Very first vendor booth, what do I need, does and don'ts?

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Forum topic by Blackie_ posted 10-24-2012 09:56 PM 5312 views 4 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4883 posts in 2711 days

10-24-2012 09:56 PM

For those of you that attend market’s, Art shows etc… I’m about to attempt my very first artisan vendor booth and just need some help and pointers on this.

Here is my list of items I have.

10×10 canopy tent
30” x 6’ folding table
20” x 4” portable table
2 portable 4 tier 14” D x 16” W x 49” H shelving units
4 tent anchors consist of 2’ long 2” PVC water pipe capped with sand inside each that will be attached to each leg of the tent.

I’m thinking I might need some sort of money box
I’m also not setup to accept credit cards yet.

Thanks a lot.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

23 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#1 posted 10-24-2012 10:04 PM

A square card reader or one of the ones like it are easy to setup and i believe it doubled my business.

Business Cards, photos of pieces you don’t have with you.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2711 days

#2 posted 10-24-2012 10:12 PM

Thanks Monte

I don’t know if my phone will except it, I have an early model Blackberry.

I’m guessing personal checks are out of the question?

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3507 days

#3 posted 10-24-2012 10:26 PM

What are you using for tent anchors? Do you mean weights or in ground steaks? I have both because if I do a show that requires setup on a hard brick/cement surface I use the weights..I always use the weights get and if I am on a grassy surface I use both…especially if it is a show longer than one day.
As Monte mentioned…you definitely need a card reader. I also use the square for 95% of my sales. You can get it for free at
The only fee is 2.7% when you use it.

Pay Pal also has a free card reader and since you already have a paypal accoung they will ship you one immediately.
Get some bags to put merchandise you sell in.
Receipt book…
Guest book for collecting info for future emails…
chicken wings

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3002 days

#4 posted 10-24-2012 10:42 PM

What bout the cooler full o beer??? LOL Jus kiddin. That’ll be for afterwards.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Boxguy's profile


2758 posts in 2466 days

#5 posted 10-24-2012 11:10 PM

Randy, you may not have a chance to do many of the things on this list, but here goes. Credit card sales are a must. People don’t carry cash any more at least not enough to buy a box. You don’t want to take checks. There is an app. for that. It is a gismo that plugs into a smart phone. Different companies and different “banks” have models available. The common trait is that it is a small square you plug in and swipe a card through. The gismo and each sale will cost you money.

You may try to borrow one from someone who does sales, or someone like a Mary Kaye saleswoman. The best possible solution would be to convince someone who already has one and knows how to use the setup (some teen?) to come with you for the day…even if you have to pay them. It also helps to have someone watching your stuff when you want to use the restroom or get a drink or a bite to eat or walk around looking at how other vendors do things.

Good luck hope you have nice weather. Consider moving your boxes in plastic totes with towels between layers to keep them dry if it rains. The totes are strong and cheap. Take along something with wide wheels that will roll in wet grass to move your boxes. They get heavy. Park as close as possible. Use heavy weights to keep your tent from blowing over…not everyplace has room enough or soil enough for you to screw in anchors.

Have your prices clearly marked, easy to read without glasses, and attached to the box itself. Boxes will get moved around. Customers are not happy asking you the price and often would rather move on the the next vendor than ask. Smile, but don’t reduce your price if asked. Position yourself at the front of the tent not the back. A stool that puts you on eye level works better than a chair. A flag or something flying up above the sea of tents helps people find their way back to you if they want to come back to buy after looking around. I like a sign that is above the awning of the tent and tells what you are selling “Wooden Boxes” is enough even if you also sell cutting boards and puzzles. A lower sign gets obscured by people walking and standing by your booth.

If you can bring along something to do with your hands it will help sales…a box to hand sand or some boxes to wax or hinges to put in with a battery powered drill…it helps the time pass and brings in customers. You don’t have to be efficient, just a little busy and stop anytime you can to talk. That means you will need a small, padded work area that might double as a transaction space. Don’t be in a hurry to leave, late sales often happen.

That is what comes to mind at the moment. Best of luck and don’t be discouraged if the first round doesn’t work out well. I am content with gallery sales, but selling at fairs can be a fun adventure and gives you great customer feed-back.

