Overcrowding A Display Table

by Dawn Hook.
(Spalding, Lincolnshire, England)

Party-Set-up

Typical House Party Setup

I have attended several Craft Fairs recently, however, I dont seem to sell much at these events, I have realised that I am cramming so much onto my table that it is impossible for anything to stand out.

My question is, how do I choose which pieces to take? How much is enough?

When I do House parties my jewellery sells very well so I am sure it must be to do with my displays at the Craft Fairs. Any advice anyone can give would be very welcome.

Regards

Dawn Hook

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Comments

  1. My thoughts on this, are that at Home Parties…we women know that we’re going there to buy something. At a Craft Show or Farmers Market, or any sort of vendor event…there are a lot of people “just looking”, or maybe just there to pass the time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

  2. I don’t think that the table in the picture is over crowded at all. You have lots of empty space on the table itself. What does catch my eye as crowded are the easels of necklaces on chains across the back with what looks like white tags hanging.

    If these are all pendants on chains, I would suggest displaying just the pendants and a sign that the pendants come with a chain. I sell alot of pendants and I have them boxed or in divided trays (one pendant per division) and then offer an assortment of chains, cords and ribbon necklaces for the customer to choose from. I keep a ‘treasure chest’ of cords, ribbon necklaces in many colors, and chains for the customer to choose from.

  3. Thanks for your comments it is always good to get impartial advice.
    Dawn

  4. I’m in the same boat. Waaaay too much stuff. But if I don’t bring everything, it’s inevitable that someone will ask for a specific item, “Oh, yeah, I do have one of those, but it’s at home.” And no, they never come back. Out of sight, out of mind. So I haul yet more stuff every week with me.

    I have a jewellery roll that I keep all my silver chains in. I normally have one of each style on display. But it’s the cheaper stuff, the $5, $10 or $20 impulse buys, where I find I simply must have a large selection. I’m always battling with that mess.

    I’m working with a friend to redesign and reconfigure my table. It’s as if the customer is laying out the table to maximise what would entice them to buy.

    Barbara

  5. I’ve been selling for about 10 years now and here is what I have found. It works for me. Less IS more. You CAN have too much on the table.

    When people come to your booth at shows, you are not the only one they are looking at. They become confused at all the “stuff” they have seen. It can be quite overwhelming. Have you noticed when you go to “art” shows, the jewelers show VERY little? That way a customer can actually “see” what you have without being confused with so much to choose from.

    Until I learned this, many times people would come into my booth, spend an hour, oohing and ahing over all my pieces and then in the end never buy anything because they just can’t make up their mind. Actually, people like less choice. It makes the decision easier. It’s ok to bring more jewelry and store it under the table for those that ask if you have “this” in a different color, size, etc. Then you take it out and show them.

    Also, keep your displays at uneven heights around your table/booth. It keeps the eye moving around your area. And it keeps them looking at your stuff longer. Avoid as many “flat” displays as possible. They get a better picture of what jewelry looks like if displayed UP, like their neckline. Flat displays are too quick to glance at and move on without actually “seeing” what you have.

    Home shows are so very different from other shows. Home shows are for a particular buyer. They are invited there knowing that is all they are going to see, touch and try on. Your jewelry is a specific target with no other competition. It is ok to have lots of jewelry there. They WILL be asking for different sizes, colors, styles similar to one on the table. They want and expect a very wide variety to choose from. They are there for one purpose, to view YOUR jewelry.

    My suggestion for your table above, use some necks to display some of your best pieces. Let it stand out from everything else. If you have a bunch of chains on display because you sell pendants, then have fewer chain options out taking up space. Keep the stock of chain options under the table using just a “sample” of what you have to offer actually ON the table.

    Good luck at future shows.
    Cindy C

  6. Iya Harris says:

    I totally love your table. It is very inviting – eclectic, artsy look. Only small suggestion I have, would be table covering theme, perhaps a contrasting color for the skirt or table top.

