Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Securing Booth Overnight

I’m planning for some shows and I would appreciate some tips and
advice on how to secure my booth overnight for multiple day shows.
I’m interested in advice for both indoor and outdoor shows.


Hi Laurie, I just started doing shows last summer, so my experience
is limited to 4 shows. The only thing you can really do is remove
the valuables and set things on the ground that might be tipped over
or knocked around by wind or rain. The shows normally have security
on hand in case someone wants to walk off with a show case or two,
but just remove the jewelry and hope for the best. If the shows are
outside, use some weights on each corner of the tent to steady it. I
saw a few nasty accidents from tents moving from the wind…no

Good luck, Scott

It will be interesting to hear what is sure to be a wide range of
solutions to this problem.

The first thing I would say is that you really can’t secure a booth
at an outdoor show. It’s really more about how tempting things look
after you are gone and what kind of security the promoter provides.

I have shows where almost everything but the art and my money stay
in the booth overnight. Those would be shows with very limited access
after hours and a reputation for no theft and tight security. I do a
show in Chicago where everything but the walls go home with me. Once
I left a bag full of empty shopping bags and a hammer behind… it
was stolen, in addition the thieves didn’t think to unzip my tent,
they slit the walls with a knife to gain entry. The following years
the cops caught a couple in their mid-50’s having sex in the tent
next door to me.

Look at the venue. What are the concerns? Are there going to be
groups of people walking through the area all night because of
restaurants and theaters? These folks might unzip a zipper and be
tempted if things aren’t laying about so putting those little plastic
zip ties on your zippers to close them off might work. On the other
hand if someone really wants to get in, it only takes a pocket knife
to do so and then you have to replace expensive tent walls. If you
need to leave things behind because it’s a hard show to get a vehicle
near consider making yourself the most tedious target. Put everything
into bins, cover everything with a big, crinkly tarp and then clamp
and bungee it together. If security is around you will take too long
to deal with clamps and bungee’s and it will make a ton of noise,
thieves don’t like to call attention to themselves.

If you are going to leave anything of value behind lower your tent
walls before you pack it into bins, nobody needs to see what you are
leaving in your booth. In addition I always take my CC machine with
me and all the slips, people might grab it…even if they can’t use
it to make a profit it will keep you from making sales the next day!
I also make a point at shows with security of trying to chat briefly
with the security people. Ask their opinion about security, make sure
they know which tent it yours, I’m pretty sure the reason my hammer
thief was caught was because I had befriended the cops earlier and
sold them a piece at a discount. They just might have kept an extra
eye on my booth.

Just a quick thoughts, I’m looking forward to what others say.

Karen near Chicago

After many years doing shows I have never had anyone go into my
booth at night. But I have seen weather destroy booths overnite. Most
vendors-artists put sides up on their booths. Some opt for
clipped-on tarps, other tents come with zippered sides. Weather is
the biggest problem. Be sure your tent and the display inside can
withstand a windstorm, heavy rains, high humidity etc.

At closing I pack up my jewelry, days receipts, special orders, and
take anything else with me that is valuable, like my cellphone
credit card machine. I tuck loose items away and in the center of the
booth, so if someone unzips a side to do a snatch and grab, there is
nothing to snatch. Some artists like see-thru net sides so the
security guard can see if anyone is in their booth. I prefer more
secure sides.

You will see every variation of packing up for the nite, from
artists walking away and leaving all their (non-jewelry) inventory
out, to the couple next to us who packed up their entire display in a
tight little bundle and wrapped it with a heavy tarp. They had no
sides on their tents.

Be aware as a jeweler your security after you and the jewelry walk
away from the tent is also a need. Be aware of your surroundings,
walk in groups, be sure no one follows to your motel room.


Hi Laurie. There is really only one thing a jeweler can do- take it
all with you! Artists in other media often express envy at the
relative ease jewelers have in carrying their stuff, and I express
envy at them because they just have to zip up the sides of their tent
and walk away. Overnight security is usually provided, just not
enough for jewelers to be comfortable. Some indoor shows offer some
kind of locked area, but you would still have to take it all out of
the booth first.

I’m glad my inventory is easy to carry, but it also means I can’t
leave it anywhere unguarded. Neither should you. Good luck, and try
to have fun with it! After all, how many other professions involve
people coming by all day telling you how great your work is?

Allan Mason

I'm planning for some shows and I would appreciate some tips and
advice on how to secure my booth overnight for multiple day shows.
I'm interested in advice for both indoor and outdoor shows. 

I did a show last year that had all the vendors set up in large
circus tents which were closed up at night. There were security
doing foot patrols around the fair grounds at intervals all night.
Mine was one of the first booths inside the tent entrance. When I
arrived the next morning, the tent had already been opened up by the
organizers, and sitting on my table was a motion detector.

After I had left (taking my jewelry and cash drawer but leaving the
rest of the setup and displays covered), the security guards set up
portable battery operated motion detector alarms around the inside
perimeters of all the tents just before the tents were closed up. If
anyone had entered the tents during the night, the alarms would have
gone off and flashed bright lights. Apparently they all went off at
once when the organizers showed up in the morning and opened the

These alarms are available commercially and they’re not terribly
expensive, maybe $25-$30.

Here’s one similar to the one that was on my table at that show:

I plan to get one before I do any multiple-day outdoor shows this

Other things I do are to cover my tables with large plastic
painters’ tarps and clip them to the table legs with metal clamps.
Then I throw dark colored bed sheets over everything and put a
couple more clamps on those too. That way nothing is easily visible,
and if someone decides they really want to see what’s under the
sheets, they have to fight their way through both the clamped sheets
and the plastic tarps to get to anything. I also hang a few cowbells
on the clamps that hold the plastic tarps to the tables. If someone
is determined enough to move those tarps, assuming that they’re
trying to work in the dark, they’ll make more noise than they
expected to. It’s not true “security” when compared to locks, walls
and safes, but I assume that thieves are trying to work fast and
quietly. If they can’t grab something and run, they’re less likely to
stick around long enough to figure out the puzzle of the clamps and
covers, and if they ring the cowbells, that alone might be enough to
make them run.

