Hey this is my second art fair and I need a tent and some walls. I look online and can't seem to justify spending $700-$1,000 on three walls for one show. I have looked at EZ-UP tents and looked into mesh/grid walls which are heavy and cheap(er) than paneling. 

Does anyone have a gently used tent and walls I can either buy or rent from you? The show is July 17-20 and is in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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  • Go to Sam's Club and get the EZ-Up. It comes with side tarps, awning, feet plates, sand bags, and a rolling case for under $200. Invest in several cans of seam sealer and work on every where there is a stitched seam.

    The cheap alternative for extra weights are concrete blocks that are flat on the ends, which are a little heavier and look better. Paint them with white primer for a better look. Sit them on top of the feet plates that come with the tent and make sure they're secured so any high winds don't move the legs away from the blocks. You should be able to figure it out okay.

    The grid panels will work. If you get the Sta-Bars from Flourish, get the upper and lower sets and you could use those to zip tie the panels about a foot and a half above the ground and have a nice looking presentation.

    Since you starting from scratch, and keeping it on the inexpensive side, the grid panels and Sta-Bars are a good idea. Integrate everything to keep it simple and reliable. Take the concrete blocks and use Liquid Nails to glue a board, 2x8x16, on top of the open side of the block. This becomes your base for the feet. Use an electic drill to screw in some 1 1/2 inch lag screws. Each of these blocks weighs about 40-45 pounds, so the tent isn't going to land in Kansas when the wind blows, and the Sta-Bars will keep it from twisting in the wind.

    Measure about 8 more inches above the tent feet and use a Sharpie marker to make a mark around each leg, then go up 6 more feet and make another set of marks so you know where to place the Sta-Bars to line up with the grid panels. Piece of cake; keep it simple and easy.
  • Try calling some small art show organizers. We have one way down here (too far to help you) who keeps a bunch of extra stuff in their garage for artists in a pinch. Also, many shows give you the option of renting a tent from them if you ask early enough. They set it up, take it down so life is easy. One big promoter down here rents them for only $50 a show. I paid $125 a show when I first started to rent a tent from a company that did the same thing -- I wasn't sure then whether I really wanted to do a lot of show.

  • Cheaper than what?

    Buying a tent from Amazon means you can't return it if it gets damaged. Better to purchase from Sam's Club or Costco. Then get a set of 2x6 grid walls from a display company to hang your work on. Upgrade them next time you get into a show.

    Larry Berman

  • I'm sure I can find a cheaper tent on Amazon or eBay, but I'm more concerned about the walls. My options are:

    -Make my own walls

    -Rent 3 walls from a local artist

    -Purchase cheaper grid walls

    -Suck it up and pay for paneling (last resort)

  • What's your plan B, because you're probably going to need it. Busiest art show weekend of the year so chances are you're not going to find anyone local to Ann Arbor not using their display - and willing to rent it.

    I live in Pittsburgh and rent my Pro Panels for local shows but wouldn't think of renting my canopy.

    You might be able to rent a tent from a local rental agency but I've never seen a rental tent that is translucent. They are usually opaque and are too dark for art shows, unless the show give you the option of having electricity.

    Good luck.

    Larry Berman

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