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Hi All!

As I am preparing for my show season starting in a few weeks, I am nervously jotting down everything I think I will need while at shows.  This lead me to the question:  What do some of you who do a lot of shows consider essential items to have in a "show survival kit?"  I will list some of my essentials and it would be great if some of you could add yours too.  Thanks!!

Batteries for battery powered shelf lights

Extension cords and power strips

Furniture polish, glass cleaner and paper towels

Hand towels

Energy bars



Bungee cords

Step stool/small ladder

Petty cash for change

Reciept book

Clipboard, pens and e-mail sign up sheet

Fanny pack, Rick Steves money belt

Duct Tape



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Screw drivers -slot and Phillips, pliers, sanitary hand wipes, trash bags, bailing twine(heavy cord or light rope), laptop, iPad with swipe, apples and oranges, water bottle, hand calculator, price lists and price book,
Something I started doing a couple summers ago: freeze water bottles for ice in the cooler, then drink the melted ones. I use empty Gatorade bottles as they are heavier than regular water bottles.

Hi Elle,

I'm trying to picture my drawer from last year, sissors, plyers, tape, blank heavy paper in case I have to make a quick sign, pens, marker, rubber bands, price tags, business cards, rolls of pennies, dimes, nickols, quarters, extra cash reg/master card machine rolls, name tags (in case the show doesn't provide any) some type of repair kit for what ever your medium is.

in trailor/van - paper towels, tool kit with hammer, step stool, change of shoes, umbrellas, coats, raingear, broom, TOILET PAPER...150.00 in ones, extra fives and tens (in safe)

you will learn what you will need, just remember - every town has a walmart   you will do fine

"An artist can never have too many clamps" is what I learned from an old timer many years ago. I keep a bag of the larger orange handled clamps and smaller ones that open about an inch and a half.

My art box, a Plano fishing tackle box, carries matting gear in the top with an assortment of screwdrivers and nut drivers, a small battery operated screwdriver, and other sundry tools. The drawers have built in dividers with charcoal pencils, markers, felt tip pens, calligraphy pens, mechanical pencils, framing hardware, razor blades, and just a small boatload of all the small things you need in the studio or the field. It also makes a good foot rest to prop your feet up on :-)

I also never leave home without a tub full of 12 volt RV fans to cool the booth, usually about three for the inside and a couple in the back for myself and my wife. One fan is positioned over the flip bin to encourage folks to linger there. It works ;-)

In addition to all things listed above:

zip ties, clamps, safety pins, mini stapler, fan, 30 or 50 ft elec cord and surge suppressor. spare batteries. BABY WIPES- I hand these to customers if they need to wipe the goop off hands, or clean the kids hands. HAND is the grimiest thing on the planet. Bug spray, sun lotion, and WORK GLOVES for booth assembly.

A notebook to write down what's missing when you find that you need something you don't have with you.

Larry Berman

Elle - check out this thread, good ideas and a little humor of course.


One other thread to check out to improve your list was the "what have you left behind" thread that was started a couple of years ago.  It's nice to know the veterans as well as the newbies leave important items behind once in a while.



Something I haven't seen listed yet that I keep in my arsenal is a feather duster.  I dust each morning before the show starts. 

Good one!! I have that and a super sticky roller for my velvet displays, and one of those mini brooms and dust pans.....for the flipping inevitable pollen that collects!!

Blocks of wood to shim your tent on a hill. 50-pound weights for each tent leg. Rope. Spiral dog tie-out stakes and rope or straps to tie down the tent. A handtruck or cart for dollying all your stuff (make sure it can handle the heaviest stuff you've got).

A folding chair or two. A table (or desk or shelf) where people can write checks or sign credit card receipts. Shims to level the table. Business cards and a holder for them. A portfolio if you take commissions.

Calculator, receipt book, credit card swipers (Square, etc.), pens, pricetags, tape, sticky notes...

Hammer, pliers, screwdrivers (both types), mallet, utility knife, tape measure. Duct tape. A pair of wire cutters if you use cable ties.

The list can get quite long. Write it all down, every last stupid little thing. I have a comprehensive list that I go through before every show. It's a lifesaver.

a first aid never fails that you WILL pinch, nick, bruise something at a show during set up and tear down. I carry waterproof band aids white medical tape and gauze, anti itch creme, and anti bacterial spray or ointment. No one wants to making change with blood dripping!!

Btw...just as a hint... I put my survival kit, tools and sales supplies in one of those Rubbermaid wide 3 drawer rolling carts. I never have to unpack it, just roll it back into the studio after a show, and inventory what needs to be replaced. That way, I don't have to worry about checking that before a show... all I have to do is grab it and go!! Slides under my table/desk/checkout, and is hidden by the cover! Cheap, easy and organized.


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