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Tent suggestions for retail shows

I am doing my first retail show in May and the person I was supposed
to borrow a tent from is backing out on me. I have the option of
renting a tent for $120 set up. That seems a little expensive. I
could use input from any of you who routinely do retail shows on

  1. I should just buy one or rent to start. and

  2. if buy, which I intend to do eventually any way unless I just flop
    bad at the retail show, What kind should I buy and where should I buy

3.Do most people use the kinds with sides for selling jewelry?

I have heard ez ups are the first to go down in high winds. Beyond
that I really do not know much. Thanks


When we do non-SCA* retail shows, we have an EZ-up that we weigh down
with 25lb sandbags on each leg. If we’re on grass, then we add 10
inch spikes to that. We’ve been out in some pretty bad wind and the
tent hasn’t budged.

I bought this EZ-up at Sam’s Club for about $150 dollars. It’s not
the high end one, but it came with three walls, and a rolling case.
I’ve found it quite adequate for shows where we aren’t being SCA.

Now, when we’re doing SCA, we occasionally use the EZ-up, but more
often than not, we have the BIG tent. It’s a 16 x 21 canvas monster
that takes 20 poles, and that takes two people to put up. Can’t use it
on concrete, but we can live in it and vend out of it at the same
time. We paid $750 for this one (CHEAP!), and have had to do extensive
work on it (replacing all the poles and ropes, adding mudflaps and a
groundcloth so we’re not living in a lake…). This is the route to go
ONLY if you plan to go into the Historic market.

  • The Society for Creative Anachronism, for anyone who doesn’t know,
    is a Medieval and Renaissance recreation group. These are, for the
    most part, people who understand and appreciate what good workmanship
    is, actually know what the right price should be, and often will
    insist on paying what the piece is worth, not the lower price that
    it’s tagged with. (Happened to me once, way back at the beginning,
    before I knew how to price things properly.)

Hi Steve. I have done Shows For over 10 yr. Have a EZ-UP and use
now a Light-Dome,it is a great tent.You can call me at 609-397-0806
and I tell you all about it. Margo

Hi!! Fisrt… good luck on first retail show!!! 2nd-- I have an
ez-up and been using it for yrs… they are not the first to go!!!–
you have little holes at bottom of legs to drive-screw in or-- do what
alot of us do-- take a 4-6" 12" long piece of PVC available form local
home improvement stores-- fill with sac-crete and imbed heavy rope –
when it sets- you have a roped anchor to tie to legs… i have seen
some people use mil-water jugs with concrete but i try to keep as
small an anchor on each leg as reasonable. 3rd; You can buy ez-up at
SAM’S!!!.. cheaper than anywhere-- will not cost you much above the
$120… ; Keep thinking of your displays-- and write here for tips-
etc… ; good luck again

Hi Steve,

I started doing outdoor shows about ten years ago and was not real
sure I’d like it so I rented for the first time, company came and set
up and tore down in the required time frames and $120 is what I paid.

I loved it and bought an EZ-up with sides. Still using it. I do two
things with my tent at shows where I anticipate bad weather. I first
make sure it is well staked, using a twist in tent stake inserted at
an angle, and when I close up for the night, I drop the top down to
its basic level. It’s never gone over, or sustained any damage. In
extreme weather, in the midwest, a tornado, I think any brand will go
over. When I evaluate the cost the “top” brands haven’t made alot of
sense to me.

The other plus to my EZup is that I can and do put it up alone, in
much less time that many around me. An extra 1/2 hours sleep is a

Cass, is Michigan where spring is peeking out

Steve, I did my first Art Festival last summer and decided not to rent
after I found a EZup for sale at Sam’s club for under $200. It came
with three sides and is their light weight version. Like you, I didn’t
want to commit to an expensive set up until I knew I’d be doing more
shows. You have to provide weights to keep it from blowing away, but
you do that with more expensive tents also. It more than paid for
itself and I’ll use it again this summer for more shows. I do want
that 4th side and it looks like I’ll have to order a whole set from
the company just to get that last panel. To close up for a two day
show at night I need a forth side. I’ve always been hoping to find
another person in my same dilemma who wants to go in on a set of
side panels and split them up. Go out to your Sam’s Club, or Best Buy
or a similar place to buy one. If you order from the company you’d pay
more since you’d be paying shipping.


I too, used an EZ up, for years . . . (4 to be exact), then, last
year, I encountered several heavy rains . . . well, all I will say,
is I bought a Lite Dome and will be using it instead of the EZ-up.

