Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Craft Show Booth

Now that spring is here, it’s time to apply for summer craft shows! After doing 15 consecutive weeks of shows in a summer, plus several years of doing shows in general, I’ve created this ultimate guide to setting up your craft show booth – PLUS a free printable checklist of what to bring to each show.

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A good tent is crucial

This will be your new pop-up store, and if you do a lot of shows, it will be your home away from home. Can I give you some advice? Buy a decent tent – with sides.

Years ago, I used a flimsy canopy that had no sides. It sufficed, but it wasn’t very attractive – and honestly, it didn’t look very professional.

  • Get one that is 10′ by 10, which is the standard craft show space.
  • White is the best choice for colour
  • Side walls that zip on are a real plus – and a necessity if it is windy or starts to rain. The sides also make nice backdrops for your products.
A completely set-up craft show booth

This one is ideal:
E-Z UP ES100S Instant Shelter Canopy, 10 by 10′, White

  • Some shows require that your canopy is fire resistant (which is very sensible!)
  • A roller bag and storage pocket for the sides makes it easy to get to your space once you arrive to the craft show site (these things are heavy!)
  • Having a clear plastic sleeve on the top front of the canopy for your business sign is a nice, professional touch
  • my canopy, as well as the one linked from Amazon have all these features
  • Pro tip: read the instructions on how to set up the canopy BEFORE arriving at the craft show.

Create a pop-up boutique

Once the tent is set up, the sides zipped on, and the corners of the frame weighed down, slide your custom made sign into the front pocket. Mine is made from white plastic of the same thickness and feel of corrugated cardboard. The sign was well worth the $80 I paid to have it made.

Make it inviting

To really pull the boutique look together, put down a 5′ x 7′ area rug down the center of the booth. It adds a nice, homey touch and makes your booth stand out from all the others.

I got my area rug when my friend’s aunt was moving from her gorgeous home, and was going to throw away three of these matching area rugs. Rather than seeing them go to the landfill, I took them all! They all have a touch of aqua in the design, and I just happened to have several yards of aqua cotton fabric that I rescued from another near miss with the landfill. (More later in this post as to what I did with the fabric.)  But that is how I ended up using aqua in my booth’s branding! True story.

Display areas

You are going to need a few folding tables for displaying your merchandise. I recommend the 4′ long folding tables that I have been using. Anything larger is too heavy to move from the car to my space at the show. These fold up nicely, have adjustable height legs, and there is a handle so you can carry two at once.

I custom made fitted tablecloths for each table out of an inexpensive set of twin sheets! The tablecloths hit about 3″ from the ground, and hide the empty storage bins I slide under the tables during the show.

Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table, 48 by 24 Inches, White Granite

TIP: be very aware of how heavy things are! I’ve seen lots of gorgeous displays on Pinterest, but wonder how many strong people it took to lug all that stuff to the space and set it up!

Speaking of Pinterest – I have an entire board just for Creative Craft Booths! I try to keep in mind that these display pieces need to be lifted and set up – usually when it’s wicked hot out – and lots of times by only one person.

It’s also handy to have two small, round decorator tables in the booth. The legs of the table unscrew, so it’s easy to pack and move to the space. Keep one clear of merchandise, and use it to wrap merchandise for your customers. Each one can be covered with a 70″ round tablecloth.

Make that booth stand out!

You can add some other touches to make your booth stand out. From some rescued aqua cotton, I made two long panels that I clip to the back of the booth frame. These make nice backdrops for the garments I design and sell.

Clips from the dollar store used to hang clothes hangers from the craft booth frame
Clips from the dollar store are used to hang garments from the tent frame

The remaining fabric was used to make runners for each of the 4′ tables, and for the wooden risers for the top of the tables. Risers are great for bringing some height variation to your display, and theses have two levels. (They are really shoe racks!)
Whitmor 6026-3562 Natural Wood Household Shelves

Double shelf for table top, covered in a custom-made black tablecloth with custom aqua runners

Do a practice run

Before your first show of the season, it’s really helpful to do a practice set-up. I set up my canopy in the driveway, then played around with the layout of the tables and merchandise.

Capture the set-up idea

Once I was happy with how it looked, I took photos with my iPhone to refer to while setting up for the show.

Over the course of the 15 weeks of shows, I experimented with different layouts and how merchandise was displayed. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot in addition to making sales.

Itemized list of what to bring to a craft show
click photo for your free checklist

Free printable Craft Show Checklist

Rather than go into all the things you should bring, here’s a free printable checklist with everything you need to bring to a show.

Now that you have your tent, tables and displays all set up, it’s time to fill your booth with merchandise and have fun at the show!

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