If I’m using my own tent at an outdoor show, I zip the sides down
but I don’t use wire ties to ‘lock’ the zippers.

I’d rather have someone open the tent the normal way rather than cut
their way through the expensive sides. I take all the valuables with
me when I leave, so there’s nothing left behind that’s more expensive
than the tent itself.

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

Overnight security is usually provided, just not enough for
jewelers to be comfortable. 

No argument-- I always pack up my jewelry, too. But I thought I’d
share a story that surprised me.

I did One of a Kind (Chicago) in December, for the third time. The
second night, I was so tired leaving that I was barely compis
mentis. The next morning, I could not find my wallet… To make a
prolonged, anxious story short, I had left it sitting out in my
booth. It was still there, untouched, in the morning.

A number of jewelers (though not real high-end ones) leave their
work in the cases overnight at that show. Now I know why! I can only
guess that the people who work there at night (custodial staff, etc)
are well-enough paid and value their jobs enough that it isn’t worth
possibly endangering them by shoplifting.

I still won’t be leaving my work out overnight, though. I need my


Laurie; Maybe I can pass on some tips. I’ve done shows for about 15
years and pretty much seen it all or at least heard about it. First
never leave you jewelry that ought to be a no brainer. In door shows
are usually fairly secure. Very seldom do I ever hear of a theft
even for people who leave their art( or jewelry for that matter) in
the booth. Out door shows are a whole different ball game.I think as
a general rule if your booth is empty of merchandise theives will
migrate to booths that have art and most artists except jewelers
leave it there at night. I always pack up anything I don’t want
stolen and put in boxes under my display my thinking is the more
time a person has to spend rumaging around the less likely of a
loss. Most jewelry thefts occur during breakdown NEVER leave your
jewelry even for 10 seconds I have heard of jewelers setting their
bag down to zip a tent turn around and it’s gone. I use and old
backpack that way it stays on my back I may slip on an old shirt or
jacket. It’s better not to look the part in some areas. There are
gangs who target gold jewelers at art shows especially in Florida
they have been know to follow a jeweler for several days before
setting up a theft. Unless you are selling high end gold I really
wouldn’t worry about this. I’m not telling you this to freak you out
just to make you aware. Vigilance is your best protection.

As for the booth itself here are a few tips. Invest in a quality
tent with zip sides they are heavy and take an hour to set up but
the other option is an easy up which are notorious for self
destructing. If you use a good tent with 40 to 50 lbs on a corner
you can withstant just about anything just remember if you think a
storm is about to hit get the sides down, You can invite customers
to stay if you are in the middle of a sale. I’m adding this bit of
advice because it does happen and fairly often but if you are
prepared it need not be you that gets wrecked. When leaving at night
use zip ties at the bottom of all you corners and opening zippers.
next morning cut off and replace each night where necessary. It’s
just a little added precaution to make entry harder. Hope this helps
a little.

Dave Owen

I do two three day shows a year. There is virtually no security at
night. I had a friend make a special cover to go over a six foot
table and then lock in three different places. I have six of these in
2 foot lengths as i usually can easily fit 2 six foot tables. I do
remove anything that is 10,000. or over. But the venue has insurance
to cover any thefts. When you register you have to put the highest
value of your tables at ant one time. Then during the event and take
pictures of your tables. This is in an art gallery, which has taped
24 hour surveillance and they offer each vendor a silent alarm for
under their table. Most of the vendors do take these silent alarms as
at night you can set them to sense any movement of the table. It has
proved to be a wonderful set up and now we have retail stores wanting
in. They will never be allowed in though as it is clasified as a
visal art and no retail is allowed. Everyone who becomes a vendor has
gone through an internal interview and criminal check. Everyone feels
little safer, especially since the core of vendors have been together
for awhile now.


These alarms are available commercially and they're not terribly
expensive, maybe $25-$30. Here's one similar to the one that was on
my table at that show: I plan to get one
before I do any multiple-day outdoor shows this year. 

This looks pretty cool, and remarkably cheap! But not, I think, a
good idea for outdoor shows. Too easy to set it off because wind
caused your tent sides to flap (unless sensitivity is adjustable).
False alarms would not make you popular with the management! And
really not needed, if you’re not leaving anything valuable.

The cow bell idea has some merit-- and there are alarms that make a
smoke-alarm-like noise when moved, too-- but if you’re going to use
the motion detector, better supply the security people with the


Hi Sharlene,

I would be interested in your security set up if you would share
some of the


I would be interested in your security set up if you would share
some of the 

Sure, the whole set up is in 6 pieces. It is made of Kevlar, very
light and unbelievably light. The three pieces fit into each other
for the top and the 3 fit into each other for the bottom. All you do
is match the upper to the bottom and lock. There are three locks on
the enitre piece. They overlap so it cannot be sawed through, burnt
through or even the locks dismantled. The whole thing can cover a ten
foot table or be manouevered into a cover for a six foot table. If I
have more jewellery on other tables, I simple move it all to the
table where the protection is. I feel safe to leave diamond rings and
to date have never had problem.


For those who feel an alarm is necessary in a booth I have an
alternative to motion detecters. Radio Shack sells a small alarm
which uses fishing line and a pin, you simply run the line around
the perimeter of the booth. If anyone enters they walk through the
line pulling the pin and setting off the alarm. It seems like they
were about 12.00$.