This booth was made for sellin' -- or will be, once I fix these 5 problems

A few weeks ago, I got schooled in "Designing a Better Booth Display" by the women at School House Craft. I don't do a ton of craft fairs, so I knew I had a lot to learn. 

My biggest surprise? Pegboard is evil!

Here's a staged setup of my booth layout. I took this photo earlier this spring, to apply for shows I wanted to be in. Can you spot the 5 biggest problems?
My booth setup
Where's Waldo?

Problem 1: Visual clutter

There's too much -- too many colors, too many shapes, too many lines. My eye doesn't know where to go -- it bounces back and forth between the two sides of the booth.  I knew this was a problem (to be fair, I was trying to fit everything into my camera's frame). 

The one source of clutter I didn't spot, though, was the grid of holes in the pegboard book stands that my handyman husband made for me. 
Pegboard holes are distracting
Remember dot-matrix printers?
To fix the problem, I can paint the pegboard black or cover it with fabric.

Problem 2: No focal point

Another reason the booth looks so cluttered is that there's no focal point -- no one visual element that dominates the scene. A focal point makes the booth more attractive. Even more important, it catches the eye of weary fairgoers and draws them to the booth. I can fix this problem by creating empty space around a display I want to highlight. Or I can add a large photo of one of my items (like someone using a Kindle case).

Problem 3: Too many products

I knew this was a problem. But I didn't realize I looked "desperate." That was the word workshop leader Marlo used for vendors who display all their products at once. 

But what if customer doesn't see the item she wants? If I notice someone looking at a particular thing, I can say something like, "I have those in a different pattern/color/size. Would you like to see more?"

Problem 4: All mixed up

Let's say you're shopping for an iPad bag. You come to my booth and search for the iPad bag "section." 
More is NOT better
Turns out, I have 4 iPad bag sections! Wow! Isn't that great? Uh, no it's not. To fix the problem, my booth should be a mini Macy's, with separate departments for each product line. All the iPad stuff together, all the Scrabble bracelets together. No mingling!

Problem 5: Foolish consistency

My tag line is "Upcycling with a retro vibe." So shouldn't the props I use in my booth be retro as well? Like the go-go orange polka-dot shower curtain in the background. I just love it.
retro shower curtain
Polka dot a go-go! Go, go away.
But I learned that by using a retro backdrop and props, I was camouflaging my retro creations, making them harder to see. To make them pop, I need to have simpler, contemporary props. Glass and steel? I wonder how Mr. Creative Upcycling will like that.

My next show is OddMall in September. That gives me a couple of months to fix these problems. I'll post photos of my re-done booth. 

What's the biggest booth no-no you've seen at a craft fair? What draws you to a booth, almost against your will? 


  1. Thank you so much for this! I'm also new at the 'displaying your art at a fair' and I made some of these very same mistakes last weekend. Especially the 'too many products' one, and for the very same reason: I wanted shoppers to be able to find the one thing they loved. But I had so many things displayed, they couldn't take it all in anyway.

  2. Thanks, Linda, but Marlo and Marja (from School House Craft) get the credit.

    I wonder how you decide exactly which pieces to feature if you don't put them all out. Maybe a representative selection? Or just the ones you think the customers at this particular venue would like? In September, I'm going to OddMall, and based on the other vendors (lots of steampunk, sci fi and goth), I'll be prioritizing products that are black and a little dark. Unfortunately, I don't have many of those!


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