You plan and perfect your product. You plan and perfect your display. All that planning can be for nothing if you don’t take some thought to safety and protection from the elements. You just never know when the wind or the rain will interrupt a perfectly good event. You never know when a gust or storm will hit you. When I first started vending I didn’t know any of this. I learned pretty fast that my set-up had flaws. I had an old cheap canopy with no weights. I lost it within the first month. I had lessons to learn. If you’re ever going to be outside, make sure you have a decent canopy. Most places offer a 10 foot by 10 foot space so it is best to invest in at least one. The good ones are a more expensive for sure, but they will hold up over time and be worth your investment. When I look for a canopy, I check out those recommended for vendors rather that those for the occasional backyard party. I often have to put the canopy up by myself, so I have to watch weight and ease of set-up. I prefer the ones that have support across the center, a vented top and will accommodate walls. Do research before you invest.
Even the best canopy will not stand up to the wind if it isn’t weighted down. I have seen too many canopies lost when a burst of wind picked them up and knocked them over. Weights are essential! You can purchase weights that are made specifically for canopies, or you make them yourself. I have seen them made from sand bags, coffee cans filled with cement, gallon bottles filled with water, cinder blocks, filled PVC pipe or just about anything you can think of. Weights that hang from the top part of the frame can be more effective as long they don’t swing. Here is some things to think about when putting together your weights. Are they heavy enough to hold the canopy down in the wind? Are they unsightly and detract from your display and product? More importantly, do they present a tripping hazard for those that come into or by your booth? I started with sand bags tied to the frame and have upgraded to commercial made ones because they are easier for me to handle by myself. WEIGHTS ARE ESSENTIAL!
The next lesson I learned was that table covers flap around in the wind and knock things off the table. They need to be secured down. I use a large cloth and tailor it to exactly fit over the table down to the ground. It still flaps around in the wind, but not up where the product is. Other vendors us clips, tape, heavy or weighted fabric. It certainly helps to think about how to keep a table cover in its place.
Table covers aren’t the only problem in the wind. A bigger problem is your product. Anything light weight, like my gourds, are in danger of blowing off the table and breaking, getting scuffed or getting dirty. After a few events of chasing my gourds all over, I learned by lesson and started duct taping them down. That worked. I’ve since gotten better display pieces that protect my gourds. Each vendor has unique issues of keeping their product safe from the wind. Some use cases, baskets, boards, boxes, racks, bungee cords or weights. Everyone needs to figure this out for themselves. I hope you are smarter than me and think this through before you go out to vend.
Canopy walls are great in a mild to moderate wind. They work as a wind break as long as the canopy has good weights on it. They are also great to protect from the sun or the rain. But, (you know there’s always a ‘but’) in a strong wind they work like the sails on a boat. If the wind gets really bad, take those walls down.
I speak from experience here. Just this last season, I put curtains across the back of my booth as a back drop and attached them to the table covers. A giant wind gust came out of nowhere and within seconds I was a disaster. The canopy shifted, even with weights. Because I attached the backdrop to the table cover it knocked over the tables and everything on them landed on the ground. Thank goodness for helpful hands. I was able to get the curtains down and everything back in place after a slight melt-down hiding in my car to get my cool back. Another lesson learned. I shutter thinking of the lessons still in store for me.