Your display is the heart of your booth. There are very few hard rules regarding your display. The only one that I can think of is “Safety First”. Make sure that it is safe not only for you, but your customers in particular. The cutting boards I make are displayed on a three-level shelf. I’m always worried that this shelf will topple over during a high wind so I take it down if the wind picks up. Even when there is no wind, I clamp it to the table to ensure that if it ever falls, it will fall toward me instead of toward a customer (or their kids).
With safety in mind, this is your time to show off your creativity! Your display should reflect you and show off your products.
One of the questions that is often asked is “What layout should I use? Do I want to set up so people can see my stuff without coming into my booth, or should I set up with them coming under the tent?” The answer to this, of course, is “It depends.”
One answer that I have heard is that it depends on what time of market/show. If it is a farmer’s market, set up to the outside of your booth. That way, people don’t feel compelled to buy something when they just want to walk by and see what you have. It seems that as a customer, once they are under your tent, they feel an obligation to purchase something. People don’t want to walk in and then insult you by walking back out. More on this later.
At shows, it is said that people tend to be more open to browsing and they are more comfortable actually walking into a booth. Therefore, setting up in manner that invites people in is more amenable.
I’ve never actually seen or performed research on customer behavior at markets and shows so I can’t vouch for the viability of these statements, but it does seem to have some sense behind it.
A big consideration is what space you have available both inside and outside your booth. If you are surrounded by vendors on both sides, then the only access you have to your booth is the front. But if you are lucky enough to be on a corner where only one side is occupied by a vendor, then you have far more flexibility. With a corner situation, you might be able to set up in an “L” configuration and show off your products from two sides.
When we set up, it is almost always in a “U” layout with a booth entry in the front. We invite people in to just browse. In this layout, we have products on display on the right side, left side and the back. We welcome people with a smile and invite them in to look, touch and smell the soaps. We tell them that we won’t sell them a thing unless the credit card comes out!
There are times, however, when we adjust the setup. If we have a situation where we have no immediate neighbors, we will display the products on the outside of the booth. There is also a situation where we have neighbors on two sides, but open space on the other two sides. In this situation, we create a galley configuration where people can walk all the way through. This is ideal when there are two main aisles on each side of you.
Displaying your Products
Your product display is where your creativity will shine! How you display your products will depend on what you have for sale. If you are selling shrimp or meat, you probably won’t be able to transport a portable cold display to the market (though it would be an awesome display). In this case, you may have your product in coolers and simply have signs and pictures of your products.
A vegetable farmer on the other hand will want to display the wide variety of colors in the vegetables on the table for everyone to see. The colors will draw people in and let them choose which veggies to take home with them.
Ideally, you will have a product collection that is not perishable and resistant to adverse effects of the environment of the market. These products can be openly displayed in your booth.
Your table surface is the primary place to display all your products and is a great place to start. You may start by simply arranging your products on the table top for your customers to see. However, a two-dimensional table surface gets boring by itself and leaves little separation between products or product types.
Think about organizing your products in containers of some type. Boxes, crates, shelves, bowls, plates or trays are excellent options to consider when organizing your display. Over time, you will change your display to meet new requirements or ideas.
The rules of your display are easy. There is only one rule. You can display your products in any way you wish inside of your booth. This means that ANYWHERE in your booth you can display your product. The table surface is only one way. You also have the sides, the floor and the “ceiling” of your display at your disposal. This leaves a lot of real estate for you to spotlight your products.
Hopefully over time you will run out of room on your table top. When this happens, and even before, remember to think in multiple dimensions. Add some height to your display. Portable shelves such as what can be found in garage sales, Goodwill, Hobby Lobby, Michaels or other home goods stores can be put to excellent use as a display piece.
Consider how your product is actually used also. Are you selling art? Hang it on a wall. Are you selling wind chimes or Christmas ornaments? Hang them from the tent itself.
Believe it or not, but there is a way to display just about anything. For the sides of the tent, consider a grid panel solution. Amazon.com can be a great resource here when looking for display options. Grid panels could also be used as a ceiling to hang products from. However, with any display solution, remember safety first. You don’t want anything to fall and hit a customer on their head.
Before you go out and start spending money on display pieces like a fancy corner shelf or floor to ceiling display stand, shop around your house. You would be amazed at how many of your display solutions can come from unused items around your house. One of my all-time favorite display innovations is the person who stripped all the fabric off an old box spring, interweaved a string of Christmas tree lights in it and suspended it from their tent for a light source. This can also be used to hang Christmas ornaments or hangers with t-shirts for sale.
Also keep in mind that your display will change. This isn’t a maybe, but a for sure thing. You will always find something you want to change with your display. Because of this, spend any money wisely keeping in mind that any display pieces are likely to be a temporary solution until your next great idea.
To get great display ideas, go visit your neighboring vendors at your market. Look and see what solution they came up with for similar products. Also Google and Pinterest can be amazing resources to see how people take an ordinary household product and turn it into a crucial display item for their booth. Monica went and bought a floor stand toilet paper holder that we use to hold our plastic bags for purchases. No, it has never actually been inside a bathroom but it may soon. As I said, almost all market solutions are temporary until the next great idea comes along. She told me that she was thinking about something different a few days ago.