Booth Evolution 2022


As Quilt Shows slowly start coming back on line after the LONG pandemic shutdown, it’s worth noting that when the closing bell rang at the conclusion of the 2022 AQS Paducah show, we signified that we have completed a decade & a half of trade shows.


It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for 15 full years! It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were nervously planning for our first Quilt Market in 2008, but in that length of time we’ve traveled and vended at 17 Markets and 29 separate retails shows. Our travels have taken us to the various corners of the US and many places in between… Pittsburgh PA, the Los Angeles area, Daytona Beach FL, Portland OR, Minneapolis MN, Lancaster PA, Hampton VA, Paducah KY, Kansas City MO, Salt Lake City UT, and of course Houston, TX.

So as 15 years of trade shows comes to a close, I thought it might be fun and about time to do another Booth Evolution post! Let’s look in our rear view mirror & see how our booth layout has evolved since the Spring of 2008 when we traveled to Portland, Oregon for our very first Quilt Market. (Then we’ll look forward to how our booth “look” might change as we head to Houston at the end of this month!)

Portland- Spring Market 2008 (above)– We arrived in Portland wide-eyed and naive. It’s almost impossible to believe but at this point but we actually packed everything we needed to set up our half-booth display in just 2 suitcases and carried it back and forth on the airplane with us! However, now that I look at this picture a little closer, maybe I can see why! 🙂
And as bare bones as this booth display was, we basically stayed with this configuration for two more Markets (in Houston ’08 & Pittsburgh ’09), when we reluctantly admitted that we simply needed more room!
Studio Kat Designs
Studio Kat Designs
Houston, Fall 2011 (above)– For this Market we added a few posters to our display as well as two counter-height tables and placed one each corner of our display. This added quite a big of extra surface area which was a good thing, because we never would have had room to debut our new Notions Line if we hadn’t.
The only thing is, I wasn’t crazy about how the tall table hid a substantial part of the low tier of sample bags, so even though we kept this basic configuration, I fooled around with various small changes in Kansas City ’12 & Portland ’13, but here’s the deal, we knew we had to make some BIG changes in our display before returning to Houston in the Fall since we were seriously considering staying on for the Quilt Festival, the weekend after Market. YIKES!
Houston, Fall 2014 (above)– This was our the very first time that we stayed for the Quilt festival following Quilt Market and it was SO scary! We added some colorful posters, along with more notions stands to handle our ever-growing zipper & hardware selection plus… we changed the floorplan again. The post show verdict?— This layout worked OK but…. we had VERY little room to function behind the counter. As a matter of fact, after living in such tight quarters for 8 show days, it was a wonder we were still speaking to each other on the flight back home.
Additionally, we were starting to question whether our revolving carousels were the best way to display our ever-growing zipper & hardware line. The carousels seem crowded and since at any given time, half of our products are facing AWAY from our customers, so we’ll try to come up with a better option!

Houston, Fall 2015– As you can see, not only did we expand to a THREE-tier bag display, but this time we left our revolving carousels home, opting to upgrade to a 6′ by 6′ gridwall for our zippers & hardware AND patterns. It also provided us with some nifty signage opportunities.

This proved to be a VERY effective layout for us (plus we had the added bonus of lots of behind-the-counter space), so we stayed with this configuration with only minor modifications well into 2017. When we suffered the theft of one of our Walkabout Wallet samples at the 2016 AQS Paducah show, we started researching ways in which we could keep our valuable samples secure, but still allow our customers to be able to handle them.

Which brings us to the AQS Daytona show in March ’17… If you look closely at the bag display area (above), you’ll see that we added 5 grid boxes to which we proceeded to secure our bags with spring cords. This seemed like a perfect solution for us because it kept our samples secure yet still totally accessible for our customers to handle and inspect.

And here’s the deal… I enjoyed using the grid boxes SO much that that made me wonder… What if I stacked these boxes TALLER so we could display our bags on TOP of them and in FRONT of them as we did in the picture above, but with room in between these two areas for our patterns to be displayed WITH the bags and who knows… maybe even with some notions?

So I decided to go ALL IN with grid boxes for the Quilt Market & Festival in Houston in the Fall of 2017! Yep, we built those boxes 3 tall front table and all the way down the side area to the back wall of our booth. This allowed for us to place bags both on top of the boxes AND in front of them.
Additionally ,the other BIG change we made for this show was that we ditched the tall, white grid iron walls for our zippers and notions in favor of even MORE grid boxes (3 boxes wide by 3 boxes tall). I like this look better than the tall, white grid walls. It’s a FAR more cohesive look than anything we’ve accomplished so far, BUT… I wasnt particularly crazy about how part of the zipper area was technically within the confines of our booth interior for a LOT of reasons.
The down side? All these grid boxes (and there was THIRTY of them) took forever to put together and take down!)
Our booth at conventions
So by the International Quilt Market & Festival in 2018, I had made two pretty big changes. First, I cut down the height of these boxes along the side table area to only 1 box. This still left me the option of displaying bag samples on top of the grid boxes, but not so much in front of them, which meant that the bag sample area at the front of my booth was a bit congested.
And I wrapped some of the zippers around the corner to the front of the display which was definitely less “deep” into our booth interior, which was good but there always seemed to be so many people shopping there that it kept me from gettig out from behind the counter to straighten up or restock critical items. On the positive side though, there were fewer gird boxes (only 24) to assemble which pleased the hubby.
Houston market booth
So as you can see, when we got to Houston in 2019, I made a HUGE change and moved the zipper display so it was completely integrated into the exterior area of my booth (but still utilized 24 grid boxes). Another big change: you might notice that there are basically NO individual hardware items and that’s because for the very first time, we started selling pre-packaged hardware kits (that were kept behind the counter).
The advantage? It greatly speeds up the checkout process for our customers since we no longer have to help them find all the hardware items they need for each pattern, AND… we’re able to discount the hardware kits, which our customers appreciate! You might also notice that we starting experimenting a bit with hanging some of our bag samples from the overhead cross bars!
Here’s the way our booth looked at the Road2Ca show in 2022 where we made a MONSTER change! That’s because for the 1st time we left the majority of the grid boxes at home in favor of four 2ft grid walls set up on the table. They’re SO much easier and faster to set up with the added advantage of leaving a LOT of extra room in front of them for bag samples (even in the zipper area).
We still set up a few grid boxes (only 5) for the side area and for the very first time we made FULL use of the overhead cross bars which allowed us to showcase even more of our samples which gives our customers the benefit of seeing our designs in more than one colorway.
A store

So… will this be the last incarnation of our booth.? That answer would almost certainly be NO! I’m constantly changing and tweeking our set up. We’ll probably stick with this arrangement for another show or two, but don’t be surprised if we make another significant change by the time we get to Houston this Fall and our first Quilt Market since the Fall of 2019! Will we see YOU there?

And now its YOUR turn….

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip down memory lane! Do you have a particular booth display that you liked better than any other? Or do you have any suggestions as to how we can improve upon our display? If so, please feel free to leave your questions and/or comments in the space provided below!

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  1. Nina Palmer on October 4, 2022 at 9:09 am

    I think solid black tablecloths would make your items show off better. has good deals on them.

    Have you tried the “Z” set up? I’m in a vendor group that this is very popular since gives more display / access space.

    I hate those wire cubes also! Even using zip ties still awful to put together.

    • Kat on October 4, 2022 at 11:14 am

      Thanks for commenting Nina, and I understand what youre saying, but solid colors usually require a good deal of ironing and I cant abide that. The batik tends to conceal and normal wrinkling that takes place in storage and shipment. And I’m not sure what the “Z” set up is…..