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Art Fairs, Van Vs Trailer


To those of us doing art fairs–

I am soon likely to be trading in my mini-van (130,000+ miles), and
would like to drive something more efficient. Does anyone use a
trailer for shows instead of a van? Pros and cons? I don’t think I’d
like towing a van, but I only do 6-8 shows a year, and seldom really
need the extra room a van provides.

I’ve had my Grand Voyager for about 11 years, so I’m out of touch–
anybody have a van they especially like? Or, for that matter, a

Thanks for any thoughts!



We use a mini-van and love it. We started years ago with a Chrysler
and now (4 vans later) have a Honda Odyssey. We briefly had a Ford
Explorer, but found it was very small inside, uncomfortable for the
tall DH to drive, and it had a nasty habit of spinning around in
circles. We had none of those troubles with our van-front wheel

To get a vehicle big enough to pull a trailer won’t you have the
same gas mileage issues as a mini van? My observations of trailers is
that they are cumbersome to get near your booth to unload, a pain to
get out of a maze of booths once unloaded, then you must find a space
to park it in…It seems the only artists who tow them are the ones
who must because of the size of their inventory.

Our Honda Odyssey is the best van we’ve ever had. Full of wonderful
things that will amaze and delight you. I LOVE the self opening/
closing sliding doors. I think the Toyota van is top-rated too. We
have had the opportunity (when someone hit us) to drive the Ford van
(yuck). If you go back to van’s I’d suggest the Honda or Toyota.




Hi Noel,

I vote for the van. A trailer is overkill for a jeweler and awkward
to maneuver in tight spots and then has to be stored somewhere when
not in use. Although you can probably pull the trailer with your
family sedan, it isn’t the safest.

My kids bought a Kia van. The back four seats are removable and leave
quite a nice cargo space. It runs like a dream and mileage is
somewhere around 20 mpg. The price and warranty are very attractive.

Our new department van has the seats that disappear into the floor.
Of the two choices, I’d go for the disappearing seats - regardless of
the maker. Not only are the removable seats heavy, but they take up
room somewhere.

Let us know what you bought.
Judy in Kansas


Hi Noel,

I too faced that issue a four years ago. I was unable to see myself
driving a van about town when not doing shows and compromised on a
Honda CRV. It does take some careful packing but has successfully
done the job. It’s on a car chassis I think and so gets pretty good
mileage. It’s a pleasure to drive and I get my tent, display cases
etc in it. I do carry my flooring, but I use one foot square rubber
snap together tiles which look great and don’t require the bed length
that carpet would. The extra long poles slide thru then between the
front bucket seats.

Betty Belmonte


Two years ago, I had a similar conundrum. I had been doing shows
with my 96 VW Passat stationwagon. I had a big car top carrier to
hold the tent. The remainder fit inside. The problem was that the
weights were on the bottom inside, so only accessible when all else
was removed. Accessing the tent stuff required a ladder and multiple
trips to get it all down. I couldn’t use the bag for the tent poles
because it was too heavy and awkward to lift by myself.

While we debated the function of a trailer vs. a van, we considered
what we would use to pull a trailer and my husband was less than
enthused to see the family pickup gone most summer weekends. I kept
on making jewelry and requested that he find a van that I could
afford. He used eBay autos and to search for vehicles
in the area. We bought a 95 GMC Safari van with about 90,000 miles on
it. The outside isn’t very pretty, the hood and top need paint. We
recovered the two front seats, removed the back two bench seats. Then
he made a big rack that holds my tent poles on the bottom, the inside
tent drapes and propanel desk tops in the middle and the tent walls
on the top. On the right side in the back, he made another rack to
hold my generator, an e1000 thing, rubber floor mats, and next to
them the propanel desks that I use for holding up my displays. Under
the right rack, he made space for my weights. On top of the right
rack is a shelf that holds the big miscellany you accumulate for
doing shows. From the side sliding door, I access my cases, display
materials, shims, jewelry, suitcase, and pictures. I only have to
lift anything once to either setup or tear down. The van cost $2500;
the interior fit out materials came to a couple of hundred dollars.
The van was worth more than we paid, but the lady already had a new
van and she wanted this one to go away.

I would have preferred to have a newer van without passenger
windows, but the cost of such a van was more than $12,000. This setup
isn’t perfect, but it is so far ahead of what I had before, that I’m
quite pleased. Along the way, my spouse made me some of those cool
steel weights for my tent, - 40 inches long by 2 inches square and
heavy at 44 pounds. They were compact and didn’t roll around. But now
he has made them even better, for each corner of my tent, I have two
weights, each 2 inches square, but only 26 inches long. I hang them
one over the other, and I don’t have to lift 45 or 50 pounds at one
time, only 28 pounds each.

Judy Hoch

We bought a 95 GMC Safari van with about 90,000 miles on it. The
outside isn't very pretty, the hood and top need paint. 

Thanks for the detailed description, Judy. It sounds as though the
van you bought is about like the one I want to replace (aside from
your adaptations)! I am pretty well convinced to go with another van
(though the idea of a pickup truck appeals to me-- I’m afraid it
isn’t really practical for my needs-- too bad, I’d like to be the
only suburban housewife within miles driving a truck). It just has
to have air conditioning!!!



Hello Noel,

Well, here I am. A lady pick-up truck driver. It’s my baby truck and
so handy for hauling compost and rock as well as my canopy and
related show stuff. The only down side is the bed is not covered, so
if the weather is threatening, I’ve got to put a lot of stuff in the
area behind the seat. It’s pretty roomy (extended cab), but I do wish
I’d waited a year until the extra door was an option.

Judy in Kansas, where my 40th high school class reunion begins
tonight at a classmate’s farm. Why in the heck do we plan this event
in the dead of summer - 'most everyone is past the kids at home part
of their life!

Well, here I am. A lady pick-up truck driver. 

I received several emails from women who are encouraging me to drive
a pick-up. Believe me, I love the idea-- but it really isn’t
practical, I’m sorry to say. I almost never haul the kinds of things
that benefit from the open bed, and I occasionally need to seat 7-8
people, and not ones I would put in the bed of a truck ;>). There
was a time, with 4 kids, that it might have seemed I would need a
truck just to bring home the groceries… Now, other than art fairs
(6-8 a year at this point) and when the kids move from one apartment
to another, a Cooper Mini would probably suffice. That’s why I
thought about a trailer. It is boring and unimaginative, but I guess
a mini-van still meets my needs best.