  7. I agree with CindyC – less is definitely more. You can also swap things around during a show/ fair, so you have revolving set up. Also sometimes you can tailor your set up to the craft fair if you know what kind of crowd it attracts (not always possible though). I sometimes attend a charity event for a dog charity, so I concentrate on my dog and animal jewellery. People who are interested either buy or take a card. I have changed my set up several times. The advantage of a less-is-more approach is that it will take you less time in setting it all up and it looks classier – esp. if your competitors’ tables look just cluttered.

  8. Hi Dawn, I have been doing art/craft shows for nearly 18 years and what I have observed over time is you need each piece (especially large pendants or necklaces) to be able to stand out, one from the other. Each is unique in color, size and materials but if you have too many pushed together, they won’t stand out, but blend together. I have noticed on your display the displays in the back are taller than those in front but why not put a box under your cloth cover and elevate a couple even more so. I use the boxes I bring my jewelry to the show so no extras need to be packed. It draws the eye to the taller displays, hopefully drawing in those who are intrigued. I love the pop of color you have added. Nice touch. All in all there IS a lot to look at and perhaps you could put a few pieces behind the table and replace as needed. Also, when a customer shows interest in a piece ask them what they like about it, and bring out any from behind the scene that may be just the one they were looking for. Bottom line, you don’t want a “billboard” effect where a one can just sweep their eyes across the whole and see everything, but nothing. Good luck on your sales. From this photo you have some wonderful pieces.

  9. jackie klish says:

    I use gold picture frames, 8 x 10 or other different sizes to group similar items by color, style, etc. The frame has a piece of foamboard covered in white velvet. In one, I might put a selection of blue earrings, for example, and in another it might be a necklace and earring set. It gives some separation, so they look at a small vignette of designs at a time.

  10. I’m with Cindy on this one. It looks extremely cluttered to me. In photography, you learn that the human eye cannot focus on more than seven objects at a time. You also learn about the concept of dominance. In other words, try grouping your objects in small groups of no more than seven. On each table, play with dominance — pick something to stand out & make that part if the display visually dominant. As for what to choose, that’s personal but I like to work with sets of accessories that either match or come together in an interesting way. For example, necklace, bracelet & earrings grouped together, or three bracelets that could be worn at once.

  11. What a fantastic group of people on this site. Thanks for all your comments I shall be taking notice and hopefully will see an increase in sales. I am still going to find it difficult to decide on what to take on each occasion. Barbara, I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes too much stock with me. Thanks to everyone
    Dawn

  12. There was a study not too long ago in which participants were asked to choose a jar of jam from a shelf. Those who had only a few choices made their decisions much more quickly & easily , with little to no second-guessing. Those who had several packed shelves took much more time & experienced more frustration bc they felt overwhelmed.

  13. Boy, can we ALL relate to this dilemma! We want everything displayed, but don’t want to visually overwhelm! And to do this in a few seconds, so as to hook interest as customers walk by our booth! It’s hard to avoid some clutter, but think balance between open space and product – think Tiffany’s vs Bargain Mart -It’s all about the visual – and all, typically, within just 6 linear feet! 😀

    I’ve made a couple of changes/investments that I belive have really improved my sales. Not sure if it’s the displays, product improvement, or pick-up in the economy – but sales are UP! Here’s what I’ve done:

    1) Added vertical “steps” on the table. Closed cell insulation (Lowe’s) wrapped in an inexpensive black sheet from Walmart. Also a couple of fabric covered boxes at HomeGoods. Now have three levels of table space. The backboards you have function well – but are easy to overload. I also want to be able to see what’s going on in front of the table during those times that I may be sitting down. (I.E. when roving loiterers hang around, clearly not there to buy.)

    2) A couple of years ago, I started investing in neckforms and black velvet muti-sized “cubes”. They offer tons of options for adding varied height, and bracelets look nice draped over them individually, as do pins. These items are not cheap, (I found nice neckforms for about $11 each at RioGrande) but I bought a few at a time, adding as budget allowed – and sales went up. Some prefer a more organic booth look, but for me these did the trick, so I don’t mind the traditional – it worked!

    I sell sets, with neck pieces (pendants or necklaces) with matching earrings. The neckforms looked great, but I had the dilemma of how to attach the earrings. They do make ones with little earring holders on them, but I personally did not care for the look. I made little cardstock hangcards, and hang them from “fishing line” loops that fit the top of the neckforms. They work great. Most often, customers just pick up the whole neckform to look closer, then hand it to me, “I’ll take this!”

