Reworking the booth

Hi – have done some boring, but eye-opening number crunching in the past couple days. I’ve figured out, with the help of a SCORE counselor and www.accountingcoach.com, how much I need to do in sales in order to just break even at the shows I’m doing the rest of the year. If I Lancaster 2010 boothwere to add Houston, I’d have to double that number. That won’t be happening this year, alas. Because I have to be serious and business-like about this whole venture, I just plain have to sell more. In order to do that, I have to make my fabrics more accessible in the booth. To the right is a picture of a recent booth setup. It’s not bad, but the inventory is spread out on the tabletop and is difficult to sort through. The pieces range in length from 1/2 yard to 4 yards, and vary in width from 44” to 60”. So I think I have to go vertical, maybe with some sort of mini-bolts. Probably something like some quilters use to store their stash on – it needs to be easy to sort through, and show enough of the fabric to attract interest. It also has to pack away quickly and not weigh a lot. Foamcore or Corruplast are a couple ideas we discussed. I think for the sake of the budget that I will start with clean cardboard destined for recycling and cover it with some clean fabric to protect the hand-dyed goods. Then if it’s a useful system, mess with the shape and size a bit, then commit to a more permanent product. What have you seen? What do you think? Thanks!

11 thoughts on “Reworking the booth”

  1. What about putting your fabric into tubs – use them for transport and for display. You need a display system which puts more fabric onto your table. Also – have some pieces hanging down the front of the table. Fold so you can show off 6-8 lengths. Search for "dellajane booth" on flickr to see my booth displays. alice

  2. Here's what I saw at a recent show…

    The booth walls were covered in attractive quilts/fabric to draw people in. In the center of the booth were a couple of clothing racks, and the fabrics were clipped onto pants hangers. You could see the fabric from the side, but you could also quickly browse through them. They also hung a couple of attractive pieces on the fronts of the racks.

    If you got a couple of adjustable racks, you could replace the table on the side with a rack at 1/2 height or something like that – so taller than the table, but low enough to still see the fabric on the wall.

  3. Another way that I've seen larger pieces displayed (I'm thinking particularly of some large batik pieces I saw in a booth recently) were hung on a garment rack, or a long pole with what I call "pants hangers" They're the clothes hangers that have two clips to hold the fabric. You could just flip through the collection the way you would clothing on a rack in a store. The pieces had to be folded vertically to fit the hangers, but there was enough of the design showing that you had a pretty good idea of whether or not you wanted to see the whole piece.

  4. All of the above are great ideas. We're going to get fold-down salesman's garment racks and hope they are sturdy enough for repeated set-up. Adding the hanging shelves is another brilliant idea – it will let me put small pieces hanging; plus it will add visual interest. Maybe some Coroplast in the bottom, because I overload the one I have at home all the time. Plus it's a cool product I want to play with. Oh, that's right, that's not an excuse! Thanks everybody!

  5. Laura Wasilowski has been selling hand dyes for years. I think she has everything folded to the same size for 1/4, 1/2, and full yards. She fans them in rows on the table, and hangs her work as a back drop. Don't know how she transports stuff, but you could look at her booth next time she's vending near you.

  6. Thanks, Jeanne! That's how Mickey Lawler does it – I get to see her once a year at Lancaster, PA. That's the plan that I've started with, but it's not working for me because I dye mostly large pieces, 3 to 4 yards, and will sell anything from a quarter yard up to the whole thing. That way the customer gets as much as s/he needs and knows it's all the same lot. Wish I could, but I just had to go and be different. Thanks for taking the time to write!

  7. How big are the pieces you offer for sale? Do you cut anything or is it a take the full piece or leave it proposition?

    What do you drive? That makes a HUGE difference when it comes to what you use for your set up. It all has to fit! Or do you ship to everything? Big difference there.

    The folding salesman racks are plenty sturdy – I've been using a new double and a well used used one for years. They are great! Everything I've purchased from Store Supply is very durable and great quality.

    I do a lot with silk sarongs – approx 45 x 72". They are all hung on pant hangers. The size I have works best when I fold the sarong in half and then in thirds. (can't get these hangers anymore) but you will find the pant hangers should work well.

    Take a look at the saleman hangers at Store Supply — the beauty of these is using those big safety pins that go through the loop on those hangers. Make loading in & out of a show much easier. If you think they will work as well on any ole hanger – trust me, they don't. They just sort of work on other hangers.

    I drive a van – now have a Town & Country, used to have a Astro and before that a Jeep Pickup. Have used a hanging rod (now 2) across the back of every last one of those vehicles. If you can leave as much of your inventory hanging as possible, it helps with presentation – fewer wrinkles.

    When I pack for a show – the last thing to go in is Inventory, then the rolling rack. The first thing out is the rolling rack and then the inventory. I have big old white convention table cloths that I throw over the top of all the inventory when it comes out — keeps out prying eyes and sticky fingers when my back is turned. Just because Quilters & Fiber people are generally very nice, don't think there aren't sticky fingers in the bunch.

    One more thought along that line – do NOT, EVER use a cash box. It screams – take me, take me. Find or make yourself something with multiple pockets that stays on your body. You want a pocket for bills that are your "bank", a pocket for bigger bills, a pocket for charge tickets & checks (if you take them) So at least 3 pockets. Don't forget one for business cards! A fanny pack, an apron or I have leather pouches with adjustable straps that can be worn across my body, or around my waist or tied into my gridwall. When you pack to load out, throw it into the bottom of one of your tubs – do it with your back turned and when there is hopefully no one around. Bury it deep and keep your eye on that tub and bury it deep in your vehicle. But don't forget to keep out a $20 for supper!

  8. Ann – thank you so much for your generous advice. Just got two salesman's racks from Store Supply this week, and will be trying them out at the next show. We were impressed with the design and the quality. You've given me a lot more to think about, too! Thanks.

  9. Lisa,

    Have you seen the "racks" that Bold Over batiks (www.boldoverbatiks.com) uses to hang their batik fabric at shows? They also sell the racks on their website for $35 + shipping. They appear to be a pair of chains with rods or something between them to hang the fabric over. They can hang from a wall or from the rod across the drape provided by some shows. You can display a lot of fabric on them and they collapse down to nothing so its easy to haul them around. I haven't seen them in person though so what I'm relating is what they have on their website. I'm considering purchasing at least one and trying it out.

    I have a set of white wire closet shelves — 5 ft' long and maybe 18" wide. I bought three and used plastic cable ties to hold them together and make them free standing. I slip the fabric between the "rungs" – like on a ladder — and can show as much or as little of the fabric as I want. I usually space them about 4 or 5 rungs apart so you can see enough of the fabric to get an idea of what it looks like. It's easy to pull the fabric off and on to see the entire piece. 5 ft is about as long as I can fit in my car with the seats folded down but Home Depot will cut them to any size you want if the standard sizes don't work for you. You can also have them cut down to shorter heights and use them on top of your table. If would give you heighth and allow you to display more fabric at one time. I've done this with fat quarter sizes and it worked great.

    Just another idea for you to consider.

    Good luck with whatever you use.

    Hana Lima Hand Dyes

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