3 Quick & Easy Craft Show Display Tricks to Stand Out
Every craft show vendor wants their display to stand out so they can attract more shoppers. My detailed article on display tricks to stand out at a craft show is the second most popular article on my blog (legal mistakes crafters make is my #1). You can read that original article here.
Although that article was written over five years ago, the lessons still apply today, and I’ve updated it along the way.
However, I do understand that some of the techniques explained in that article are a little more advanced, and may require a complete overhaul of your craft show display.
If you have a craft show quickly approaching, you need display tricks that are quick and easy to implement now.
So I’m sharing a few of the most impactful display tricks I learned through my visual design & communication education.
These are also the top techniques I applied when working as a Visual Merchandiser for major retailers.
They’re tips that can be implemented last minute, requiring very little time or money.
When you’re ready to invest more time into your craft show display, check out the free 5-day email challenge: 5 Days to a Standout Craft Show Display.
#1 – One dominant color
Color is THE easiest way to make an instant impact. It’s also a great way to communicate a feeling or help tell a story.
Imagine the typical window displays you see when walking through the mall.
Now imagine a window display that is completely red.
>> The backdrop and floor are red.
>> The props are red
>> The mannequins are wearing red outfits
>> The mannequins have red hair and are wearing red lipstick
>> Maybe even the lights have a red filter on them
That window would catch your eye no matter who you are or what you’re shopping for.
Depending on the store, props used, style of clothes, time of year, etc. the red would also help communicate a feeling or tell a story.
For example, if it’s the beginning of February and a women’s clothing store has a red window display with mannequins wearing elegant silk and velvet dresses, shoppers would get a romantic vibe from the display. It may get shoppers imagining a romantic night out for Valentine’s Day.
Color is the easiest way to catch a shopper’s eye.
The fewer colors you use in your display, the more impact you’ll be able to make.
How to apply
Your tablecloth, props, and signage are the quickest and cheapest ways to implement this color technique.
Of course, if you have time, you can plan products and product collections around a color or color theme too.
But if you’re short on time, decide on a color that will work with your existing products and one that will help communicate a message to shoppers.
More than one color can be present in your display, but ONE color should be the most dominant.
For example, if Halloween is coming up and I’m selling soy candles, I may choose orange as my color. Orange won’t clash with the white candles, and black can be used as an accent where orange isn’t appropriate (e.g. text signage). Orange might signify Halloween or fall during September/October.
If I sell soaps and they’re a variety of colors, I may choose a neutral color for my display, based on my message or my brand. For example, if my soaps are made with goat’s milk, white or cream would be a good color. If my soaps focus on natural and organic ingredients, I may choose beige as my color.
Let’s say I’m selling art prints and they follow a flower/plant theme. Green would be a good display color. The green may not complement every color present in my art, but it will communicate a “botanical” message.
To keep costs low when implementing color, make a trip to the secondhand store. Start with your tablecloth and find one that’s the color you want.
If your chosen color is not typically used for tablecloths (e.g. a bright green), visit a fabric store and buy a few meters of fabric. If you sew, you can make a tablecloth, but if you don’t, you could simply make a table runner out of the fabric by folding the cut edges under and placing it over a neutral tablecloth.
Shower curtains come in a variety of colors and are another option that can be turned into a tablecloth, with a little bit of sewing.
Next, shop for some props and display fixtures that will work with your products, brand, and display.
Choose props you can spray paint to match the color of your tablecloth, or that you can cover in matching fabric or paper.
For example, you can spray paint objects such as: baskets & crates, plates & bowls, trays, vases and pots, faux plants, decorative home decor items, and picture frames for your signage. Books make great risers and you can wrap the cover in a colored paper to match your display.
Purchase a can or two of spray paint that’s the same color as your tablecloth and follow the instructions to paint your props.
When creating signs, you may also change the color of the text to match your theme color. Obviously, if your color is light (e.g. soft blue), printing text in that color will make it hard for shoppers to read it. In this case, keep it simple and print your signage in black.
The more places you can implement your one color, the more of an impact you’ll have.
Don’t go too crazy with your props. Although you may be spray painting them the same color, which will create cohesion, too much variety in textures, shapes, etc. can make your display look messy.
