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.
We started hearing about the event almost 2 years ago, when we missed it in our first year. When we announced we weren’t doing it last year, we heard the above comments from many, many vendors.
Apparently, the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival is a big deal, and we need to be there. We would do very well there, we were told. Very. Well.
And thus, our expectations were set high for this all-handmade craft event. We’ve had a very successful Spring Fling, though, so I worked very hard to have extremely reasonable expectations for this event. But, you know the story … expectations can kill you.
And we had them.
300 vendors are promised over 25,000 in attendance to support one of the largest pop-up craft fairs for handmade goods in Southern California. It’s the 33rd annual this year, and Mrs M and I were working well into the night for many nights to get our inventory back in shape for these teeming masses that would, apparently, be clamoring for our handmade goods.
Never one to miss a good clamor, we were all in.
- Little Girl joined Mr & Mrs M for the event. We rarely take 3 people to events anymore, but we re-arranged schedules to have Little Girl with us. We needed the help. We hoped.
- Mrs M has a new logo prominently displayed! This board was engraved by Teri at Lavene & Company, as all of my boards are. Funny story: I had asked for the piece to be hand painted so it would match the logo exactly, and Teri agreed. Her youngest heard about the project, and insisted that she be the one to paint it. She didn’t trust Mom to do it right. Ah, youth. The results, however, were perfect.
- Mrs M also has a new engraved price list. Parenthetically, after this piece was engraved, it only took Mrs M 2 days to begin discussing a price increase. She may not be understanding the whole “engraved in wood” concept.
- Chess boards are back!
- Small & medium-sized surfboards are back!
- Spring Fling #8 of 8. Thank goodness it’s over. I’m all flung out.
- Picked up the rental trailer on Friday only to discover that I had done the reservation wrong. I had reserved an open trailer, not a cargo trailer … and they didn’t have any 5×8 cargo trailers for me. Yikes! So, I had to rent a 6×12 cargo trailer, which in the end, was a $50 mistake. And, no, I didn’t like pulling this larger, dual axle trailer. I don’t enjoy pulling the 5×8, so I certainly didn’t like pulling its big brother!
- After working far too many hours on too few days preparing inventory for this event, I was exhausted Saturday morning as we set up the booth. But then, this event requires a Saturday morning set-up, followed by the event that goes until 6pm. So, yes, we were exhausted.
- Good news, though: I had a lot to set up. I took my inventory from 85 boards at the end of our very successful Strawberry Festival to a new total of 160 boards at this event. I understand why I was tired … but I was prepared for the clamor.
- Between our booth and the sidewalk behind us, there was a planting bed filled with 5′ high Hula Girl Hibiscus! You can see the flowers in the background of the pictures of Mrs M’s booth, below. Love that plant, just wish mine could grow that tall and bloom that well before it froze. Again.
- Little Girl proved that today’s smartphone is many things beyond a cellphone … like a video mirror to help her complete necessary show prep:
- As much as I’m happy to have chess boards & surfboards back on display, I am sad that I’m short on clipboards, sous chef boards and pigs. No bears at all at this point. (sigh)
- Once we were well into the set up, we noticed that our across-the-street neighbor, located directly across from me … was the cutting board guy from nearby Glendale. I had expected him to be here … but not directly across the street.
- However, we had a great location under one of the largest trees on the street. Our booth was 10* cooler than the surrounding area.
- Because 2 cutting board displays were adjacent, both Glenn (the other woodworker) and I were asked by customers if we were connected … or just really angry that we were adjacent. The answer was always no. Glenn’s a good guy; his daughter was also helping him in his booth. We chatted back & forth, sharing tips and frustrations. Some of our items were similar (cheese boards, small cutting boards), but our styles are entirely different. We both had several items the other did not offer (he doesn’t make pig cutting boards. Can you believe it?) The close locations were not ideal, IMHO, but it happens sometimes. Mrs M was right next door to a lotion maker at an event last year. I believe it’s bad form for the organizers, but wha’chagonnado?
