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How to make a collapsible craft show display

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How to make a collapsible craft show display
October 27, 2019 Entertainment and Movies 5 comments

14 Craft Booth Display Ideas

photos of 14 Craft booths using portable shelves.

by Lisa McGrimmon

Are you looking for some craft booth display ideas to help you put your shelves to good use?

You're in luck! I have 14 fantastic photos for you. 

The right shelves need to be sturdy, portable, and flexible in design. If you find or DIY just the right system, shelves can be a fantastic, flexible option for displaying your crafts.

Let's check out some examples of portable shelves in craft show display, so you can find ideas that will work in your own booth.

Craft Booth Display Ideas Using Portable Shelves

I love this first booth. It is so simple, elegant, and also effective.

The color of the backdrop might not translate on your monitor. It looks almost black on my screen, but it is actually a gorgeous dark shade of midnight blue. The color works beautifully with the neutral shelves and the handmade white tableware. Using deep blue instead of black is a clever, unexpected twist.

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White backdrops are very popular, and do work most of the time, but this dark backdrop makes the white tableware look perfectly elegant and luxurious. Here's a great example of a display that increases the perceived value of a product.

Also, notice all of the lighting used in this booth. There is lighting mounted under the shelves and the handmade lamps cast a pretty glow. Good lighting mounted under shelves is crucial when you use several rows of shelves on tops of each other. Without it, the lower shelves easily get lost in the shadows.

Here's a booth using tabletop shelves as risers.

The shelves provide height and make good use of the full depth of the table. They appear to be lightweight and wouldn't take up a lot of space for storage or transportation.

This option is an excellent solution for anyone who wants to use shelving on a tabletop display.

Here, we see a smart use of color. The shelves have been painted bright green to coordinate with other elements of the booth.

The splash of vivid color draws your eye to the booth, but it is larger in scale and not fussy, so once customers enter the booth, the color will become more of a backdrop and allow the products to stand out.

Smart application of color is an effective, inexpensive, and often overlooked way to draw attention and make your craft booth stand out from the crowd.

Take a close look at the vertical supports of the shelves in this next picture.  

They are hinged to form a V shape, allowing them to fold in half.  I bet the horizontal shelves are removable, allowing the entire system to fold flat.

It's a smart way to make a large display stand extremely portable.

The company Regency on Amazon has a line of Flip Flop shelves that are similar in concept. The horizontal shelves are removable, and you can fold the vertical supports in flat to make these clever shelves very portable.

Here's another example of great under-shelf lighting. This time, the display uses spotlights instead of strip lights.

If you're going to use several rows of shelves, the lower shelves can get lost in the shadows. Good lighting will solve that problem.

Here's a retail store display using a decorative ladder-style shelf. This booth display idea would work equally well in a portable booth as long as you had a sturdy vertical surface to support it if you buy the leaning style shown here. You can also find similar shelves that stand on their own, making them more flexible for use in a craft booth.

This type of decorative display ladder is quite popular. It should be quite easy to find one that meets your needs.

The small, decorative shelves in this next display don't hold a lot of product, but they do provide context.

They are exactly the type of shelves you'd have in a baby's room, so they help customers imagine how lovely the products would look hanging in their own baby's room.

These very simple white shelves completely blend into the booth allowing the brightly colored pillows to stand out.

You don't notice the shelves at all, unless you're examining booths for display ideas. And that's exactly what you want in a display - something functional that vanishes into the background to let the product shine.

Related: More sewing booth ideas and photos.

Next, we have a pair of bookcases used as display shelving.  This booth display idea is less portable than other options, so you may find it more appropriate for longer shows that allow you to leave your display set up for a few days. It's not particularly practical for shorter shows. 

I love the way the display creates a little piece of home in a booth. It allows you to imagine the beautiful mugs and bowls on display in your own kitchen. 

My apologies that this next photo is a bit blurry. Normally, I wouldn't post such a blurry picture, but it has an interesting feature I wanted to show, and I don't have any other examples of it.

What I really like about this tall, narrow, free-standing shelf is the artist's website address painted (or maybe it's a custom vinyl sticker) along the side.

Here's another photo that doesn't quite do the display justice (last one, I promise). But the shelves are so different from anything else I've seen, I wanted to share at least one photo of this booth.

I believe this distinctive shelving system is custom-made. In person, it creates the effect of the jewelry almost floating on the clear shelves and clear necklace busts, which is quite pretty.

A decorative ladder functions as a kind of shelf for these colorful scarves. It's used in a retail display here, but it would be equally at home in a craft tent.

These glass shelves show handmade items in a museum gift shop.

