Trade Shows / 09.30.22 / By Chase Howells

What’s the Difference?

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We’re all very accustomed to purchasing things online now, both personally and for the organizations we work with. It is efficient and generally easy, even buying items wholesale. This is great when buying something you’re familiar with, but if it is something new there are subtleties that can get lost in the digital representation. In our industry, many products are merchandised online with 3d renderings as opposed to actual pictures and do not illustrate quality differences between two like products. So on the common items where we’re likely to think, “a table drape is a table drape is a table drape.” Let’s look at a few familiar display products and where the differences come in:


This applies across the board. Different machines, different materials, different operators, different volume and different expectations all come into play. Many in the industry now have G7 Certification and it has helped close the gap between the best and worst prints for sure. There are still differences in quality though. Here’s a video I made awhile back showing the difference between two lightboxes, but I think it really illustrates the difference in print quality as well:

Banner Stands

There are hundreds if not thousands of options for these and it can be surprising seeing the price difference, given they all look like big banners stretched vertically on a pole. The print material and hardware are the two big things for these. The most common material used for banner stands these days is vinyl, and to our note above, not all printed vinyl is the same quality. The better materials generally will not face the issue of curling edges that you see on the lowest cost options. I’ve also seen hardware on two stands look identical, but was surprised when one felt like a soda can I could crush in my hand and the other felt like a solid meal post. The former would maybe last one show where the other could make it as long as needed. We have clients that need a one-time use banner stand and others that use them dozens of times. Just need to make sure you’re getting the correct option for your need. My favorite video:

Pillowcase Displays

We love pillowcase displays for their ease and graphic area. Some differences in these will drive you crazy though. The aluminum tube structures have varied diameters and metal density which causes some to lean, twist and torque. It can also make them very difficult to pull apart. Some of these displays require tools, some do not. Graphic fit is also a potential issue. You want it to fit tight and tensioned to the frame to pull any wrinkles out. Some of the cheaper frames cannot handle the tension and require a looser, baggier graphic. Even little things like having a heavy duty zipper versus a normal one can make setup much easier.


10×10 pop-up tents have a wide price range and will look identical on a computer screen. One big price factor is picking between aluminum (more expensive) and steel (cheaper), this puts a lot of people into steel frames which can be much heavier than their aluminum counterparts. Putting 40 lbs and 70 lbs on a shoulder to walk out of an event does not feel the same! Tent canopies also have materials that vary in print quality and durability to the outdoor elements. The frame itself comes into play as well, and some are much easier to pop into place than others. Here is a great comparison chart from one of our suppliers that illustrates some of the differences:

Overall, cliches like “you get what you pay for” and “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” apply here as they do most places. Prices vary with the quality. Not everyone needs the highest priced option of course, it depends on the project. On the other end of the spectrum, some products are just plain junk, and no money should be wasted on them. Please allow us to help you navigate this, especially on what seems like commodity display items as they tend to have more variance than is let on. We’re happy to help navigate you to the correct option for your goals!