{Business Tips} Event Displays that Draw Attention

Display Envy.  You know it when you see it.  You go to an art fair or festival and there are always a few displays that make you stop and say “Wow”.  These artists always look busy, draw customers in with their inviting design, and you are left wondering how they created their stand-apart display.

While every company needs to express their unique personality at an event, there are lots of simple techniques that can be leveraged to make your event display the one that stands out in the crowd and makes others say “wow”.  The key is to get creative and have a bit of fun.

I agree completely with Minna from Karuski points out that

Setting up a booth is like creating a mini store for your customers.  You want to make their visit as pleasant as possible.

Design Direction

To begin, deciding the message you are looking for the display to convey is key.  While all EcoEtsy team members are “green”, there are many style options for green companies.  Are you contemporary or traditional, serious or fun, clean or complex?  Come up with three words to use as inspiration for your space.  Possibly find some photos from a magazine or online that capture your vision for the display.

After your words have been established and you have some inspirational photos, begin to think through all elements of the display – table coverings, signs, product displays, etc – that will make those words come to life. Using the colors of your logo in your display as well as the clothes you wear at the event is a key technique for reinforcing your brand message.

Erin from AntiquetoChic describes the overall design process perfectly stressing that

“You have to make sure you play with height, weight, & depth – kind of like decorating your house.”

Layout and Primary Elements

The first step in developing the detail of your display is to create a layout of your space.  Depending on the event, you may have more or less flexibility in this area.  Most outdoor fairs and festivals have a standard 10×10 space for a tent.  Indoor events often provide a 6-8 foot table – sometimes partitioned from your neighbors with pipe and drape, other times with no partitions.

For the 10×10 space format, there are some great tips for maximizing the overall layout.  Mary from HerbanLifestyle has discussed layout with many different vendors at events and has concluded that

“If you have the space, an L or U shaped setup is the most welcoming.  The multiple tables provide more surface area for display than a single table.”

Experience has suggested to Heather from EarnestEfforts that the booth should be set up so that customers walk up to it rather than walking inside.  She has observed that “many people are intimidated by walking into a booth and prefer to stand on the outside edge.  This layout also creates a lot of space for display and a comfortable space for the artist.”


Earnest Efforts Display

Once the horizontal table layout has been determined, it’s time to think vertical.  Consider pieces that can be stacked on your table, hung from the tent walls, or stand on the ground to add height and dimension to the space. Karen from KarenMeyers reinforces the need for a focus on height describing that “most Art Festivals want their booths to resemble miniature art galleries, and not flea markets, so they prefer vertical display.”

Martina from NaturesArtMelbourne does a great job in incorporating vertical elements into her display.  She uses the walls of the tent the way you would use walls in your home to add height and interst:

Nature's Art Melbourne Display

Signs and Table Coverings

After you have your overall layout set, considering signs and table coverings are a great next step.  Here are a couple tips from Mary at HerbanLifestyle:

  1. “It’s helpful to have a banner with your company name and logo.  I have one made out of cloth and another that I had printed professionally.  It is made with biodegradable material, but looks like matte vinyl.  I’ve used it many times over the past two years and it still looks great.”
  2. “My personal opinion is that, while patterned covers can look fun, for most products, having a solid color helps to make your products “pop” by not competing with them visually.”

Mary’s tips turn her display into a cohesive look that works well at an event indoors or out as you can see here:

HerbanLifestyle Indoor Display

HerbanLifestyle Outdoor Display

Product Displays

Product fixtures will obviously be different based on the items you sell and need to fit the overall personality you have defined for your display.  However, just like the overall space, you should try to display at various levels so that you continue to add texture and height.  For ideas and inspiration, Mary at HerbanLifestyle suggests searching “craft show displays” on Flickr.

The EcoEtsy team has found many creative ideas for upcycling and reusing items for their displays.  Here are just a few innovative ideas from the team:

Minna from Karuski uses picture frames and cake trays to display her jewelry:

Karuski - Ring Display

Karuski - Earring Display




Allie from NewJerseyKnits had her husband design and hand craft her display out of fallen wood in their neighborhood.  She says, “the design has an arch where we hang our banner and then curves out in the back so that people feel invited to walk in and peruse our clothes – the boughs and branches act as the perfect hanging rack!”

