Retail Store Displays for Craft Booth Ideas and Inspiration

Retail store displays can be a surprisingly good source of ideas and inspiration for craft booth design.

If you have never explored your favorite shops to see how they draw in customers, it's well worth a trip to your favorite shopping area to do some research.

Most crafters who do shows are always on the lookout for great booth ideas, and retail displays are one source of inspiration that is often overlooked. While it's true that crafters have constraints that shop owners don't have (smaller space, the need to be portable) many great retail store display ideas can be adapted to work well in a craft show setting.

Pretty retail display designPretty and Colorful Retail Display

Stores to Explore

You can learn from a variety of types of shops:

Indie Shops

You'll often find the most creative display ideas in independently owned stores (as opposed to chains) because the store owner isn't limited to displaying items based on corporate guidelines. 

Stores That Sell the Same Item as You Sell

Visiting stores that sell a manufactured version of the same type of item you sell can be extremely instructive.  For example, if you sell handmade soaps, take some time to explore retail stores that sell manufactured soaps and determine what they do in terms of display, and why.

Stores That Sell Handmade Items

Stores that are dedicated to selling handmade items are reaching out to a customer base that is similar to (or the same as) your own.  Owners of this type of store will be well-aware of the special qualities of handmade goods, and will strive to communicate that in a retail environment.

Chain Stores

Chain stores typically don't convey the same vibe you'd normally be going for in a craft display, and your craft booth will look out of place at a show if it looks too "corporate". However, large chain stores have the benefit of being able to put a lot of money and research into the design of their stores, and if you take some time to explore a few chain stores to get a feel for why they set up in a specific way, you might be able to apply some of those lessons to your own booth.

What to Look For 

How Does the Store Draw You In?

Before you even enter the store, look for the strategies that are used to draw customers in.  Check the store window, signs, as well as items placed near the front of the store.

Is there a particularly eye-catching item in the window? An effective use of color? Maybe there's a sign promoting a special event. Determine what the shop owner has done to make you want to step in the front doors.

Bright colors in an art store window display draws your attention.

Handmade jewelry on a rustic wooden frame in a tourist area fits with the character of the location.

retail window display
Jewelry displayed on a rustic wooden frame

General Display Design Concepts

Retail display ideas and photos to inspire you to create your own craft booth.Find craft booth display ideas in local retail stores.

Get a general overview of the store. What works, and what doesn't work? Why? Where is your eye drawn?

Watch customers if you have the opportunity. How do they behave in the store? What are they drawn to?

How are items grouped in the store and why are they grouped in that way? For example, if you sell handmade soaps and body products, and you're in a store that sells similar items, are items organized by item (i.e. all soaps together, all lotions together etc.) or by scent. What effect does that grouping have?

Customer Service

Notice how the store staff engage with you and other customers.  How does that make you feel as a shopper? Look for techniques that work and that you would feel comfortable using with your own customers.

Check Out the Displays

A group of three handmade vases make more of an impact together than they would on their own.

This shelf is in a retail shop, but it is portable enough to be used in a craft show booth.

Handmade vases in an art store
Portable display shelf

Once you have a good overview, take note of the types of displays that are used. Many retail store displays use the same (or similar) types of racks and fixtures as are used in craft booths.

Look for display furniture ideas using:

All of these are commonly used in stores and can be translated (sometimes with slight changes to make them more portable) for a craft show setting.

All of these are commonly used in stores and can be translated (sometimes with slight changes to make them more portable) for a craft show setting.

Then focus in closer to see the smaller display ideas. How are the counter displays set up? Do items sit directly on tables or shelves, or are they in containers? Are there any interesting groupings (color, size, etc.) that catch your eye? How does the retailer set a mood or tone for the store?

You don't have to wait for the next craft show in your area to get booth design ideas.  A trip to your downtown shops, or a great shopping area nearby, to check out the retail store displays can fill you with plenty of ideas for creating your craft booth.

Rings displayed on a table in an art storeHandmade Rings Displayed on a Rustic Table
Handmade jewelry in a retail storeHandmade Jewelry in a Retail Store
Handmade accessories displayAccessories Display
Handmade stuffed animals in a basketHandmade Stuffed Animals in a Basket
Shelves of handmade items for saleShelves of Handmade Items for Sale

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