A white umbrella may be your best option for shade if you have an irregular booth at an outdoor craft show. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when you purchase an umbrella for your booth.
If you're given an irregular booth at an outdoor show, and it's too small for your standard 10 x 10 portable canopy, you'll need to come up with a different shade solution.
If you have an irregular outdoor booth space, and you don't know how you'll provide shade, before you do anything:
Unless it's a brand new show or market, others before you will have dealt with the same irregular booth space and will likely have some helpful suggestions.
There's a good chance show organizers will recommend using a commercial market or patio umbrella for a space that won't accommodate a 10 x 10 canopy. An umbrella is typically the best, most flexible option for shade in an irregular-shaped outdoor booth.
Before you buy a market umbrella for your irregular shaped outdoor booth space be sure to consider:
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While you do see colored umbrellas at outdoor markets, I'd strongly suggest you consider taking the time to find a good white umbrella. Just as your craft tent ideally should be white, a white umbrella is also a smart choice.
It's not always easy to find a white umbrella, and you probably won't want to spend a lot of money on one if you don't think you'll use it a lot. It can be tempting to try to make do with a colored umbrella.
Why is it worth the extra effort to find a white umbrella?
Colored umbrellas, just like colored portable canopies, can reflect their color onto your booth. They may make it harder for customers to get a true sense of the colors in your work, and they can make it harder for you to show your work at its very best.
Also, if you're not careful, a colored umbrella amid a group of white canopies and white umbrellas can cheapen the look of your booth.
It is possible to find inexpensive white market umbrellas. It requires a little more effort, but searching for an affordable white umbrella is well worth your time.
The amount of use you expect to get out of your umbrella should be a factor in deciding which umbrella you'll buy.
If you're only doing an occasional show with an irregular booth, then you might get by with a more inexpensive umbrella.
On the other hand, If you're going to use your umbrella a lot at several outdoor shows, it will need to stand up to more wear and weather, and investing in a higher-end umbrella will be a good decision.
For example, if you know you'll be participating in a farmers market every weekend for the summer, and you've been given a smaller booth space, then it's worthwhile to invest in a higher-end patio umbrella that will stand up to multiple uses and weather conditions.
Beyond looking for an umbrella that's white and sturdy enough to meet your needs based on the number of shows you'll use it for, there are a few more considerations to keep in mind.
Features to look for in a market umbrella for irregular outdoor craft booth spaces:
A vented umbrella canopy is designed to stand up to windy craft show weather a bit better. Air can flow through the vents, making the umbrella sturdier if it gets windy.
An umbrella that tilts will give you more options for shading your booth. As the sun moves throughout the day, you'll be happy with the flexibility a tilting umbrella provides, so you can adjust the shade as needed.
Be aware of the size of your booth space when you choose the dimensions of your umbrella. Many market umbrellas come in 9 foot or 11 foot diameter sizes. If your booth space is only 10 feet wide, and booths are close together, a larger umbrella could be a problem.
Check with show (or market) organizers if you're not sure about your booth dimensions and what umbrella size will fit within your space.
Also be sure to check the height of your umbrella. Typically, this type of umbrella will be about 7-9 feet tall. Do be sure the umbrella you choose is tall enough for you and your customers to stand underneath.
Don't forget, you'll need a heavy base to secure your umbrella. Lighter-weight bases won't be solid enough.
Market or show organizers will often specify the weight needed to secure your umbrella. Most rules I've seen for vendor booths at markets specify that your umbrella must be weighted with at least 50 pounds.
Do, however, check with the organizers of the specific show(s) or market you plan to attend to ensure your umbrella is adequately weighted.
5x10 portable canopies (and other canopy sizes that fit in spaces smaller than 10x10) do exist, but they are not easy to find.
These tents are generally more expensive than commercial white umbrellas.
It might be worthwhile to invest in a craft tent that's smaller than 10 x 10 if you do a lot of outdoor shows in an irregular sized booth, but you'll probably prefer to stick with a less expensive umbrella if you only have an irregular outdoor booth for the occasional show.
Small pop up canopies also offer less flexibility in the type of irregular spaces they will fit into when compared with an umbrella.
On the positive side, a 5x10 portable canopy (vs. an umbrella) can:
If you know you'll be selling very frequently in a space that won't accommodate your 10 x 10 canopy (say, at a weekly farmers' market), this type of tent can be a worthwhile investment in your business.
A few companies you can check out include:
To be clear, I have never used a smaller canopy, and I've never talked with anyone who has used any of these canopies, so I can't say anything about the quality of the tents or the kind of customer service you'll receive.
I mention them because finding smaller tents for craft shows can be tricky, and I'm trying to help you cut your research time a bit if you need a smaller tent.
If any readers have used canopies smaller than 10 x 10 in an irregular outdoor booth space and can comment, I'd love to hear your input. You can share your thoughts in the comments below.
Please keep in mind, all of these smaller shade options are only for irregular sized outdoor craft show or market booth spaces.
Standard booth spaces at craft shows are 10 x 10 feet, and there are a wide range of tents available in those dimensions designed specifically for use at craft shows. If you're not dealing with a smaller booth space, and you need a standard craft tent, you can find plenty of information about choosing the right 10 x 10 canopy here.