This week we're still talking walls. Here is a brief history of the walls I've used in the past.
In 2008, my first year exhibiting, I used burlap fabric. Burlap became my first choice because of it's price and I love the way it looks. I have always loved the way that crisp, modern, bright stationery looks against a natural looking fiber. Maybe you got that from the images. This look cost about $100 in fabric plus shipping to NYC. It was super easy to install and we were set up in no time. The drawbacks were that everything had to be suspended from the pipes because you cannot hang shelves on fabric. I'm pretty sure that I shipped the fabric back home but I don't think I ever used it again before discarding it.
In 2010, my second year exhibiting, I paid for the foam core walls from Manny Stone. They installed them for me and so you would think that install would be a cinch, but not so. I wanted to cover the top half of the walls with this "grass cloth" that I purchased at Ikea. And then I wanted to make it look more like a real wall so I added molding. The walls from Manny Stone are about $1100 if you order in time to get the early bird special and choose white board. The "grass cloth" and molding plus paint and nails were roughly $100. So while this year was much more expensive, I didn't really think that the look achieved was worth it. I wasn't able to re-use any of it and the foam core walls weren't as great as I though they would be. They look very sturdy but they weren't.
In 2011, my third year of exhibiting, I covered insulation board with burlap fabric. My booth neighbor in 2010, The Life Imagined, used insulation board so I thought I would try it. I ordered the boards from Lowe's and had them delivered to the show on Saturday. I had already prepared the panels of burlap to be the perfect size to wrap around the panels.
This worked pretty well. I didn't get the insulation board that I was expecting, it was silver and shiny and I was expecting the pink stuff. So we tried to remove the silver because we thought it would show through the burlap and it's loose weave but apparently the silver stuff gave the boards their rigidity. Long story short, we left the silver on and had to do a little patch work to make everything work. The other variable that really gave us trouble was that our booth was not the size we ordered. And them's the breaks, sometimes the booths aren't perfect and it throws a wrench in the carefully thought out plan you have. These walls were $100 for fabric and $300 for the insulation but I did not take them with me. The last thing I want to mention about these walls is that Lowe's was wonderful to work with. They delivered the panels from a warehouse in New Jersey on time and were very communicative during the entire process.
Also in 2011, I exhibited at the Gift Show in Atlanta. Now this is a completely different situation because I live in Atlanta and the logistics were somewhat easier. I purchased the pink insulation board from my home depot up the road, painted them white and attached them with zip ties. Sounds easy right? I have learned in 4 trade shows that nothing is ever easy. The boards are 4x8' so I had to rent a pick up truck to transport them from Home Depot to my house: $20. I had to purchase the boards and paint: $100. I also had to rent another truck to transport all of my items to the warehouse where they keep everything until show time when they deliver it to your booth: $50. Due to poor planning and packing, the white paint peeled off some of the panels so I ended up covering them with "grass cloth" from Ikea. I was pleased with the overall look and have considered this for NSS too.
Lastly, I do have an idea for next year. I am thinking about making canvas panels. This would mean stretching a canvas like you would to make a canvas for art. Then I could paint them any color/design I want. They would be relatively light and easy to ship and I would use them over and over again. You'll be the first to know if I make the final decision!