Of course, breakable glass is not as practical for portable displays that need to move from show to show. However, it creates an airy effect that would be pretty if you were designing a more permanent display and didn't need as much portability.

Finally, here's an all-neutral booth with plenty of good lighting under the shelves.

In a lot of ways, it's similar to the first booth photo with several long shelves secured to a wall, and plenty of under cabinet lighting. This tableware has a more causal, relaxed feel, and the neutral colored backdrop reflects that feeling in the booth.

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If you’ve ever gone to a craft show, you’ll likely notice many vendors have shelving to display their products for sale. Finding the right portable shelving for craft shows can be a challenge, but fortunately there are a number of ideas out there to create your own portable display shelves that you can take with you to any craft fair or festival!

Must Have Features to Have in Portable Shelving for Craft Shows:

It’s important you choose the proper type of shelves to ensure that they can handle the weight of your product as well as to make sure that your products look good on the shelves.

Whether you are taking the DIY approach to making your own shelving units or whether you will be buying them from a trade show display manufacturer, it’s important to know exactly what you need.

Here are some features that should be a priority:

  • Weight: How weight much can the unit hold?
  • Size of Shelves: Can your products fit inside the shelves without being too cluttered and be displayed in a visually appealing manner?
  • Durability: Will this work for the long-term?
  • Sturdiness: Could my customers or a pet/child/my own clumsy self accidentally knock this over?
  • Is this easy to transport? Not all portable storage shelves are created equal! Be sure that you take time to understand what will be involved in setting up the shelves and whether it’s a one-person or two person job to assemble and transport.
  • Storage: Where and how am I going to store the shelves when not in use?

Once you have identified what features you need, it will be easier to know what is going to be most suitable for displaying your products at a craft show or festival.

Your next step is to start brainstorming for ways to make your own DIY display shelving or start scouring the internet on a quest to find the best display shelving that’s going to work for you.

A Few Examples of Portable Shelving Units to Look For

I went on a hunt for the best ideas for portable shelving…here’s my findings. 🙂

Please note: These items are listed for inspiration and convenience. They may/may not be the right solution for you! Please note these are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase from any of these companies we will earn a small commission which helps us stay motivated to providing you with helpful resources, tips, and tricks for your craft business!

The Casual Home 3 Shelf Folding Stackable Bookcase:

While this is a rather short bookshelf, it folds up quite nicely. The height is kind of on the low side, but you could anchor to a table to make it at eye level. {Just be sure it won’t easily be knocked over!} I believe you may be able to find a similar design in other sizes as necessary. It is made of 100% real wood and comes in a variety of finish colors.

Available from Amazon

Origami 4 Shelf Steel Shelving Rack

These portable shelves can hold up to 250 lbs without the wheels – if you choose to use the wheels it can safely hold up to 75 lbs. I was most impressed with how this thing folds up {Amazon shows a video of a woman setting up} – and the reviews were quite promising as well.

Available on Amazon.

These are just a few examples of possible craft show shelves. You can also get creative by using crates or boxes – just be sure that you secure them safely so they don’t topple over!

I hope these ideas and features to look for in portable craft show displays are useful for you. If you have a craft show question you’d like us to answer, we’d love to help! Leave your comments below or feel free to contact us anytime.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Posted In: Filed Under: Craft Show Tips Tags: Tagged With: craft booth ideas, craft show tips, portable shelving for vendors

I have my first big craft show of the year coming up at the end of July so I just had to take a ton of pictures and share with you all the affordable craft fair display ideas I have. I have a 10'X10' tent with three folding tables.

5+ Craft Show Must Haves (and then some!)

I’ve been doing my fair share of craft fairs for 10 years now, so I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way. (I even wrote a book about it.) My craft show tool kit has evolved a lot over the years, and now there are a few handy items I can’t live without bringing to a craft fair.

Whether you’re preparing for your first craft show and wondering what to bring, or you’re an experienced craft show vet looking to improve your arsenal, I hope you’ll find my top 5 craft show must haves useful. Listen to Episode 005 of the Badass Creatives podcast to hear me talk about my craft show tool-kit, or read on:

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. It does NOT cost you anything extra! That said – I only post things here that I genuinely use or would recommend to a close friend. More info at my disclosure page.

1. A great tent!

If you’re planning to do outdoor art markets or festivals, a good craft show tent is an absolute MUST! Many event organizers require everyone to have white 10×10 craft show tents, to keep things looking classy & uniform.

My EZ up tent has lasted me through many years of craft shows, and it’s still going strong! I have the pop-up canopy kind of EZ up tent with four zippered side walls, which are great for closing up shop overnight or keeping out the elements on a rainy day.

