I love a good retail display. As a young girl, I was a big fan of a store in my little town of Yreka, California, named Directions. There was a lady there by the name of Yoni who would create really great window displays that I would just stop and stare at. Later, in high school, she visited my home economics class to talk about the art of the window display and it had a big impact on me. I would practice with my own window displays at The SecondHand Rose where my mom worked. I guess it’s pretty simple to explain. You can pile things up or slap everything out on a table that you’d like to sell, or you can create a display that is interesting and catches the eye. In the world of selling antiques and special handmade items, why spend all the time acquiring, fixing, building, creating, only to sell yourself short when it comes to selling the product?
This year at The Farm Chicks Fair, I had a few minutes before the show opened to zip around and capture a few of the displays. When you visit the show, it’s easy to forget that when each Curator arrives, they have a certain pre-assigned size square, most with no walls, and nothing but a concrete floor. Some bring in pre-built walls, backdrops, and structures, and others take what inventory they have and just go at it. It’s really inspiring to watch what each person creates, and I believe really inspiring for the shoppers as well!
Height is key. When building a display, most often, you don’t want it to be flat (I’ll show some exceptions when it does work, later in this post). This Curator, Farm Salvation, has massive amounts of big, medium, and small items to work with. She’s done a great job building a nice big center display piece that she can just keep packing with finds.
Curator, Fun Junk, has massive amounts of mostly small items (smalls) and it makes sense for her to have tables that she can load with the different collections. But rather than just throw them all down and call it good, she adds interest to her backdrop by stacking crates and filling each one with like objects:
Her space is all about layers and layers of neutral finds and creations:
The Salty Bison team makes and sells signs. LOTS of them. Again, this is a time when a flat display makes sense. In this case, a great gallery wall, flanked by a bookcase. But notice the interest they've added: bold black & white striped wall, peachy painted bookcase, string bulbs. It feels fresh!
Bird Bird Bird's space is on a wall and rather than leave that wall space blank and dull, he's added great interest with a massive old advertisement and flags. I like that he has open cabinet doors and tilted up items. By doing this, it subconsciously welcomes each shopper into his space without him having to say a word. Open doors are welcoming.
Unexpected Necessities is out in the middle of the floor and needs to create a separation of space. They use a simple quilt backdrop that is indicative of their style: soft, girly, and playful. Their display style is classic: take the big pieces you have and build up. Object upon object. Again, height is key to catching your attention. Imagine if all of these items weren't stacked:
This Curator has done a great job of grouping like objects. In this case, beachy items:
Something I really enjoy about Atelier de Campagne is although their European items are chipped and worn (just as we like them!), they're displayed almost with a gallery feel. It's completely appropriate for what they're selling and creates what I like to call a "special moment" in display:
The Farm Chicks Vintage & Handmade Fair is held the first full weekend in June each year in Spokane, Washington and features more than 75,000 square feet of antiques, vintage, and handcrafted goods. I call it the happiest event on earth.
You can find more pictures of past displays at The Farm Chicks Fair here.
Stay-at-home mom, Serena Thompson, dreamed of creating a fun and happy little event to sell her vintage and handmade goods. In 2002, she and some friends held the first event in her neighbor’s barn. The sale became wildly popular and began attracting visitors from across the country and recognition in national magazines. Today the event fills the Spokane County Fairgrounds and features hundreds of creatively and carefully curated spaces filled with vintage and handmade goods. Many describe it as a bucket list event, magical, inspirational, and the best vintage & handmade fair in the country. Serena describes it as the happiest on earth.