Things to be aware of when using the EZ-up . . . It’s not so much
that the tent will blow away, although that is a concern too . . .
you have to watch for WATER “build - up” in the corners. As the
canopy ages, the it sags along the corners, so, even when pulled as
tightly as possible, water will DAM at the corners and the result
will be “a Niagara Falls downpour” on your work, or even on you. To
avoid this (I’m still waking around with orange feet because my
leather loafers were brown and the dye bled onto my feet after
getting soaked - hahahah,) some people use blow up type floats (the
kind used in swimming pools) to prop-up the corners. This keeps the
water from pooling in the corners and keeps the corners from coming

Weights- In the Midwest, where the wind gusts can get be quite brisk
(45 - 70 mph) the weights mentioned (in previous posts) may not do
the job. The EZ-up has a lip on the leg, with a hole in it and
spikes are supplied to use when on grass, but one cannot use these on
concrete or brick streets. So, larger buckets (5 gallon plastic are
very good) filled with water, sand or whatever, help a lot. If the
winds get higher, as they sometimes do during summer thunderstorms,
one has to beware that the metal frame will move - if not secured and
can act as a lightning rod . . . so holding onto the legs may not be
an option (nor a good idea.) The extra weight is a definite plus.
Use as MUCH weight as you can.

SEAMS on EZ-UP will leak . . . after a couple of years of use, the
seams on the EZ-UP will leak even if sprayed with waterproofing . .
.the reason is because the holes between the threads will get larger
. . .

If you plan on doing more than one show a year, I would recommend
getting the BEST tent you can afford, you will save money in the long

** Hanuman’s Response **

Discussions over EZ tents took place few times over the last few years
at the Orchid forums. You can retrieve the threads by running a
keyword search.

Check out the following address to learn moRe:


Hello, For my first couple of retail shows I rented a tent for about
$120 and was very happy I did for a couple of reasons. Most
importantly, I discovered that I don’t like doing retail shows and
most of the shows I do apply to are indoors. Also, the tents you rent
are much heavier and higher quality than the $150 variety. An
equivalent booth to the rental would be about $800. Renting also gives
you the opportunity to test out the tent without the commitment. I’ve
rented a KD Canopy which is very similar to the EZ up and I really
liked it. I highly recommend renting (or buying) 4 sidewalls. You
want to define your space and have control over it. If you don’t have
walls and the neighbor has lime green and pink ones, your stuck with
it. Walls are also good protection from sun and wind. The forth wall
is to cover your booth at night. If you stake your tent or use weights
on the corners it’s unlikely to blow away, Just make sure no one can
trip over the weights. Good luck and Enjoy the show!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

Annette, Why not try taking the dimensions of the wall you need to a
camping supply place to see if you can find a tarp of the right size?
They are available in material similar to the tent walls and some come
with grommets already installed or if their placement is an issue you
can find tools and grommets to do your own at a well-equipped sewing

HTH (hope this helps)
Pam Chott

If you live in a town that has a discount tool supply house, they
often have all kinds of camping and/or display equipment. When I was
doing shows I had an EZ up and I bought two 12 x 20 white tarps to
use as sides. This is a relatively cheap solution because they were
already grommeted. But, these will still let wind and rain in when
it is a really strong storm. Zip sides are you best protection, both
for keeping your display undamaged and for helping to keep the tent on
the ground - if the wind cannot get inside the tent it is less likely
to lift up from inside wind pressure.

I also built stabilizer bars for my EZ up which spread between the
legs at ground level and kept them spread even in extremely high
winds. And, I made weights from 4" PVC pipe each 2 1/2’ long, filled
with concrete and capped. These are far less intrusive on the
appearance of your booth than water jugs, sand bags or other objects.
I used to do a show on a pier on Galveston Bay and I was always on
the first row just about 8’ from the edge of the pier. With this set,
up my canopy remained as I left it even though several of the
expensive domed canopies blew away during a really bad storm one

All that said, if I were still doing shows, I would get a Light Dome,
but still use stabilizer bars and pvc weights.

Nancy Bernardine-Widmer
Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry

Hey, All-- The latest discussion on tent types leads me to mention
an experience I’ve had more than once, relating to EZ Up tents. I had
one of these, but now use a light dome, admittedly slow to put up,
but worth it, IMHO. My issue with EZ Ups, though, is about being a
good art fair citizen, as it were. As has been mentioned, these tents
have a tendency to pool water in their corners. I have had the
misfortune to be next to people using them. When it rained, these
folks periodically pushed the tent up from inside with a broom
(borrowed from me for the purpose, no less) to dump out the water.
That meant several gallons of water splatting down between the
tents–and splashing all over my display, even with my side flaps
down. Every half-hour or so. Now, these folks didn’t really have much
choice, once the situation arose, so I didn’t yell at them or
anything, but their choice of tent made a major problem for me. EZ-up
does sell flexible hoops you can add to the corners for less pooling,
so people should have these. And try to be prepared to deal with
water in some way that doesn’t punish your neighbors. (I haven’t
figured out how–I thought I didn’t need to–I bought a Light Dome!)
At least bring your own broom!