to stop and look at. (Image source: VM)


Surprise

An element of surprise is involved in many of the ideas above but you can make an even bigger impact by creating a moment in your booth that shoppers won't be expecting to see at a craft show. It should leave them amused and excited to tell others about it.

How to use it at a craft show: a shopper may be surprised to see a paint can on its side with what looks like a mess of paint spilled across the floor of an artist’s booth. A vinyl sticker can create this effect without causing a mess. Being dressed up in a princess costume may be a wonderful surprise for mom and child to find when they stroll into the booth you’re selling your handmade princess costumes at. They can walk away with a photo of them with a princess to show all their friends.

You may be surprised to see an island backdrop set up in the middle of the city for you to have your own photoshoot with. And if you're not quite camera ready, it's a great opportunity to head in and try some of Liz Earle's beauty products. (Image source: VM)



A broken chair may make you take a second look as you walk past The Conran Shop, which is pointing out that their furniture is well constructed and will last a lifetime. (Image source: VM)



There you have it, 10 display elements you can try at your next craft show. A big thank you to Haley of VM for allowing us to use her amazing photos to communicate each element.

Reference: Visual Merchandising & Display (4th Edition) Martin M. Pegler

If you like this article, I think you'll also enjoy the out of the box ideas in these articles:

         







Which techniques are you going to incorporate at your next craft show? Share with us below or on our Facebook page!

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Comments
Carlie Egan
2016-07-02 01:22
Wonderful post. I'm so tired of reading, "add color, go vertical" over and over again. I was in marketing before becoming a crafter and considered posting something similar to this. What the big boys (or girls) in retailing do and how you can do it too. Great.
Made Urban
2016-07-13 08:53
Thanks so much Carlie! I try to keep that in mind when writing all my articles. I don't want someone spending their time reading the same information they've already read on another blog in different wording.

Great minds think alike ;) There are lots of ideas that small businesses can borrow form the big boys & girls!
~Erin
Carol
2016-07-19 09:57
Just getting started at shows...How can I make my table stand out? I custom make and sell unique wedding garters.
Made Urban
2016-07-20 10:57
Hi Carol! Which techniques do you think you want to start with? Color, lighting, line & composition, scale, contrast, repetition, humour, nostalgia, motion or surprise?
Carol
2016-07-20 11:21
Who doesn't love surprises? I would love to send you pics of my last event table. I have another event in August. Soooo many thanks for your help!
Made Urban
2016-07-20 11:44
Please do! You can email me at info@madeurban.com :)
~Erin
Rebecca Lynn
2016-09-09 10:53
How do I make jewelry stand out???? So many people are making jewelry these days!
Made Urban
2016-09-11 12:13
Hi Rebecca,

Jewelry is definitely one of the most popular categories to sell under. My advice is to always start with a unique product. What makes your jewelry different from the vendor across the aisle? That should be played up in your display. Here's an article covering the topic https://www.madeurban.com/News/5_ways_to_make_your_handmade_jewelry_stand_out_eli/32

Next, work on building impactful collections, here's an article covering that: https://www.madeurban.com/News/not_enough_vendors_use_this_powerful_method_when_c/6270

Once you have a niche product and strong collections, choose a theme that supports the collection you want to highlight (e.g. winter wonderland or love theme), props that communicate that theme (e.g. snowflakes or hearts) and a few elements covered in this article!
Loretta Carstensen
2016-09-17 07:27
I was not able to download my purchase of your book. What do I do?
Made Urban
2016-09-17 12:59
Hi Loretta,
Sorry about the trouble you're having downloading the ebook. Could you please email me at info@madeurban.com so I can get some more details?
Thanks so much,
Erin
Lisa
2016-09-20 09:12
I'll be doing my first craft show this November (I sell handmade cards). I have no idea how I should set up my table, but hopefully these tips will help!
Lisa
2016-09-28 12:09
I just signed up to do my first craft show in November! I sell personalized drinkware, glitter items. I was thinking of using my logo colors (gold and tiffany blue/mint) in my display!
Pat Perry
2016-09-29 08:06
Love your photos/displays on how to make your products stand out at a craft show or show room. Great!!! Would love to order magazine. Keep up the great work.
Made Urban
2016-09-29 02:13
~Good luck on your first craft fair Lisa!

