Show Prep 101 from my favorite booth expert Heidi Stone Black

Heidi’s Show Prep 101 :)

So you just got accepted into this epic show, and now you’re freaking out.

What’s next?

Not to worry my friend. While I can’t be there to tell you exactly what you need to do, here are some extremely important things to research, decide, and then do! Plus some important purchases to consider, that I highly recommend.

First you must figure out what the target market is at this show. Are these people looking for spinning fiber, yarn, already made knit/crochet/woven items? All of these things? One of these things? This information will help you choose your display method, which is the next step. 

Next, you need to get on Pinterest and start browsing for display ideas. For my next adventure, we are doing Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus, OH. I don’t have displays for just yarn based shows. So my husband and I are designing them. I found some super cool stuff that’s easy to DIY on Pinterest. Some things you need to think about: The displays have to be light enough and easy enough to move. Assembly required is a good thing, but not if it’s IKEA status assembly. Hahaha! (know what I mean?) For my yarn displays we will be doing some displays(kind of fruit stand like), that have 4-5 shallow baskets on each one. They will be made with barn wood because we have a ton of it already, which will keep the price down. I may also have a backboard wall like thing with wood pegs coming out of it, and a shelf on top. We shall see. 

Now that you’ve decided what style you want for displays, it’s time to DIY or find them already made. To each their own. Before you purchase or make these, make sure you have a nice indoor/outdoor area rug that is the size of your space.(I still need to get one for this next big show:/ no worries though) This will make it feel and look sooooo much better than if it were just yucky concrete flooring, which it so often is. Lay the area rug out on the floor and use it at your markers for your space size. Seeing it in real life will allow better design planning. Make sure people can walk through the space effortlessly. You do not want to bombard them with so much stuff that they can’t move or see your awesome work. Make sure you have a space planned out for a register or your iPad to make sales from(the front desk in a retail shop, but like 2 feet wide) and a barstool or chair to go behind the desk area.

Now that you’ve got all that figured out, you must take stock of what you have in inventory, and what you still need. How many people are attending this show? This is indicative of what kind of sales you could possibly be making. I am making myself a spreadsheet with 4 columns across. Images of my yarns on the left, materials used, in stock, sold at end.

This will help you see everything better than you will ever see in the bins. You must have variety. I have a ton of wool yarns, but need to make more alpaca and faux cashmere happen. Each yarn has its own hang tag with its info on it, plus the price and wash instructions. Having everything they may need to know on the tag makes it so easy for them to shop and make decisions. Rather than having to bombard you with questions. Especially considering you could be making sales to other people, instead of answering questions. Prices must be clear. Don’t do discounts at shows, unless it’s something like 2 for $40. Having to do % off is a hassle when trying to ring up multiple items and lots of people. 

I separate each colorway/blend in its own 2 gallon storage bag, then they all go into the bins together. The bags keep them safe from getting all tangled and damaged. The bins are easier to store than just bags. Ikea bags are actually awesome for shows also, and they have handles.

Do you have a sign? You’re going to need one. Remember how I said we are building a backboard wall like thing with a shelf on top? That’s a great place for your signage to go. Maybe with a couple plants or display pieces? I will probably make some hats or a sweater with my yarn and put them up there as displays of what can be done with my hand spun yarn. Be sure to have samples of what can be made with your items, or samples of how they can be used. If you make Christmas better have them displayed on some sort of tree. Not everyone has a vision in their head. Some people, most in fact, must have the vision given to them.

A few little things you will most definitely need if you use electronics for sales etc...especially if you didn’t spring for the “electricity” in your booth. You don’t need the electricity. Just get some power banks. Make sure to charge them every night if it’s a several days long show. I personally own 4 different power options to recharge all my electronics. My favorite one is my Ion Block Rocker speaker. Hahaha! I know, I know. But it charges my phone and it gives me music. Depending on the show, they may have a policy about such things, but I’m a rule breaker. And not one person around my booth has ever complained about my classic rock selection. In fact, they’ve all thanked me for helping their sanity. I purchased this for $100 for my own wedding. And we use it all the time. I also have a solar power bank, a bigger one that will recharge the electronics all day long, and I have a mini keychain sized one. These are absolutely of the utmost importance. 

Bring layers and a change of shoes. Nobody tells you these things. Is it winter? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not winter inside with 30,000 people smashed in beside you and around you. Wear your winter gear, but wear layers and bring sandals or not as hot of shoes with you. Water is an important thing. For me, I bring coffee(lots), water(lots), food. This includes snacks. Sometimes it’s so busy you can’t get away to eat or drink. So be sure you have sustenance. Pack deodorant, especially if you’re like me and use natural stuff. It doesn’t last when your drenched in sweat. You do not want to stink. Hahahahahaha! For real though! Who wants to buy stuff from a smelly person?!

That’s all for now. If I have more to add later...I will be sure to make a new updated post!

Good luck at your next show!!!



For more info on Heidi , her business or her yarns please find her at or her business facebook page.