Constance Mettler

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

We just purchased a 5x8 enclosed trailer. Yay!! How do you all organize your trailers?

Did you install any special racking system to corral your bins? Or do you just use a bungee cable and attach them to the wall?

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Chuck, your experience with the smaller trailer is EXACTLY why we went with the same size you ended up with.  John decided at the last minute to upgrade the 6x12 single axle, brakes added to it.  I told dh that he would be sorry if we did not go with a 6' high interior because he is 5'11".  I told him he would not want to work hunched over all the time.  We have never regretted having this size in the year we have had it. 

With some of the great bin ideas, I see for the trailers, I wonder of one drawback...

With all the bins, the only option is to transport bins 4 times. 1)Into show, 2)back to trailer during setup, 3) back to show, 4) Back to trailer for breakdown and pack.

By making the storage places properly and efficient, within the trailer, wouldn't it make it easier and more efficient to work without the bins?

The multi trip - first scenario would be better, if it is a situation of carting being required. However in a trailer in - dump your stuff - trailer out - then setup. Reverse for breakdown scenario, wouldn't the binless design be more efficient.

Drawback of second scenario being the double work of repacking in the trailer.

Which is better?

Thanks for all of the detailed responses and photos!! This is all very helpful and gives me some ideas.

I've been packing everything into a Dodge Journey along with my dh and sometimes 2 kids. When the kids ride I add a small cargo basket to the back of the car (they enjoy the fresh air).

We have an ez up tent that's bagged, mesh walls that are bagged, and the mesh wall poles; 2-4 chairs, 1 folding table, a 3-drawer sterilite "bagging station" that holds all the miscellaneous stuff like bags, signs, table cloths, clamps, pens, business cards, etc. Our art is unframed on wood panel (read heavy) ranging from 12x12 to 12x48. It fits in 3-4 medium size bins and 1 long "under bed" bin. We have 3 plastic shoe bins for tile coasters. Now with the extra space we'll be able to carry some of our larger 36x36 pieces.

Larry I like your idea of making your own storage bags, especially for the larger pieces. I'll have to look into that.

My thought is if I have a larger trailer I'll end up carrying more stuff. We got a great deal on the trailer. Maybe it's 5x10 not sure, that's my husbands department. It's tall enough for him to stand up in and small enough for me back  up:) For $1500 it fit the bill and it looks brand new.

Starting in September we have 10 shows scheduled. Our set up is an hour to hour and a half. I hate having to load and unload the car into the storage shed for every show. I'll be glad to have the free space to move around in the shed now.

Sherry, when we started doing shows back in the spring of 2013, we packed everything in a GMC Acadia.  Tent, product, all supplies needed and 3 people--dh, dd, and myself.   It was packed to the gills for sure.  Then we graduated to a new to us Suburban.  When I added upcycled,  painted furniture, the Burb was not sufficient any longer.  We still have it, and use it to pull the trailer.

I have also considered the route of another vehicle. Sprinter or other. However I'm too frugal (cheap) to spend for acquisition, insurance, registration etc. lots of benefits for the extra vehicle - lots of extra costs.

So trailer it is. Also like the idea of being able to leave it at the location and travel around without the gear.

Just let your husband take care of it.  You can spend your time looking pretty and attracting patrons to your booth.

In thinking about organizing your trailer, one other important consideration is safety, particularly weight and weight distribution.  For example, it may be tempting to store your poles on a high shelf, but that raises the center of gravity and makes rollover more likely.  My poles weigh 190 pounds, one of the heaviest items in my trailer.

It may be tempting to store your weights and batteries either all the way forward or aft in your trailer.  But both positions could affect the handling of your rig by overly increasing or decreasing the tongue weight, which could result in trailer sway and disaster as the trailer suddenly takes over control of your rig with potentially lethal results.    Also, plywood boxes, poles, weights, batteries, and inventory add up more quickly than one might think, potentially exceeding the maximum weight that the trailer axle, tires, hitch, ball, or tow vehicle are designed to carry.  So that is something to keep a keen eye on as well.

