Relating your craft show booth or table to a store window is a good way to look at your space from a different perspective and ensure you have elements that will catch the eye. (Here are other retail best practices you should apply at your next craft show)
And although you may only have a few feet, you also want to think of your table or booth like the inside of the store, and create a layout that draws shoppers in on one side, allows people to shop without blocking your eye-catching elements, and allows people to pay without blocking your main shopping area or eye-catching areas.
Check out CRAFT SHOW LAYOUT TIPS for the 3 zones your table or booth should have and how to properly set them up.
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You only have a few seconds to grab shoppers’ 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.
TOP 10 VISUAL MERCHANDISING TECHNIQUES
These are techniques major retailers put to use because they translate into dollars:
- LINE & COMPOSITION
1 – COLOR
Colors are a great way to evoke emotion and make a statement. It’s such a powerful display element, I’d go so far to say:
Every craft show display should (properly) use color.
- Planning products so their colors work together
- Thinking about how your brand colors work with your product colors (You may also like 10 UNIQUE BRANDING IDEAS FOR YOUR CRAFT SHOW SPACE)
- Being strategic with your use of color
- Limit hues (3 or fewer is ideal. For example, focusing on purple, pink, and blue)
- Limit tints, tones, and shades (for example, focusing on pastel purple, pink and green)
The right colors will communicate a message (think light blue for calming spa-like atmosphere or yellow for fun, cheerful products) and attract your ideal customer. You can’t know and appeal to everyone’s taste but is the person you’re trying to attract drawn to soft pastels, bright neons or deep, rich hues?
The absence of color is another way to stand out, letting your products do the talking. White walls, floor, table cloth, props, and uniform is bound to make shoppers stop and take notice.
USED AT A CRAFT SHOW:
Here’s a quick look at a craft show display by Don Fisher that uses color. Please see more of their photos and an explanation of all the visual merchandising techniques they’ve successfully implemented, at the end of this article.
USED IN RETAIL:
An eye-catching hot pink color is pulled from the product label and used in some oversized tassels that mimic the tassels on the bottle in a Jo Malone window. This window also uses REPETITION with the same product being displayed 3 times. (Image Source: VM)
An all white window with bright lighting at JOSEPH really catches the eye (Image Source: VM)
2 – REPETITION
Repetition is another merchandising technique that should be used in EVERY craft show display.
It should start with your products. A craft show table should NOT be full of 101 different products; with no two being the same.
Limit your selection (which was proven to have increased a jam vendor’s sales by 27%, just by limiting flavor options) and be sure there are elements repeated within your products.
For example, every piece of jewelry a maker offers may be made out of copper and use geo shapes. The color of stones may create variety but still use repetition; each copper, geo-shaped necklace, ring, and bracelet is offered in a purple quartz, rose quartz, and green quartz stone.
Once you’ve sorted your product selection, you can use repetition in the way you display them.
*If you need help refining your selection, or putting any of this information together to create your next amazing craft show display, you can sign up for 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY (it’s FREE).
- Repeat colors found in your products in props, signage, images, tablecloth, etc.
- Repeat a product that is displayed (e.g. set up 3 bust forms and have them all wearing the same necklace; one in each stone.)
- Repeat shapes within your display (e.g. create a pyramid shape by stacking bars of soap on risers. Repeat that pyramid shape using jars of cream and bottles of bubble bath)
More examples shared in 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.
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.
USED AT A CRAFT SHOW:
Here’s a quick look at a craft show display by Poppiejanes and their effective use of repetition through shapes of products, colors, and patterns (notice in the top left how the vendor is even wearing a black and red buffalo plaid shirt to coordinate with her pillow covers). Please see more of their photos and an explanation of all the visual merchandising techniques they’ve successfully implemented, at the end of this article.
USED IN RETAIL:
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)
A clutch is repeated 3 times in a window at Anya Hindmarch showing off the product and varying color options. (Image source: VM)
3 – LINE & COMPOSITION
This visual merchandising technique should also be present in EVERY craft show display (the rest of the ideas in this article can be used at your discretion).
Compositions lead the eye around your booth or table. 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 element or product to the next.
This is why laying products flat on a table does not help attract more shoppers or encourage more sales.
When everything is on the same level, nothing catches the eye or creates a path telling shoppers where to look next; it’s overwhelming to shop and to make a decision (which lowers sales).
