The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 2016   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.

july4street-fair-logoWe did this event last year, and were amazed at the constant flow of strollers decked out in red, white & blue rolling past our booth. We had a lot of fun. And, we got busy. Very busy.

We got ‘whelmed.

So, of course, we were all in for the 41st annual Fourth of July Street Fair in downtown Ventura.

And since this beach community had a forecast temperature of about 20* cooler than Santa Clarita on this day, it seemed like a good idea to participate in this event from just about every perspective!

New Ideas

  • Mrs M joined in the patriotic fervor, and bought some red, white & blue decorations to liven up the booth a bit.
  • Lots of new soap for this event … including ‘Merica, which is, of course, red, white & blue.
  • I made a new dedicated crate to display the small & medium surfboards … so I now have 4 crate display pieces. Apparently, I have to building something to fill up the trailer.
  • After discussing our experience with a 5:15am departure last year, we agreed that a 5am departure was better for this year … and then agreed that a little before 5am would be preferable. And we departed before 5am.
  • Are you getting this? Velda was early and we left before 5am. I’m thinking that “New Ideas” is not an appropriate heading for this virtually unprecedented reality.

Shocker

  • Velda was early for a 5am departure. Early. Velda.

Observations

  • Expectations will kill you. Every time.
  • My expectations were low, honest. I expected to do better than last year’s sales total of $1,526 … so I thought we would probably do $2,000. We had soap going for us. New display for Mrs M. 2nd year legacy at the event. And since our average per event is nearly $2,000 this year, the number seemed reasonable.
  • “Reasonable.”
  • We had our first walker this morning at 8:30am … and we were set up. This event has a 10am “official” start that has no meaning whatsoever.
  • In spite of the early walker, our first sale wasn’t until 9:55am … still before the official start, but only barely.
  • She said it to a stranger in her booth, who commented on our side-by-side booths: “We’re not friends. We’re husband & wife.”
  • I had nothing to add to that. I mean, would you?
  • My 2 most common words spoken today were “Thank you.” That’s what I said to every single person who said something like “Your boards are beautiful” … as they walked out of the booth with empty hands. Lots and lots of lookers today; not so many shoppers.
  • An early shopper liked my work (and bought something!) and recommended I check out a woodworker/artist from New York named Ariel Alasko. She encouraged me to create art pieces for next year.
  • “Art.”
  • We had one good rush at about 12noon … 6 parties in our 2 booths, and people waiting to buy something. Good times. But … that never happened again.
  • This event felt very odd today. We had about an hour around 1pm with loads of traffic, and not one sale. For an hour. That’s really unusual for midday during a (scheduled) 7 hour event.
  • Most unusual episode today was when we met Reno, the loyal dog for a lady wearing a “Veteran” cap while riding on her scooter through the event. She’d cruised into the booth and bought a cheese board, and then introduced us to Reno. She put a dog treat in her mouth, and then told Reno to come get it. She assured us Reno didn’t bite her.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Vindication is sweet. Sold 2 clipboards today. I need to make more. Honest. But then, I also need to make more cheese boards. And bears. And pigs. And wine bottle holders. And sous chef boards. And and and….
  • This event allows people to begin set up at 4am … 6 hours before the official opening. In the evening, however, you are instructed to stay open until 5pm … and then be off the street by 6:30pm. Craziness!
  • I went to get the trailer at about 5:30pm, when we were largely packed up (Trish, the city employee, had told me to go get my car at 5:10pm, when there were still many pedestrians on the street. That makes 2 events in a row where organizers told me to ignore the pedestrians, ignore the “get packed up first” rule and drive in. I mean, ignore the rules? That’s not me.
  • When I came back, Velda had corralled two event “volunteers” to help us load out quickly, and we were on the road by 6:10pm. Amazing how fast you can be with good help that have strong backs!
  • Requests today were for cribbage boards (2), chess pieces, name tags just like the one I was wearing, surfboard bottle openers (2), an American flag made out of wood that didn’t cost $400, and coasters. I could help none of them.
  • In the end, we beat last year’s number, but just barely. It’s so amazing that last year’s event was our

Best. Day. Ever.

This year, doing slightly better was a true disappointment. It wasn’t close to our best day ever at this point! Doing better than last year isn’t good enough … yet we heard from other vendors that were down as much as 25% from prior year. We should be happy with incremental growth, don’chathink?

The Food

Monday Breakfast: JITB # 23 … but what alternatives are there for drive thru at 5am on a holiday?

Monday Lunch: A ham sandwich from home

Monday Snack: Bad chocolate chip cookies. Don’t blame me; I didn’t buy them.

Monday Dinner: Grand Panda for Walnut Shrimp & Chicken Asparagus. And egg rolls, of course. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 104
  • Booth cost: $385
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $1,590
  • # containers of product taken: all of them
  • # boards available: 139
  • Monday alarm: none needed
  • # transactions: 45, down nominally from last year
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3 others. One was doing the natural thing; one was doing the melt & pour thing. Don’t know about anyone else, and we only saw about 1/2 of the vendors. Or less.
  • # woodworking vendors: One toy maker was our very nice neighbor; not sure of anyone else.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 19:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 21

Cheese boards: 7

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Clipboards: 2

Small board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server AKA Surfboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

One response to “The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 2016

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  1. There’s that phrase again about expectations! You are so correct! I’m glad the day turned out well for you. Better to be a little over than a little under! It is a never ending battle to produce enough product to please customers. But hey, it’s what we live for! Thank you for sharing your adventure!

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