Prepping for the Show : The Booth

Designing It and Building It

The standard booth you receive consists of just pipe and drape. It looks like this:

Sarah Marie Booth 1

Most people dress this up by bringing in their own drapes, and/or their own furniture and accessories.

You can also use resources through NSS to design and build your booth, like Manny Stone, a company that can build virtually anything for you out of foam core. You can also rent carpet and furniture through Freeman. This is what the majority of exhibitors do, since most people are coming from other states, don’t want to store a booth for the next year, and don’t want to deal with the designing and building of the booth themselves.

Brooke, from Simple Terms, exhibited right across the aisle from us, and she used Manny Stone to build her booth and the shelves for her back wall:

Simple Terms Booth

Because I worked as an interior designer before starting Sarah Marie, I was really looking forward to designing our little booth. I was also lucky that my boyfriend has a degree in technical theatre, and builds sets for Broadway shows. We had a lot of unique resources in this area of planning for the show, and we definitely took advantage of that.

I started designing the booth at the same time I was designing our line of products. I knew I wanted it to look like a small boutique, like what I would design if we had a retail space. I limited the design to three colors; teal, white, and grey. Having a focused color palette really helped to unify the space, and because we only had 80 sq. ft. to work with, this was even more important. Because we really didn’t have a lot of product, I wanted to minimize the amount of useable wall space we had in order to make it look like we had more than we did; I achieved this by putting a white wainscot on all three walls of the booth.

This is a 3d rendering I did of our booth in 3D Studio Max, a modeling program I used back in my interior design days:

Sarah Marie Booth 3D Rendering

And here are pictures of the final booth:

Sarah Marie Finished Booth 1
Sarah Marie Finished Booth 2
Sarah Marie Finished Booth 3

We bought the table from for $100. I saw a similar table at West Elm for over $300, so shopping around is definitely worth it. The rug was our most expensive purchase, around $400 from CB2, but we’re using it again next year, so the overall price is about the same as it would’ve been to rent a carpet through Freeman. All of the shelves are either from Ikea (the Lack wall shelf) or West Elm (the white picture ledge), and the wrapping paper is being displayed on towel bars from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The chairs were also from Ikea, the Gilbert, for $50 each. We had our Sarah Marie logo laser-cut from 3/8″acrylic by Mr. Sign in New York.

Transportation & Storage

If you had a booth built for you, the setup is minimal. You just show up on your designated load-in day (typically 2-4 days before the show), and the union guys put up your booth for you. Then you have the rest of the day to put up any accessories you may have.

We brought in the components of our booth on a U-Haul truck, the union guys unloaded it and took it to our booth space, and my boyfriend and his friend put the walls up. Make sure you read your contract for the union labor rules about setup and breakdown, there are certain things you are not allowed to do, and you will get fined for breaking the rules. In general, you can’t use any power tools, or stand on a ladder or table.

Other Factors to Consider

Lighting is more important than you think, we initially did not purchase electricity for the booth because we thought the lights from the Javits Center would be enough. We realized how wrong we were during booth setup, and had to pay an extra fee for day-of setup. I highly recommend pre-purchasing electricity or one of the lighting packages through the show.


The design of the booth is very important, it’s the first impression buyers have of your brand, and it’s important for it to be consistent with your products. We were complimented numerous times on the design of our booth by both buyers and other exhibitors (so much so that I think we should start another company focusing on booth design!), and I think it’s safe to say that the clean, professional design of our booth is what lured hesitant buyers in. Looking professional and well-organized is especially important for the first-time exhibitor.

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5 comments on “Prepping for the Show : The Booth

  1. Jessica Hood commented //

    The booth is gorgeous! Love the utilization of towel racks.

  2. kelly commented //

    Very good insight into the booths. Never knew that a small space can still look neat and attractive! 🙂

  3. Jason Thompson commented //

    Your booth is beautiful and thanks for taking the time to write down your experiences. Jason

  4. Pingback: Prepping for the Show : Reprise

  5. Kelly Reif commented //

    I know this is an old posting, but I found it online and I love the design. Are the walls actual drywall or what are they made of?

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