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Outdoor booth set up

Dear members;

At the end of this month I am doing my first juried art show with my
jewelry. I have a 10x10 canopy and 4 tables that are 2x4. I want a
pleasing arrangement that allows me to see the people. Remember the
ring I had stolen last month? I want to be seated, or standing behind
the tables so I can see the people from the front. I would appreciate
some suggestions on table arrangment and where to sit or should I
stand? I have table covers (twin sheets actually) and have ordered a
banner for the outside of the canopy and a little one for the inside.
If anyone can give me some advice on anything to do with my first
show I would really appreciate it.

Jean from Minnesota

Normal table height is not ideal for jewelry, if you can raise your
displays, that would be great. If you or someone you know can sew,
you could sew 4 sided table slip covers. Then you can put your bins
or storage things underneath and they wont’ be seen.

You should stand, or if you must sit, sit on a barstool height chair
so you can just slip or glide off, Sitting up from a low chair puts
a lot of pressure on the customer – so much effort just to show them
something – ack! Now she expects me to buy something!

Hard to FInd Tools for Metal Clay

I would appreciate some suggestions on table arrangment and where
to sit or should I stand? 

The usual arrangement for display is either straight across near the
front, or in a Z. The Z gives you much more display space. You can
choose based on how much stuff you have-- displays should not be
crowded (avoid the “showing everything I ever made” look), and you
should reserve some pieces to fill in what you sell.

If there is any way to do it, raise your tables to counter height
(slide pieces of PVC pipe onto the legs, for example). It is hard on
the back to lean over tables, and people may not be willing to do
it. It also looks less professional.

The rule of thumb is not to sit down at shows. If you do, it should
be in a high chair so it is less of an “imposition” to make you
stand up. Bruce Baker says “Stay busy-- doing nothing”, meaning
clean glass, straighten things, so you are easy to interrupt but
don’t seem to be waiting for people too eagerly.

And keep an eye on anyone who keeps too much of an eye on you–
especially if you don’t have glass cases.

Good luck!

Dear Jean,

I’ve been doing outdoor shows for a few years and I can tell you
that every time I improve the appearance of my booth/display, my
sales increase. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have an
attractive presentation. You can do a lot with fabric that is
beautiful and inexpensive. I use plastic containers turned upside
down to create height, then drape fabric over that. I covered
inexpensive necklace displays and made fabric covered pads to give a
coordinated look. The good part is at the end of the day, this all
packs away easily and compactly.

Chairs: ours are too low so I tend to stand all day which is tiring
but good for greeting customers. Next purchase will be high folding

Table Arrangement: We have two 6 foot tables and a 4 foot one which
we use for writing orders, etc. We have tried every arrangement of
the 6 foot tables you can think of and I can’t say any one if
superior. Lately we have used an “L” - one table faces front and the
second faces the side that is open. There is often another vendor’s
tent on the other side. Every show is different so we adjust

Good luck.
Beverly from California

Hello Jean,

Well, first of all, congrats & good luck! Regarding seated/vs
standing, I’d recommend standing, unless you’re in a bar-height chair
that is all but standing height. You want to be “ready to go”, attend
to your customers when they come in, not all relaxed & unattentive
looking, sitting in a low chair. Now, this opinion also goes with the
idea that your tables are at a good height, too.

When I had my last setup, which was based on 3 folding tables of the
same size as yours, I used PVC pipes on each table leg to bring it up
to 36" height. Now, I also had a wooden top that was my actual
"counter" on which sat my 5 cases, and it made a solid sort of Z
arrangement, but using the tables as separate pieces can work, too. I
rather liked the Z setup, but with the wooden top I’d made for it, it
was sort of static, I couldn’t arrange it any other way, and it
relied on the ground being pretty level so they all lined up. I’ve
changed it now to improve on both of those points, but I still
arrange it pretty much that way. To equate it to your 3 tables: One
to one side across the front, let’s say from the left front corner,
right at the front of the booth space.

