The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016   Leave a 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.

Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016Tehachapi is a small town (population 13,000+) with at an elevation of 3,970′, and is located between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. Tehachapi is about 60 miles north of us, in the mountains of southern Kern County.

Which must be why they host the annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival®.

There’s a rodeo. There’s a parade. There’s a 5K & 10K. There’s a carnival. There’s a car show (and I saw none of these, by the way, but I did see Miss Rodeo Kern County’s horse trailer.). The event takes place at Tehachapi’s Philip Marx Central Park, where a bandstand has free concerts and the streets are filled with vendors offering handmade goods. That’s my kind of good time.

We first visited Tehachapi as vendors last year, and had a fabulous time, as you can read in last year’s The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival. At the time, this was our Best. Event. Ever.

We’ve kept improving on our performance, however, and we’ve broken that record 5 times since. My only question is, can we keep it going?

New Ideas

  • We’ve both improved our presentations since last year … but we still don’t have a banner. We’ve introduced a few new products, of course, but we’re comparing results with an excellent, surprisingly successful event from last year.
  • New at this event is Aunt Sis’ Cloth Exfolier, available as a flat cloth or a mitt (see the last picture, below). Aunt Sis has been crocheting up a storm so she could be a part of the wonder that is Mrs M’s Handmade. That’s my version of the story, anyway.
  • This is our 80th event as vendors. I’m not sure we still qualify as beginners, but I know we are far, far from being experts.

Observations

  • The number of vendors effectively doubled this year, with many more vendors on the 2 streets surrounding the park. Unfortunately, many of the new vendors were not exhibiting handmade goods exclusively. In my humble opinion. Only handmade goods were allowed to be offered from the street positions (there were perhaps a dozen buy & sell vendors located in the purgatory on the south side of the park, just like last year). The mixing of non-handmade goods by some vendors was my only complaint with the event.
  • I love community events.
  • Great booth location … because it’s the same one we had last year. Personally, I don’t think which booth location you get matters much most of the time, but we are happy with our location … especially with vendor friends on both sides and behind our booth! Keeping the same location year-to-year is important, I believe. Own your space.
  • Both Mrs M & I had so many people come to our booth on Saturday and express their excitement that we were back again. Mrs M sold a lot of Soozy’s Achy Muscle Relief to people coming back for more, and that is always a wonderful thing!
  • I love community events.
  • Oh so many wannabe woodworkers talked to me at this event, and to a man (yup) they all asked where I got my lumber. It’s not easy to shop for exotics like I use when you leave LA County.
  • After thinking my large surfboards, AKA Elegant Cheese & Cracker Servers, would never sell … I’m now down to my last one. I need to make another big bunch ASAP!
  • Requests were pretty light this weekend … so it figures that the requests received were for chess pieces (2x) and (wait for it) … cribbage boards.
  • Someone asked Mrs M for soap made from ostrich oil. That’s a thing, come to find out. And, uh, I don’t want to know how you get the oil out of the ostrich.
  • I’m never going to be OK with the look of our booth until we:
    • Add mesh walls to both add hanging points and control our backdrop 100%
    • Get banners up above our booth header
  • The former may have to wait until we buy a new shade structure … maybe next year. If we need it. The latter needs to get handled ASAP. We. Need. Banners.
  • It was just days ago that I had pushed my inventory of boards & such to 215. After this event … I’m down to 140. And it’s only been 17 days!
  • I either need to make more stuff or stop letting people buy things.
  • Guess which option I’m choosing.
  • Results on Saturday seemed good, though not spectacular. Flat to prior year, I thought. Sunday started slow and stayed slow … but kept coming. In the end, we beat last year’s number by 4%. That’s not a record this year, but it’s still strong sales from this fun event.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express Biscuits & Gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Fish & Chips Surprise from one of the vendors at the Festival.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Red House BBQ, with our good friends Jan & Barry. They were paying, so it was a great dinner. (Seriously, it was a great time, and nice to relax after a busy day vending).

Sunday Breakfast: The infamous HIE plastic cheese omelette.

Sunday Lunch: Some Chinese Chicken. On a stick.

Sunday Snack: Still nope.

Sunday Dinner: The best Mexican meal we’ve had in 3 attempts at the last 2 events … served at a gas station on our way out of town. We couldn’t believe it, either.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $300
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $2,759
  • # containers of product taken: 18
  • # boards available: 152
  • Saturday alarm: not needed
  • Sunday alarm: not needed
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: We never saw any, but there was supposed to be someone there selling Sugar Scrub. Never found them.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. There was a box maker, a toy maker (Hi again, Mitch!), and several people that used wood in signs, holiday decorations, etc.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 27:1
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 28

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Lazy Susans: 5

Large Surfboards: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Bread Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Chess Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

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