Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Where do I find...?

When you make a change in your business, it often entails having new 'stuff' to support that change. Not new work necessarily, but new marketing and sales materials, or display equipment. One of the struggles in making that change is figuring out where to go and what to get. I will share some of the my sources and suppliers.


You have decided to start doing shows. There is an overwhelming number of things to do to make that transition. The first show I did was in a school gym, and they provided a table for each vendor. And it was a real mix. Across from me was a woman selling Pampered Chef items. But there was also a fine artist who was trying to develop a market for doing murals. I did not need much more than a tablecloth, and a way to display my work.

From there I did an outdoor, weekend show. I did not want to spend the money to buy a tent, and I was not sure where I was going with this long term, so I went to the local rental store, and rented a tent. It was less than $100, and it kept me and my work dry for the weekend.
My first outdoor show. Fall of 2004. Yikes!

The next year, I decided to invest in a booth. I went to Flourish for the frame for my indoor booth. If I had to do it all over again. I would buy their Trimline booth, and use it indoors and out. The pop-up style tents may seem like a good idea, but there are lots of pictures on the web of these style tents that have gone aerial. I had my neighbor lose her roof with a strong wind at Lyndhurst last spring. I have seen the tents with the curved top roofs have the best success. They still need to be weighted and anchored down. But the water doesn't pool on the roof, and they generally better built to withstand the weather. I have a Caravan booth for outdoor shows, but I would happily trade in my indoor Flourish booth and Caravan booth for the Trimline. Flourish makes a good product, and stand behind their work. I can heartily recommend them.
You spend a lot of time at a show on your feet. And happy feet mean a happier you. And it is a lot easier to sell your work when you are happy than when you are tired and cranky. Got to AllMats and get yourself one of their interlocking mats for your booth space. They have mats that are made to look like oak flooring. I saw some of these at Craft Boston, and they look wonderful. I have a gray mat from AllMats. I use it indoors and out. For and indoor show, I cover it with some bamboo rugs. Outdoors, I lay down a tarp, and cover that with the mat. This gives me some added protection against the weather. While my neighbors were in 3 inches of water after a downpour last fall at a show, I had plenty of time to get the vulnerable boxes up off the ground.

My Caravan tent, at an outdoor show. Fall 2005. I had made the black backdrop. It was a bear to put up, and weighted a ton. This was one of the few times I had the bamboo rug down for an outdoor show.

A booth needs walls. With a tent, you get those white polyethylene walls. But are they the best backdrop for your work?? I have found that using curtains and shower curtain hooks to be the best solution. They go up fairly easily, and are often made with flame resistant materials. But you can still spray them with a flame retardant spray if necessary. If the curtains don't have loops that the shower curtain hooks can go into , I have used grommets. You can get kits at a fabric store and grommets in a whole range of sizes. Linens & Things has been a great place to get curtains inexpensively and long enough to go to the ground.

This was my booth in NYC in December 2006. The curtains are my "winter" ones...teal blue with a touch of sparkle. The tablecloths are made from that black fabric that makes up the walls in the picture above.

If I were to get a hardwall booth, I would go with ProPanels....and the knockdown variety. These ones can be reduced to half their height when disassembled....making shipping easier. And know that I have been through that learning experience, it is something that I would consider in any future purchase. This time I am renting a hardwall booth. When I looked a the cost of shipping across country....and back...and my complete lack of experience in shipping supplies for a show across country, it made sense for me to rent.

Craft Boston booth, Spring, 2007. Black walls were part of the booth package. I decided to just go with them rather than try to cover them up.

More to come...


Anonymous said...

I am facing my first outdoor show in early June and am wrestling with all the same issues your post covered. Thank you for the article and the links--they've been most helpful!

Judy said...

I am glad it has been helpful. I will have more to come... Good luck with your show!