    Throughout the shows, tables looks even more elegant as more open space appears. I remove empty displays and rebalancing the table throughout the day.

    I enjoy reading about how others handle our dilemma of avoiding a cluttered look on our tables – since we naturally want to display everything – if it’s not seen, it won’t be bought!

  14. Pam, I’d love to see a picture of your setup. I’ve never heard of closed cell insulation before. Are you on Pinterest? I tried to go to your website and it wouldn’t go through. Love reading the different suggestions. After this, I’m rethinking how much I put out, and will employ some of these ideas at a home party I’m doing this weekend. Thanks!

  15. Christie – First, I read again what I wrote and realized it may have sounded a little arrogant – so sorry about that – wasn’t the intention! I’m not sure how to post a photo here. I have a shop on Etsy, and also have a domain name, currently also pointing to my Etsy shop (until I can ever get time to set up an independent website – not happenin’ today!) The closed cell insulation is this rigid stuff that comes in 8’x2′ sheets, and can be cut pretty easily with a hacksaw. It’s thin, I think 2″, but my husband cut it and doubled the thickness by gluing two layerst together, so I now have two 4’x1′ “risers. The only hard part was that the raw edges tend to crumble kind of like styrofoam. Once it was covered by the sheet fabric it was fine, but in the process I had this stuff everywhere! 😀

    I’ve been wanting to do a home party for some time now – jealous that you are THERE and wishing you good luck! Until recently we had 2 greyhounds and one was a large male – hair everywhere, plus he was a counter surfer, and a home show could have been a disaster. He passed a few months ago though, so I am now rethinking the idea. Please share how yours turns out! Good luck! PS my shop is currently pretty much empty – mostly older pieces. I haven’t had time to get new stuff listed – plus, need it for shows!

  16. what i find rather baffling is that I am the manager of a high end store and do a lot of visual merchandising i understand the less is more example given here. I practice this at work I just can’t get the balance with my own business. I have already put some of the ideas mentioned in place. Thanks again for your comments.

  17. What a great discussion! My daughter and I do craft shows together and we have an ongoing argument about this very topic. I agree with her wanting to put less out but I always feel compelled to put more out so that people can see everything that we make.

    A lot also depends on the venue. Last summer we were outside in a gazebo so we had to consider the elements and hanging things around the outside of the booth was challenging with the wind. In the fall we were inside in a booth that had curtains all around. That enabled us to hang things around the booth and freed up some table space. Like using different levels on the table it added another dimension.

    A friend of mine who has a framing business helped me to put flat neck forms in some old frames that we spray painted gold. With these we were able to hang some of our more unusual necklaces to spotlight them. We also used the frame idea (small ones) flat on the table for sea glass pendants.

    On an easel at the front we had an old window frame, spray painted gold again with rabbit wire in place of the glass. This worked well for a few earrings and this also had 3 flat neck forms, so we had 3 necklaces to catch people’s eye. I also agree that investing in some regular neck forms is a good idea.

    We are always trying to make our display more appealing and I really appreciate hearing what other people are doing!

  18. Carla says:

    I am terrible at displays. It seems that everything I do is either just “plain Jane” or overdone big time. I can’t seem to get the happy medium going. I have 3 spinning stands and have my necklace, bracelet and earrings all together on hanging tabs. This works well for getting them up, but the look of it leaves a lot to be desired. I have pretty material covering the table and I do change the colors according to the venue. But as for any decorations, that is where it stops. Nothing appealing to the eye. I don’t know anyone who has an eye for that kind of thing and so for my sales they prove that I need to make some changes and fast!…I am lost when it comes to the whole idea of drawing the crowd. I thought my jewelry looked pretty good as a stand alone but it must just be my eye that sees it that way. I am going to look into setting up using some of the ideas I have read on here. Thanks for giving me the ideas and we will see how it works at the next show.