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 in 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 AND within each element.
For example, when standing back and looking at your display, one product grouping or display element should grab the eye. Within that product grouping, one product should catch the eye and then lead to other products (ones that are less expensive, less profitable, good add-ons, etc. Check out: HOW TO USE ADD-ONS TO SELL MORE HANDMADE).
Your eye is naturally drawn to bigger/higher/brighter/etc. objects in a display (e.g. the pink bag below). Then, the overlapping, angle, height, direction products flow, etc. creates lines that direct the eye and make sure shoppers see what you want them to see, when you want them to see it.
Below is a visual example take from MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS; a more detailed explanation of how to use and implement line and composition is explained there.
USED AT A CRAFT SHOW:
Here’s a quick look at Our Blue Abode‘s craft show display and their effective use of LINE & COMPOSITION. Notice how your eye is drawn down from the wreaths on the wall, and onto the product groupings on the table. I explain how she’s successfully created flow and share more photos of her displays at the end of this article.
USED IN RETAIL:
Depending on which way someone approaches this Harvey Nichols window, their eye is either drawn to the brightly lit group of 3 mannequins, and then follows the angled line and writing to the 2nd group of mannequins or the opposite; the contrast of the white hashtag on the black background grabs the eye first and leads it down the angled “work hard, play hard” line to the 3 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 placed in front of the black dress).
The beautiful 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)
Consider the flow of your craft show table too. You want shoppers to:
- Be drawn in at the front of your space by a showstopper
- Be led to the middle of your table where they can browse and try items on, pick them up, etc.
- End at the “cash desk” where they can be out of the way of other shoppers while they browse smaller “add-on” items and complete their transaction (think of the checkout line at the grocery store; why not, I’ll grab a pack of gum, it’s only a couple bucks, it’s right here and it’s simple to add to my cart. Check out: HOW TO USE ADD-ONS TO SELL MORE HANDMADE).
CRAFT SHOW LAYOUT TIPS thoroughly explains how to break your display into zones that encourage stopping, shopping, and buying.
The end of your table should act like a website pop up. “But wait! Before you go…” If they haven’t purchased, you want to make one last attempt to grab their attention.
If shoppers aren’t going to take the action of purchasing, what’s the easiest action they can take so you can stay in touch and have the opportunity to sell to them in the future?
HINT-HINT 😉 It’s signing up for your newsletter. If you think you don’t have enough content to start and send a newsletter…think again.
You 110% NEED a newsletter for your business. It’s THE most effective way to stay in touch with your target market and is 4 times more effective than using social media. Here’s how to start one in 10 minutes.
Make sure every shopper is leaving your space with a good feeling and a way to remember you.
5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY has tips to ensure no shopper ever forgets your booth, brand or the experience you create for them.
4 – 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 also make lighting part of the display.
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)
5 – SCALE
Adding larger than life elements can immediately grab a shopper’s attention. As they walk around the venue seeing everything in proportion, an oversized 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, oversized (or undersized) objects that can hang above your table with the use of fishing wire. It will catch the eye of shoppers as soon as they walk in the venue.
Examples are shared in 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY, but imagine a giant ball of yarn made from a styrofoam ball wrapped in rope and spray painted the same color found in a logo or product collection. Add a flat surface to the top and bottom and you have a cool display shelf for knitted goods.
How fun is this oversized 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 and promote the knits they have in-store. (Image source: VM).
Hairpins are something that might be used with these Hermes scarves. (Image source: VM)
6 – CONTRAST
Which objects, shapes, colors or textures will make a shopper stop and take note of how polar opposite they are to your products?
- Dark can contrast light products
- Rough can contrast smooth finishes
- A simple background can contrast a complex design
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.
The crisp, clean Alexander McQueen dress stands out in contrast to the dark background. (Image source: VM)
7 – HUMOR
Who doesn’t love to laugh? Humor 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 and it doesn’t need explaining…keep it simple!
USED AT A CRAFT SHOW:
Here’s another display by Don Fisher that uses humor. Their bags are fish-themed so the vendor has created a “fresh fish stand” and even dressed the part.
USED IN RETAIL:
French Connection uses its 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)
8 – NOSTALGIA
Don’t you love seeing something that reminds you of your childhood? It evokes a strong feeling, which is incredibly important when it comes to being memorable; do you remember products that made you feel nothing?
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.
