Tips & Tricks: Set Up

Hey guys! I am back with another Tips & Tricks post. Today we’re going to talk about Set Up. Something I believe influences the customers decision to buy just as much as the quality and variety of your product. I’ve mentioned a couple of times in other Blog Posts about the dangers of what I like to call the Fast Food Window of Doom and how I think it has a negative impact on how customers perceive your product but I’ve never gone more in depth about it.

Everyone has been to a convention where they see this:

The wire crate windows of DOOM!

Or This:

The Wall ‘O Art

Or This:

Artist Sitting
There’s a table under there… maybe…

These are all pretty ineffective ways of displaying your wares and by extension yourself but for this post I’m going to focus on the First Image. The Wire Crate Window of Doom! There is nothing that turns me off faster as a consumer than the Fast Food Window. It’s usually bogged down with every piece of inventory the vendor has to offer and if there’s any category system at all it still impedes the customers view of the vendor and the vendors ability to interact with the customer. Since you are your most important advocate you have got to be able to interact with the customer. You cannot just sit and wait (Or in many cases sit and play on your phone/draw/felt/ fill in the blank). There are dozens of other vendors and Artists and many of them are up on their feet and hawking their wares. They call out to the customer, they advocate their product, they extol the many virtues of their product over those of the vendor ten feet away.

As Vendors and Artists at Anime and Comic Conventions we are in a very competitive market, we’re all competing for a very limited resource, other peoples money so we have got to bring our A Game. And one of the simplest ways to do that is by showcasing your wares in an attractive eye catching manner. You can do this a lot of different ways:




Standing Displays:

Just to name a handful. If you look at the Second picture that my display. Its one of a handful of formats we use to show off our products while still letting us have a clear field of vision to advocate our products.

Our business employs a strategy I like to call Mountain and Valley with our products to showcase them. We put the items that are least expensive that we want to sell the most of in the lower center, the ‘Valley’ People usually gravitate towards the center and studies have shown that most consumers will purchase the first thing their eyes land on, or their hands so long as it’s within their budget so we put the things we know most people can afford easily in the center, things under $10. To the sides, the ‘Mountains’ we put our more expensive items but we raise them up to eye level. This maximizes the impact on the consumer and it’s usually the second place they look after the Valley. We sprinkle less expensive items across the table and we have zones for specific products, like all our Harry Potter Products are on the right side of the photo. And most of our products does not sit directly on the table. Make use of your vertical space! Your table is a 3D space. You have 3 feet of width, usually 6 feet of length and up to 4 feet of height. Use it all!

Our Robcon Setup! Doesn’t Tracey look sweet?

And we Do Not Sit! Ok that’s not 100% true, we do sit in shifts if there are two of us… or at the end of an 8 hour day but if a customer approaches our table or we see one walk within two feet of our table we are up on our feet and talking to them. I understand some people have back of leg problems and have to sit. That’s fine, but get a tall stool to sit on so you are elevated above table level. We’ve started doing this just to reduce the back strain from standing on hard floors for 8 plus hours a day added to the incorrect footwear of most of our costumes. See it’s not just your products you’re displaying, you’re showing off yourself too, you’ve put hours of time and effort and hopes and dreams into your product and that deserves some showing off too.

My partner and I almost always wear some kind of costume to these conventions for a handful of reasons;
1: It makes people feel more comfortable, a lot of con goers cosplay but it can make you feel self conscious, seeing the vendor in costume too gives the customer a sense of security ‘They won’t judge me, look what they’re wearing.’
2: It gives you something in common with the customer. You can compliment a customer on their cosplay which makes them feel more inclined to come over and start talking about their cosplay and it’s only natural to look at and handle the merchandise while they’re there.
3: It’s just plain fun! And in some cases you pull of the costume so well it draws customers to you just because you look so awesome. My girl Tracey cosplays as Grell from Black Butler and she’s so spot on people come to the dealers room just to see her and they usually end up buying something.

Though this Sebastian is giving her a run for her money

Experiment with your set up, mess around with baskets and racks. Tinker with unconventional displays. I’ve met a lovely couple who make jewelry and they display it on a set of louvered shutters which adds a touch of old world charm to their beautiful jewelry. And keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to the display formula for every convention. We’ve been to 46 conventions in two years and we’ve had probably 30 different set ups, flexibility is key. Sometimes we’ve added a product and need to find a new way to show it off or other times we’ve discontinued a product and the basket it rested in gets set aside for another day but we do try to keep human nature in mind when we set up displays. I’ve done a lot of research into how large chain stores set up their stores to maximize profits and I’ll be posting some links at the bottom of this post for your enjoyment but keep in mind that what works for everyone else might not work for you so don’t take it as gospel. Experiment, tinker and have fun!

Yes I know these are from which is a humor site but I’ve tried a lot of these and they work.



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