The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival   3 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.

California Strawberry FestivalAt last, we can see the end of our 6 weeks of spring events. We actually scheduled 7 events in 6 weeks … it was to be our big push before summer. Our spring fling.

The first 5 weeks surpassed our expectations, and we had already achieved our goals for the events in total. Week 6 was to be a bonus.

A poor one, it turns out.

We had hoped that this nearby, celebrated community event would get us to record numbers in its 32nd annual iteration. Alas, ’twas not to be.

Sales throughout the event were down from expectations. I talked to several veteran vendors, who described their results as down from last year … which was significantly down from the prior year. No joy here.

New Ideas

  • Because Velda had to go work at her “job,” I was teamed with the other Mrs. M for this weekend. We have fun at our rare events that we get to do without the other M. Plus, she drove their truck on Sunday so I got a very rare day as a passenger.
  • This is a gated event. Patrons paid for entrance, and paid for parking unless they took the free shuttle from the outlying free parking lots.

Observations

  • You never know if you’re getting a good booth position or not. We were almost at one end of the long line of Arts & Crafts vendors set up on Rose Avenue. We were one booth away from the Purple entrance gate … near the Red Gate, and on the opposite end from the Blue gate. Good? Bad? No clue. Our talkative neighbor whose family business is outfitting women of all ages with toe rings (please note the rare juxtaposition of “family business” and “toe rings” in the same sentence) said we were in an excellent spot.
  • Genuine huge attendance at this show, averaging 66,000 for the last 5 years. If only they had brought their wallets…. Actually, they may have brought their wallets, but they came to eat, primarily. And since the food lines had more in common with “Waiting for Godot” than they had any right to, it may be that people spent too much time in line, got frustrated and went home. Hungry in most cases, I believe.
  • “Handmade” is required to be an arts & crafts vendor at this show, and I believe they policed that policy better than any show we’ve been a part of. However, with the poor results we generated, I’m now wondering if that’s a good thing.
  • Conclusion to the previous point: I need to be more focused on buyers than sellers. Say what you will about the quality of the sellers, it was the quality of the buyers that frustrated me.

The Food

Saturday Lunch: 2 chocolate covered strawberries and a hot pretzel. I’m doing it wrong. Again.

Saturday Snack: Watching Alley drink a strawberry-flavored beer.

Sunday Snack: I had two nutrition bars that Alley brought, thinking that might be a better lunch than yesterday.

Sunday Lunch: Today, Alley found a food vendor with less than 30 families in line, so she brought me a Thai chicken skewer. Definitely did it right today.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 306
  • Booth cost: $425
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,235
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: 63
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30am
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00am
  • # transactions: 62 – 53 for lotion and 9 for boards.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: three other vendors, all focused on soap. Thank goodness!
  • # woodworking vendors: a lot! Three made simple wooden signs (so they were more painters than woodworkers, really). One made redwood picnic sets. Two made children’s toys. One made children’s chalk/dry erase board art boxes. There was a turner selling wooden pens and bottle stoppers. There was a guy selling wooden neckties (huh?). Oh, and one guy made cutting boards out of corian. I feel sorry for his customers….
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8-1/2 : 2-1/2 (because the Honey Locust & Hard Maple board was part end grain and part edge grain. I’m creative like that. Occasionally.)

Boards sold: 11

Cutting Boards: 2

Engraved Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Small Board: 2

Sous Chef Board: 2

Bread Board: 1

3 responses to “The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival

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  1. Thank you for the review!

  2. Pingback: The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016 | MowryJournal.com

  3. Pingback: The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2017 | MowryJournal.com

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