#2 – Product Groupings
When you have plenty of time before a craft show, you should be planning product collections. Products should be designed in a way so the products within a collection work together, AND each collection works together (i.e. they don’t clash next to each other).
However, you can still make your products stand out, even if you haven’t planned a single collection.
You’ll need to sift through the products you’ve made and find themes among them.
Themes or collections may be based on:
- Pattern or texture
For example, let’s say I’m selling art, and I haven’t quite found my niche. I’m currently selling paintings of gardens, paintings of animals, paintings of landscapes, paintings of structures, etc.
To instantly create cohesion in my display, make it easier for people to shop, and make an impact, I would group all my garden paintings in one section of a display, all my animal paintings in another, and all my landscape paintings in another group.
When you’re working with a craft show table that’s about 8 feet long, it’s best to stick within 3 – 5 groupings. If you have smaller products (e.g. soaps) you may be able to fit 5 groupings on your table without it looking messy. When selling larger items, such as pillows, you may only have room for 3 collections.
If you have a wide variety of products or product options, and you can’t group them into 3 – 5 themes, try to create 3 – 5 solid themes, and then create another grouping that is sort of a “catch-all”. This grouping should not be dominant in your display.
Using the art example, I’ve chosen my best-selling pieces to base my themes on (gardens, animals, landscapes). But I have several other paintings that don’t fit within those themes. I might set up 2 boxes/crates at the end of my table for those paintings. They’re still available to buy and shoppers can flip through them (like records at a record store), but they aren’t a dominant part of my display.
How to apply
Clean off your dining room table and set out all the products you’re planning to bring to the craft show.
Look for products or product features that work together.
- Color – you may be able to create collections that focus on just one color (e.g. a red collection, a blue collection, and a white collection). But if you have several color options, you may combine colors within a collection, e.g. red, blue, and white collection to create a nautical feel. Another collection may group pastel-colored pieces together, while another one uses neon-colored pieces.
- Pattern or texture – stripes and polka dots may work together to create a whimsical collection of products, while plaid pieces create a more masculine collection, and floral prints create a feminine collection.
- Product – if there’s too much variety when it comes to the colors or patterns of your products, simply grouping the same products together can create cohesion in your display. For example, all necklaces are grouped together, all earrings are grouped together, all bracelets are grouped together, and all rings are grouped together. This creates more of a statement than if they’re all mixed together.
- Purpose or lifestyle – you can group products together based on how they might be used/displayed/worn together. For example, a baby hat, headband, and handkerchief would create one grouping, bibs, and burp cloths would create another grouping, and baby blankets and stuffed toys create another grouping.
- Scent – a bath and body business may have a wide variety of products and scents and create collections by grouping all citrus-scented products, another one with floral scents, and another with spicy scents.
Start grouping like-items together on the table to see how they look as a collection.
Keep playing with different combinations until you have 3 – 5 groupings that make a strong, clean, and cohesive grouping.
It should catch your eye and shouldn’t have too much variation within it that it starts to look messy.
#3 – Negative space & editing
Negative space is the empty space that surrounds a subject. In this case, it’s the empty space that surrounds product groupings.
Negative space is like a palette cleanser for the eyes. Without it, a display can start to look cluttered.
And a cluttered space has the potential to lower the perceived value of your products.
Just think of the value you place on an item such as a necklace when it’s displayed on its own in a glass case, versus when it’s crammed on a jewelry tower with dozens of other necklaces. The necklace displayed on its own seems more valuable.
Products, and product groupings, should not blend into each other; there should be space between them.
You may need to edit your product selection to achieve that space and to improve your display.
Grouping products together (into themes) will start to give your display some breathing space.
But if you can’t create clean groupings, or if you have too much stock for the table, it’s time to edit your selection and remove what’s nonessential.
The “nonessential” products can simply go in the “stock room” of your display; either at the end of your display or behind your table.
For example, let’s say I’m selling baby hats, headbands, handkerchiefs, burp cloths, bibs, baby blankets, and stuffed toys. I haven’t really thought about product collections so my fabrics are a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Basically, all of my pieces are one-of-a-kind.
Instead of trying to create product collections in my display, which would end up looking messy, I would create 3 “display only” collections.