Second one going perpendicular to that one down the center of the
booth space. Third one going again perpendicular to that one, heading
towards the right side of the booth, parallel to the front of the
booth. So, left-to-right, front-to-back, left-to-right. I had in mine
about 2’ of space behind each table for me, allowing as much space as
possible for the customers. I’d read somewhere that if anyone should
be cramped, it should be the vendor, not the customer. Good advice, I
think! There needs to be a gap somewhere, perhaps at the end of that
back-most table, for you to get by, too, of course. Anyway, what I
liked about the setup (and still do, even if I have it created a
little differently now) is that there is something right at the front
to attract people, but then there’s space to draw them in (if you
just have everything lined up at the front, they can easily look at
everything & just pass on by) and there’s still enough space for
several people to be in there. If you have too narrow of a space,
they will cluster up in it & end up leaving because they are
uncomfortable & maybe can’t see very well. It’s only a 10’x10’
space, so there’s only so much room you can provide, but the more you
can, the better!

My other advice to you, is make sure those sheets cover your tables
ALL THE WAY to the ground. Very important! One way of doing it
simply, is to make sure you have something long enough to go from the
table top to the ground plus several inches, and long enough the
other way to go around at least 3 sides of your table. Put the cloth
around the table so that it goes from top to floor, with the several
extra inches lapping onto the table top, and use tape to hold it
there. It will hang nice & straight, and not look like you just threw
something onto the table. Now, take a cloth that covers the top of
the table, plus hangs down evenly around the edges by several inches,
and use that to cover the top.

You didn’t have to make a fitted cloth, but it looks nice & tidy. And
the nice thing with that, too, is that you can use an interesting
patterned fabric for the skirt part, but then just a solid
coordinating fabric for the top that won’t fight with the jewelry you
have placed out on it. Another suggestion I have (don’t I have
lots?!) is to also get blown up pictures of your work to hang on your
booth walls. You can get basic (and cheap) poster frames for them,
and enlargemnts with the on-line places don’t cost a fortune. I got
mine from, the same place I happily get my postcards &
biz cards.

Get AT LEAST 16x20 or else they’ll look silly. I have two on my back
wall, one on either side of my banner, and then one on each side
wall, so a total of 4. I also have other things hanging on my side
walls, like my “juried Guild Chapter member” certificate, and my
"gift certificates/custom work welcome/etc" sign. If I’ve rambled on
too much (or not) and you’d be interested in pictures, you can see
different setups of mine at:

Please note that the most recent one was taken on a rather windy day,
so the walls (and the pictures one them) look a bit uneven. I didn’t
have my inside banner on the back wall showing, also, because I need
to re-figure how to hang them in the tent (the hanging mechanism-
velcro & ribbon) was designed for my inside walls. I had a banner on
the outside, but I took it down just in case the photo was
application-worthy (it’s not). Oh, also, I invested in the
interlocking foam squares for the floor of my booth. It’s great for
both your feet AND your customers. Lots of the customers compliment
me on my nice flooring when they walk in, and I use that as a funny
way to suggest they should stay a long time & buy lots of jewelry. I
got them from I use them both indoors & for outdoors
on pavement.

It’s comfortable, plus it helps to tie the booth together. OK, it’s
the end of a long weekend, I’m a bit punchy, & I’ve been rambling, so
I’ll stop now. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions. One
last note… Making a booth setup you’re happy with takes a LOT of
research (going to shows & taking notes), a lot of planning, and a
lot of tweaking along the way. That first setup pictured I used ONCE.
The second I used for 2+ years, and I hope this current one (used
once so far) will last at LEAST a few years, with all the work put
into its design & creation! Once again, congrats & good luck!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

Dear Beverly, Elaine, and Noel

Thanks very much for responding to my booth question. I do have
tables that can be raised. I have twin sheets to wrap each table in.
I need a bar chair height stool to sit on yet. I don’t quite
understand a Z formation but I plan to pitch my tent at home next
week and set the tables up as a practice. I wonder how a T would
Using two 8’ tables as the main part and T-ing off with a 4’. I would
stand behind the 8’. I could use the other 4 for writing orders and
displaying my spendier items. I am not so sure about propping boxes
and draping then for added height. I might give it a try. I have done
that for indoor shows before but not with my narrower tables.

