Trunk Show Display

by Luann Udell.
(Keene, New Hampshire)

Luann's trunk show display features vintage suitcases for the "trunks".

I’d never done a trunk show before. You know me – that was all the excuse I needed to over-think and over-prepare!

But I think it was a successful event.

A selection of books and magazines featuring my work.

Here are some of the things I considered as I pulled my display together:

A trunk show means
you bring EVERYTHING

But it can’t look like everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink, either. I still wanted a cohesive display.

So I set out several “series” of jewelry and grouped them accordingly. I had plenty more samples in reserve.

It should look
different than a craft show booth

My artist-of-the-month display looks a lot like my fine craft booth. It’s a formal display, an in-depth look at my work in a museum-like setting.

But I wanted my trunk show to look like just that – like I’d traveled to the show, bringing a personal collection of items for my customers’ enjoyment.

I wanted it to look like I'd just returned from a wonderful journey with cases of incredible jewelry featuring stones and artifacts from around the world.

I even asked for a few chairs, so that people could sit and talk as I worked.

It should still be obvious
what you’re selling

One of the drawbacks of a totally creative display is, sometimes you can’t tell what people are selling.

How many times have you walked by a booth at a show filled with wonderful props and eclectic display – only to wonder what the heck they’re selling??!!

(Hint: If people keep trying to buy your display pieces, those display pieces are TOO interesting!)

I got around this by sticking to the vintage suitcases as my only “prop”. The rest of the display featured traditional black steel jewelry display pieces–earring holders, necklace holders, etc.

I also confined my larger, bolder, more elaborate pieces to the suitcase display.

The smaller, simpler pieces went on the traditional display fixtures, where they were able to be seen more easily.

I used small wood footstools (made by my dad for our kids when they were little) to raise the height of some of the little suitcases.

People did ask about the suitcases, but they also stuck around longer to enjoy the entire show.

Because the pieces were simply “laid out” – not elaborately draped and swagged – the message was still clear: “It’s okay to touch!”

Give people
a reason to hang out

At a craft show, there may be thousands of people coming with the intent to see as much as they can.

If they like my work and my booth, they enter. Then they are in “my world”.

It can be harder when you’re simply a display in a store. Right next to your table are examples of a dozen other artists’ work!

A nearby table holds business cards, postcards, a book on the cave of Lascaux and a handout of my wall hangings.

I decided to do make up some simple necklaces featuring my artifacts and torch work with sterling silver wire.

This gave even casual observers an excuse to hang out, watch and ask questions.

It’s only your time.
Have fun!

To quote Greg Brown, “Time ain’t money when all ya got is time.” (From “Just a Bum”)

Yes, my time is valuable, but it wasn’t like I was paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to be there at the gallery that day.

It was a nice, relaxed opportunity to introduce new people to my work.

More treasures on display.

So by keeping my expectations low, my presentation skills high, by keeping myself busy even during slow times (but totally available during busy times) I ended up having a great time, acceptable sales and met some amazing new collectors of my work!

Luann Udell
Luann Udell’s website
Luann Udell’s blog


by: Rena

Luann, what an absolutely cool way to set up your trunk show! The vintage suitcases are a fantastic touch.

I also love your “literature table” with your postcards, business cards, brochures, etc. Great idea.

It really does look like you traveled the world gathering up treasures to share – which is a perfect theme for your “ancient stories retold in modern artifacts” style.

I’m sure the folks attending the event would have been really surprised to discover it was your first trunk show.

Thanks so much for sharing your displays and your experience with us, Luann!

Trunk show and all
by: Dita

What an idea! I also enjoyed reading your blog and somewhere I read about your experience about teaching a teenager boy who was your intern. You wrote about what you learned from him and the four stages of learning. It was very interesting. I think I’ll go back to your blogs again to visit. Tried to leave a comment but the wordpress probably did not accept it:(

Take care – Dita

Thank you!
by: Luann Udell

Rena, I am delighted to give back a little bit, as you have given so much to all of us. :^D

Dita, I just approved your lovely comment. No worries, you should be able to post more of them now! :^)

by: Alicia Arnold

I love this! I have vintage luggage and an empty store window and I think this is a fantastic idea!!!! Thank you so much, and I hope you sell a lot of jewelry!

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