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August 31, 2015

Why you’re Looking at your Craft Show Setup Wrong

When you’re setting up your booth or table for a craft show, you likely stand at the front, placing your items and creating your well thought out, tried and true displays. Once you’re done, you stand back as though you’re going to snap a picture, focusing on the most important subject of the show: your booth 😉


There are a few issues with looking at it from that perspective:

  • Shoppers don’t approach a vendor space head on and ignore all the other booths until they get there.
  • Organizers aren’t impressed with your ability to take over just a little more space than you’re allotted.
  • A salesman doesn’t care if a space is picture perfect, they care if it’s going to sell.

If you can change your perspective from an individual vendor to that of a Shopper, an Organizer and a Salesman/woman, you’ll give yourself a great advantage when it comes to selling and keeping those around you happy.


We know set up can be a hectic time so it’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible heading into a show; all items tagged and organized, float counted and display planned. Create a mock up at home so items come right out of their containers and into their designated space. This will give you the extra time needed to do little tweaks based on the venue’s space and the points mentioned below. Here are the 3 different perspectives to view your booth from…..





Consider how shoppers will walk the venue. Head towards the entrance, turn around and imagine you’re a customer approaching your booth from several feet away. What do you see? If it’s nothing, add more stock or displays to the top, front or sides of your booth. 


Unless you’re at the end of an aisle, most shoppers won’t approach your booth head on so be sure you’ve got something to catch their eye from a few feet away. Repeat this as a customer approaching your booth from the other direction. Also keep in mind if it’s really busy, they may not see much through the crowds. Raising your displays can help shoppers see your products from near and far. 


You should be placing your showstopping pieces in the spot shoppers notice first, keeping the main flow of traffic in mind. Your display should also be using at least one eye-catching technique, (as explained in my 5 days to a standout display challenge and in this article) so shoppers immediately notice your space and get an overall vibe.


What I mean by vibe is; are your ideal customers immediately attracted to your space based on its style?


I’m personally attracted to clean lines, modern touches and soft colors. If a craft show table is lacking those elements or has an opposite style, I may not notice them or decide not to stop thinking they’re not a fit for me. If I notice a booth using those elements, I’ll decide right away it’s a booth I need to stop at, even before I know exactly what they sell.


It’s all about creating your own little store in the middle of a craft show.


Think about when you go traveling or shopping in a new area. Let’s say you’re shopping for new clothes and you walk past several clothing stores; what makes you decide to go in some and skip others?


You pick up on the vibe of a store before you even step foot in it.


Craft show shoppers do the same as soon as they notice your booth from across the room. You either have “it” or you don’t. “It” being what they’re attracted to.


Consider this as well: have you ever noticed something you like in a store window but as you look at the rest of the display or get a glimpse inside the store you think; maybe you don’t like it so much after all?


I definitely have. A top will catch my eye and then I realize the store’s vibe is either too young, too mature or too something for me.


That’s the reason you have to think beyond your products. Your display holds so much weight and can alter the message you’re trying to send.


Join my free 5 day challenge to learn ALL the areas of your display you should be thinking about and how to carry your product’s message throughout. 


Now walk into your booth and see how it feels. Does it feel cramped or crowded with just you in there? Consider placing some stock behind your table to give more elbowroom. Keep an eye on customers as they shop so you can pull out options from behind the table if they seem interested in an item you have more stock in. As product sells down, restock from behind your table.


One of the most common mistakes craft show vendors make is trying to offer too much selection. Think about how many different types of products you sell and if they all have one main message.


If someone who knits offers scarves, mittens, hats, blankets, cup cozies, dish cloths and doggie sweaters, they’re selling under a few different categories (accessories, home and pet). It gets pretty hard to create a strong message that way.


If they narrow their products to one category, let’s say accessories, they can then choose a message people shopping for winter accessories care about. It may be offering big chunky knits, a certain grouping of colors or super warm items without the itch of wool.


Need a little help with your message? My 5 day challenge will also help with that. I know! Amazing isn’t it 😉




On the other hand; if your booth feels a little empty and cold, add some more stock or display elements. How much stock to bring is the million dollar question when it comes to craft shows.


