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Simple versus inexpensive

I was teaching a class at the Small Business Development Center today and one of my students approached me during the break to ask about trade show displays.  She exhibits as gift type fairs and wanted a display that was easy to transport and use at indoors and outdoor events.  While I would love to produce a list of a dozen different options, reality is no such display actually exists.

Building a display for both indoor and outdoor events are a liability situation.  Making something that is heavy enough to NOT blow over in the wind yet light enough to easily move creates a potential for people getting hurt.  Pop-up displays have 78 square feet of surface area and are VERY susceptible to gentle winds knocking them over.  While popups are light weight and not very likely to hurt someone, they are very likely to damage adjacent exhibits and thus become a liability.

This leaves exhibitors who also show products at their events to their own devices.  More often than not the exhibitors get a hold of grid wire panels (typically used in retail establishments).  While these are very effective for showcasing product, they are very heavy and awkward to setup.

Popup display frames can sometimes be used to hang and showcase product, but they are only good for a dozen or fewer display items.  If you have a large number of items to showcase, grid wall panels are your best option, especially since they usualy can be purchased for about $30 per grid panel (typically 24″ x 84″).

If your display products are long and bulky, you might consider PVC piping. PVC pipe can use built to act as a free standing display stand and even painted or graphically wrapped.  With slip on PVC fittings, your full height display column can be broken down to fit in to the trunk of a small car.  By drilling holes in the PVC pipe, you can use wire hangers to display your product.  You can connect a larger diameter pipe section to the base and fill with sand to help keep the display unit standing in moderate winds.  The best part is PVC piping is very inexpensive, easy to service and replacement parts are available everywhere.  No getting stranded because one part breaks!

My point is trade show displays need not cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.  By being creative and using common hardware store items, you can create an attractive trade show display that can be used in any venue.  While I would love to sell you an expensive display, in many cases the best solution is more affordable from your local hardware store.

Ed Bejarana

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