I would appreciate as many suggestions as possible from you seasoned

Jean Menden

What you do is really a question of what works for you. I have read
the posts with interest, and what I do is a bit different.

I keep one table small and low, and work on pieces from a low chair
during the show. I bead, or string, or something simple that I can
pick up and put down. I have found this really attracts folks. They
ask what I am doing, it encourages questions, and I often get
special orders (50% non refundable deposit required). Sometimes it is
an order I can complete during the show, and they pick it up before
they leave.

I also try to have some things very visible from the ends of the
tables that face the aisle.

For an outdoor show, you will really need to wait until you get
there and see what, if anything, is next to you. You want to be sure
no one can slip up on the outside and sneak something out! I change
my configuration based on what I have on my sides.

The other thing I have had happen on occasion, is folks using the
booth as a “road” through to the back side! This came as a total
surprise the first time it happened, and I have learned to be aware
if there is a sidewalk or aisle directly behind me. Then I need to
arrange the booth so it does not encourage through traffic!

Any good sign place can make you a sign or banner. Do check your
rules though - some shows do not allow signs outside of the booth. Be
aware of how it will attach to your booth; how weather tolerant it
is; and how it will act in a high wind.

Good luck to all in your shows this year!
Beth in SC

I don't quite understand a Z formation 

I use about six feet of case running straight across the front of my
booth, starting at the left tent wall, set back about 2 feet from the
front so that the customers are standing inside of the drip line if
it happens to rain. Then another case, about four feet, runs from the
left edge of that one, straight back towards the rear wall. My third
leg of the Z goes from the end of that case, almost to the left wall,
with just enough room for me to slip out. It is not really a Z, I
guess, because it is all done with right angles. HTH.

I don't know what a Z set up is either. 

For more on booths:

buy the Bruce Baker CD on booth design, and while you’re at it, get
his selling tips CD too. Rio carries them and I bet Bruce has them on
his website as well.

Rena Klingenberg’s blog is on how to make a living selling jewelry
and as she’s been at is since 2003, it’s quite comprehensive. I
noticed she has a section on trade show booths. She probably has one
on outdoor booths as well.

Here’s the link

I have a short list of links for tents, tent accessories and
pedestals on my Squidoo lens:

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi Jean,

Regarding the “Z formation”, it’s basically:


With each of the three sets of lines representing a table. The one
shown as starts, in this case, at the front left corner of
your booth (directions when facing booth), then the | one goes from
the end of that one, towards the back, and then the ____ one extends
from the end of the second one towards the right side of the tent.
Behind each table there’s about 2’ depth for you in which to move
around. It could of course start from either side, left or right. The
problem I see with a “T formation” is that there ends up being two
little cubbies for your customers to go into, and a crowding issue
can occur with even only a few people in the tent. You need to make
the space as open, spacious, and inviting as possible for the
customers. Also, no matter the depth of your tables, you need to have
some height variation to make an interesting display. You can use
shallower risers, or fewer of them, but make sure you don’t have
everything just laying on the same level.

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

Hello All

I have a very small fold down bench that I made from an old folding
garden table and take a few part finished pieces that I work on when
it is quiet.

This brings in the customers especially if I am making a bit of
noise ( a triblet is great or even a cordless mini drill). Another
advantage is that it shows that you actually make your jewellery and
it can show how much work actually goes into it and so helps to
defend your prices.

Robin Key
Clavis Jewellery