- Hot weather was expected for Saturday, with a high in the 90s. When the thermometer is doing that, there’s not much to do except sit there and sweat. Which is what we did on Saturday, and the flow of customers largely disappeared by 3pm. There’s always Sunday. We hoped. We were here for the clamor.
- Since there were few customers, I could go walkabout on Saturday to see the sights and visit friends. I was surprised how many booths were showing products that were not artist-made handmade goods. The rules for this event are very clear that the artist that signed the application had to make the products that would be offered for sale (pictures of the studio with the artist and products in process were required!), and that the artist would be on site at the event. Be clear, it was a small percentage of vendors that were non-compliant, probably under 10% … but it was still immediately noticeable to anyone that knows the difference. Which, apparently, does not include the event organizers.
- I am not a fan of the curation of this event.
- Great to have chess boards back … but now my # 1 request is for chess pieces. Dammit.
- With business slow on Saturday, we let Little Girl have a life not in the heat with us on Sunday. It didn’t seem like we needed the extra help, unfortunately.
- And, we didn’t.
- Cooler temperatures were promised for Sunday, and we had cloudy skies through the morning, thank goodness. The temperature was much cooler all day – with a light breeze keeping everyone cool, as well. Sunday was a great day to be outside, and sales for us were better on Sunday.
- Requests included animal shapes (“I have a pig. Don’t you have anything else?”), chess pieces, backgammon boards, a towel rack, a Chinese checker board and a cutting board with a movable edge to catch rolling veggies from rolling off.
- Mrs M went walkabout a few times during the event as well. One time, while she was gone, a lady in front of Mrs M’s display looked over to me (standing about 4′ away) and said, “Do you work in this department?” Now, I knew that Mr M’s Woodshop was a subsidiary of Mrs M’s Handmade; I just didn’t know we had departments.
- This is an expensive event – the second highest booth fee we’ve ever paid, in fact. The event was profitable, but with the hot weather on Saturday, the event never fully recovered.
- Any day is a good day when you sell the most expensive board on the table, which I did. Sunday was a good day … but not a great day. The event was OK, but did not come close to our expectations – even those that I struggled to keep low.
Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. Options are limited at 5am.
Saturday Lunch: Mrs M’s sumptuous cheese & cracker platter
Saturday Snack: Chocolate ice cream from the Paradis ice cream shop right behind our booth. Downtown locations do have advantages.
Saturday Dinner: Marston’s linguine. Cheesey, creamy goodness.
Sunday Breakfast: Jimmy Dean’s Junior breakfast burrito with a side of hash browns.
Sunday Lunch: Cheese & crackers, take 2, with our good friend & neighbor Jan supplying Ranier Cherries, to boot. Yum.
Sunday Snack: Chocolate ice cream, take 2. Of course.
Sunday Dinner: Leftovers … because by the time I had the trailer unloaded, it was 9pm and the limited options weren’t enticing enough to get Mrs M back out of the house.
- Total miles driven: 140
- Booth cost: $650
- # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
- Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
- Total sales: $2,143
- # containers of product taken: all of them
- # boards available: all of them … which translates to 160
- Saturday alarm: 4:20am
- Sunday alarm: 6:20am
- # transactions: 65
- # soap & lotion vendors: many of them, and several had most of the products that Mrs M offers. She did very well though … complete with customers returning on Sunday to buy more of what worked so well for them on Saturday.
- # woodworking vendors: many of them, including 2 turners, a furniture maker and a couple of cutting board makers
- Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:3
- Returning next year? Yes
Boards sold: 15
Magic Bottle Opener: 4
Small Surfboards: 3
Large Cutting Boards: 2
Cutting Boards: 1
Cheese Boards: 1
Lazy Susan: 1
Large Sous Chef Board: 1
Small Sous Chef Board: 1
Medium Surfboards: 1