The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016   7 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.

headerIt’s one of the top festivals in the nation, according to the organizers.

250+ vendors. A carnival. Unending strawberry delights … sold by local charities. Over $4,500,000 has been raised at this event for those charities during its history. Expected attendance of 55,000.

And, it all happens about an hour from our house.

You bet we’re in.

Last year, we had unspectacular results (see The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival for the 2015 summary), but with 20/20 hindsight, I’m sure we didn’t bring our “A” game. Since this event celebrates my favorite fruit, it’s time to step it up and make something happen.

New Ideas

  • Last year, this was one of our last 10×10 booths before we began doing 10×20 booths everywhere. Always. To see our sad little booth last year, see How Far We’ve Come.
  • The Lady had to “work” at her “job” so Little Girl & I did this one together. Wait. That’s not a new idea.
  • Doing food at this event last year was crazy. Long, long lines. 30 minute waits. We brought our food from home this year. Mrs M wasn’t there to do her great cheese platters, but we survived.

Observations

  • Spring Fling event # 7 of 8. I love that I can see the end.
  • I took Friday off just to go do the set-up, which always seems difficult at this event.
  • Wind. Blows.
  • Be prepared for a major production here. The event is HUGE, with an entrance fee, shuttle buses, a carnival, corporate sponsors, wacky strawberry contests….
  • I had a new direct competitor! A professional, full-time woodworker from Sacramento was at the event, and his offering was very similar to my own. His boards were artfully made and very attractive. They seemed to be a bit smaller than mine, but he had a nice looking booth & a great inventory. He and his wife were very friendly when I introduced myself.
  • Direct. Competitor.
  • Hope I brought my “A” game.
  • Little Girl continued her tradition of painting her toes before the event starts. Ah, tradition.
  • Gates opened at 10am. We were ‘whelmed by 10:30am. Not overwhelmed, mind you, but we were ‘whelmed. I lost my tally of sales almost immediately. Simply too busy to know what was going on.
  • I like busy.
  • The vendor side of the California Strawberry Festival is managed by a professional organization that manages about 20 different events up & down California. Among other wonderful things, they dedicate centrally located portable bathrooms in the vendor area to vendor use only. And they are clean. And available.
  • No question that legacy sales for both Mrs M & me were important this weekend. Many people remembered us, sought us out, and bought from us. Again. I don’t always feel a strong connection to other events and particularly last year’s event, but the Force was very strong here.
  • Please allow me to declare victory with Mrs M’s new display. Again. We had groups of customers 4 deep in/around her booth several times this weekend. I can’t overstate this. The new booth lends us a legitimacy that was clearly lacking in our simpler, table-centric presentation.
  • I looked at the other skin care products booths at this event … and they were all very simple, table-centric displays. That is so last month.
  • We got ‘whelmed a few times on Saturday. People just kept coming, and both sides of the booth were busy.
  • So many transactions under $10. So many.
  • When I finally got home to balance the books Saturday night, I found that I had a very good day with 24 boards sold. Mrs M, though …

Best. Mrs. M. Day. Ever.

  • We fell just a bit short of our all-time best day … but this is May! We’re not supposed to be that busy in May!
  • When in doubt, French Braid. I don’t get wisdom like this if Little Girl isn’t around.
  • So many transactions under $10. So many.
  • I was asked for utensils, a backgammon board (not going to happen!), in-counter boards (3x), my business card holder (!), a gift for a wine lover to complement my Magic Bottle Opener for a beer lover (I need more shop time!), pizza peels (3x) and (wait for it) chess boards (3x).
  • My new product introduction is an unqualified success. Magic Bottle Openers are now outselling cheese boards 2:1, and cheese boards used to be my # 1 seller. Hmmmmmm.
  • Every vendor was told that vehicles could not come into the vendor area until the police had cleared the street as safe (as in, free from civilians wandering around). In no event would the street be opened to vehicles before 7pm after the 6:30pm close. Pack your booth FIRST, then bring in your vehicle, everyone was reminded. It worked perfectly. A guard manned the gate. No chaos. I brought the trailer in at about 7:45pm, and we were on the road in about 30 minutes.
  • After a comfort food dinner (and yes, it was essential), I saw how we did … and the display delivered. Again.

Best. Mrs. M. Event. Ever.

  • But wait. There’s more. I didn’t have my best sales event, but with Mrs M’s business growing to a fabulous 43% of our total….

Best. Event. Ever.

  • I heard some other vendors had good weekends; some were not happy. As it always is. Several veterans reported to me this was an average year for them. If so … average works for me.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jimmy Dean’s Junior Breakfast Burrito. I was told I shouldn’t say it’s the 2nd best breakfast burrito in Santa Clarita … so it’s the best one that Velda doesn’t make.

Saturday Lunch: a ham sandwich from home. My traditional lunch, almost every day.

Saturday Snack: no time

Saturday Dinner: We went to Margaritas. I had quacamole & a Cadillac Margarita. Thank goodness.

Sunday Breakfast: Jimmy Dean’s Junior Breakfast Burrito

Sunday Lunch: a ham sandwich from home

Sunday Snack: Cashews & a chocolate bar from home

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers = comfort food at 10pm

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 312
  • Booth cost: $765
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $4,048
  • # containers of product taken: 38. I think.
  • # boards available: all of them
  • Saturday alarm: 5:18a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:45a
  • # transactions: 151. This is a WOW. We’ve never done 100 transactions before, much less 150!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3 others
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 5 others
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 34:2
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 36

Magic Bottle Openers: 12

Cheese Boards: 5

Custom Orders: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susans: 3

Large Sous Chef Board: 2

Small Boards: 2

Large Surfboards: 2

Clipboards: 2

Bear Cutting Board: 1

7 responses to “The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016

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  1. Hooray for a great weekend! You are correct about Mrs. M’s display it is magnificent!

  2. I look forward to seeing it! And of course you and Velda!

  3. Wow – congratulations on a fantastic weekend!! Mrs. M’s display is fantastic! [You do know, however, that it makes Mr. M’s “tables” look . . . mm, ‘last week’ ish. Just sayin’ . . . ]

    And how you’re going to display all those gorgeous board so they can be seen any better is beyond me – but it is a terrific display overall!!! And obviously a lot of other people thought so too – and voted with their pocketbooks!

  4. Pingback: My Favorite Posts From Year 4 | MowryJournal.com

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

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