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Show display improvements

I’m putting together a new display for some shows in November and
would like some advice regarding some of my ideas (so I spend my
money wisely).

I will have a 10’x10’ booth with drapes on 3 walls. I have three
glass display cases that 1’x4’ each (on 3’ stands) that can be
arranged in many ways, providing me with 12’ of linear space to
display my work. Rather than putting the cases across the front of
the booth in an “L” shape, I think I would prefer an arrangement
that is more inviting to customers.

One idea is to arrange the cases in a “U” shape (with the open part
facing the rear of the booth) where I stand inside the “U” and
customers view the work from all 3 sides (which might be a traffic
flow problem if the booth is crowded??).

Another idea is to put one case in front of each draped wall (with
enough space behind it so I can take stuff out of it) so customers
can see the work in all 3 cases by being in the center of the booth.
This will require me to move around the booth more and interact
with the customers without always being behind a case. If there are
lots of people, they will all be in the middle of the booth.

If anyone has used either of these configurations effectively or if
you have other tips for making it work (or can recommend a better
arrangement), I’d love to hear it.

One more thing …

I will have 4 20"x30" enlargements of my work to display on the
walls (along with some very cool decorative fabric panels). I think
framing these will make them very hard to hang (from the poles with
drapes on them) so I was thinking of mounting them on foam-core and
possibly having them laminated to protect them from getting damaged.
Ideally I would like the lamination to be a matte finish (like
non-glare glass). How do other people display enlargements of their

Please respond directly to me since I’m not sure that advice for MY
booth is of general interest to the list.

Thanks, Elizabeth

I hope that you all post your replies right here. I have, too, been
thinking on how to change my booth and I bet there are alot of us
trying to be creative in an area that we haven’t had much
experience. I have seen some pretty remarkable booths in NYC and
Philly, and wonder where these people go to get them…either to buy
or made. I am working right now with ABSTRATA so I can configure it
all different ways, but would love something that really stands out
that would hold alot of jewelry safely…

Thanks so much for this list, I really enjoy waking up to you all
with my morning cup of coffee.

Joan Dulla

Hi Elizabeth. You are asking the same questions I just went through
for my first show. Here are some interesting things I learned and am
still (and I guess always will be) learning! (There is a photo of my
booth on my website, under Galleries and Shows.

  • I decided not to have a table across the front of the booth with
    me on the other side, as in my retail store experience the
    salesperson’s ability to work with the customer and be ‘friendly’ and
    inviting seemed better to me. I figured I could also hand them the
    work and help them better.

I went to a lot of shows for research, and for myself, I found this
open plan more inviting. I based my layout on one in particular which
I found appealing because I could stand with the jeweler and chat.
The ones where the jeweler stood behind the table, behind the glass,
seemed snooty and removed. I never struck up a friendly chat with

However, experienced jewelers at the show complimented my booth and
then said that I’d have more sales with the stuff all out
front…people just respond better.

I still am personally fighting this but I guess I should try! I am
thinking a modified L with a smaller table across the front and then
another down the side so I can also have people in the booth but it
DOES get crowded.

  • I had gorgeous posters made ( – fantastic
    quality on foam core mounted for $40-45!!). They ARE hard to deal
    with. I used monofilament suspended from the side rafters, and velcro
    so the length could be adjustable, which did not work, so we’re
    figuring a better way. They blow a bit in the wind. If they get
    spattered by water, they are ruined, so laminations would have been
    smarter. I would think framed would be smarter if you can secure them
    well, as they would not bounce around as much.

  • Having the inviting chair was good for men and tired companions,
    and ME occasionally when it was slow. Though I HATE when I come into
    someone’s booth and they are seated and doing sometthing other than
    pay attention to customers.

  • Having the small table with “SHOW SPECIAL” earrings was a good
    draw but the sign should have been bigger.

  • The mirrors are imperative.

All in all I learned a lot. I like my booth aethetically and I can’t
figure out how to do it the other way without losing some of the feel
of the booth but it IS all about selling…

I am thinking of trying this arrangement in one more show. At this
first show it was slow sales all around anyway, I was in a TERRIBLE
location, and the clientele not necessarily my kind of customers
(they were more “cruise ship rich” looking not for art jewelry but
for whatever is popular on the shopping channels, like gold chains
and tanzanite – ack!).

Hope that helps. Tell me what YOU think!

Roseann Hanson
Desert Rose Design Studio
Tucson, Arizona

Hi, Roseann and Elizabeth-- and all,

I guess a lot of us fiddle with our display layouts, looking for THE
solution. I looked at the image on Roseann’s site. It looks very
attractive and inviting, but it would sure never work where I do
shows-- glass cases are a must, and I still had a piece stolen
earlier this year. I will say, though, that despite being on the
other side of the counter, I have no trouble striking up friendly
conversation with folks.