2. A professional looking tablecloth!

After years of fussing with big pieces of fabric and homemade tablecloths, pinning and tucking just so to keep it looking nice, I made the move a few years back to these fitted polyester tablecloths. They’re so much easier, and they look super professional. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different lengths of folding tables.

You could always screen-print or add appliqués to the front to customize it with your business name or logo!

You can see my own tablecloths pictured below, from my craft show booth at Gretna Heritage Festival:

For my 6 foot tables, I use a pretty standard size plastic folding table I found at a hardware store. But these tablecloths are too wide for most of the 4 foot tables out there. Luckily, I discovered an alternative which fits these tablecloths perfectly! Click here to read all about my favorite 4-foot lightweight folding table that I use for craft fairs.

3. A comfy & tall chair!

I spent years sitting on low chairs, uncomfortable stools or just standing during craft shows, to stay eye-level with my customers so I could talk to them.

My tall fold-up director’s chair has been a lifesaver since then, and many of my craft show buddies have asked about it and picked up one for themselves! (Click here to read my full review of this chair.)

4. Shopping bags or gift wrap!

You’ll definitely want to have some sort of shopping bags or gift wrap available! What size you need depends on what you sell, of course. I usually keep a few sizes on hand – small organza bags for jewelry and some bigger paper shopping bags for larger items.

5. A convenient hand truck or dolly!

Finally, if you’ll be hauling all your stuff to and from your car or truck to your craft show booth, you’re going to want wheels! I cannot begin to tell you how much our Magliner convertible hand truck has changed my life!

I don’t know how I could have done Frenchmen Art Market so many nights without it – I can get everything I need on it in one trip and haul it a couple of blocks back to my car with ease:

It’s pretty high end, so if you’re a craft show newbie just getting started, I also use a smaller Magna Cart for shows where it’s easier to do multiple trips back and forth to my car.

Bonus craft show ideas:

Okay, so maybe I fibbed. I mayyyy have more than just 5 craft show must haves. Here are a few more of my favorite art show display ideas:

A curtain backdrop for sun protection and visual appeal!

Doing outdoor art markets can take a lot out of you, especially if the sun is hitting your neck all day long. That’s one reason I came up with the curtain backdrop for my art show tent seen below:

I made it by sewing together three semi-sheer curtain panels. On each outside edge, I added a few pieces of ribbon to make it easy to tie off the edges to the sides of my tent poles. At the top of the curtain, I use spring clamps to attach it to the top of my tent. Easy-peasy!

Not only does it block the sun, but it also provides a colorful and eye-catching background for my booth! (Hint: sew in something at the bottom of the panels to give them a little extra weight so they stay more secure when it gets windy!)

Gridwall for displaying your art!

Many artists use gridwall panels to display their artwork. This type of portable craft show display setup works well for fine artists who have paintings or photographs to show off, but most gridwall systems have other accessories available like clip-on baskets or shelves or hanging racks, which can also show off clothing or accessories too.

Above you can see a photo from one of my own craft show booths. I’m not the artist using the gridwall seen here (that’s the back of the booth next to me), but you can see here how the back of the artwork is attached to the gridwall with clips or zip-ties.

I took the above photo at one indoor art show I did. Even though we were inside, the artist used his tent frame to hang these screens from so that he could then attach his artwork.

There are definitely plenty of expensive, professional art display panels out there, but I found this DIY video tutorial that explains how you can make similar art display panels for around $50 per panel using materials found at the hardware store.

Craft show checklist:

While this is by no means a totally comprehensive list of what to take to a craft fair, this should cover most of the important things that you should plan to have on hand, but might otherwise forget to bring with you. (Download and print a copy of this checklist!)

Craft Show Tips for Beginners

Are you just getting started with craft fairs? Lucky for you, I wrote a whole book full of my craft show tips, tricks and advice, full of everything I learned from more than 10 years of doing art markets and craft shows regularly:

If you found this post useful, you should also check out my book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows – Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks. This e-book covers the basics of getting started selling at craft fairs, as well as how to design a great looking booth, how to give outstanding customer service & sell more, and even how to find and create additional events at which to sell your handmade work.

It also includes how to define your target market, where to find good shows to sell at, how much you should expect to spend on a booth fee at a show, promoting your show & getting your customers there, dealing with crazy weather & unexpected events, theft prevention, how to give great customer service, how to use craft shows to create after-the-show sales and lots more!

What did I miss?

If you’ve been doing craft shows for awhile and think that I missed something here, please contact me and let me know! You can also reach out on Twitter or Instagram, where we can continue the discussion!

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Psst! Like this post? Bookmark it on Pinterest!