-- Big Al in IN

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3484 days

#6 posted 10-24-2012 11:18 PM


1. As far as your canopy goes, make sure you prepare for any type weather. Wind, rain, sun, etc.
2. Being able to take credit cards and debit cards will be a huge plus.
3 .Have a nice way to display your boxes…........a wobbly card table with a table cloth thrown over it will not be very impressive or cinder blocks and 2×6’s are just as bad. Your a woodworker, so your display should be professional looking.
4. Have a professional looking sign for your business. Stand out from the other exibitors.
5. Make sure you have plenty of business cards, flyers or brochures. Have your business cards professionally printed. Home made business cards look like you’re new in business and doesn’t really convey confidence that you will be in business long.
6. Seven Second Rule. That’s approx. how long it takes a prospective customer to walk by your booth and for you to make a good first impression…...and remember, you only get one chance to make a good impression.
7. After you get your booth set up; critique it! Walk up to your booth from any possible direction a prospective customer would be able to approach your booth and make sure it looks good. Make sure your displays looks good from any direction. Make sure the customer sees what you want them to see. No junk, trash, empty boxes, et.
8. Don’t eat while in your booth; it’s a proven fact that most people will walk past your booth if you’re eating because they don’t want to bother you.
9. Don’t talk on your cell phone and never stand there texting. It will not impress the prospective customer acting like you’re closing deals on the phone instead of talking to them.
10. Never stand in your booth with your arms folded across your chest or sit there reading a book waiting for someone to stop at your booth. Prospective customers will think you’re bored and don’t want to be bothered.
11. If you have any doubt about what to do or not to do, just remember #6… only have 7 seconds to make a good impression.
12. One last thing, never start taking your booth down before the show is over (trying to get a jump on everyone else). If you don’t want to be at the show, then no need to go at all. I’ve closed some of my best deals right at the end or even after the show actually closed.

When the show is over, make sure you critique your results. If you have a great show, take the time to figure out why. If you have a bad show, again, take the time to figure out why. Was it because the weather was bad, you feel it was the wrong time of the year, the location of the show or maybe something you did or didn’t do. You may not be able to change the weather or the time of year a show is held, but you can sure change anything you did or didn’t do.

Make sure you have plenty of inventory and enjoy yourself. Let people see your passion for woodworking, your boxes already show that, so just make sure they see that in you!

Hope you have a great show and let us know how things went.

-- John @

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2711 days

#7 posted 10-24-2012 11:40 PM

Great information! thanks John, Big Al, Greg, Monte and most importantly Roger for the most needed item. :)

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21720 posts in 3304 days

#8 posted 10-25-2012 12:04 AM

Hi Randy. If you are alone in your booth, keep your money in your pocket, don’t leave a money box sitting out. There are thieves working everywhere.
I fount that a nice piece of black velvet cloth from a fabric store dressed up my booth a lot. I use their tables and some are pretty shabby, but with that black velvet covering, everything looks more rich!!

Talk to customers. Tell them how things are made and what goes into making them.. Give them an appreciation of your work.
I worked next to a guy who just sat there a let the people look and never talked to them and I did 5 times what he did because I engage them.

Good luck, you have some very impressive band saw boxes- some of the best I’ve seen!!............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#9 posted 10-25-2012 12:11 AM

Jim is right. If you’re alone don’t use a cash box. One distracts you while the other takes it. Merchandise as well. Kids are terrible.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2686 posts in 3120 days

#10 posted 10-25-2012 12:46 AM

I work these events alone most of the time so I have what looks like a nail apron that I ware to hold all my cash. My wife made it for me. I use sand bags with about 20 pounds of pea gravel in them to hold down my tent corners attached with bungees. I also sand bag down my tables that have tall shelves clamped to them. (It gets windy here in West Texas.) I do not accept checks but do take credit cards. 80% of my sales are still cash but then I am selling a lot of items for less than $20 each. Yes by all means engage potential buyers. A simple hello with eye contact will do it. Oh yes I take $100 in 5’s and 1’s with me, and my sellers (sales tax) permit.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2346 days

#11 posted 10-25-2012 01:34 AM

I recently attended a trade show as a customer. As I walked around I really paid a lot of attention to how vendors set up their booth. I noticed a huge difference in the customers stopping at a booth that looked like they put time and effort into the set up. When your display and items look professional the customers will perceive you as being a professional and be willing to pay what your items are worth.
I also noticed many people asking “Do you accept credit cards?” A lot had the Square. Personally I have it. I think it’s great. Of the vendors I stopped and talked to, all of them were extremely happy with it and were glad they use it. Some even purchased smart phones just to be able to use it. It’s well worth it. Like one one else said, it’s well worth it when people don’t carry the amount of cash needed to buy your boxes.

Good luck.

View DocSavage45's profile


8721 posts in 3041 days

#12 posted 10-25-2012 01:46 AM


Check Greg the Box Sculptors homepage. i remember a great discussion on this same subject. One thing I took away from information on marketing a woodworking business from successful sellers, is customer/artist involvement. You may not get an immediate sale but it may occurr later? Customers w/ money want a personal connection so they can tell a story.

Don’t know if this was mentioned. You may have checked this out already, but what is the reputation of the Art Show? Hope you are not doing this alone so you can talk to other artisans at the show.

Best of luck!

Oh yeah take plentry of those little white italian lights! LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#13 posted 10-25-2012 10:21 AM

As far as the look. Excellent idea to have the booth reflect your work. You want it looking nice without detracting from your products.

Also, I try to dress according to the show, what you think your average client will dress like. Sounds silly maybe, but if you dress rich, many think they can’t afford you.

Talk, talk, talk. Being personable always helps sell. Be prepared to talk to every old guy that’s ever done woodwork.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4465 days

#14 posted 10-25-2012 11:26 AM

Randy- where and when will this event be held?

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View 1978's profile


167 posts in 3807 days

#15 posted 10-25-2012 11:31 AM

Try PVC pipe table leg extensions. It raises the table and keeps the little fiingers from touching the items. They can be easily be hidden with a tablecloth.

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