Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anatomy of an Arts and Crafts Fair Booth

Since I began seriously designing and selling jewelry, I have struggled with the idea of doing outdoor shows. I have heard all of the horror stories of booths getting flooded or blowing away, along with half of the merchandise. However, I have also come to realize these fairs can be an excellent way to get your product in front of the public, and great practice in selling yourself and representing your product.

A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and began planning my booth design. Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I looked for hours and hours online, searching for good booth designs that not only looked professional, but caught my eye in particular. If I am going to spend hours upon hours in a 10 x 10 space, it has to be warm and inviting, and it has to all fit in my '98 Nissan Pathfinder.

During my search, I found a really helpful site that covers many aspects of jewelry display, and, lo and behold, I found a compact booth design that blew me away.

This booth is from Patty Lakinsmith, a lampworker who creates amazing glass beads. I absolutely love her use of space in this booth, so I chose to use some of the same elements in my own.

This is my booth design, following some of the lines and features of Lakinsmith's booth. I picked up the same reed fencing at Home Depot and framed the outer edges with some simple black fabric from Hobby Lobby. I splurged on some enlargements of some of my model shots (I used and highly recommend them). The model photos (by Vicki Smith) really capture the feeling of my designs and I think they add an indispensable element of elegance to the booth. The tables I used are 4-foot folding tables from Target. I raised them by sliding longer sections of pvc pipe over the legs.

The corner "table" covered with black fabric is created using two moving boxes from Home Depot, one of them cut down and stacked onto the other to create the height I wanted. The top box has a five pound weight inside to keep it steady.

Of course, the most important items (and perhaps the most boring), are the weights for the four corners of the tent to keep it steady in the wind. The EZ Up tent I purchased on Ebay came with a weight plate for each leg to set weights on, which is very convenient. I researched all sorts of weight options and what worked best for me was 8x8x8 cement cinder blocks, which I filled with cement, anchoring in an upside down u-bolt, which functions as a handle. The finished weights are roughly 35 pounds each. The size is perfect for setting on the weight plates and is not so bulky that it gets in the way.

Thankfully, my husband was sweet enough to help me set up. I admire all of the artists out there that set up their tents without assistance - I don't know how you do it!

Overall, my first official experience at an outdoor fair was a good one. The weather was beautiful with no storms that day or wind. Although sales were slow, I had an almost constant flow of people through my booth that day, received mostly positive feedback, and gave out almost all of my business cards.

Although this event, the Lawrence (KS) Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, was not juried, I think now I am ready to dive in further and apply for the juried shows!


  1. What a lovely booth! I would spend time in there browsing around. Love the model shots on the "walls".

  2. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience and research. Your completed booth is gorgeous and has a lot of appeal and it's uniquely yours the way you have it set up.

  3. So glad I came across you blog post! Thanks this was very good info.