~Using your logo colors is a great way to add branding to your booth and create a cohesive look!

~Hi Pat! The photos are actually taken from this blog: hmvm.co.uk
She gave me permission to use her lovely pics of store windows to explain my points.
Maggie
2016-10-05 12:37
Feel free to come take Photos at the Valley Country Fair in Valley Crucis NC...I'm proficient in city design Windows but would like to up my wow factor at shows
Chris
2016-10-06 08:55
I sew for a living and most of my work has been costuming, selling through custom orders. How do I best present myself at a comicon or craft show?
Made Urban
2016-10-07 08:28
Hi Chris,

That's a great question. I cover the topic of selling customized work at craft fairs in this article: https://www.madeurban.com/News/how_to_sell_at_a_craft_fair_when_your_products_req/6261

Sometimes selling personalized / customized product at an event can seem a bit trickier but you do get more space to have fun with your display.

An idea you might want to consider is choosing a theme for your display based on few examples of costumes you can make. Implement some display elements covered above and turn your space into a new world.

For example, if you make superhero costumes, create a booth that feels like the scene from a movie when they're fighting crime. Put a few of your costumes on bust forms throughout the space and set up a table where customers can flip through albums of your work, look at options and place orders.

Hope that helps!

~Erin
Chris
2016-10-07 12:30
Great ideas! Thanks Erin!!
Henri Hayworth
2016-11-14 10:53
Great article! I've been selling at craft shows for almost four years and haven't ever seen an article cover this topic so well! I sell hand-painted canvases and chalkboards. Any display tips for those items? -Henri, St. Louis MO
Angela
2016-11-18 05:48
I am a new start up business selling salt and sugar scrubs (eventually I move to bath bombs, etc). I am having problems setting up a website that is easy for me to use, what would you recommend (free one I prefer)? Currently I am using Wix.com to do so but I don't have a lot of product yet as it is made to order.

I was asked to participate in a Craft and Vendor Fair 11-25 & 11-26-16 and I am worried as I don't make a whole lot of money and I want my booth to look great not just thrown together. Please help with ideas. I currently have old barn wood, pallets (not disassembled) and old porch post. I love the vintage look, what else could I do?

Thanks;
Angela
Made Urban
2016-11-21 11:51
Hi Henri,

Thanks so much for reading! I like to start with the setting and once you determine that, you can implement a few elements above. To determine a setting, think about who might buy your signs and where they would display them.

For example, if you make chalkboard signs for kids' birthday parties, you may create a birthday party setting to show people how the signs may be hung or displayed. Then incorporate a few elements from above into your display, such as: color (create a blue and pink display to signify a girl's or boy's party), nostalgia (add a couple props that remind parents of their birthday parties and the games they may have played) and surprise (a birthday table with balloons and streamers would seem out of place at a craft fair and catch a shopper's attention).

If your signs are for men and to be hung in a living room with a rustic vibe, set up a man cave in your space and use colors/materials/props/etc that communicate "rustic".

Hope that helps!

Erin
Mellie
2016-11-23 08:46
Personally, I don't think the use of window displays shows you get the struggles people have with craft show displays.

A craft show vendor has a very small space that needs to be advertising, merchandising, stock, shoppers, and point of sale. Thanks to layout of the shows most customers don't see the booth until it's from a short distance. There are also show restrictions on displays limiting height or things too near the floor which will change from event to event. And, ultimately the display needs to be able to be portable and sturdy enough to be set up quickly, then broken down and transported in a car.

High fashion window displays are inspiring, but the realities of the two are different enough that using them for examples is off base.

You have a wonderful eye to what makes a window successful, and I did enjoy seeing them. I would love for you to look at real world examples of craft show (indoor and outdoor), artists booths, what they are doing well, and how they set them up.
Haley
2016-11-23 09:30
Finally an article sharing new ideas. I've signed up for a craft fair in the spring and want to try something new with my jewelry display. Any ideas?????
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