This Moschino window brings us right back to playing dress up with our Barbies. The oversized 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), both used to display beautiful jewelry. (Image source: VM)
9 – MOTION
Something moving among 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 high or behind your table). You don’t want moving objects to be in the way of products shoppers are trying to browse.
Movement can also be implied through displays to show off components of your products or to create a feeling. Pulling the end of a scarf up using fishing wire can imply the movement of wind and make the shopper think of chilly days.
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)
10 – 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 shoppers aren’t expecting at a craft show. It should leave them amused and excited to tell others about it.
You can also add intrigue. Make shoppers do a double-take and hang around a little longer to check something out or solve a puzzle.
For example, encouraging shoppers to come closer to peer into a shadow box or behind curtains to see what they’re missing out on. Having something out of place or missing intrigues the mind and forces it to figure out what the missing piece of the puzzle is or how to solve the equation, which gets shoppers hanging around a bit longer. Perhaps long enough for you to make a sale?
You may be surprised to see an island backdrop set up in the middle of the city for you to have your own photoshoot. 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)
I know what you’re thinking; Well this is all fine and dandy but how do I apply it to MY craft show display?
Let me get you started 🙂
Assess how many of these elements you’re using in your current craft show display.
You don’t want to use too many of these visual merchandising techniques or you run the risk of overwhelming the shopper.
Start with your products and your brand. What’s their message?
Think about your:
- USP – why should shoppers buy from you, rather than the jewelry maker, soap vendor or knitter down the aisle? (*These are the 3 biggest mistakes crafters make with their USP)
- Style – how would you describe the style of your products? That must come across within the first few seconds of shoppers seeing your space. Are your products for someone who likes to stand out with bold accessories? Someone who’s quirky? Someone who’s feminine? (*Do you have a signature style? If not, check out this article because you absolutely need one.)
- Story – what’s the story you want to tell through your display? Are you painting the picture of a spa day at home using your bath & body products? An elegant night out while wearing your jewelry? A stylish way to stay warm on the way to the office? (*Props will help tell a story, here are 50 PROP IDEAS FOR YOUR CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY)
Figure out how you will communicate that information through your display.
Sound like a lot?
It’s not hard to do but it also doesn’t come together without some effort. I’ll walk you through the easy steps in the FREE email course: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.
You can set up your products at a craft show without all this effort and make sales.
But my guess is…since you’re here…you want more sales.
- More shoppers to stop by your table
- More of those shoppers to buy
- More shoppers to remember you
- More shoppers to talk about you to friends
- More sales coming in after the event
To do so, you must make an impact with your display and tell your product’s and brand’s story.
I’ll walk you through each step of setting up a powerful display that actually impacts sales in the FREE email course: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.
“I am brand new at doing Craft Sales. I started in November 2017. Did my first sale sold nothing. Did my second sale and sold a couple of items. Took the 5 day challenge and made a profit at the last sale.”
~Just for you cards by Kathryn
“I applied some steps from the challenge and it was AMAZING, it really helped and improved my display. More people came to see the booth and many bought from me.”
~Beatriz, Owner of Pretelie from Brazil
CRAFT SHOW EXAMPLES
Try testing your new-found knowledge. Take a look at each photo, think about the visual merchandising techniques they have implement and then read the caption.
Abagail from Our Blue Abode, sells beautiful home decor pieces and these are a few photos from craft shows she’s participated in. She clearly has a talent for creating compositions and photography. Please check out her website or follow @ourblueabode on Instagram
In these two displays, there are several well-implemented design techniques, but she’s focused on a few key ones:
- COLOR – colors used in her display are limited: cream, white and green with a few touches of black. The colors have a very natural, earthy, and calming feel, which match her brand. The absence of color in her backdrop curtain, tablecloth, props, etc. allow the products to stand out. The neutral colors used in her display props (backdrop, tablecloth, props) create contrast between the dark rich color of the greenery.
- REPETITION – She’s limited her product selection, which naturally implements the “repetition” technique. You see the same circular shape repeated through the wreaths. The texture of the glass jars is also repeated, as well as the color of the greenery used in each product. Colors, shapes, and textures have created repetition.
