Some thoughts on display and design for craft stalls

I wanted to share some thoughts on stall design and display for anyone doing a craft fair this Christmas.  It can be the difference between good sales and no sales, drawing customers in and encouraging them to spend money, or ensuring they walk swiftly on by.

Over the years I’ve championed handmade like crazy, pointing out the love and care, craftsmanship and time that goes into each product. But to be honest, I was so busy pointing out the differences that I sort of forgot that for many buyers there is no difference. Of course, some actively seek out handmade and the chance to buy something unique, but many just see a craft fair as another shopping opportunity.

And so, you need to give your customers something they’re used to. Slick or edgy, retro or contemporary, whatever style you adopt, you need to try and recreate a good shopping experience. Just like the shops! But on a table, or in a booth! We’re not talking pound shops and supermarkets obviously. Think independent boutiques, department stores, cool chains. No easy feat, but it is achievable. You’re only working with a small space. And you are a creative, imaginative, artist, remember?
City of Craft

A good place to start is by doing your own research. Check out craft stalls on Pinterest or look for images on the web. Go to your favourite shops and work out the tricks they use. Visit some local craft fairs and see what others are doing.

Done that? Next up then. I don’t believe that throwing a cloth at a table and dumping your products down is ever going to make you great sales and I’m sure you don’t either. But it can be really hard to come up with a stunning display that will work for you and your products, draw customers in and entice them to buy. You probably won’t achieve the perfect display first time no matter how much effort you put in, and it will be a thing that evolves and changes over time, like your product range probably.

This is my starting point. Always. Before I think about table cloths, props, lighting and signage. I want cohesion. I want to create a little world where my products can sit happily, like they’re at home! I want people to get a feeling for me and my collection of handmade pieces. No matter how small a business you are, even if you just make a few things to sell at a Christmas fair once a year, you can do this too.
City of Craft

So ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

Who am I?

One knitter is pretty much similar to another, in terms of what they offer. I know as artists we don’t want to think like that, but the same goes for many crafts….it’s the personality of the maker and product that singles them out. Your display should be brimming with that personality.

What are my values?

This is where you start to stand out from the crowd. You might use only recycled or sustainable materials, or expensive gemstones, you might aim to make your products cheaply so that they’re affordable to everyone or you might seek out the most hard to find materials for true uniqueness. Your values should shine through in your display, complimenting your products.

Who is my customer?

Know your market and what appeals to them. What message do you want to convey to those particular people? No point being too cool for school if you make traditional handbags for ladies who lunch. This is where looking at successful brands can help. You and your products are never going to appeal to everyone, but over time you’ll probably notice a ‘type’ of customer who goes crazy for what you make. You’d be crazy not to think about them when designing your display.

In answering these questions you should gain a bit of clarity, in terms of the ‘feel’ of your stand/booth/table and what you should be aiming for. The good thing is that this exercise will also work for the design and style of your website, blog, business cards, etc. So begin now and then you can get started on the look. If you’re the sort of person that writes lists, do that. If you’d rather create a mood board, or start pinning, go for it. Good luck!