Are you looking at buying a 10 x 10 canopy for craft shows and feeling completely confused?
That's how I felt when I started researching craft tents for the first time - completely confused and overwhelmed.
On the surface, it seems like a simple enough task. Buy a tent that's white with 10x10 dimensions.
How hard could that be?
But once you start researching, you'll discover there are several brands, and different models within each brand, all with different features and at different price points.
I think the low point in my tent-buying research came when the organizer of one of the first shows I was going to attend suggested I run out and spend $3000 on a tent for my fledgling business.
That's right - $3000!
I almost fell on the floor when I heard her suggestion, and so did my husband.
And this was not even a big show that was going to pull in loads of sales.
A $3000 tent may be the right choice for established craft business owners who do a lot of shows every year. But a tent like that was definitely not in my budget, and it was well beyond my needs!
So, to save you some of the pain I went through, and help reduce confusion and clarify your thinking, I've put together this list of features to look for, as well as a downloadable craft tent comparison chart to help you keep track of details as you research different brands.
Depending on your needs, some factors will be more important to you than others. For example, there is often a trade-off between tent weight and sturdiness. Generally, sturdier tents are also heavier tents. Will you be doing a lot of shows, and your tent needs to stand up to a lot of wear and tear? Then the heavier but sturdier tent may be a good choice for you. Perhaps you won't have help and are unable to lift heavy items easily. If that's the case, you may need to go with the lighter tent and trade off some durability.
You need to consider your own needs and expectations for the 10 x 10 canopy you are going to buy, and review those factors that apply to your own situation.
There are several companies that sell portable canopies that are suitable for use in craft shows. Compare a few popular brands to see which company offers a product that best suits your needs.
Some companies offer a few different models at different price points. You may want to compare models to assess the differences between each.
I always recommend buying a white canopy. Think very carefully about your decision if you are considering buying a colored canopy just because it is slightly cheaper than the equivalent white canopy. Some of the better craft shows will only allow white tents. Plus, white tents don't cast a color onto your products the way colored tents do, so white canopies generally show your work in the best light.
Note the dimensions of the tent you are thinking of buying. Standard craft booth spaces are 10 x 10, so this size is ideal. It will fit in your allotted space and allow you to make full use of that space.
Notice whether the tent you are considering has straight legs or splayed legs. Straight legs are preferable because they make better use of the space you are given at outdoor craft shows. Also, the angles created by splayed legs make it difficult to use sidewalls or create any kind of vertical display along the outer walls.
Weight of the Tent
There is a big difference in the weights of different tents. As I mentioned earlier, often light-weight tents are less sturdy than heavier tents, but lighter tents are easier to manoeuvre. For quick reference, tents with aluminum frames are lighter than tents with steel frames.
Dimensions When Folded
This information is particularly important if you drive a small vehicle. Ensure that the craft tent you buy will fit in your vehicle when it is fully folded up. You don't want any unpleasant surprises the first time you pack up your tent to transport it to a craft show, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.
As mentioned above, 10 x 10 canopy frames are made from steel, aluminum or some combination of the two. Aluminum is lighter, but steel frames are generally sturdier.
Ensure the canopy material is fire retardant. You may also want to note the denier of the canopy fabric. Denier is a measure of the density of the weave of fibers. Canvas canopies with a higher denier are better quality than those with a lower denier.
Availability of Replacement Parts
Some companies provide replacement parts for their craft tents. Replacement parts can save you a lot of money if you can replace a broken part instead of replacing an entire canopy. Check the company's website. If they provide replacement parts, they will provide that information on their site.
Note whether the tent offers any special features. Some have an awning or a pocket to insert a banner with your logo or business name.
Are Side Walls Included?
When you're comparing tents, be sure to determine whether side walls are included. When you compare the prices of different craft tents, a cheaper tent might not seem like such a bargain if you realize you will have to buy side walls separately.
Type and Number of Side Walls
If side walls are included, be sure to note how many (they don't all come with four side walls) and whether they are velcro, zippered, or a combination of velcro and zippered.
Also notice whether they are fabric side walls or mesh side walls. There are mesh sidewalls designed to keep out bugs, and there are mesh sidewalls designed to display art. The ones that keep out bugs aren't all that useful for craft shows, but the fabric side walls and the mesh side walls designed for hanging art can be extremely useful.
Also, check whether the side walls include a window. While a window can bring in extra light, it might detract from your craft display.
If the tent you are considering does not include side walls, and you think you will need them, be sure to consider the cost of buying them separately when comparing brands.
Is a Wheeled Bag Included?
A wheeled bag will make it easier to transport your craft tent from your vehicle to your booth. A bag will also keep your tent clean and in good condition when it is stored and help it last longer.
Determine whether there are other accessories included in the package. Occasionally a craft tent package may include weights for the tent, or an extra wheeled bag.
Accessories That Are Not Included Which You Will Have to Buy Separately
Note whether there are any must-have accessories that are not included. If you have to buy these accessories separately, that may make a difference in terms of which tent is the best deal.
Stores That Sell the Tent
Note each store that sells the tent you are considering.
Determine the return policy for the store or any warranty on the tent so you know if you will be able to return it if there is a problem. Some of the big box stores that sell craft tents have excellent return policies.
Price of the Tents
Note the price of the tent
Price of Additional Accessories
Note the price of any additional must-have accessories that are not included in the package. For example, if you want side walls and they are not included with the tent, determine how much it would cost to buy the side walls separately.
Total Shipping Cost
Note the total shipping costs if you are planning to order your craft tent online. If you are ordering from a company in a different country, keep in mind that you may have to pay duty, and the currency exchange rate will impact your cost as well.
If you are not going to order your 10 x 10 canopy online and you'll have to drive a long distance to the store that sells the canopy you want, consider the cost of gas for the drive when comparing the cost of delivery.
While you are looking up shipping costs, ensure that the company ships to your location.
Add up the total cost of the tent, any additional accessories and shipping costs.
Make note of any other important considerations. For example, if the tent you are interested in is sold on a site that offers customer reviews, list any notable comments made by customers.
Once you've noted all of the relevant information, compare the information you've written down and determine the craft tent that best suits your needs.
Phew! That's a lot of information.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, don't worry. Keep in mind that you do not have to compare every single one of these points if they are not relevant to you.
For example, if you drive a minivan, and cargo space is not an issue, then you might not need to worry about the dimensions of the tent when folded.
Just review the points that are relevant to you.
Click here to download your handy spreadsheet to track all of this information. When you click the link above, the comparison chart will open in your web browser. Simply right-click (or control-click on a Mac) and chose the option to save it on your computer if you want to save it for later.
If you want to print it up to use it right away, right-click (or control-click on a Mac) on the document, and choose "print" to print up the chart. You can either print the whole document with instructions, or you can print only page 2 of the document if you just want to print up the chart. Print as many copies of page 2 as you like to compare as many brands as you like.
Once you've printed as many copies of page 2 as you need, write the relevant information into the spreadsheet, and you will end up with a simple way to compare each 10 x 10 canopy that you are considering.
Best of luck in your search for the perfect craft tent!
If you're already ready to check out a few craft tents, you can find several on Amazon. The links below will help you find what you're looking for.