  19. hi guys, I am so excited. I have taken inspiration from all of the comments i have received on this topic. I have spent the last few days designing new frames for my very best items i have removed over half of the items from each stand and I am feeling really positive about my next show. I will post some photos on here

  20. Jan Bennett says:

    This came at the perfect time. I’m in a craft show on Saturday! I’m reassessing now what I’ve done in the past and realizing I need to make big changes. I’ve tried to display everything I’ve ever made! I’m going down to pick and choose right now! Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

  21. Susie W says:

    What a great discussion with lots of great suggestions! Thanks to all.

  22. What enlightening comments! Since I have a tendency to put out tooooo much (can’t sell it if it isn’t visible. :-\ ), I am determined not to do this any longer! Thanks for the incentive!
    From my experience, I find the jewelry is the focus if I use black as my tablecover, and my neck forms, with a touch of color for interest, even a vase of flowers. And the change of elevation is essential. Tuck the tags out of sight, and display a pair of earrings with your necklace. Be sure to have some business cards handy, and put one with each purchase. I ask if my customers would like me to notify them when I an having a special or event, and collect the email addresses.
    I am a vendor at our local Farmer’s Mkt. I have a 10’X10′ canopy, tho I only take 8′ of tables. I take different jewelry each week so the regulars come by to see what I have brought this week. Last year I brought a different color each week, such as lavenders and purples, with a ‘shot’ of orange here and there for contrast and interest. Of course, with different color combos, the same jewelry made repeated ‘appearances’. The blues and purples week will bring the amethyst jewelry again. Since I have a teeny jewelry shop on my farm, I have built up some inventory.
    Thanks for all the helpful comments!!!

  23. I have been busy with redesigning my table displays based on some of the feed back from you. I have to say although my table now looks more streamlined and professional, I have not found it easy to leave so much stock at home. However my sales have improved so the proof really is in the pudding. thanks again for all the good advice.
    Dawn

  24. What a great resource of ideas and suggestions! I am glad I came across this, as I am doing my first home jewelry party next Saturday. I am both anxious and excited! Reading through all the comments, I see that I was on the right track with how to set up the display table, but it also addressed things that I hadn’t yet thought about.

  25. I used to bring and display everything, because I had small inventory and it felt like I should show everything. Then as I built up inventory, I started to run out of room to display everything nicely. I started displaying things more closely packed and planned on buying more display busts/boxes/etc. Then a photography friend of mine took a picture of my table and showed it to me – things I never noticed in person jumped out in the pic – clutter, tags hanging over pendants, accent colors that clashed, things in apparently random order on the table, etc. Wow! I never would have thought of that way of getting new eyes. So I dismantled everything, reset my base display to something more basic, took off the clashing decorative bits, edited my jewelery that I show each time to themes (I go by seasons – spring colors in spring etc – and birthstone colors). Now my table has a cohesive “look”, I can find everything a good place to show it off to best effect, my display doesn’t weigh a ton and my inventory never gets stale as if it hasn’t sold by the time the season changes it is taken off (either til next year/color, or is repurposed, or is listed online). It is great!

  26. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I am showing this coming weekend and I, along with many others, have a lot of inventory and want to show everything! I just pruned down my ‘chain trees’ and took all of the Fall/Winter colors out. What was I thinking!??
    It does make a huge difference. The chain trees that I am talking about were originally used as candle holders. They are made of metal and stand about 3′ high, the top is semi flat with the edges turned up to catch any wax. The base looks like 4 branches/roots spreading out in 4 directions. the trunk is skinny and sort of wiggles up to the flat shelf. On the way up there are branches that come out, 2 on one side and 3 on the other side with 3 leaves on each branch. I am hanging my chain necklaces on some but not all of the leaves. I have to say it looks pretty good. The 2 candle holders are very pretty and it’s easy to see the necklaces. Now that I have thined out the chains I can add the matching earrings without it looking like they are crammed in there. Oh, for on top I will put 1 or 2 flowers with short stems that will lay in saucers of water.

