Booth Evolution

Posted by Barbara Tilley on 10/16/2017 to News

One of the best and worst parts of doing Arts and Craft shows is designing your booth. 

Over the years you go from one set up to another.  Some very complicated, to just laying your stuff on a table.  Most good shows require one booth picture when deciding if you get accepted.  I have often wondered just how much that booth shot counts for or against someone. 

My set up has evolved and changed so much and is still a thing of flux and flow.  I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane with me and my displays. 

Before you say anything……..I know……some are pretty bad.  But can we really learn if we don’t post and let people make snarky comments?  I think not.

This was my first official set up.  I believed the hype that jewelry looks fancy on black.  I bought all black sheets for table cloths and black velvet necklace displays.  The black sucks all the color out of the jewelry.  I do like that I had large scale jewelry pics on the wall behind the tables.  This was before the easy print banners and posters were available.  I had to go to a printing store and pay top dollar for these.  This was at a gun show in Richmond, Virginia.  I did these shows for years and enjoyed them.  That’s where I met Jackie and she started doing shows with me.  She would make signs that said, “If you want to buy that gun, better buy her this necklace.”  In the middle you will see a fishing basket.  I had earrings that I made out of fishing lures.  Hmmmmmm, not my finest moment.  Oh and the ammo box had bullet earrings.  Those actually sold.  You never know.

This was a show where I tried to get creative and I made a light box to have light shine through the glass pendants.  Didn’t sell one.  I started to get a few more white display boards, but I’m still holding on to the black.  I cut some plastic shelves from Walmart and spray painted them black.  I duct taped the lights under the shelves.  LOL.

I decided to add some height for my pendants.  Also got white tray insets.  All the colors show up better. 


I had to throw this amazing mess into the mix.  This was a set up that I used a few times, but quickly retired.  It was “My grandmother’s living room”.  It was labor intensive and really looked like a hot mess once put together.  But I knew that I wanted shelves that folded.  Look at the rose garland.  I would laugh, but there is this sad little part of me that still thinks it was a little pretty.  (snif, snif, tear sliding slowly down my cheek)

Okay!  Now you will notice two MAJOR changes.  1.  I got shelves.  2.  I changed all my neck boards to white.  All of a sudden, BAM, my booth was bright and inviting.  A trick of the eye - the colors of the beads stood out against the neutral white.  I changed to white earring cards too.  The only thing that I didn’t do and should have, is painted the shelves white too.  Now you notice the wood shelves too much – they compete with the color of the necklaces.  Also, I had one red cloth and one black.  I don’t understand what I was doing with that.  This is a good time to mention that if someone asks you the price of something that is just part of your display, SELL it to them.  If they are asking about a display item, that display item is competing with your jewelry.  It is working against you.  So just sell it to them right then and there.  That way you can at least get your money back on the display, and you won’t have that distraction anymore.  Trust me, your jewelry should be decoration enough.

If your show is very regulated and you and your neighbors are set up next to each other, you need to make sure that your displays and everything is within your 10 x 10 space.  But if the show is in a giant vineyard or field and they have you spaced apart 5 to 10 feet, it makes sense for you to spread out.  Just follow your show rules and always be a good neighbor.  Do not block the flow of traffic to your neighbors booth.

Here I am at Sea Wall Art Show and I have changed all my cloths to a light blue.  I guess I thought it matched my banner.  I have my first piece of grid wall up, too.

I wanted to change out my necklace displays to something that are water and dirt resistant.  I got acrylic neck boards.  That was a big MISTAKE.  The floating necklaces couldn’t even be seen.  Good Grief!  I quickly found some white contact paper and covered the displays. 

Shortly after this show, my van was murdered while parked outside my house.  Someone ran into my parked van and destroyed it and my displays.  I needed new wheels and new displays.  My sister gave me both.  Yay! I think I said something like, “If I wasn’t worried about money, my dream setup would be grid wall.”  She said to put it all in my online cart and see what it added up to.  I did and it added up to be just the best thing ever!

Here is the gridwall set up without any product.  I tried it out in the street outside my house.  Please see previous post for additional pics of this.  BTW – this really adds weight to your tent.  I have it bungee corded to the tent and it helps keep everything steady in the wind.  Notice I have L shaped legs facing inside the tent.  Right after this picture was taken, I started taking it all down and once I got the gridwall down, a gust of wind picked up my tent and crashed it into my driveway, breaking it.  So I had to buy a new $200 tent.  It never ends.  The torture never ends.

This is my modern day set up.  White gridwall.  White shelves and the contact paper covered acrylic necklace boards.  This was the first time that I heard about the pool noodles.  See the blue noodle in the corner.  Who loves pool noodles?  All of us with Easy Up tents.  (They lift the slack out of the tent canopy and helps keep rain water from pooling and tearing your tent.)


Here it is again in a corner configuration.  You can’t really see it but I have a white table cloth.  It’s the vinyl picnic kind.  So it won’t get wet or wrinkle or stain.  Yay!  This is borrowed pipe and drape.  If I could choose a color, what color do you think I would choose?  Yupper, I would choose white. 

I’ve spent so much money trying to make my own displays that I could have purchased my nice set up from the beginning.  Spend a little time looking on the internet for the items that you are thinking about making.  You might be surprised at how little they actually cost.  They are also more compact for hauling to and from shows.  Remember that your product is the star of the show.  Make everything else fade into the background. 

There is always a sweet spot at each show.  And the sweet spots moves each time.  The sweet spot is the spot where it seems like the most product is selling from.  It might be the perfect lighting, perfect angle, or something that is paranormal.  (LOL)  Once Jackie and I figure out which necklace display is on the sweet spot, we alternate our necklaces as they sell.  That way we each benefit from the sweet spot.  And putting your high profit items in that location always seems to work.

Another happy fact that I always remind myself and fellow artists is that for every butt, there is a perfect chair.  Sometimes you will create something that turns out just a little off for your taste.  Put it out on display anyway.  It will be the perfect fit for someone’s butt.

I have a great story about the time Jackie and I set up at Sugar Loaf in Chantilly.  We thought we could use our tent instead of pipe and drape.  But I’ll have to tell you that story next time.