Friday, September 28, 2012

Making the Most Out of Fairs

Fair Displays That Work

Hi all. Hope this Friday finds you well. Raining here but that makes for a good day to get some work done without sun as distraction. Also a good day for thinking about the set up we're going to put together for the fair we're doing on October 20th. Now, it's only the second year of the fair, and I have no idea how many people will attend, but that's no reason not to put together the best booth we can. I have lots of ideas swirling around my head. Since it is a craft fair, I don't think we can display our vintage stuff unless it's something we've done something to - like refinished/painted furniture, but I need to check on that.  Of course, that doesn't mean I can't take inspiration from both vintageers (I know, I know....I just made up another word, but I really like that one), artists and crafters alike.

I'd like to give it as much of a 'mercantile' feel as possible to play on and brand our business- Bates Mercantile Co. It also needs to pull together our eclectic variety of products which include my illustrations (which can often have a sometimes have a modern slant), Gar's concrete home and garden decor, jewelry that I've made, stars made with my original paper designs, my stationery designs, and some refinished furniture pieces (working on finding some to refinish!).

Keeping all of this in mind, here are some displays that I like from....let me put my Speakeasy hat on.......a marketing perspective. 

Here's some points to consider:

1. product storage/display 

I've seen suitcases used a variety of ways by different sellers. What I like about the ones above and below, are that they don't just plunk stuff into the suitcase, but rather used the suitcase as a backdrop for displays within a display.  Needlebook added a small bookshelf for extra display space (love that), a box to lift her pieces up for better viewing (talk about a simple idea), and still had room for an 'in suitcase' display section for her items that were bigger. It all adds so much interest. 

The miniature clothesline strung in this one utilizes the top of the suitcase another way that packs a punch. Again, another really easy as pie idea. Also make note of the easy to read pricing of these fabrics.

Consider what would work best for your products.  Julie from Julie Ann Art repurposed a pallet simply by adding some small shelves to the front for her cards.

2. Depth For Visual Interest

When planning a fair booth, you don't want it to look flat and one dimensional. Even if your product is something like my illustrations which are by nature, flat, you don't want your display to feel that way to your potential customers. One way create more visual interest is to display things at varying heights and depths.

Note the use of the suitcase for display again. More importantly, all of the differing heights and depths makes you feel like there is so much to discover.  If you're thinking, 'what if all I have is a table at the craft fair?. Don't let that stop you. You can employ this visual merchandising tactic on a table top. (side note: use this tip when arranging a buffet table too for your next party. use upside down boxes and cover with cloth napkin or fabric).

If you're selling things that have drawers use them to display smaller items if possible.

3. Brand Your Booth

Now, obviously you should identify your booth with signage, but what I'm really talking about here is that your booth should reflect your brand. Remember how I said I wanted to give our booth a 'mercantile' feel to represent our brand? If you sell jewelry with a vintage feel, then your display should speak to that. 

If your items have a 'homey feel', make sure your booth does too, displaying things as they might be displayed in the home. 

If you sell cute stuff, make it cute.  You get the drift.

4. Think Out of the Box, Or In It

Be creative and use things you have at your disposal in new ways.  



Pinned Image

Pinned Image
via the via oh hello friend


carton box and metal clips

4. Make It Welcoming

You want people to feel comfortable as they approach your booth.  Think about this from your customer's perspective. Even if you just have a table, you can still dress it up so it says 'look at me'.  Make sure that your items are easy for your customers to handle and feel, after all this is on of the advantages of selling in person as opposed to online.

People don't like to ask about pricing, it makes them feel uncomfortable. Make it easy to find and read.

Think of your booth not simply as a booth, but as your own little pop up store. What would you want your brick and mortar store to look like if you had one and go from there.

Last but not least, dress and act the part and the most important part of that is a smile and hello.

If you have any booth ideas that have worked for you, please share in the comments. I'd love to hear them and I'm sure there are others reading this that would too.

Freeform Friday

Rainy day here. Time for some Dylan.  If you're reading by email click here.

Happy Friday.  I'll be doing a little work at my desk this weekend, as well as making paper stars.  Was hoping for a campfire but I think it's supposed to be rainy which is a bummer.  Maybe we'll have a first inside fire of the season instead.  Got any plans? 



  1. Pam, what a great post, and so full of advice for folks who do or are thinking about doing a fair. You've outdone yourself on this one!

  2. Those are great ideas! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend!

    1. hopefully these ideas help those who are doing the fair thing. helps me to think outload while planning ours.

  3. Super good post and great inspirations! So glad you joined what inspires me Friday!

    1. Isabelle, thanks so much for stopping by. Added you to the blog buttons....thanks for hosting 'what inspires me friday'.

  4. wow - great ideas there - it looks like a lot of hard work to source all the props, signage, pricing. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.

    1. kind of 'fun' work though since we've been selling online. it will be refreshing to set up our little 'pop up shop'.

  5. They are great ideas - but like all things US on a BIG scale! Craft fairs on the other side of the Pond (or at least the ones I've gone to so far) seem to think a 6 ft trestle table is ample space to display one's items. Yesterday's affair, though productive for me I'm pleased to announce, was no different. Thank goodness I did have a convenient window sill to spread on to!

    1. Hi Isobel, honestly....not every craft fair has big booths. Some are just tables, but as you can see, you can even make a space like that more interesting to draw people in. So glad to hear that you did well at the fair!! woohoo for the cuddlies!

  6. LOVE all of this advise. SO true.

    1. well, lots of this can be applied to a booth like yours. But I think you probably already knew that judging by your pics of the dented lampshade.

  7. Very inspirational post! Bookmarking for future use!

    1. Hi Jenny, feel free to share a link on your blog!

      Hope it helps the next time you do a fair!

  8. Replies
    1. more than welcome. i was just feeling like a little dylan on friday and that was the perfect song. hope all is well. so glad your computer is fixed and you're back up and running. well, running may not be the right word since you're probably dragging with baby bean's 'sleeping routine'. hope it gets better.


You comments make my day. Thanks for taking the time to visit Mercantile Muse and for commenting. I really appreciate it. ~Pam

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