by Lisa McGrimmon
Your portable canopy will need to protect you, your customers and your inventory from the rain at outdoor shows. And, you need to ensure your tent doesn't blow off in the wind. It's surprising how easily a small amount of wind will send a craft tent flying. Here are some strategies craft professionals use to handle the rain and wind at outdoor craft shows.
No one wants to be at a craft show that's rained out. Customers don't show up, so sales aren't great, and you have to worry about protecting your products from being damaged in the rain.
These strategies might not help your sales at a rained out show, but they can keep your booth and your products dry and safe. Perhaps, if your booth is clearly the driest place to be at a rainy show, you just might draw in a few more customers.
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Some portable canopies do better than others when it comes to keeping out the rain. There are a few strategies you can use to help your tent stand up to wet weather, keep your products safe, and ensure you and your customers stay dry.
1. Some people apply a water repellant like Scotchgard to their tents once a year to help make them more water resistant.
If you do want to apply a water repellant to your tent, read any care information that came with your tent to ensure it is okay, and follow the instructions on the product carefully and precisely.
Be sure to spray a small, inconspicuous test area first to ensure there are no problems. If you have a colored portable canopy, keep in mind that applying a water repellant can slightly alter the color of the fabric. Also, be certain that the fabric is completely dry before you pack it away.
2. Often, leaks are a direct result of rain water pooling on the top of your canopy, particularly in the corners where the fabric tends to be a bit loose in some brands.
Pool noodles or hula hoops can help solve this problem and keep the tent dry on a rainy day at a craft show
You can prevent water from pooling in areas where the canopy is loose by eliminating the slack. If you place a hula hoop or a pool noodle between the frame and the canopy fabric of your portable canopy, it will take up any slack in the fabric and reduce or eliminate the problems caused by water pooling on the roof.
If you use a pool noodle, you can bend it in a U shape with the curved bottom part of the U pointing toward the center of the tent, and secure each end between the frame (on each side of the corner) and the canopy fabric. You can see an example of that setup in the middle photo, below.
The photos below were all taken on a beautiful, sunny day at a busy outdoor craft show. This is a long-running show that's well-attended. You have to be good to get accepted into this show, so these vendors are pros.
Even though there was no sign of rain, they have their tents ready with hula hoops and pool noodles, just in case.
3. Clear plastic tarps and clear shower curtains can be your best friends on a rainy day at a craft show.
On days when rain is in the forecast, some craft artists put a sheet of clear plastic between the frame of the tent and the fabric canopy in order to prevent leaks. A clear drop cloth is inexpensive, and would do the job. I have not tried this strategy myself, so I can't personally vouch for how well it works, but some people say it works quite well on rainy days.
You may also want to bring a few clear shower curtains, or shower curtain liners, to hang from the front of your booth on really rainy days, especially if the wind is blowing the rain directly into your booth. Four should be plenty to cover the front, and you can buy clear shower curtain liners quite inexpensively.
Ensure that your booth still appears to be open and welcoming. Tie or clip the curtains back (just like you would tie back regular curtains on a window) on each side of your tent to create an opening for customers to enter your booth.
It's truly surprising how little wind is needed to send a portable canopy flying, especially if you have one or more sidewalls up. They can take off like kites in the tiniest bit of wind.
Tent weights are the simplest way to secure your canopy. They come in a variety of styles, including weighted bags you secure to each of your four tent legs, weighted feet, and weighted plates.
Most tent weight styles are pre-filled, but a few are fillable, meaning, you fill them with water or sand at each show and can empty them to lighten your load. Fillable weights are a little more work, but, once you empty them, they are easier to carry around, so you're making a choice between ease of assembly, and ease of transport.