The Board Chronicles: Wine Country Festival   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

Livermore-Wine-Country-Festival

Velda’s had this theory that cheese boards should be sold where wine is being consumed. She’s had this theory for some time. I know, because she’s shared it with me.

And, since we’ve not scheduled a wine-centric event, that means I have heard the theory … regularly.

Logo-300xNo more. Last weekend, Mrs M’s Handmade made the trek northward to the Livermore Wine Country Festival to be one of their 300 vendors. 150,000 people attend this event, with many local wineries and craft breweries (beer is also sampled) providing the lubrication to make this public alcoholic celebration a success. More than a few wine drinkers had necklaces holding their wine glasses, just so they wouldn’t be bothered with holding them.

For what it’s worth, beer drinkers saw no need for such adornment.

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeOh, and on Saturday, I sold 4 cutting boards and not one cheese board.

This event was more formal than many street festivals … many of the ladies were wearing dresses. Maybe people have to dress up to feel right to sample wine.

But then there was the lady wearing combat boots with a 1″ spike little finger nail….

I only saw one group that I thought had been over-served. Other than that, it was a great event.

New Ideas

  • Before we left, I laid out all of my boards in the family room (Velda loves it when I do this) to check pricing on all items. I made sure that cheese boards, small boards, cutting boards, end grain & edge grain boards – every category, in other words – was priced appropriately and comparatively. And, yes, some prices went up. Top priced board is now over 4x what it was when we started 15 months ago. Of course, the boards are bigger and better, too!
  • We only took one car to this event, and we drove the farthest we have gone for a festival. We packed the Jeep full, put the canopy on the hitch carrier and left everything else at home. This meant that I didn’t take the step units for board display for the first event since I made the step units. It also meant that the basket we keep the pre-made-up bags for lotion sales in didn’t fit in the Jeep … we had to go to Walmart to buy a new basket. Cargo capacity is a definite issue.
  • Mrs M’s lotions took a price increase as well. No one blinked … we were even complimented on our fair prices. Prices should be fair … that doesn’t mean cheap!
  • Velda was getting sick on Friday, but insisted on going. She was miserable in the heat on Saturday, and actually agreed to stay in the hotel and sleep on Sunday. I got to solo all day. Sunday’s sales almost doubled Saturday’s, when Velda was there to “help.” Hopefully, she won’t read this, or she may never go to another event.

Observations

  • For all of the specific directions on how to enter the event area for set-up, I was shocked that no volunteers were manning the barricade. We drove right in. Anyone could have.
  • The specific directions on how cars must vacate the street by 8am were ignored, too. Policing vendors exceeding their booth sizes? Not done. It’s so hard to get good volunteers these days….
  • Vendors can’t read and event producers can’t be trusted. The vendor packet clearly stated that vendors “must” remove their products on Saturday night, as the event security isn’t responsible for loss. I checked with other vendors who didn’t know, and the event producers who had to check … oh, just kidding. You can leave the products over night.
  • We had an interior 10’x10′ booth, meaning we were surrounded on 3 sides. Tight quarters. It’s good when you have good neighbors … and we had one of those. (sigh)
  • Velda met Veldon, who got his name from his Grandmother, just like Velda got her’s from her Grandmother (whose maiden name was Gavelda).
  • Sold one of the 16″x20″ boards that I just started carrying last week (and as you know, that means the boards get carried). Had a couple ask me if I had anything bigger. Will it never end?
  • No more pigs. I’m out of the pig business, at least until a new litter is born. I even agreed to a discount, because the earnest young man came back to the booth with his money in his hand, and I think it was all he had for a Mother’s Day gift. It was for his mother, so OF COURSE I said yes.
  • Got very busy doing solo sales on Sunday. People came in waves, it seems, and I had many people waiting to talk to me while I was wrapping a purchase for another customer. Busy is good.
  • As I have said many times, I’m doing this for fun. I don’t yell at my neighbors for minor encroachments. I don’t yell at annoying people in my booth. I smile. I’m having fun, and assume everything else will take care of itself. So far, that’s exactly right.
  • Tear down & load out complete at 6:48pm. Not bad for a solo act … though I did use Velda for dead weight (she qualified) as I tore the canopy down.
  • My new slogan is “Cutting Boards: pretty enough for your kitchen, ugly enough to use.”

The Food

Friday Dinner: The best meal on the trip by a very wide margin. We went to Sauced in downtown Livermore for some great BBQ, served with their house bourbon (!), Hawg Wild. The bourbon was nothing more than a happy hour well drink special … but then, that’s what it was. The pulled pork was wonderful, and the second glass of bourbon was better than the first. Of course.

Saturday Breakfast: Sara Lee’s Everything Bagels & cream cheese. The best bagels in your grocery store, IMHO.

Saturday Lunch: Spring rolls & dumplings. Not the best fried food, for sure, but there was no line to buy it.

Saturday Snack: No time.

Saturday Dinner: Some Italian cafe that was barely OK. Certainly not good enough to be memorable … no clue what the name was.

Sunday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express biscuits & gravy.

Sunday Lunch: I got 4 nuggets of beef jerky as a free sample. The jerky was $20/packet, so I elected to starve. No lunch. No time. No fun.

Sunday Snack: No time.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 630
  • Booth cost: $375 + $39 city business license
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1, who only verified we had our reseller’s permit and city business license on site. Just including photocopies & numbers with the vendor application was not enough here.
  • Total sales: $1,763 – our 3rd best event, and better than all 2014 events. Maybe we are upping our game this year!
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: 55
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45am
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00am
  • # transactions: 40
  • # soap & lotion vendors: unknown
  • # woodworking vendors: unknown
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:6

Boards sold: 15

  • Cutting Boards: 6
  • Cheese Boards: 6
  • Small Board: 1
  • Pig Board: 1
  • Engraved Board: 1

Clearly, I need to keep making edge grain boards. I finished a batch two weeks ago, including four large (translation: high priced) boards … and most of them are now gone.

The pigs took longer, but not by much.

I love my sous chef boards, but I’ve still got 7 of the 18 after two months. Wait. I sold 11 in two months. Hmmmmm.

Livermore's Wine Country Festival, 2015. This is a land-locked 10x10 booth, surrounded on three sides.

Livermore’s Wine Country Festival, 2015. This is a land-locked 10×10 booth, surrounded on three sides.

2 responses to “The Board Chronicles: Wine Country Festival

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  1. I really enjoy reading your articles. I’m glad you did well at this event. I’m hoping that Velda is feeling better!!!!

    • Thanks, Jan! Velda is better, but this winter’s cold & flu bug is nasty. This is Velda’s second go round, actually, and she’s not having much fun getting over it.

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