Dedicated to Gourd Crafters, Artists and Gourd Art Fans
I've done shows for many years and read lots on trade publications like Sunshine Artist and The Craft Report and they have all kinds of advice on booths. Sandy and I agree and many points she made on booth set ups. Such as, keeping the color theme all one and no patterns. I do black table covers and made them myself out of single knit material they are custom fit for my tables. I can cram them into a tote after a show and just shake them out and drop them on the tables at the next show and but the time the show starts the wrinkles have fallen out of the fabric and it looks great. They're wash and go fabric if they get dirty keeps it easy to care for and they have been on the road for over eight years with no ill effects showing yet. I also made shelving out of four garden trellises and common wire shelving found at any big box hardware store. I painted them all black and repainted them when needed (usually a touch up yearly). I like the fact that they are see through and fold flat for storage I found a fabric carry case for them as well. Any shelving that lets light pass through it will require less lighting on your part. Some shows do not have power so you'd have to bring your own generator to supply your booth with lights(some shows won't allow generators so check before you bring one). Lights do go a long way in getting folks into your booth. I also use a 8x8 bamboo indoor/outdoor rug in my booth is a neutral tone, it can be cleaned with a hose and let dry (also found at the big box hardware store). Your booth is like your mini house while your at a show and your job is to greet people as they walk by. You have about 4 seconds to greet them and get them to stop and try to get them into your house to see what you've created. Use a tall chair to sit up at eye level and I do sit out in front of my booth so I can greet people as they walk by. I also always have a project to work on when times are slow. It will get more people to stop at your booth than anything else. I have caused traffic jams at shows because so many people had stopped to see what I was working on. You have to sell your self to the customers first before they'll see your art. So be friendly and smile all day long till your cheeks hurt it will be worth it in the end. I also have a tall rolling box that holds all my paper products and check out materials. The tall box's lid is stashed in the box when it's opened up because a compartment holding a two part lid has been removed from the box. This two part lid folds open and is held in place with a wooden brace that goes over the hinge on the "table top" and the top edge of the box. The tall box makes it easy for you to package up sales and the customers to work off of when signing your guest book or their credit card receipt. I have a drape that Velcros to the back edge of the table top and covers the two side and the front leaving the back open (you can have a custom banner made with your company's name and logo on it for this piece). There are two shelves inside the box one holds bags and tissue paper all matched color, and the cash box and credit card machine and the rest of the stuff you need for a show (fire extinguisher, paper towel, Swiffer duster etc...). This tall box is a blessing, the wheels lock in place I have a small trash bag back there at the start of every show. I also carry a gourd bowl of dog biscuits to hand out to passing puppies. Always ask the dogs owner before you give the dog a treat or just hand the biscuit to the owner. At shows when it's really hot I also have a chrome bucket of water out for the dogs. Not all shows will allow dogs so just check your show's rules if they allow it there will be dogs there and you make a lot of friends when you offer a treat to them. Or a gourd bowl of wrapped hard candies work for the humans if your not an animal lover or no dogs are allowed.
And dress nicely you are there to impress folks with your art and yourself. Don't wear old jeans and a stained shirt. Look like a professional and act like one during the show. I've seen artist in all manner of dress at shows and those who are neat and tidy like their booths had better sales. OK if your a metal smith and you have a kiln at the show to demo your work you can have grubby clothes on, but have a sales person who's in nicer clothes.
When you move up to jury shows you'll need pictures of your booth set up. Do the pictures at home if possible. You can take them on an overcast day so you have the best lighting, You can set up lights outside the booth to high light your art or inside the booth to show it off for the camera. You won't have to worry about people walking in front of you while your trying to shoot pictures and you can rearrange it as many times as you like till it's just so. With no rushing around before the show starts. The booth picture is there to show the jury committee that you have a professional looking set up and have enough inventory to sell for the day(s) of their show. Your booth need not be crammed full of stuff to pass this test, just arranged well to show off your mini house to it's best advantage. I found that the higher up the show food chain you go the more selective the committees are. They want to see a professional artist who is doing one thing very well and have the caliber of art they are looking for. So the pictures of your art they see must be the best possible. If you can't take good enough pictures or your getting rejected for most of the shows you try to get in your pictures are the reason. Have a pro do them and be sure they know how to shoot art and not just people. This make a difference too, some photographers can't seem to light art work correctly or get the hang of shooting close ups of small items well. If you plan on doing this for years get a tripod and a good digital camera and take a lesson on how to use it and do the photos yourself you'll save tons of money and a good photo shop editor can do worlds of good too. Well I wish you many years of shows and great sales.