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Simple Tips to Help You Create Successful Craft Show Booth Designs and Setups

One of the biggest things soapmakers agonize over when it comes to doing shows is how to setup a successful craft show booth. There’s a lot of great and common advice out there about what tables to use or silly common sense things like including signage. So, today, let’s gather up some less commonly talked about features of a successful craft show booth design and setup!

Heather from Naked Goat Soap Company accomplishes a ton of these tips with her unique and eye-catching setup!
Heather from Naked Goat Soap Company accomplishes a ton of these tips with her unique and eye-catching setup!

To start with, all successful craft show booth layouts have particular features. When you are planning your craft show booth design, keep in mind that you want to:

  • Attract visual attention from all angles, to draw people in regardless of what direction they are coming from
  • Allow customers to have a “safe zone” where they can check out your products without being afraid of drawing attention or making a commitment to browsing
  • Welcome the customer in and making it clear what you do/make/sell without you needing to tell them or explain
  • Provide aisle escape for a customer, giving them the ability to browse without being in the way of event traffic in the walkways
  • Present customers with enough room to browse or move through the booth without bumping into each other or your tables/displays and don’t have any areas of bottlenecking
  • Give you adequate space to store excess inventory, complete transactions, and get out of your booth for breaks
  • Keep your belongings, displays, and product within your assigned booth space and out of the walkways

The most common mistakes include not allowing customers a safe zone to browse and not providing aisle escape. No one likes being confronted by a maker, which makes them feel committed to browsing (even if they aren’t interested), which wastes valuable real estate on a warm body instead of a potential customer!

Alane from Blissful Botanica accomplishes a ton of these tips with her craft show booth that feels like its own boutique!
Alane from Blissful Botanica accomplishes a ton of these tips with her craft show booth that feels like its own boutique!

When you design your craft show booth, keep the points above in mind. I highly recommend setting up your craft show booth in a dry run, and then pretending to be a customer. Approach your booth from different angles, think about where you would stand as a vendor, and try shopping your booth!

Ask yourself:

  • Is it possible for a customer to be interested in my products from far away, not matter which way they are approaching from? Is there some kind of large visual interest or eye-catching display?
  • Can a customer browse at a safe distance, without feeling committed to looking and/or talking to me, the vendor? If possible, have another person stand where you would so you can get a feeling for the personal space bubble that each of us has!
  • Does my craft show booth design give a customer an idea of what I do and what I am selling from 20 feet away? How about 50 feet, 100 feet, and even 250 feet away?
  • Is it possible for a customer to “leave” the craft show environment and “enter” my booth as if it’s a standalone boutique or store? Does it feel like it’s own space?
  • Is a customer able to move through my craft show booth without butt-rubbing against another person or a table? Is there enough space to move through my booth in a motorized chair, wheelchair, or on crutches?
  • Can a customer see my excess inventory, boxes, cash box, or other messy-looking necessities? Can I change tablecloths, use a behind the table display, or other inventive way to hide my stuff?

When setting up a craft show booth, you’ll want to keep in mind a couple things about your tables, displays, and setup! Here’s some other tips for creating a successful craft show booth design that will be efficient for you and welcoming for your customers:

Successful Craft Show Booth Design Tip: Give ’em some space.

Most first time vendors fill up their tables from front to back, leaving no empty space on the table top. This is a big mistake! It doesn’t give customers any room to place their belongings, if need be. (For instance, when making a purchase, a lot of women appreciate space to set down their purse on your table.) You also don’t want anyone to knock down your products that are close to the edge of the table. I prefer keeping about 6 inches of space clear around the front edges of every display table.

Molly from Ridgeway Soapworks accomplishes a ton of these tips with her inviting setup!
Molly from Ridgeway Soapworks accomplishes a ton of these tips with her warm and inviting setup!

You’ll also find that you appreciate a little bit of space behind your displays for writing down information for customers, storing extra inventory or samples, and other items you want to have readily accessible. If you have space in your vendor area (the section of your booth that you alone can access) for a table with such supplies, then it’s not necessary to have that wiggle room behind your displays.

Successful Craft Show Booth Design Tip: Make sure it’s safe.

Make sure your displays are secure and won’t knock over if bumped into, or if a customer drops a product while picking it up or putting it back. You don’t want a giant mess of damaged product to clean up, and a customer isn’t going to feel great about breaking anything!

Keep you, your products, and your customers safe by doing a safety check on displays. Make sure that they can be bumped into without being knocked over, and if a product is dropped, it won’t break or destroy things!