- LINE & COMPOSITION – in the second photo, your eye is drawn to the highest object in the display; the wreath. It’s then drawn to the two lower wreaths. The greenery on the left side of the bottom wreath catches the eye and draws it to the grouping of glass candle holders on the stack of books (which create a composition). The rolls of paper and eucalyptus stems create a line over to the second table composition. And the eucalyptus stem and candle in that composition create a line back up to the wreaths, so there’s this continuous loop (instead of the eye being drawn over to someone else’s table). It sounds complicated when you dissect a display into lines and compositions, but just as the eye is naturally drawn to red, without thinking about why, the eye does naturally follow a path. Properly using lines and composition helps keep shoppers eyes on your products.
Here’s another example of Our Blue Abode’s display at another event and an example of many visual merchandising techniques successfully implemented:
I have been admiring this company for years. I first noticed them because of their craft show display, I just think it’s so genius and creative.
Don Fisher was started by Julia Castaño (and her boyfriend helps where he can…like dressing up as Captain Don Fisher). Julia is a graphic designer based in Barcelona, Spain, and has studied branding and design. She started her business with fish-shaped pencil cases and now offers a wide variety of fish-themed bags. Check out their website and products; the details are amazing.
This is a photo from their first craft fair in 2013:
Here are a couple of photos from a more recent craft show, after a logo and brand update:
In these two displays, there are a lot of well-implemented display techniques but they’ve focused on:
- COLOR – the color scheme varies for each display. In the first craft fair display, they’ve focused on pink, blue and turquoise. The color of the wood is also repeated in signage, the fish crates, business card holders, etc. The color palette in the first display evokes a fun, playful feel. They’re still having fun with their second craft fair display and letting their brand come through, but the colors used have a softer, more elegant feel to them.
- REPETITION – in both displays, the main colors are repeated throughout, as well as the wood & wooden crates are repeated. Their products and the way they’re grouped creates a strong repetition through shapes and lines.
- LINE & COMPOSITION – in the first display, the lighting helps catch the eye at eye level. When the spotlights are on, they would help lead your eye down to the crates of fish-themed bags. But the big chalkboard sign also catches the eye, then leads the eye down to the bucket of fish and crates. Both displays use the angle of the crates and groupings of products to draw the eye down and from one product to the next.
- HUMOR / SURPRISE – both displays have a playful feel that would put a smile on any shopper’s face, and I’m sure Captain Don Fisher’s beard got a few chuckles that day. Their displays also add an element of surprise; who’s expecting to see a mock fish market in the middle of a craft show? They’ve even placed their fish bags on material that looks like ice…to keep them fresh of course. It’s such a fun idea that I bet every shopper stops at their booth.
When I was scrolling through Instagram, Poppiejanes‘ photo of their craft show display instantly caught my eye. Poppiejanes sells pillow covers that have a farmhouse vibe; many also have a “buffalo” theme, incorporating a buffalo shape or buffalo plaid. Check out their Etsy shop or Instagram feed for more amazing photos of their work and lots of inspiration for your home.
I wanted to point out how she’s successfully implemented these techniques throughout her display; even within a smaller section on her table. I also love the attention to detail shown in this close-up photo.
- COLOR – tan, cream and black create the base for this display and little pops of red and gold help lead your attention around the table. She’s kept this color palette consistent from her products to her props and display fixtures. It’s consistent right down to the twine used to attach tags and the bow around the base of the small spruce. This attention to detail creates a clean, cohesive look.
- REPETITION – this display is another great example of repetition, but just look at how many places it’s implemented. The burlap is repeated in the tablecloth and on the base of the spruce. The font on the pillows is repeated in her signage. I also want to draw attention to the placement of the repeated elements; red touches are perfectly spaced, and the darker tan pillow covers are broken up by the lighter tan and cream pillowcases, so they don’t blend into the tablecloth.
- LINE & COMPOSITION – the pillow sitting on top of the wooden crate, along with the small spruce tree, help grab attention, with the bigger pillows sitting on either side, drawing the eye down to the pillow covers sitting flat.
- LIGHTING – there’s a subtle touch of lighting in her display through the use of mini-lights inside the wooden crate. The mini-lights help to highlight the pillow inside and also create a bit of focus in the center of the composition.
More craft show examples to come…
Thanks for reading!
You’re so far ahead of the competition if you just took the time to read through those professional merchandising techniques.
I’d love to hear your thoughts now…
Which standout display elements do you currently use at craft shows, and which are you going to try at your next event?
Reference: Visual Merchandising & Display (4th Edition) Martin M. Pegler