  27. Linda Harrison says:

    Hi
    I do a farmers market every Saturday in the summer and many other outside the market events, i have found that it really doesnt matter that you have a lot of merchandise but its how its displayed. Us woman like choices so the more the better lol

  28. Just a quick comment – at a recent show I set up our display with a lot less jewellery than usual but attractively displayed. I have to say I saw a difference in the number of people who stopped and looked and sales were good. It was a new show for us so the real test will be this summer when we do a repeat show! I personally find it hard not to put out the whole inventory but I now have it in binders with me so I know that I can bring more out if needed. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

  29. Hi Linda
    The advice I have received from my question has been mixed but all of it has been brilliant . My displays now look completly different from before .I no longer feel the need to take a dozen of evetything with me. Ihave my best designs in frames to highlight them . I also sell matching items as sets,this alone has doubled my sales .
    Regards
    Dawn

  30. I agree with Linda — as far as farmers markets go, it’s definitely the more the merrier — but well laid out and organised clearly into areas of interest. For me (see link below) it’s 2×3 feet plus 4×3 vertical feet using 2 grids at that corner with crystals, tribal and turquoise, 2×3 feet in the middle for kids with skulls & fossil pendants, horses and Hello Kitty, etc., and then 4 feet plus a wooden riser on which I have 4 earring racks, sorted, the good/expensive stuff (note that the wooden riser doubles as a hidey hole in behind for my money box and “office” stuff).

    Now on the table within each area I leave about 1 foot of space to put just a few different necklaces each week — “Oooh, that’s new!” Uh, nope, it’s been hanging on a T-bar for 2 years.

    There’s a huge difference in customers — or at least customer behaviour: at craft shows, you have the 3 seconds it takes for a person to walk by to attract their attention amongst the noise, colour and siren calls of 50, 100 or 200 vendors and then they’re gone forever (if you’re lucky, they’ll take your business card, and even luckier, remember what they saw at your table); at farmers markets, 90% of the people come back every week so they get curious to know what you have and eventually will stop and talk to you and if they like you they’ll come back every week just to chat. It’s definitely one (if not the only) social highlight of many people’s weeks to go to the market. You can ask what they or their kids or grandkids are particularly interested in and you can subtly, or overtly, introduce items into the conversation. Ask if they have anything that needs repairing or remaking. I have one repeat customer who will definitely take anything big, blingy and Swarovski; she appreciates being told of some new shape I’ve got and wants first dibs on it/them, as often she’ll buy the same shape/design in different colours. I have another customer who buys a lot of crystals for herself and for her friends, family and her own customers, and if I have new items I’m pretty sure she’ll be interested in I’ll email her or call her over if I see her walking by. At Christmas I’ll make room on the table for a few boxed sets and I definitely bring boxes with me for anything bought as a gift. Normally, I use small colourful gauze bags and people are absolutely delighted with those. Sometimes I think that’s why they come back. I try to match the bag colour with what they’re wearing, assuming that that’s their favourite colour, and with the kids I let them choose their bag colour.

    I’m now working on a new line of designs as well as a bit of a table redesign and I’ll have the new items grouped as to colour, with bracelets behind on a low bracelet T-bar and behind that a standing rack of thematically similar earrings in all lengths and weights. I supply little plastic earwire stoppers with all of my jewellery now. People comment on that, and I show them little packets I’ve made up of 10 pairs for $1, and they usually buy one of those.

    This is one bead show layout (where I primarily sell turquoise and silver and pewter pendants) when I only had one table:
    http://jewelrymakingjournal.com/tweaking-my-table-to-save-hours-of-setup-time/
    If you go to my blog you’ll see pictures of how my friend (who is developing her career as visual merchandiser/organiser) and I set up two tables at the show last October. I was told it was the most interesting table at the show and now other vendors are hiring my friend to help them with their table and booth layouts.

    Versus how I set up every Saturday morning, step by step:
    http://artefaccio.blogspot.ca/2012/05/setting-up-my-table-every-saturday.html

    There are a ton of good ideas on JMJ, in particular for efficiently packing up and storing stuff. I couldn’t do what I do every Saturday morning without what I learned here.

    A bit of a long comment, but I think re show and market table layouts, we’re talking apples and oranges. Totally different customer mindsets and definitely different situational, time and money constraints.

