Portable Shelving for Craft Shows

Craft show displays need to not only look amazing but be easy to load, unload and then set up.  A lot of us do craft fairs on our own or have smaller vehicles etc.  Also, the ever decreasing space sizes mean building your space up is not only recommended but necessary for most of us. Here are some ideas for portable shelving for craft shows.

Of course, there are a lot of clever DIY ideas out there if you’re handy and I’ve included some images and tutorials in this post.  If however, you don’t have the time or energy or just need something convenient and ready to go, I’ve also shared some of my own collapsible retail displays.

Winter Display

For our winter displays last year, I used wine crates.  I decoupaged a nice fabric in the back, stained the crate and added a shelf.  It looked great and served a dual purpose. I was able to carry my soaps, lotion bars and scrubs in the display units.

I placed matching stained boards across the shelves to build height and create more display space.  It looked really nice and it was extremely portable and easy to set up.  You can’t see the shelf really in this image because I have it covered with a Christmas snow cover, but anyway…  It’s simple, it works and it’s easy.

This was a single table display for a 4-hour show – so I wasn’t going to get too carried away :).  In four hours I made 300 dollars because I was one of only a few who had height, line, and dimension(depth) in my display.  It really does make a difference.

Other ideas I’ve seen that would be similar and more flexible are the slatted crates that you can stick wood between to make shelves of different heights.

This tutorial is for a set of shelves you can screw into the wall, so that won’t work for a portable display, but you could get some velcro strips to may help hold them, or I would personally use dark zip ties that you can hide.

Put them into shapes like this (see the squares) and put two squares on your table.  It provides line, height and dimension – all are important to drawing the eye in and making an appealing display.

You can buy crates like this at Michaels and they run 15 to 20 dollars or so.  They sometimes have them at hardware stores and big box stores for around the same range.  The less expensive ones I’ve found are often very rough so you’ll need to spend some time working on them to sand them down.

If you have an electric sander it’s not difficult at all, sanding by hand can be tedious.

You can also find these crates online. I personally love the Etsy ones below.  They are genuine fruit crates and you can order them finished or unfinished.  Each one is a bit different, but similar enough to create a great rustic display.

rustic crates on Etsy


Risers are another great way to make good use of space and add visual interest.  There are of course tons of ways to create tiered looks and DIY displays.  We have used simple stained plywood planks on bed risers and they look really sharp.  These are not collapsible however and do take up more space for transport and even on our table tops.

Here is a really good tutorial that shows you how to make risers (non-collapsible).  If you have the transport space, these are extremely simple to build – and you can even have Home Depot cut down your wood for you for free.  You can also purchase collapsible risers.

Collapsible Display Ideas

This is a must for those of us who travel in smaller vehicles to events.  I drive a Kia Soul, and while it’s quite roomy for a small car, I have to make every inch of space count when traveling to various events.  For example, I use a flat-bed dolly that collapses flat – easy to travel with and works great.

If  you’re handy, try your hand at building your own.  There are some good tutorials listed below.  If you prefer an affordable item you can purchase, check out this fully collapsible (and lovely) display shelf from Amazon.

collapsible shelf for craft shows

DIY Collapsible Shelf Tutorials

This is definitely a project best suited to those with experience in DIY projects and a massive supply of power tools, but they look great!

The A Frame Shelf is much easier and can be done with a simple ladder and boards, or you can make one to give it a more polished look.   The image below links to plans and a tutorial on how to build one.

how to build a collapsible A frame shelf

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to find or create craft fair displays that are more portable and help you make the best use of your space, both in your vehicle and in your booth!

Happy Crafting!


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Comments 2

  • If you will be using a 6′ or longer table, there is a folding bench at CostCo that makes a decent shelf. Easy to set up and take down, and doesn’t take up much room in the car. About $25. Used one for my Comic Con Art Show table, the past couple of years.

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