how to stage a booth for a vintage faire

Not long ago, when I was starting out with my vintage home furnishings business, I would gobble up any inspiration photos of booth displays for shows.
There weren't a lot- just a lot of trade show type displays, which isn't really the same for a vintage fair.

This was also pre- Pinterest days.
Now, there are tons of displays all handy-like for those of us in the business to get inspiration from.

We like pretty pictures, but let me also outline what I've learned in my time of participating in and visiting shows.

First of all, you need to draw people in.
Give them something that will make them say "ooooh that's cute!" and make them march over to see more.

Does your display match what kind of product you are selling?
I wanted to give people an idea of a fun, vintage, European look for my space at Junk Salvation this year.
The bunting and colors are reminiscent of the Union Jack colors, as well as the French flag.
And who doesn't love a vintage bike with flowers?

The display was front and center, with the glass door giving you a peek-a-boo effect to still see a bit of what was inside.

Here are a few of my favorite Pinterest ideas with great examples of booth staging for a vintage faire:

Layer, layer, layer- but don't clutter.

Faded Prairie via Barn House Boys

Mixing large pieces and small pieces artfully but with easy access is the best way to display for a show.
Most people are drawn to groupings of similar items.

Add magic.
Magic can mean something unique about your display that draws you in- like a great bohemian fringed scarf draped over your entrance, or artfully arranged pieces that are out of the ordinary.

Two Wild Roses via Blossoms Vintage Chic

Twinkle lights, feathers, paper parasols, candles....all great props for adding magic.

Old City Hall Shoppes

Literally, electricity.

Always, always, always!
If it's available to you at a show, use it!

Most show hosts charge a bit extra for you to plug in,
(around $25 for the show length, in my experience) but it has always been a good thing.
Plus, if you need power tools to assemble or fix something once you have arrived, you don't want to be stuck.

Not once have I ever said, well that was a waste of money.
It's been a bonus.

Laurie Anna's
A lot of shows I participate in have an evening event- when the lights go down outside, it is helpful to have some lamps or chandeliers glowing from your booth.

Martha Stewart
You don't want customers to stop shopping simply because it's too dark to see your product.

Light draws people in.
 Even if you have a few battery operated flicker candles for ambiance, it is always an enhancement to your space.
{how many more times can I say always?!}

Bring in softness and life.
Fabrics and flowers!

There is something so friendly and inviting about a booth that has fresh flowers or greenery!
Tuck it in throughout your space!
Maybe one of your customers will even want to take it home with them, so have it ready to sell!
Simple mason jars are great, but just adding them to pitchers or items that would naturally hold flowers entices customers and shows them how pretty it can look in their home.

I've used flowers from my garden, dried thistles, twigs from nearby fields, lavender, Queen Anne's Lace, ferns....90% of those items are free!

Pink Postcard

Pink Postcard
I try to keep an eye out for vintage lace tablecloths or nubby chenille bedspreads with fringe when I am shopping.
They are fantastic for layering if you have a folding table for your displays.

Burlap is also wonderful, inexpensive, and can look fabulously vintage and rich if you have a little bit of sewing skill.

D. Reyne

D. Reyne
The above photo has a great tutorial on how to make this simple and elegant burlap table cloth for a show.

Think seasonal.
Are you doing a show in the fall?
Think of what you can bring in that expresses the time of year.
You don't have to have literal pieces.
I am trying more to do a few actual seasonal items, but mix in items with color.

For my upcoming fall show, I'm doing a lot of whites and browns.
Of course I'll have pumpkins and fall leaves, and other items that are obviously 'fall / autumn',
but think of a color theme for a holiday or season that you can tuck in to another show if you come home with some of those items.
Then you won't have to carry it around for another year, or mark it way down to get rid of it at the end of the season.

Reds work great for Christmas, but also for Valentine's Day, and Fourth of July.

Urban Farmgirl
Browns and neutrals work great for fall, but also mix well the rest of the year.
Green? Same as Christmas, but think of it as another neutral or great spring color.
See what I mean?

Be inspired, but think differently.
There are always trends in home decor- even when it comes to antiques and vintage.
I try to have a mix of trendy, but a look that is my own style.
My own signature.

There are shows I've been to where after a few booths, it all starts to run together.
The same look, the same kinds of product.
Be unique!
Sell what you are passionate about!

Do the best with what you have, and grow your display and product with each show or event.
In my first "big" show, I purchased a 10 x 10 tent, and it seemed like a huge investment.  
At the time, it was!  
The only "extras" I could afford to decorate with were handmade paper chains, and some of our summer paper lanterns that we used in the back yard.
I didn't want to invest what little cash I had at the time for stuff that probably wouldn't be bought.

September 2011

If you're smart, you can even come up with something that qualifies as both- booth decor AND sale-able if someone wants it!
With the money you make from your shows, invest a little more into your display look.

It takes practice putting together an eye catching display, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I had a group of girls who had a "good eye" help me stage my booth for my first couple shows.
Now, I am dreaming of the look I want prior to each event, and I feel confident doing it myself.

I've always found that there is someone else who always inspires and helps you grow in your abilities.  
Learn and grow, and have fun!

I'm already planning for my next show, and I can't wait to show you how it turns out!
I'm definitely going with a more English vibe in my theme for the Deepwood Vintage Market this September!

You can get more inspiration by following my Pinterest board, Great Booth and Shop Staging, or by checking out all the inspirational photos in the blogs that I have linked to.
Serious talent.


  1. Thanks Denise for all the ideas...I'm off to add to my new space.


    1. I hope you're having fun in your new spot Linda! I keep seeing your pics posted on FB, and haven't commented yet ;) sorry! Looks great!!

  2. loved this post. great photos and inspiration!

  3. Great inspiration, Denise, and LOVE your tri-colored drapes..what a color pop! How eye-catching.

    1. Thanks Andrea! They worked great for July in my booth ;) I need to get them down and start prepping for fall....ugh. not ready for that, but customers will be before I know it...

  4. Thanks for the great examples and ideas. I'm getting ready for my first show in September and my mind is awhirl with ideas!

    1. How exciting!! :) I hope you have a blast! I think half the fun of these events is in the dreaming and planning. Hope it turns out just how you want!

  5. Hi Denise, I just found your blog via another and loved your thoughts and ideas for staging shows. My sister and I have done numerous shows plus spaces in antique malls and are in total agreement about staging your booth to attract in customers.
    I remember when we were first getting into "on the road" shows, I searched the internet for inspiration (and pre-Pinterest) and that's when I discovered blogs with people like you who are so generous with your ideas and tips. I keep a Pinterest board just for booth inspiration and love when people come into our booths and compliment what we've done (and more importantly buy something from one of our vignettes.
    Nice blog!

    1. thank you so much Betsy!! :) I will definitely check out your board!

  6. what the great projects!!! all the vintage stuffs look great!! I would like a tour!!!

    munch paintings

  7. Looks great! And you, as usual, are adorable! :-)

  8. I have a show coming up in two weeks and I'm definitely going to your Pinterest board! :)

    Great ideas and tips! Thanks!

    Bella Rosa Antiques


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