NewJerseyKnits Branches as Racks

Erin from AntiquetoChic always uses a table cover that reflects the personality of her jewelry. She says “I find my jewelry doesn’t fit the classic black velvet tablecloth jewelry vendors usually use. Yes, it is great if you have elegant, sophisticated jewelry, but my jewelry is funky, bright, colorful, and fun for everyone. I always use a bright tablecloth, like pink or purple.”  Erin combines the bright color with innovative display fixtures.

AntiquetoChic Display

For my own One Shade Greener display, reuse was a driving force.  I use a bamboo rug from my front porch to cover up the concrete that is usually on the streets where I display.  I purchased a shelving unit, screen (for hanging necklaces), tables and a cute little chair at estate sales to add height and dimension to the space – total cost for all those items was less than $50.  I use old soup cans to hold bookmarks, and Ball canning jars to hold pens and other things.  The table covering is burlap tied with raffia – again low cost and eco friendly.

One Shade Greener Display

The headline is to design the personality of your space and then get out there and have fun treasure hunting for natural, recycled, or upcycled opportunities to create an innovative display!

During the Fair – Stay Green!

Throughout the event, there will be lots of opportunities for you to be “less green” than you are everyday at home. Plan ahead to bring your own coffee mug and water bottle to avoid using disposable coffee cups, cans and bottles.  Pack food that you can snack on all day – veggies, fruits, and nuts are great choices.  The provide energy, don’t require heating or cooling, are easy to take a “bite” here and there without appearing like you are having a meal, and they have no packaging that produces waste.

You have a great display and plan for the event.  Now, it’s time to sit back and enjoy – interact with customers, meet fellow vendors, learn, and think about what you could improve at your next event.

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  1. This past weekend I was a vendor at a coffee festival here in Hawaii. I shared my booth/tent with two other vendors, both Etsy sellers (www.doublebrush.etsy.com) and a fellow EcoEtsy seller (www.molecularmuse.etsy.com). We came together and invented ourselves as an artist collective named “Big Island Handmade’. By sharing the booth, we each had something unique to offer and our displays were varied. It was great opportunity to showcase our products and bounce ideas off of each other. I was able to get ideas from this blog and use it in my own display. For photos of our booth check out this link:

    • I checked out your photos and what a great idea to create the collective to have one display! Many of the festival entries can be quite expensive and a technique of “sharing” the space like the three of you did could make a show affordable for some that could not swing the booth fees on their own. I also thought you did a great job of letting the personality of each of your three brands shine through with the individual spaces for each!

      • You nailed it exactly. By creating the collective, not only were we able to share the fees, but each product drew different buyer types that might not have come under a tent just to see my coffee sack handbags. The product incorporated smell, texture, and the jewelry just lit up the whole tent. Sharing the tent was also a great idea because since we came into the event ‘last minute’ we didn’t have the pressure of creating lots of inventory since it was being shared among three artists :)

  2. Such great tips! I will share this with our two daughters who help us set up our booth. Thank you!!

  3. Oh one more tip. Freeze bottles of water for the show. They can help keep your snacks cool and are great relief on a 90 degree day. I also always bring along some handkerchiefs to soak and keep on the back of my neck when it gets too hot. That ice water is wonderful.

  4. Excellent advice. I started to write a comment about my own experiences in display creation, but it got too long so It gave me a good excuse to blog about it :)

    • Great post Lori! You have done some awesome things with your display. A key point you made was the transportability. I’ve found it is truly an art to figure out how to fit everything for the display in one vehicle.

      • Thanks Lori (great name) I only wish I had proof read my blog post a little better LOL… I must have accidentally copied parts of it. I cannot even tell you how we all growl at the jewelry people who show up with one Tupperware container of product driving their tiny cars :)

  5. i’m just starting to plan my first booth, so this comes at the perfect time!!!

  6. Great article. I have seen how much difference a creative, beautiful display can make at events. You’ve given some great ideas and examples, thank you.

  7. Thank you for another great business tips article! And thanks for including our booth display pics!

  8. Thank you for the fabulous article & for including our display photo. Very helpful!!!

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  9. Thank you!