*Display only – obviously these items are still for sale, but instead of displaying dozens of burp cloths and bibs together for my grouping, I would choose one burp cloth and one bib that look good together (maybe they’re the same color or pattern) and display them on a bust-form/display fixture.
I would find one of each type of product in the same color or pattern and create lifestyle collections:
- Grouping #1 – 1 blue striped hat, 1 blue polka dot headband, and 1 blue plaid handkerchief
- Grouping #2 – 1 pink floral burp cloth and 1 pink striped bib
- Grouping #3 – 1 grey plaid blanket and a couple of stuffed toys that are dominantly grey, black, and/or white
Then I would create a fourth section at the end of my table with baskets to hold all my stock.
- Basket #1 would hold all my stock in hats and headbands
- Basket #2 would hold all my stock in burp cloths and bibs
- Basket #3 would hold all my stock in blankets
- Basket #4 would hold all my stock in stuffed toys
If I had too much stock to fit into the baskets, I would fill them with a wide selection, then keep the rest in bins under the table.
The “display only” items would catch shoppers’ eyes and cleanly show the types of products I have for sale.
Once a shopper knows what they want (e.g. a burp cloth and bib), they can shop the “stock room” portion of my display.
If one of my “display only” items sold throughout the day, I would find another set of products that look good together and swap them onto the display fixtures.
This strategy also gives you an excuse to help shoppers and use your sales skills.
If someone is admiring your “floor model”, you can ask them an open-ended question. Such as “I have many more color options in that item…what’s your favorite color?”.
Once they tell you, you can sift through your stock at the end of your display, or behind the table, and pull out some options for them. As they view the options, you can dig a bit more to uncover what they do and don’t like to help them find exactly what they’re looking for.
How to apply
Once you’ve been accepted to a craft show, you should know how big your space is. Use your dining room table and tape off the amount of space you’ll have at the event.
Place your groupings within that space using the props you plan to bring.
Step back to look at your display and squint your eyes (this is a trick I learned when studying design and visual presentation).
Squinting helps you get a feel for how your display will look from several feet away, when details can’t be made out. Dominant elements will also be more obvious to you when squinting. Which will help you shift things to create balance.
If your mock display feels messy, consider eliminating some pieces and creating a stock area.
Keep eliminating until you have clean groupings, space between them, and your display is eye-catching from several feet away (or when you’re squinting your eyes).
I hope these 3 “quick tips” help you refine your craft show display with limited time and budget!
For more tips and steps to take your craft show display to the next level, check out: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY
The information you’ve provided is of more value than most may believe. Ivebeen “crafting” for a very long time, but only doing occasional craft venues for the last 12 years. I made a lot of the mistakes you address. My tables were cluttered, displays were flat and even though I did group like items together the whole thing was too busy. When a name for our business is chosen, we must consider how it relates to what we make. I didn’t do that at the start and it confused people. Catchy names are great and can draw people in but if what they see doesn’t relate, they get distracted. When we start out or have limited budgets, we see displays and risers we’d love. Those can be created with a little imagination. Books, boxes, little crates anything with a wide enough flat bottom a a little height with fabric matching your theme works. I’ve used cigar boxes, metal lunch boxes, a cheap metal platter with a decent size block of scrap wood glued underneath, a wire waste basket, the possibilities are endless. Table cloths even thrifted aren’t always cheap and rarely in the color you want. Walmart sells the cheap flat sheets and even if you can’t sew, safety pins can box the corners neatly. There’s so much we can do to create an atmosphere on a tight budget. Thanks for the insight.
Thanks for sharing Tina! Sheets are a great idea to turn into a tablecloth! There are lots of good color options there. I agree, a little imagination and time can help you build a budget-friendly display 🙂
Sounds like you’re on the right track. Wishing you the best of luck!
Once you have your mock table set up. It’s important to walk away. By that I mean. “Totally leave.” If you possibly can for 15-30 minutes. Your perspective changes on what you see when you are surrounded with the thing constantly, than when you see them with “Fresh eyes.” As a stranger would. Leave for a bit, drive around the corner 3 times. Then you say, if I saw this for the very first time…or just open your eyes to it and truly use fresh eyes to see what others will see.
That’s a great tip Judy! It’s always great to take a breather from your work so you can try and see it with fresh eyes. Thanks for reading and commenting!