The ideal place to store all heavy contents is low and centered either directly on top of the axle, or slightly forward of it.  So that is the ideal location for poles, batteries, and weights. (I know – you wanted to save that area for your center aisle …).  You also need to pay attention to whether all of your heavy items are on one side of the trailer.  If so, even if you are not overloading the trailer as a whole, you may be overloading one of the tires with the result of faster wear or even a blowout.

A couple of posters mentioned adding brakes to their trailers, which I discovered is not difficult to do if you are somewhat mechanically inclined.  This is particularly a good idea with tow vehicles that have integrated brake controllers and a sway control feature.  With sway control, the stability and antilock brake controllers can detect trailer sway and in milliseconds apply the appropriate brakes to prevent the sway from becoming a disaster.

Very good Reid, One of the reasons I want a tandem axle. I'll still have to be cognizant of load balancing, however it should be a little more forgiving.

I would think the poles, up top, would be offset by the collective weight of bins of merchandise, batteries etc, placed low- - - your thoughts?

I've weighed my entire, current load. It can vary from 1,700 to just short of 2,000 lbs. depending on what show I'm doing. Of which my tent weights are approx. 320 lbs (depending on what I bring for the event) I'm setup to go up to 400 lbs. My two marine batteries total 124 lbs. Therefore 444 lbs of the 2000 are placed low and right over the axles. Then my 4 large artwork bins which I have not yet weighed but will estimate at around 80 lbs each. These will be mostly forward. This puts 764 lbs at floor level. As a center aisle is desired, I thought distributing the tent weights and batteries, evenly on the two sides, over the axles, would do fine instead of centered. I have not done the math to figure the potential of the poles being up high (my desire). I've not weighed my Trimline poles so I'll assume your weight to be likely. Does that include all the fittings? I carry most of them in a separate bag, which could go low or high. I imagine a wider trailer is better, for stability. However worse for in and out of shows. I was thinking the 6' wide (internal) would be fine for show streets...?


A tandem axle gives you almost twice the load carrying capability, and also adds significant weight low down.  So that would give you much more flexibility.

I have concluded that it’s impossible to organize trailer loads optimally.  It’s more a matter of keeping weight distribution in mind while loading the trailer.  I realized recently that heavy objects had migrated over time to one side of my trailer, causing one of the tires to show signs of under-inflation wear even though I meticulously manage tire pressure.  That made me conclude that one of my wheels was being overloaded and I needed to move some weight around.  I also switched to radial tires that are capable of carrying more weight.  While analyzing that I also realized that my trailer’s tongue weight was getting pretty high, because I had taken to storing my weights and battery in the forward part of the trailer.  So I am currently thinking now about how to move some of the heavy stuff around to better balance the load.

My weight for the flourish poles does not include the hardware fittings, which add another 60 pounds.

I don’t know whether a wider trailer is safer than a narrower one.  A wider one is more stable, side-to-side, but is harder to see around.  Also, you are more likely with a wider trailer to accidently drop one wheel off the pavement.  A number of trailer-related accidents have been caused by drivers attempting to pull their trailers back onto the pavement and losing control in the process.  (It’s best to slow down and then pull the trailer wheel back on the pavement very gradually without any abrupt motions).

A 6’ wide trailer should be no problem on any public street in the US, since they are all designed for 8’ wide vehicles.

I don’t think that distributing weight evenly side-to-side over the axle should make the trailer behave much differently than having it concentrated in the middle.  But in the other dimension (fore and aft), it could make a difference because of the pendulum effect.

I wasn't sure about the side to side VS centered, over the axles as someone had said to center it. Not sure if that had to do with handling or structural integrity of axles and wheels?

I've also considered having a ladder installed and roof structure upgraded to allow for additional roof storage. Might put the poles on top. Likely not, though. It was just a thought.

What an amazing and wonderful discussion. For those of you who are attaching photos, it is really easy to upload them to your discussion. Click up above in the "FAQ" and you'll see the directions on how to do that.


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