The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Arts & Crafts Faire   1 comment

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.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-type affair on its grounds, and in November it transforms into a holiday boutique featuring handmade goods only.

I did the event solo last year, and did it poorly. We decided that I would only take boards, but it was near the end of my inventory last year … so I didn’t have a good stock.

And then I left one container of boards at home, to boot.

But it was a lovely day in Carpinteria. 70+ degrees, sunny, blue skies … what’s not to like on a Thanksgiving Saturday? Total sales were only $285, though … but I enjoyed the day, and we decided to do the event again. After all, it fit on the calendar.

So we doubled down, and the elder Mrs M joined me to see if we could have a better day with a full effort.

New Ideas

  • Our standard 10×20 booth, with both of us driving to get the product and booths to Carpinteria.
  • We did this for a 5 hour event on a holiday weekend.
  • Mrs M set up her tables with a price list on both … and that worked very well. Having to create 2 separate booth displays for earlier events, and then being able to combine them for the rest of this year’s events, definitely was a good thing in this case.


  • We’re crazy.
  • After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving with family – even though I’ve been working non-stop in the woodshop – packing the cars for this event Friday evening just seemed crazy. We doubled down on an event that didn’t work well last year, no matter the reason. I was crazy. We were crazy. We had crossed over from sanity to looney land.
  • But at least it was a beautiful ride. We hit PCH (that’s Pacific Coast Highway for you non-SoCal folks) just as the sun crested the mountains, so we watched the sun rise and kiss the Pacific ocean for a glorious day. Blue skies. Blue water. Some people have to pay lots of money to get to see that sight.
  • My second customer of the day told me that my work had been highly recommended to her while she was buying a taquito snack. Apparently, I’ve made an impact on taquito eaters, so I’ve got that.
  • This show is probably the best I’ve seen at selecting vendors that are only offering handmade goods. If any were offering “buy & sell” goods, I didn’t see them. This is truly a handmade show.
  • While talking to my cutting board maker competitor (who’s a really nice guy that calls me “brother”), I explained that I have one chess board on display, and then I said it out loud: I hope I never sell it. That way, I’ll continue to have an answer to what was my # 1 request (“Do you make chess boards?”) without having to make another. This single board, the final remnant of my June production of 5 boards, has been on display since the July 4 event.
  • I sold it an hour later.
  • Lots of dog walkers at this community event. At one point, we had a convention of 4 Yorkies sharing fashion tips in front of our booth. Well, I assume they were sharing fashion tips, as they were all wearing sweaters that each closely examined. That’s how it looked to me, anyway.
  • Joke of the Day:

A senior citizen walked into the booth, and eventually declared that he was an 80-year old cabinet maker that had built over 100 houses in Carpinteria. He said he had a complete shop, but he just didn’t go into it much anymore. He asked what glue I used, and when I said “Titebond III” he said he’s never heard of it. He came back a minute later, and asked me to write it down for him so he could investigate. I’d taught him something, he said, and he wanted to look it up.


Then he stepped in close to me, and in sotto voice, said, “Don’t get mad at me. I don’t know what side you’re on. Don’t get mad at me.” “OK,” I said. (Where in the world is this going to lead???)

“A man walked into the White House, walked up to the guard, and asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. President Obama is not the President anymore.’ The man left.

“The next day, the man returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, as I told you yesterday, it’s 2017. President Obama is not here. He’s not President anymore.’ The man left.

“The third day, the man again returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. As I’ve told you for the last 2 days, President Obama is not here. Why do you keep asking me that question?’

The confident reply: “Because it sounds so damn good to hear you say it.”

With that, my retired cabinet maker turned on his heel and left the booth to the sound of my laughter. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.”

  • The drive home was as the sun set over the Pacific. Some were fishing in the surf; some were camping. Every sunset is precious. Some people pay good money to see sunsets like this.
  • Did we make our goal? Absolutely.
  • Same booth next year? Absolutely.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 28

Saturday Lunch: Taquitos, sold by the Museum. They bought frozen and served them for $1 each with salsa & guacamole. Same lunch I had last year, and they were the only thing I saw not handmade at this event.

Saturday Snack: nope. Velda wanted to go to the bake sale … but didn’t.

Saturday Dinner: Thanksgiving leftovers, of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $150
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,093
  • # containers of product taken: 17
  • # boards available: 77
  • Saturday alarm: 5:01 am
  • # transactions: 43
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 5. We had 3 soapers, one lotion vendor right across from us, and someone else selling oils. Lots of activity in the skin & body products area at this handmade event.
  • # woodworking vendors: 7. WOW. We had another cutting board maker (incredibly, 1 of only 2 true direct competitors I’ve met in Southern California), a trio of turners, a wooden jewelry maker, a rustic furniture maker and me. That’s an unprecedented collection of craftsmen in my experience at pop-up events.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:1

Boards sold: 8

Large Sous Chef Board: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Chess Board: 1

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