#1 Tip When Taking Stock of Your Trade Show Inventory

Normally, once you return to the office after a few days or a week away while exhibiting at a trade show, checking inventory of your trade show stuff it typically last on the list. Most likely you shoved everything into the storage closet and got back to business hoping the next time you open the cases everything is there (and in good working order). But these are not normal times. 

Some of your co-workers may be working from home or on staggered shifts, so the office halls are empty and quiet leaving you plenty of space to pull everything “trade show related” out of the closet. This may be the last thing you feel like doing during your work day, but trust us once you’re done you will feel more organized and accomplished. You’ll know what’s on hand before your next event and be able to decide on a budget for what needs to be replaced.

Before diving right in, make sure you have a few necessary items on hand. It’s helpful to have the following nearby:

  1. Laptop, tablet or notepad to jot down information
  2. Disposable wipes, household cleaner to clean items and remove dust
  3. Box cutters and packing tape
  4. Sharpie Markers or pens
  5. Smartphone or camera to take photos of items
  6. Desk space, power strip and power cords to turn on electronics

Also, beware…this will not be a quick process! Make sure you block out enough time in your day and factor in if you need to access the items from more than one location or find missing items.

Now that you’re prepped and ready, here’s our #1 TIP when taking stock of your trade show inventory: Categorize your items!

Trade show items usually fall into one of the four categories below:

  • Display, flooring and furniture
  • Signage
  • Technology
  • Marketing, promotional items

Let’s dive deeper into each category.

Display, Flooring and Furniture

This category, unfortunately, is the most time consuming part. Inspect the larger items first and take count to make sure everything is accounted for. Do you have all the parts to your trade show display? Do you have all the flooring tiles? Is anything broken? What shape is the furniture in?

If your office space accommodates, set up your trade show display completely to compile a checklist of parts and find out what’s missing or needs to be replaced. If your furniture needs a good cleaning or repair, research local companies that can complete this for you and contact them to schedule a time to drop off the items. Make notes within your spreadsheet as to who, what and when any repairs were completed so you know who to contact in the future. Lastly, assemble the flooring completely to insure you have all necessary pieces and check for wear and tear.

Clean, sanitize and dust all items before repacking each item carefully in their respected shipping cases, carry bags or in boxes. Now’s the time to label each container so you know right off what’s inside and don’t have to open it to check.


This includes large logo banners you might hang in your booth, pull up banner stands, podium graphics, directional signage or floor decals. Inspect each item thoroughly. If any information is outdated, have your graphic designer work on updating your artwork and contact your trade show company to have those items reprinted or replaced.

Replacement of signage may happen every 6 months to 3 years depending on your trade show schedule and how current you keep the information displayed. A rigorous event schedule will produce some normal wear and tear over time, but more often than not these items get damaged if not stored properly. Always be mindful when packing up and take the extra time necessary to insure damage does not occur in transit.


Gather all electronic items and use your desk space to set them up and test each item properly. Technology items include laptops, flat screen TV’s, computers and monitors, projectors, tablets (iPad or Samsung), handheld scanners, smartphones, etc. Plug in each unit into your electrical strip to make sure they turn on. If an item is not powering on, swap out the power cord first to rule out that issue or simply retire the item if it is past its prime. Consider donating the technology you decide to retire to a local nonprofit.

Record all technology items in your spreadsheet including type, model, serial number, date of purchase (if you know it) and whether or not it powers up. This will give you a quick checklist later for when items need to be replaced due to age. Access the condition of the item so this can also be noted. Are they in good working order? Do they power up properly? Is anything damaged, such as a cracked screen? Do they align with the current technology?

Finally, for the laptops and tablets, make sure everything is up to date including the operating system, applications and malware protection if applicable. Once you have compiled a list of items that need to be replaced, do some research to find out if renting these items will be more cost effective rather than replacing them. It may make more financial sense to rent, plus just think about how much storage you can free up!


Marketing collateral includes brochures, handouts, business cards, promotional giveaway items, or anything customized for your business. Don’t skip this part! You’ll need to read through and check each piece carefully. Is any information outdated or incorrect, such as an old business address or previous logo? Do you have business cards with people who have left the company? Do you have giveaways that have expired or will expire before your next event?

Take notes on the items up to date, the items that need to be discarded or sent for recycling. After full review, you may need to contact your graphic designer to inform them on what needs to be redesigned and replaced. At this time you could also jot down a few marketing ideas for upcoming trade shows. New games to engage attendees, new product launches, ideas for new promotional products or show specific giveaways, etc. 


When putting all usable items back in storage, make sure to keep them within each group and label all cases, boxes, bags and bins so you quickly know exactly what’s in each container. Plan out your storage space accordingly to accommodate for new items being purchased or consider a larger storage unit if space is left to a minimum.

You may be experiencing a slower than normal trade show schedule, so taking the time now to review all your trade show and event items will only make your life easier for the future.


Always check our website when you’re ready to replace your trade show display, banner stands. NOW OFFERING new health and safety items as well which include sanitizing stations, social distancing solutions and more. We’re here for you and ready to answer your questions! www.AffordableDisplays.com