For a detailed explanation of calculating how much stock to bring and what to do if you happen to have a lot of stock leftover, download my ebook MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS or download the free sample chapter to see how much valuable info is in just one chapter.



Get right up to your table. What will the customer see from this angle? Empty boxes, tissue paper and your lunch for the day? Be sure everything you don’t want the customer to see is tucked under your table in a safe spot – this includes your cash box. If you’re standing at the front of your table and can easily reach your float, be sure to move it someplace safer or consider an apron to keep cash and valuables on you.


And don’t forget this step to ensure you have a way to contact shoppers after the event. If you’re simply handing out business cards, over 80% of them will end up in the trash (here’s a simple trick to ensure shoppers hang onto your info) and you’re leaving a second contact in their hands. Wouldn’t you rather be in control and KNOW there will be a second contact?




Are you within your allotted space? If the organizers allowed everyone to take an extra foot, they’d run into a bit of a problem with aisle space. Be sure your display is contained within your booth and there are no tripping hazards or tippy displays that could easily fall over and hurt someone.


Organizers want the entire event space to look full and diverse. Although you don’t want your booth spilling out into the aisle with stock, be sure you’re not looking too empty or minimal.


Does your booth look like it’s the end of the event and you’re getting close to selling out? Pull some more stock out of your bins and beef it up a little. Be sure you’re adding variety to the event as well.


Craft shows will choose applicants based on the category they sell under; they don’t want too many vendors selling the same items. If you stated on your application that you sell stuffed crochet animals but have decided last minute to put all your knitted scarves on display instead, organizers won’t be pleased.


Be sure your booth is clearly marked with your branding. Organizers have likely boasted which vendors are going to be at the event and have maybe even given sneak peeks of the products you’ll be bringing. Do you have signage that helps shoppers find you by name?


If there’s an item the organizers have shared on their social media or website, consider putting that at the front of your display. Shoppers may be specifically looking for it and if they’re not, it just may entice them to stop as it triggers a reminder that they’ve seen it before.


For more rules you should be following if you want to be invited back to the event, check out this article.



Before you can sell anything, you need to get the shoppers to stop. So look for opportunities to grab shoppers’ attention and draw them into your booth. This may be a conversation piece, an eye-catching display or your smiling face next to your most popular product. Consider the shopper’s perspective mentioned above as to how traffic flows and create your Zone 1; a display at eye-level (or slightly above to be seen over the crowds) that houses your hottest pieces.


Think creatively and determine how you can use your surroundings to your advantage. Have a walk around the show to see what vendors in other categories are displaying. Since they’re not your direct competition, see if there’s a complimentary product that would pair well together.


For example; if you’re selling dips and salsa and there’s a booth down the way selling homemade crackers, that’s a perfect product to compliment yours. When you see a shopper with a bag from Crackers R Us, use that as a cue to suggest a few of your dips that would go great with them.


This works with more than just the food category:

  • Accessories – That’s a cozy scarf you just bought! Check out these awesome slippers I make in the same color.
  • Jewelry – I love T-Shirts R Us! What did you pick up from them? I’ve had my eye on that t-shirt too; I’ve been thinking this necklace of mine would go great with it.
  • Stationery – Who are the soaps for? A gift for your mom? This is the card I’m giving to my mom this Mother’s day.
  • Childrens – Cute stuffed sock monkey! Do you have a little one? A girl? These clips for little girls are our best seller.

You get the idea;)


Now consider how you can set your business apart from vendors who are selling in the same category as you. If you notice other jewelry vendors tend to have a lot of delicate, gold necklaces displayed, you may want to consider moving your silver statement necklaces into the limelight. 


You don’t want customers arriving at your booth and making the decision to keep on walking because they’ve already seen 3 other vendors with similar items. Figure out what will make you stand out among the other vendors in the same category as you and move those pieces into your zone 1.


If you need more tips when it comes to perfecting your sales pitch, download MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. I dedicate an entire chapter to perfecting your sales skills and I promise, I don’t encourage you to use any techniques that will make you or your shoppers uncomfortable. It’s all about uncovering what works for you and implementing elements that make selling feel natural (and maybe even enjoyable).



Let me know if you’re going to make any changes to your display or if you have any questions!




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