Posted by Mallory Whitfield
January 25, 2016

Craft Show Displays - Booths, Tables, Tents & Signs

how to make a collapsible craft show display

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Craft show displays need to not only look amazing but be easy to load, unload and then set up.  A lot of us do craft fairs on our own or have smaller vehicles etc.  Also, the ever decreasing space sizes mean building your space up is not only recommended but necessary for most of us. Here are some ideas for portable shelving for craft shows.

Of course, there are a lot of clever DIY ideas out there if you’re handy and I’ve included some images and tutorials in this post.  If however, you don’t have the time or energy or just need something convenient and ready to go, I’ve also shared some of my own collapsible retail displays.

For our winter displays last year, I used wine crates.  I decoupaged a nice fabric in the back, stained the crate and added a shelf.  It looked great and served a dual purpose. I was able to carry my soaps, lotion bars and scrubs in the display units.

I placed matching stained boards across the shelves to build height and create more display space.  It looked really nice and it was extremely portable and easy to set up.  You can’t see the shelf really in this image because I have it covered with a Christmas snow cover, but anyway…  It’s simple, it works and it’s easy.

This was a single table display for a 4-hour show – so I wasn’t going to get too carried away :).  In four hours I made 300 dollars because I was one of only a few who had height, line, and dimension(depth) in my display.  It really does make a difference.

Other ideas I’ve seen that would be similar and more flexible are the slatted crates that you can stick wood between to make shelves of different heights.

This tutorial is for a set of shelves you can screw into the wall, so that won’t work for a portable display, but you could get some velcro strips to may help hold them, or I would personally use dark zip ties that you can hide.

Put them into shapes like this (see the squares) and put two squares on your table.  It provides line, height and dimension – all are important to drawing the eye in and making an appealing display.

You can buy crates like this at Michaels and they run 15 to 20 dollars or so.  They sometimes have them at hardware stores and big box stores for around the same range.  The less expensive ones I’ve found are often very rough so you’ll need to spend some time working on them to sand them down.

If you have an electric sander it’s not difficult at all, sanding by hand can be tedious.

You can also find these crates online. I personally love the Etsy ones below.  They are genuine fruit crates and you can order them finished or unfinished.  Each one is a bit different, but similar enough to create a great rustic display.


Risers are another great way to make good use of space and add visual interest.  There are of course tons of ways to create tiered looks and DIY displays.  We have used simple stained plywood planks on bed risers and they look really sharp.  These are not collapsible however and do take up more space for transport and even on our table tops.

Here is a really good tutorial that shows you how to make risers (non-collapsible).  If you have the transport space, these are extremely simple to build – and you can even have Home Depot cut down your wood for you for free.  You can also purchase collapsible risers.

Collapsible Display Ideas

This is a must for those of us who travel in smaller vehicles to events.  I drive a Kia Soul, and while it’s quite roomy for a small car, I have to make every inch of space count when traveling to various events.  For example, I use a flat-bed dolly that collapses flat – easy to travel with and works great.

If  you’re handy, try your hand at building your own.  There are some good tutorials listed below.  If you prefer an affordable item you can purchase, check out this fully collapsible (and lovely) display shelf from Amazon.

DIY Collapsible Shelf Tutorials

This is definitely a project best suited to those with experience in DIY projects and a massive supply of power tools, but they look great!

The A Frame Shelf is much easier and can be done with a simple ladder and boards, or you can make one to give it a more polished look.   The image below links to plans and a tutorial on how to build one.

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to find or create craft fair displays that are more portable and help you make the best use of your space, both in your vehicle and in your booth!

Happy Crafting!


Plant Riser Step 4. So easy to make. Cut, screw paint. Done in a couple of hours, lasts for years. Very nice ;). Sunette Gittens · Weddings · Collapsible Display.

ten tips for craft fair booth design

Want to know who is really good at telling you what booths work and which ones don't? Craft show producers! A couple of our favorite show producers are the ladies behind Indie Craft Parade (they are accepting apps until 6/20 so get on that!) and they are sharing standout craft show booths from the stellar artists who sell at their shows. If your booth needs sprucing up or you are about to create your first one, then read on for some inspiration and tips!

Every year, we get to watch 80 artists set up their displays for Indie Craft Parade. With the wide variety of work that has been exhibited over the last seven years, we've seen our fair share of booths! But it’s not always the biggest or fanciest table that gets the most attention. You can do a lot with a little, and we’ve been taking notes on the elements of the most successful craft show displays.

Here are a few tips for not just creating a unique and memorable booth display, but one that works:

1. Create a branded environment

how to make a collapsible craft show display

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how to make a collapsible craft show display
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