Designing Your Booth Using Display Fixtures

There are factors to consider before designing your booth so it's safe, attractive and easy to handle, especially if you plan to do many shows each year.

For many jewelry designers entering their first shows, their display consists of a folding table with an ample skirt to hide supplies and packing materials. As time goes by, the tables may multiply and tabletop display shelves are added. But, too often, that's as far as they go in designing their booth with rarely an attempt to make it more visually appealing or inviting.

When designing your booth you need to create an effective display this means providing a variety in height and appearance. Display fixtures such as tables, shelves and backdrops, are the foundation upon which all good display entails. Use multi-level display techniques, keeping your most profitable items at eye level. Place pieces on the floor level and attach items above head level.

There are so many different ways in designing your booth. The final layout may vary from show to show. Displaying your product so it's safe, attractive and easy to handle is a major challenge, especially if you do many shows each year. Factors for consideration may include:

  • the type of items to be displayed, (your fixtures should suit your overall image);
  • size and location of your spot, (your booth must be in proportion to your selling space);
  • easy to assemble and take down, (what kind of help do you have erecting and dismantling your display? and how much time do you have for setting up and taking down);
  • "crowd flow", (you should design your booth to keep customers exactly where you want them, whether it's in front of you, down the centre of your booth, or all around you);
  • economical and easy to transport and store when not in use, (a good display should be durable and sturdy, and at the same time, portable enough to be easily carried or hauled to and from shows);
  • while designing your booth, some attractive way to create height in your display and to use the back and side walls;
  • a demonstration area (to look busy and attract customer's attention, see more on Demonstrating in Your Jewelry Booth ;
  • while designing your booth remember to incorporate some storage space in your booth (for extra stock and packaging materials);
  • mirrors is a big must so customers can see how beautiful your jewelry designs look on them;
  • a small area for writing up receipts, giving out change, wrapping merchandise, also import when designing your booth;
  • your name and booth number prominently displayed, (repeat customers will want to know who you are and where they will be able find you again); and
  • be totally flexible, (so the display could be adaptable to different kinds of shows, taking into consideration that some shows may be out doors}.

Many professional businesses specialize in designing and producing displays and display fixtures and materials. You can buy or rent stepped display tables, clothing racks, mannequins, show cases, shelving systems, table legs, money aprons, cash boxes, custom sized tarps, and other exhibiting and display needs.

Some of these companies will sell you the hardware if you wish to build your own display. Most of these manufactured displays are portable, modular, lightweight and compact. Look in the Yellow Pages under Display Fixtures and Materials, ask them for one of their catalogues or brochures. Maybe you could get ideas from them to put your own display together.

Table Coverings

All shows require that your table be covered on top and three sides showing and should come all the way to the floor. Avoid using a white sheet, there is nothing more tacky and uncreative then a white sheet thrown over a display table at a craft show, also, it will be too bright and take away from the products displayed on it.

Be sure to select a material that complements your merchandise, theme, mood and overall color; remembering that the fabric should not be so bright or busy with large patterns to overpower the work itself. Suitable fabrics for table covering might be felt, burlap, satin, velveteen, small country prints, lace, or an old quilt or bedspread. Experiment to achieve the best results.

While designing your booth, a smart and attractive way to cover the sides of your table is to make or purchase a pleated skirt that complements the fabric on top of your table. It should be long enough to cover at least three sides of your table and can be attached with tacks or staples. If you bring your own tables to a show you could glue Velcro strips to the sides of the table and along the top of your skirting for easy setup and take down.

Whatever type of fabric you use for your table covering make sure that it is clean and wrinkle free. It's a good idea to bring an iron with you to the show to press out any wrinkles when you lay out your covering over the table. Remember that all fabric used must be fireproofed.

It is a good idea to carry extra table coverings, you never know when an accident might happen from someone spilling food or drinks on your table, or you may be lucky enough to have extra space next to your own booth space to set up another table. Both situations are rare, but a spare tablecloth may come in handy.

At some shows which are two days or longer, you are allowed to leave your display and inventory intact overnight (at your own risk.) If you plan to exhibit at these shows you should pack a few permanent press sheets to cover your display after show hours. Your display will be less likely to attract thieves if your products cannot be seen.


Backdrops should be used in designing your booth to display items viewed at eye level and can also act as dividers/partitions to block out the activities of nearby craftspeople. A variety of materials such as pegboard, plywood, old barn boards, fabric, wicker, quilts, louvred doors and lattice can be used.

Freestanding displays can be made from three 3' x 8' individual panels hinged together giving you a 9' wide adjustable backdrop. Most shows have a height restriction of 8 feet, which is okay because most boards come in 8 ft lengths anyways. If the panels you use are fairly heavy, such as old barn boards, then hinge them together with door bolts which can be easily removed with a hammer and punch, so that you can carry the panels individually when transporting.


As you are designing your booth, shelving is an excellent way to add a variety of height to your display, and again, to display items viewed at eye level which cannot be hung on your backdrop. Shelving can be constructed from wooden pine boards, barnboards, glass or plexiglass, bricks, screens, ladders, or even wooden crates or boxes stacked or placed on the table.

You can incorporate shelves into your backdrop by bolting them to your panels while setting up and then unbolting them to remove them after the show. You could also build your backdrop to accommodate shelving by making the two end panels about 12" wide with open slots every 12" to 14" from top to bottom, the middle panel can be anywhere from three to five feet wide hinged together. Bring the two end panels in at right angles to the middle panel and then slide your shelves into the open slots. You could use this same idea with louvred closet doors or shutters for table top shelving, just remove a few slates on the side panels.

Already made shelves can also be used to make an interesting display, such as antique knic-knac or bookshelves, plant stands and wicker shelves.

Transporting Your Display

When designing your booth you must keep the transportation of it in mind. If you must ship your display to another city or province ensure that it is packed in sturdy wooden crates and well labeled.

To make carrying you display and stock back and forth from your vehicle a lot easier and faster, make a dolly or cart from a piece of three by five feet, ½" plywood with swivel casters on the bottom and attach a rope to both sides on the front.

Related Articles:

Craft Booth Display Lighting
Learn how proper display lighting is vital to selling.

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