    Barbara

  31. Torey Pritchard says:

    This has been quite eye-opening!! I have a massive amount of jewelry. I sell one piece…I make three more. I too love to put out ‘too much’ inventory. I make a wide variety of jewelry styles and I think If I don’t put it all out there, the potential buyers won’t see it. One thing I have bought is the jewelry cases with pull-out trays. I have one on wheels and the other without wheels that rides on top as I store them or travel with them. I have black trays and went to the fabric store and bought nice soft felt in white and a tan/brown color. I cut to fit into each tray. I found these two colors show my jewelry off nicely. The tan/brown color really shows off the turquoise and clear and white jewelry off well. If I need to I can put the trays on the display table if I need something displayed quickly. I use a label maker to mark each tray with what is in it; by color, style, material, venue, price etc. Some of my trays are: Bracelets, Stone Pendants, Crystals, Crosses, Black, Red, Little Girl, Men/Boys, Chunky, Chains, Under $20, and more. I keep the items that are not on display in their tray as marked and keep the tray cases under the table close at hand. When I ask if the client has any preferences of color or style and they tell me; I can find something easily in my pre-marked trays for them.

  32. Torey – what a great idea!! The solution seems so obvious, yet I never thought of it. I, like you, have a large variety and style of jewelry and feel I have to have it all on display in every size. Would you mind sharing the brand or where your purchased the cases? I googled jewelry cases and found some aluminum carrying cases. I would like to get your recommendation before ordering on-line because you never know what quality you will get.

  33. Torey Pritchard says:

    Joyce, I bought mine on ebay, this is the description you can type in: LARGE ROLLING JEWELRY CASE w/Wheels FREE TRAYS & INSERTS DISPLAY BOX CASE. They will cost about $50 and not all include the trays. The aluminum ones seem very costly. This system has worked very well for me, in being able to locate jewelry pieces quickly once the client gives me an idea of what they are looking for. I hope it will work as well for you!

  34. Thanks, Torey!! I am going to give it a try! I’ve been using some plastic drawers I bought at Target with shelf liner to store my jewelry. While it stores the a lot of jewelry with the shelf liner to hold it in place, it wasn’t easy to get a piece out pieces stored several layers down.

    Thanks again!
    Joyce

  35. seekertat says:

    I’ve always put out everything I had or at least, tried too. Quite often, I don’t have enough room to display everything. Now, I know I shouldn’t even try. Maybe with this information, I can categorize and try to display like items or in a more attractive way. Thanks, Ladies.

  36. Wonderful tips from those who’ve previously posted, but I’d like to add something…

    I was in retail management for years, and one of the things they drill into you over and over is merchandising to take advantage of the way Americans tend to shop (the following is a tendency among most cultures that read from left to right, apparently).

    Americans tend to view things from left to right, top to bottom. For example, in a display like the one below where each number represents an item and the first row is at or slightly above eye level:

    1 2 3

    4 5 6

    7 8 9

    Shoppers will tend to focus on items in this order: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. The items at 2, 4, 6, & 8 will tend to be overlooked unless the is drawn in by the first look.

    To take advantage of this, place your highest margin or focal pieces in the prime positions on the chart. You can also overpower the tendency a bit by placing eye-catching items in the secondary positions – but only occasionally. If you do this in every section of your booth, it will lose its power to distract and these positions will go back to their secondary status.

    Another way to take advantage of this tendency is to place your slow moving items in prime positions. We all have pieces that surprise us by lingering in inventory despite their quality and appeal… put ’em in position 1 and see if they draw extra attention!

  37. I will add my voice to the “bring everything” group – my husband (who is my helper and “roadie”) keeps telling me to leave stuff behind and limit myself to 2 tables to my usual 10×10 space (outside and inside shows). He built 2 shelf racks that break down fairly quickly (2 shelves each) to layer up a bit, but I don’t really leave too much open space (actually I don’t leave any). I agree with Tory and do have 3 rolling carts which I bought on eBay which help with storing and transport to shows, but had not thought about the label maker for the trays – great idea! Also MANY MANY thanks to Beth regarding merchandise layout and the psychology behind it. Will definitely put that into practice in my next show in August. Thanks to all!

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