Where did you purchase your tent?
Periodically during the art fair season, I’ll receive this question, or others very similar, from individuals considering entering art fairs.
Some wish to know where I purchased my tent. Others seek to know about the panels or print bins. Amazingly, many ask about the chair.
I’m always glad to answer these questions. It’s the way learned. (Should you have any after reviewing this list, feel free to contact me).
In answering the questions, I’ve often thought there is a high probability the answer will be forgotten once the questioner returns home. Rather than relying solely on memory, I’ve listed below my art fair booth resources list.
Hopefully, this list and my experiences may help while you plan your own initial art fair investment.
St. Paul, Arkansas
Unlike many other items in my booth that have been changed over time, my canopy is the one item that hasn’t changed. My Trimline is the 10×10 model. I initially ordered the standard unit, along with the Sta-Bars, Easy Riser Kit and Great Weights. A year later I added the front 30″ awning and three-section front door.
Although this tent is more expensive than others, it is well worth the investment, many times over.
Initially I purchased three mesh panels from Flourish (see above). At the time I was displaying framed prints, and these worked very well. (Side note – Make sure to use the hooks from Flourish. Similar hooks from local hardware stores are too thick). Later I switched to displaying Dura Plaq prints. The hooks no longer worked, at which time I switched to the Pro Panels.
I have nine 7-foot tall (38″ wide) oatmeal color Pro Panels. Unfortunately, I thought I’d save money and skip the leg extensions. After my first show, I realized that was a mistake. The leg extension kit was ordered and installed.
Don’t underestimate the space required, both in the vehicle and in your storage location.
Having room to transport your panels is essential! My panels fit in my minivan, on edge, right down the center (all passenger seats removed). Each just clears the back opening. (Pro Panel does not recommend storing these units in a hot trailer or storage facility).
When I first started, I used the canvas flip bins. After a season or two, I switched to the Pro Panel adjustable bins, in the oatmeal color. (These bins were purchased before I purchased the ProPanel walls).
The adjustable units worked well, but I wasn’t completely satisfied. The adjustable units come in two sections, the sling unit and the base. Although it wasn’t dramatic, these two sections required a little time to put together, take down and transport. Additionally, the front base of the sling, by design, has a support bar that took away storage space for prints.
After a couple of years with the adjustable units, I ordered one piece, custom-depth bins from Pro Panels. Each of the five bins are cut to a specific depth, allowing the top of each specifically-sized matted print to align just below the sling’s top support bar. This gives a truly uniform look within the booth. It also elevated the print for viewing. (Fortunately, I was able to re-use the side panels).
I’ve tried having my chair be the check-out area, keeping needed items in cloth sleeves that came with the chair. This was a great idea – until it rained! Always seemed the rain came in just enough to get the cloth sleeves damp.
When I started marketing my newsletter, I needed a more permanent solution. To match the rest of the booth, I purchased a two-shelf mini desk from ProPanel. This is just the right size for what I needed.
Two shelves are basically out of sight, yet the items are immediately available when needed (such as a receipt book).
My iPad in a locked stand is placed on top, using the iCapture app for inputting names and email addresses. As individuals sign up for my newsletter, they now do so without interference from others viewing prints, and desk is not an obstruction within the booth.
The mini-desk easily folds for transportation and storage.
I do not use booth lights for outdoor shows as the top of my Trimline is translucent, allowing light to diffuse into the booth.
After doing a couple of indoor winter shows, the need for lighting became apparent. Again turning to Pro Panel, I purchased their nine LED light system. Following their article about batteries, I have also added a battery source for power, no longer requiring electricity at the shows.
Like other items, my cart changed three times because what I had just didn’t work as desired.
My first cart was a convertible hand cart, purchased locally from a large hardware store. In one position, the cart was a dolly. Sliding the handles converted it into a push cart. Larger wheels were at the base of the dolly, two smaller wheels at the top (which became the other two wheels of the extended cart). This worked in my test drive around our house on the concrete driveway. It failed miserably (my opinion) when transporting across grass.
The second cart was a lawn cart/wagon. Four nicely sized air-filled tires with a decent size base. It actually worked very well until I purchased the Pro Panels. Because of their size, the Pro Panels required something different.
Ordered directly from Pro Panel, I obtained their “Haul It” cart. This works great for the ProPanels and all other items. The tires, though solid rubber, are large enough to push easily over grassy fields. I use an exterior hitch carrier on the car to transport the cart to shows.
I still use the first and only chair I purchased for art fairs.
The model I selected is an aluminum Earth Executive VIP Tall Director’s chair (ordered through Amazon). With a wide base, it is very sturdy, and is especially so on uneven ground.
Where I place this chair is important, ideally the right front corner. Here I can interact with visitors to my booth.
This chair is tall enough to maintain direct eye contact with visitors while being seated. When I want to stand up, I do so at the same elevation. This even eye contact was a key feature in selecting this chair.
Another benefit, this lightweight chair easily folds flat for storage.
The front sign, “Powder Hill Photography LLC” was ordered locally through a print shop (that also does T-shirts, banners, advertising, etc.). I use a heavy duty industrial velcro to hold it onto the Trimline canopy.
After having been blown off one evening in a very high wind storm, I now remove it each night.
I have found a step ladder an invaluable tool. I’m not tall enough to reach the tent wall zippers, especially on uneven ground. A step ladder becomes a needed asset for both set-up and tear-down. I’m never without mine.
Here again, I tried one and switched to another. Both step ladders were purchased locally from a large hardware store.
I first used a two-step ladder, the second step being the top. There was no handle. As a result I always reached for the tent poles when climbing, especially on uneven ground. (Notice the common theme about the ground!)
Though I didn’t quite like it, I made it work. And then one morning I thought I was on the bottom step when I was really on the top. Fortunately I didn’t sprain my ankle, but after that show, I switched out the ladder.
I now use two-step aluminum step ladder with a front handle. The handle actually is an extension of the lower unit. The top step is a large platform rather than a narrow step.
This light weight unit is easy to move around and very sturdy, regardless of the ground situation. With the handle, I no longer have to reach out for support from the tent.
This step ladder is as important as any other item in my booth.