What draws people in and what chases them away is so subtle and hard
to figure. I think a lot of people don’t like to have to step in,
which can represent a commitment of a sort. But if they can start
outside and work their way in, it seems to be OK-- as in, a table or
counter across part of the front then an L within the booth. Myself,
I always shell out the extra for a corner booth. Then I often make a
diagonal across the corner, dividing my display into three pretty
equal parts. I curtain off the opposite corner at a diagonal too, to
hang my banner parallel to the “front” and provide hidden storage
space. I feel that this arrangement provides the most room for
browsers, while making it fairly easy to keep my eye on things.

I know I personally hate to lean over to look at things-- my back
can’t take it-- so my pedestals are pretty high. This also keeps
little ones from grabbing. It’s hard on the very short or the
wheelchair-bound, though. Nothing is perfect, I guess. It is
important to have a booth set-up that has flexibility, if at all
possible. I use pedestals, and a large padded board that can connect
two to become a table. Three pedestals are folding wood with storage
inside, including a shelf (I designed them and the school shop
teacher built them for me). Very handy for stock and sales
materials. Others are collapsible plastic that looks a lot like
corrugated cardboard but impervious to water. I have fabric covers
for all, so I can use more or fewer or rearrange. I use precut
tempered glass and chrome plated clips-- all very versatile and
relatively cheap.

I some times offer a chair, but find that people take unfair
advantage of it, kinda “moving in” to rest and blocking customers. I
have a tall chair for myself, but seldom sit down. I talk with
people all day, and do my best to convey that I consider it fun for
them to play with my pieces, no strings attached. I often say, “As I
like to say, ‘Ogling and fondling, no charge’.”

I hope some of this rambling is of some use to someone. Good luck to


Thanks, Noel - you know, I always keep saying “it’s not about what
WE want, it’s about what the customers want” and I’m good about that
with jewelry but I just have trouble letting go when it comes to

I am changing my booth now…and will see what happens. The
psychology of sales is intriguing – and what you say about the
"commitment" of stepping in to the booth is so true, I can’t believe
I missed it.


Hi Noel,

I guess a lot of us fiddle with our display layouts, looking for
THE solution. 

Your display sounds very interesting. Why not send an image of it,
along with your explanation, to Hanuman? So far I’m the only person
to have done this that I know of. At one time Hanuman was going to
start a Display Exchange page but since he only had the one
submission from me, he merged it into the Bench Exchange pages. If
you and enough others sent images with comments, we could have a
great Display Exchange feature at Ganoksin.

Great Idea Beth. Send Entries to Attach JPG or
TIFF images with few words to accompany. If there will be enough
submissions I will put the pages together.



As it happens, I was at a craft show this weekend as a looker
instead of my usual role of vendor and as I walked around the
show,what hit me was that in the 2 possible booth configurations, one
in which you are behind the counter (however you set that up) and one
in which you are in the center with your work around the walls the
difference seemed to me to be one of perceived value. Those jewelers
with lower end work could do it either way but anyone with even
slightly higher end work would be behind the work and the work would
be in a display case. Leaving the center open definitly screamed low

I use the L shaped booth so people can come in yet I am behind the
cases and have never had trouble interacting with customers. I
think you need to have at least one table without cases on it so you
can be completely visible and what I got from the Bruce Baker tape is
that you should never sit down. If you have no customers at that
moment, clean your glass. Over and over and over. Just look as if
you are busy. There is an energy thing that is transmitted directly
to the customer.

Betty Belmonte

    Your display sounds very interesting. Why not send an image of
it, along with your explanation, to Hanuman? 

Well, I don’t actually have one… my booth slide is a bit old. I’ll
try to take one at my one remaining show this year, beginning of
December. But I’d love to see others!


Hello Orchidland, I loved Noel’s resonse: “As I like to say, ‘Ogling
and fondling, no charge’.”

When someone comments on a piece, I tell them with a grin, “I’m not
your mother; you can touch too!”

Judy in Kansas, where the fall colors are becoming brilliant and my
tomatoes have shut down… darn.

Having experimented with many different booth and display
configurations over the past thirty years, I’ve concluded that it’s
always worth my while to spend the extra money for a corner booth
location. I currently use the (sometimes dreaded) Abstracta
component system and set up a bank of cases diagonally across the
10x10 square of my booth with towers at either end. In the back
corner, I suspend a long vertical fabric panel with my sign against
it (gives me storage space in the blind corner behind) and I hang
large images of my work on either “wall” behind me. This creates a
visual funnel effect that helps to draw customers in from either
direction. At the outside corner, I have a tall pedestal with a
spinning display that puts my bread and butter low-end earrings at
eye level. This arrangement allows me lots of flexibility for
lighting, and seems to provide ample space for customers to view my
work without feeling trapped. I sit on a tall stool or stand as my
back allows, always making an extra effort to make eye contact and
engage but not pressure. As my energy level, so my sales. We also
invested in modular rubber flooring for the booth and customers seem
to stick around longer, just to get a break from hard concrete.

Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Winston-Salem, NC

(…where we are packing said display to move to our new studio up
in the hemlocks!)