When I sold at my first craft fair, I didn’t put much thought into my stock. If I thought someone might buy it, I made it.
>> I didn’t consider if the fabrics I chose would look good next to each other or help tell a story.
>> I didn’t choose which products to make based on what one customer might logically buy together (not many people buy a new bag and a pair of pajamas at the same time, yet there they were, right next to each other on my craft show table).
>> I didn’t think about the message my products sent (my space felt more like a thrift store than a specialized boutique. I came across as a Jack of all trades, master of none.)
When it came time to display all those products, it was like a game of Tetris. I was just trying to fit all my stock on the table.
You would think I would have known better.
I studied design and visual presentation in college and worked as a visual merchandiser for a major retailer.
After a few craft shows a light bulb went off.
I realized I needed to treat my craft show display like a display in a retail store (and not a stockroom).
When I was merchandising clothes and accessories at a retail store, I didn’t just fill a table with stock.
A table showcased products from a collection.
And the products on a table had to all work together to help tell the collection’s story.
For example, a table might display a top, blazer, and skirt one might wear together for a glitzy holiday party. A basket or fixture on the table might display the nylons and jewelry the outfit could be accessorized with.
When I applied this same line of thought to my craft show table, my display and sales improved.
How to make your craft show display look professional
You can instantly make your craft show space look more professional by displaying your products in collections.
Ideally, you’ll plan collections before you start creating.
However, if you’ve already created stock and haven’t thought about collections, you can still create groupings with the products you have.
There are many ways to create collections and this article will share some ideas.
What is a collection?
When it comes to your craft show display, think of a collection as a small group of products.
Each product within a group should share at least one commonality.
That commonality may be shape, size, color, etc.
How many collections your display has will depend on the types of products you sell, as well as how much space you have.
For example, a vendor displaying jewelry on a table will be able to display more collections than a pillow vendor.
3 – 5 collections within a craft show display is ideal.
A collection may:
- tell a story – you can communicate the vision you had when you created your products (e.g. I designed these earrings to be worn with formal holiday attire).
- increase units per transaction – instead of a shopper buying one item, a collection may encourage them to buy multiple (e.g. if they see a necklace and the matching earrings right next to it, they’re more likely to buy both than if the earrings are displayed on the other side of the table).
- organize your space – an organized display will not only catch a shopper’s eye, but it will also make it easier for them to shop and help with loss prevention (here are 10 tips to prevent theft at a craft show).
Types of Collections
Every product within a collection should share a commonality. That commonality should be the focus.
Below are a few common ways to group products and create collections.
1) Collection by color
Grouping products by color is one of the easiest ways for your craft show display to make an impact.
Just imagine a craft show display that is all red. That would catch anyone’s eye.
If you can plan product collections based on colors, you simply need to group the products within a collection together on your table.
Your space will instantly look more professional.
If your products are already made, you may be able to find colors that work together and create collections with them.
1 – 3 colors within a collection is ideal.
The more colors you use in a collection, the less impact it has and the harder it is to tell a color story.
Let’s say I knit hats and mittens and offer them in every color of the rainbow.
I might create collections based on colors that complement each other and tell a color story.
- red, green, and white work well together to tell a Christmas-y story
- yellow and orange could be grouped together for a bright and cheerful story
- pink, purple, and white might give a feminine vibe
Separating colors into groups will make your space look more professional than mixing all colors together.
Set all your products on a table, and sort by color.
For example, put all your blue pieces together, all your red pieces together, all your purple pieces together, etc.
Start creating color combinations with your products to see what works best.
It’s okay to combine different types of products (e.g. hats, mittens, and scarves can all be in one collection) but the items within a collection should make sense together (e.g. baby bibs and jewelry don’t work together).
2) Collection by use
If you offer a variety of products, you may find it beneficial to group them by use.
For example, if I sew a variety of products, I might create an accessory collection in my display (e.g. bags, wallets, and keychain fobs), a home goods collection (table runners, napkins, and placemats), and a baby collection (e.g. bibs and burp cloths).
Someone shopping for baby items is unlikely also to be shopping for table decor. Breaking up your products by use makes it easier for shoppers to shop.
Consider which products would be used by your customers at the same time. Display those products together on your table.
3) Collection by style
Everyone has a particular style/preference when it comes to fashion, home, decor, scent profile, etc.
If you create products to suit a variety of styles, displaying them by style can make it easier for people to shop.
For example, if I knit hats and offer beanies, slouchy hats, hats with pom poms, and hats with earflaps, I could create a collection for each style on my table.
If I sell jewelry and have bohemian-style pieces, punk-style pieces, and classic-style pieces, I would have 3 groupings on my craft show table for each style.
Look at each of your items and consider what type of items might be in one person’s closet or home.
Realistically, a person who prefers a classic style won’t also be interested in a punk style.
A person who decorates their home in a mid-century modern style won’t also have modern farmhouse pieces.
Create collections based on the styles people commonly follow.
4) Collection by product feature
Consider the most dominant feature of your products, or the feature your target market commonly shops by, and use that feature to create your collections.
- Bath and body products may be grouped by scent
- Knitted goods may be grouped by type of stitch (e.g. waffle, chunky knit, cable knit, etc.)
- Jewelry may be grouped by material (e.g. gold, silver, rose gold)
- Greeting cards may be grouped by occasion (e.g. wedding, baby shower, birthday, etc.)
5) Collection by item
If you have too much variation when it comes to product features, try grouping them based on what type of product they are.
For example, if I make jewelry and make a wide variety of styles, use several different materials, and offer many different colors, I could create a necklace collection, a ring collection, a bracelet collection, and an earring collection in my display.
The consistency among shape and size will help create cohesion within your display.
How you create collections will depend on your products, how many pieces you have, and what makes sense for your shoppers.
Consider what type of grouping will catch the eye.
Test your collections at home. Group products together on your dining table, then stand back several feet. Do the groupings catch your eye? Do they look clean and organized?
How your target market prefers to shop must also play a factor when creating collections.
For example, when people are shopping for soap, they often aren’t concerned about the shape. Typically, the focus is on skin type (e.g. dry, oily, etc.) or purpose (e.g. facial soap, body wash, shampoo, etc.), or scent.
However, if I’ve created a line of soap for kids (my target market) and my soaps are shaped like animals, shape would be important to my target market. So that’s how I would group them on my craft show table.
Be sure to leave several inches between each collection in your display so groupings don’t blend into each other.
If you have too many products, consider displaying your bestsellers or most eye-catching pieces, and creating a “stock area” at the end of your table for people to sift through, or keep additional stock behind your table.
When someone is looking at a particular product, or style of product, you can pull out more options for them to view.
Trying to cram too much stock on your craft show table makes it look unprofessional and hard for people to shop.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!