Okay, so you’ve arrived at a show, found your spot and begun to unload. NOW is the time to start being a good neighbor. Whether the show lasts one day or two, this is your new home for so many hours and the folks on either side of you are your neighbors . They can make and break you, so be nice!
Since space is usually tight when unloading for your show, it is important that you remain aware that you are not the only person trying to get in and get set up at that moment. Time is just as important to your neighbors as it is to you.
If you are unloading for an indoor show, be sure to locate your space before unloading. Try to unload at the entrance closest to your space. As many people will need to unload at that same door, unload all of your display, merchandise and equipment and MOVE your vehicle BEFORE beginning to set your display up. No one wants to park six vehicles deep while you are leisurely opening and covering your tables and your car blocks the unloading zone.
When unloading for an outdoor show, attempt to park in a manner that blocks as little of any driving lane as possible. Try not to park in someone else’s space while unloading. Should they arrive while you are parked in their assigned spot, they have nowhere to unload and will not only lose precious time themselves but will also be blocking yet other sellers from getting to their assigned spots. Again, DUMP and MOVE. Do not take time to set up tables and such before moving your vehicle.
If there is a staggered set up schedule, it is done so to allow the smoothest transition for all. I have done many outdoor shows that had all folks in “Aisle A” enter the show area at a specific time, say 8 a.m. and all the folks in “Aisle B” enter at 8:30. This is done as there is very limited drive through space and this allows all “A” folks to get their cars in and out and then all “B” folks have time to come in. If you are an “A” but don’t need much time, you MUST still arrive at your assigned time. I have seen shows that made those stragglers walk their things in if they arrived late as the set up was staged that way as there would not be room for vehicle traffic once both sides of the street were set up. They’ve probably developed this system over many years of experience and I actually find these are some of the best organized and smoothest flowing shows around.
As you unload, do not stack your boxes, tables, etc. in someone else’s space or block an entire aisle with your things. Do not leave small objects laying in the center of a walkway where someone can fall over it. Do not shout at your help. If your spouse, partner or child is assisting you, speak in normal tones. Do not yell across the 10’ space and do not use vulgar or inappropriate language while setting up. Everyone is working in close quarters. We are all on tight schedules and we all have trials and tribulations while setting up. No one wants to listen to you scream maniacally at your help. It is distracting and obnoxious, not to mention unprofessional.
This is also not the time to stand and chat with your neighbor. It’s okay to say “Hi! I’m so and so, looks like we’ll be neighbors today.” This is not the time to tell them your life story or complain about the traffic this morning or anything else. Everyone is rushing to get their booth set up. The clock is ticking at this point. Chat later during slow times. (Incidentally, they probably have no real interest in your life story or your complaints anyway - even later, unless it gets really slow!!)
Do not expect your neighbor to help you put up your tent or canopy. As I’ve said before, you MUST be able to get your booth set up by yourself or with the help you bring with you. You cannot count on the kindness of strangers. They have their own booths to set up in the same amount of time that you have. They, too, have timed their set up. They have not timed setting up their booth and yours in the given amount of time.
The most common complaint I hear about neighboring crafters is about the crafter who simply doesn’t understand the concept of the size of his or her space. If your space is 10’ x 10’, that is exactly how much room you have. You must be able to contain your booth display, your merchandise and yourself (and kids) in that space. Most shows do not allow buffer zones between spaces. Where your 10’ ends, your neighbor’s 10’ begins.
You must remember to leave access space within your space for you to get in and out. In many instances, you will have booths on either side and at your back. In other words, if you use a 10’ table across the front of your 10’ space, you best be prepared to crawl under if you need to get out! (Again, a bit unprofessional.) Most shows prohibit having any portion of your display protrude into the general walkway. Practice your set up until it fits within the assigned amount of space. Remember, your neighbor has every right to put solid walls up along the sides of their booth. They have no obligation to leave that space open for your convenience.
While most show people do chat with their neighbors, offer to keep an eye on your booth while you make a restroom run and may offer to assist you with that tent, you cannot expect them to do so. You must plan to be self-sufficient. Some shows do provide “booth sitters” who can relieve you for a few moments once or twice during the day. If you will need such assistance, you should discuss this with the show organizer when registering to do the show. Again, I find the “booth sitter” system to be a little iffy and try not to depend too strongly on such an arrangement.
Other complaints include neighbors who play loud boom boxes for their customers’ enjoyment (and their neighbors’ stress). All folks do not enjoy the same music you do. If you insist on playing music in your booth, keep it at a volume only heard within your 10’ of space. The same statements apply to incense and other strong smells. What you find soothing many find offensive and some may even have allergy problems with such strong scents. (Many shows also prohibit any lit object on display such as candles and incense as obvious fire hazards. )If your children are with you, they should be fairly quiet and orderly when sitting with you. They should not be rough housing or running and screaming in close proximity with the booths.
Remember, your craft show booth is a place of business and you should behave accordingly within that space.