Successful Craft Show Booth Design Tip: Create your own space.

If your booth has back walls, fix those up! There’s nothing more distracting than being in a booth and being able to see through and check out the booth behind you. If you are outdoors, use your tent to create back walls and hang attractive display banners with a great photo of your products and your business name. If you are inside, you can still create a back wall by using a photography backdrop stand or creating your own backdrop stand out of PVC pipe. Whichever you do, make sure it is secure so it won’t fall over!

If you are at an outdoor event, you’ll likely be using a tent. Don’t forget about those tent legs being in the way! Use the tent legs to your advantage, and include them in your plans.

A neat trick to cover up those unsightly tent legs is to use shutters or bi-fold doors around them to create visual interest, a place to hang additional banners, or modify them to hold brochures and business cards for your customers to snag. An easy to transport cover-up is creating a curtain panel that hangs from the corners of your tent, around the tent legs, with a couple yards of fabric and velcro. Both of these options give you the opportunity to bring in more of your brand visuals while making the space feel more like a boutique instead of a tent in the middle of a busy craft fair.

Heather from Naked Goat Soap Company accomplishes a ton of these tips with her unique and eye-catching setup!
Heather from Naked Goat Soap Company accomplishes a ton of these tips with her unique and eye-catching setup!

Successful Craft Show Booth Design Tip: Create visual interest.

While your whole craft show booth should be eye-catching, it’s always good to plan one or two displays that catch a customer’s eye from far away. Think tiered shelving or stacked crates that create a visual break in your display with height. Use these display areas to showcase your bestsellers or a new product – anything you want folks to be drawn to or see first.

Another way to do this is to create a color break – where you use a single accent color in a large swatch in one area. For instance, if your brand colors are aqua, coral, and white, you might use aqua and white tablecloths and displays. You can add that nice pop of color by painting the back of the inside of your largest display shelf a pretty coral color. This will create a visual break in the color theme and draw attention – yes!

Successful Craft Show Booth Design Tip: Maximize your potential.

When designing your setup, imagine the customer flow and what they will do while they are in your booth. If you are busy with another customer, and they want to ask you questions, is there an option for them to grab your contact info and order online? Let them know!

Throughout your booth include info collection points where customers can grab a business card, check you out on social media, sign up for your email newsletter, and more! Some soapmakers also include interactive elements, like discounts or a free with purchase product for snapping a photo and posting it on Instagram with a hashtag or “checking in” to the craft show location on Facebook. Use the in-person format to translate your customers to other methods of contact online!

Do you have any other tips for successful craft show booth designs and setups? Leave a comment below and share your tips to help another soapmaker out!

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5 Responses

  1. Kenna, once again excellent info. I am about to embark on markets here in France…which are very bland unless you sell strawberries and cheese. ☺ I never even thought about readily available info and engaging clients with email newsletter stuff…. I was going to buy a 5 foot hot pink fake cherry blossom tree as an eye catchers then plonk my flyers on the table. Back to the drawing board. Im very excited….I’m going to have the best stand! What are your thoughts on outdoor matting or fake grass? Too tacky?

    1. Hey, Nadeen,
      We have seen rugs and other floor coverings used to great effect in market booths. Would your target market find the matting/grass tacky or appealing? They are the ones who count!

  2. I would like to suggest that if you want to try out selling at craft fairs, that churches, community rec centers, and neighborhood associations often have small indoor craft fairs that are free, or have a low entry fee. They usually provide a table and chair, and sometimes even a tablecloth.
    Your display area will be limited, but you won’t have to struggle with setting up or decorating a tent, and you won’t be making a big investment. These events don’t normally require a business license or event insurance, which are two things you’ll need at a larger fair.
    And I have had really good luck selling at these events- lots of times my sales have been better then they have at the bigger shows.
    Finally, if you want to display your wares at different levels (actually a must) you can use cake stands, cupcake displays, and even spice rack shelving. In a pinch, you can drape a nice tablecloth over a cardboard box or an upside down plastic tote. I know this doesn’t sound fancy or artistic, but it’s one way to see if it’s right for you without shelling out for a display tent or shelving.

    1. Hey, Barbara,
      Small shows can be a great way to get your feet wet and learn how to be the face of your brand. You may or may not find your target market there, though.

      As for licensing and insurance, we encourage folks to make sure they have their legalities and insurance protection in place before they sell anywhere.

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