I recently received the following question about making the most of your booth space at a craft or quilt show:
I really have enjoyed all your articles. They have been very helpful. I am new to the whole craft scene having just recently begun to sell my quilts, etc.
I have participated in a couple of arts and crafts fairs but am very unhappy with my booth. Can you give me any suggestions on how to display my quilts — both baby quilts and regular quilts — in an attractive, eye-catching manner?
I will really appreciate any information you can provide.
— Mary V.
I'm sorry for the delayed response. I have been very busy, and for some reason, I had set your email aside but never answered it. I apologize.
Congratulations on starting your quilting business. And a craft show or quilt show is a great place to learn what types of products are selling while (hopefully) making some money for your market research.
We've all been to shows where someone will just have a table set up with their wares displayed on top. If they are feeling really creative, they might put a table cloth over the table and perhaps have a little easel-back sign propped up on the the side.
But, you're looking for more, and I applaud your desire to bring your booth to the next level. And, you can definitely do quite a bit with very little effort and money.
First off, take a stroll around the next show you attend. Look at all the booths and take notes on what you like (and dislike) about different booths. Are there any displays that catch your eye and make you want to step in a bit closer? Is there anything that people are doing in their booths to attract attention (is there a demonstration going on, or perhaps a video on a TV monitor?)?
Next, figure out what it is about you and your quilts that makes you unique. Is there something about your quilts that make you stand out? If so, accentuate this aspect of your quilting. In addition, is there some way that you can talk about the care that you put into your quilts – types of fabric, designs, etc. – that you can turn into a story? Stories sell, and even if what you do is very much like what everyone else does, nobody really takes the time to explain these techniques to potential customers. If you do, you'll have an extra edge.
If you are artistic, come up with a logo for your business and incorporate this into some signage for your booth. You can go to Kinko's and get some signs made that can help attract attention. These signs should match each other, and should match the labels you put on your quilts (you'll want some unique labels to increase the perceived value), your business cards, and any literature you develop to sell your quilts (think story again).
Finally, you can have some inexpensive quilt stands made for your booth. Find someone who has some woodworking talent and have them come up with something that is attractive, but portable (so you can put them in your car after the show). In addition, if you just have a tabletop, you can drape a cloth over the table, but use some milk cartons to create tiers. This will allow you to display more items, and make it visually attractive (you're breaking up the sight lines so it's not too boring).
And finally, think about what you wear in the booth, and your behavior. Are you well dressed? Do you have helpers, and if so, are you wearing matching outfits (one way to go would be polo shirts or aprons with your logo embroidered on the chest).
Make sure that you are always attentive and that your body language is inviting. Be ready to answer questions, and make sure that the booth visitors walk away with your business card and some literature. This could drive additional sales later.
Think of your booth as a Broadway play, and you are the director. You want to make sure the stage is set and you're ready for the opening curtain.