Vendor Booth Layout
To vendors, there is but one reason for attending events: selling & branding! This goal requires customers to enter the vendors' booths, as sideways glances from afar are usually worthless in generating a sale. Layout of booth locations is crucial to guarantee that all vendors will get to see most of the customer foot traffic an event has to offer. Customers will not go out of their way to 'look' for more vendors, especially at larger shows. All vendors should be in one area or the fewest possible number of multiple areas, none too tiny of an isolated island for cast-aways. Multiple areas should be connected by walkways with vendors or at minimum, multiple, large, colorful signs directing people that there are MANY more Artists and Crafters 'that' way. A continuous crafter walkway to those stashed behind the barn will herd the voracious consumers right to them! You ordered buyers, right? No!?
Make your event visible from the road! If you have the decision to make of placing your event in the back or front of your school, winery, college grounds, etc, you should try to make at least some of the event and it's tents, etc. visible from the main road, especially if it is high traffic anyway! Utilize your location to the max.
If you are placing vendors along a sidewalk or paved walkway through grass, the vendor spots should bump right up to the walkway or at a minimum, only a few inches away but non touching, if you have some damage concerns. To ask vendors to stay at least a foot or, dare I suggest, three feet away is asking them to make fewer sales then they should for the given foot-traffic. Customers, people, do NOT leave the comfort and emotional security provided by the sidewalk unless they REALLY like something they see in your booth or are actively looking at and walking into each booth already, which many customers simply do not do. Across such a demilitarized zone, it becomes hard if not impossible to read small price tags, signs, and product details. For someone walking down the sidewalk, venturing off it to look at one stand amongst many others can be awkward for some, I think many, customers. It's the same reason why customers more readily enter your booth to look if other are already looking. Yes, others being interested is a social cue many take, but just knowing that there are other customers in a booth will make newcomers feel they are less likely to be stared at or watched or even simply attract the attention of the seller. Customers should be able to look at and touch and artists' and crafters' products within the few feet of frontage while still on the path or sidewalk!
Similarly, you should not have an arch, loop, etc. of crafters extending or jutting into an alcove off your walkway. Having all spaces contiguous does not mean everyone, all possible customers, will leave the walkway and go up, what is so often a hill, to walk along the arch of booths that veers away from the walkway to some great distance away at its furthest point, only to slowly slope back into the walkway on the opposite side of the arch. One extreme form of this is the dreaded side-street or 'dead end hallway'. Since there is no NEED to walk down it, many will not!
A side street, off the main drag, with vendors on it needs to be properly laid out to encourage traffic flow down it, past all the vendors. If you have anyone not show up, fill in the spots from folks on the end or from elsewhere. If you have no one to move to such spots, encourage the vendors on either side of it to spread into it. Gaps before folks at the end of an end street will stop many customers from walking down to the last vendor!
Your side street should not be too long and sparse, lest it not look worthwhile to customers. Densify it! Assuming it is wide enough, run 3 or 4 rows of vendors down it, rather than 2. It will not be as long for the same number of vendors and will look like more of a critical shopping area customers can't miss out on!
Indoors, there should be no dead end hallways or class rooms at the end of them! After winding around the many wings of some schools, as customers get tired it all starts to look the same to them. To you, navigating your school is as easy as driving around your own neighborhood. To customers, it's usually like being dropped in downtown Tokyo without a map. There should be no hard to get to areas, unlike a corn maze, and no dead end hallways, especially sparsely populated ones. Customers will NOT walk down to see the 4 vendors on a side, offshoot hallway. They will NOT.
Do not place vendors up ANY hills if possible. Especially if only a few will be up there... They will not enjoy the teaser of a view. Hills become a serious concern when it rains, too. Quite quickly they can become treacherous and inadvisable for even the most able-bodied customers. Indoors, try to not use more than one floor. Please do not make customers trek stairs and dark corridors to find vendors in the basement or in the common area on the second floor.
If rain is expected, you should move anyone near any hills that it is possible to. Special concerns should be had for low lying areas or any areas that may funnel water through booths. These booths should be moved if rain is expected!
It is suspected that dirt becomes mud when water is added, causing nightmares for tablecloths, merchandise, and shoes. Customers have been seen avoiding walking through mud and rain rivers & lakes to get to booths! I swear! I've seen it myself! If you have dirt and rain is expected, order bales of HAY! There is no excuse not to. If you run out, go on a bale run. You should have someone running out for TP, similarly. Why does no one ever do that!?!? Call the rental co. at least! Seriously!
Individual vendor placement within the event layout is also important as far too many events place same category or similar styled artist and crafters right next to each other. Crafters do not want to be in 'The Special Jewelry Section'. Vendor spot locations should be adjusted, changed, at check-in if you find that you violated the no same next to each other policy by their fault or your staffs. Don't worry about who's fault, just deal with it when it occurs. Also, Arts and Craft vendors should never be placed near food that creates smoke!! Basically, any grill or smoker. Almost every event with food does not observe that a smoky, grease spewing, burger grill does not belong next to a granny with pillows. There should be HUNDREDS of feet between most grills and any Artists and Crafters. Sooty, smelly smoke can easily drift a quarter of a block or more and cause problems for artists and crafters and their products, which they need to sell, unblemished and sent-free, to make a living.
Cat-calling carnie games and similar should also be separated as nothing distracts a browsing customer more than someone yelling 20 feet away about their great, free such and such. Even other artists and crafters can be the offender: I can't even count the times that folks have had my mom's items in their hands and turned to look, as if disturbed, not inquisitively, then immediately put down anything they were holding and walked away after an vendor nearby blows one of their whistles, squawks their turkey caller, pops their quark gun, etc. These things should not be done so frequently or so purposely loudly! I understand and believe these folks have a right to sell to and to even demonstrate, but it has gone too far when they obnoxiously make as loud as possible noise constantly get all surrounding people to look, in their hoping that they might make a sale. As a jeweler, I can't yell to folks 3 stands down, yet they effectively are... Some stands now have music blaring that can be heard a dozen booths away. I recently had the pleasure of being 50 feet from a lolly-pop vendor recently that probably violated local noise ordinances with their same 4 songs all day. It was very loud and intended to be heard from many stands away for the purpose of attracting attention. That is beyond having stand theme music. Others should not hear your noise from 2 stands away without straining to listen. Anything more is obnoxious and unwanted by the rest of us. Please have some consideration for those around you at shows.
Know where your P's are! Porta Potty Placement is Primary! You want them visible, why should every leaking sap have to hunt or ask? Do not place them around a corner, around a corner, & down the block. Don't hide them behind your shed. Instead, place them next to it, but facing away, so all can SEE them from the event. They also should be placed away from vendor booths, especially if you are ordering less than you should, and end up with lines. Angle the doors so as to face away from vendors - Consider that the 50 feet in front of your johns may see lots of folks standing around looking pissed, looking to .... This will disrupt customer traffic flow past such an area. They should be inspected hourly for cleanliness and paper!