Display Your Craft To Sell
By Bruce Baker, A jeweler, gallery owner
and nationally recognized expert on booth design. His seminars
on Booth Design all over the US are well attended and welcomed.
Visit his Web site at www.dbakerinc.com.
This article courtesy of The
Display and merchandising of your work influences your customer’s
perceptions and drives your sales. The display gets their initial interest
(from a distance) but the customer must be drawn closer to the merchandise
before a sale can be closed.
My wife and I just got back from the Atlanta Gift Show. The merchandising
bar is definitely set higher in the “handmade” or “accent
on design” sections of major gift shows than it is at many craft
shows. Throughout the four days we were there, we looked at booths and
merchandising with a critical eye.
Make it easy to enter your space
One of the first things we noticed is how many booths have obstructed
entrances. The entrance to your booth must be open and inviting. Products,
display fixtures, chairs, benches or the artists themselves blocking
the entrance to the booth can be a visual or a physical barrier.
Booth openings should be a minimum of six-feet wide. People should
be able to pass in and out of the booth freely — essentially like
a two-lane highway — without obstructions or barriers.
The number of times we were visually drawn to a booth but resisted
because it was just too much effort to enter was astounding. This also
applies to objects hanging in the opening (that a customer must duck
under) or a lighting bar or a ceiling that is too low.
Display and merchandising package your works
Few handcrafted items are actually packaged (the way the commercial
goods are), so the booth, the display techniques and the ambiance make
up the packaging.
Your booth and the way your merchandise is displayed are like the label
on wine. It sets the mood and entices people to look. Once in the booth,
the display takes over and romances the customer, getting them to experience
the “craft objects” in a different way, influencing their
impulse to buy.
Compared to artists, customers as a general group have little imagination.
They admit this fact with comments such as “you people are all
so creative” or “where do you get all these amazing ideas?”
How an object will look in their environment when they get it home
is a big concern for customers. If you merchandise well, you will minimize
these concerns and also set a tone of professionalism that is lacking
in many craft booths.
Artists who are talented crafts makers but do not have great display
skills should seek the advice and expertise of individuals who are talented
in visual merchandising. Do not be afraid to ask for help or to hire
someone who is skilled in these areas. You will find that simply using
the knowledge that department stores and showrooms have known for decades
pays off many fold.
Create a mood with your displays
It is important that your booth creates an environment that shows the
product in a setting the customer can relate to — especially if
it’s meant for the home or garden. For example, if your pottery
is contemporary in style and design, it is mandatory that your displays
be analogous to the work. If you are displaying your pots on what looks
like drying racks (as so many potters do), you will not reach your maximum
sales potential. This is because most customers do not have drying racks
in their living rooms.
If you make handmade journals, consider this type of a mood creator:
A large photograph of a hand, writing in one of your journals with an
exquisite pen: “Monday 3-27-03. Arrived in Katmandu; the sights,
the sounds, the colors! A life changing experience…”
This photo will pay for itself over and over in sales because it tells
the customer these are journals. They are perfect as gifts for travelers
or students, or as personal diaries.
How does it feel in the hands when they pick one up? Is it lightweight,
sturdy, a quality journal? Does it project the customer’s image
or the image of the person receiving it?
This is how visual merchandising works; it raises questions
with positive affirmations and stimulates the imagination.
If your items are for the outdoors, your display needs to
feel like a garden. Identify with the "green" movement
and use tree free, Banana
Paper from Ecopaper.com
for handouts or booth signs. With the use of photos, or a
mural painted on the walls or a path on the floor, the booth
must look and feel like a garden and not a warehouse.
You might consider a digital projection of images on the walls, using
fountains, bird songs, or wind chimes to round out the mood. A garden
is a sanctuary and your booth must create this mood or your sales will
not be reaching their full potential.
The most effective booth I observed this year was totally an illusion
but simple and effective. The items for sale were window boxes; the
display was painted sawhorses with salvage windows mounted on them.
Each window was a different style and had curtains on the back, which
matched the style of the window.
One had a floral arrangement, another a table lamp (lit of course)
and another a glass vase. One was like a Cape Cod cottage, one like
a farmhouse and one very “upscale.” The boxes that went
with each style of window were perfect, right down to the plants that
were growing in it.
The arrangement of the windows created the illusion of a neighborhood
and the focal points were the boxes that were for sale. The romance
the booth created was so simple yet so creative.
Color and props impact merchandising
The colors of your booth can invoke a season that can work for you
or against you. If the colors of your booth or your products
are earth tones, this display will work better from August
to January than it will from February through July.
Spring colors need to come out after the winter holidays and
they need to be visually dominant. The fall colors need to
be put away then or given a section of the booth that is not
If you make baskets, for example, you may find it advantageous
to change what you put in them by season or geographic region
of the show. decorating a basket for March and April, but pine cones could
be a better choice for September and October. If you are in
Florida, cumquats could be perfect, or in Vermont, apples
might set the perfect mood.
Using unusual and artistic props can be very alluring when not overdone. Custom
would give a subtle, but memorable accent to your display.
Mums, daisies, obviously poor quality flowers, or worse yet, bad artificial
flowers, usually work against your visual ambiance.
Consider using props to cross-promote your work with other artists.
They can use a couple of your baskets in their booth, and you can fill
one of your baskets with a few of their scarves. This is a common practice
at gift shows between exhibitors who are friends.