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.
So, last year, we applied, and were rejected. They had too many vendors offering skin care products, and we applied as a duo.
As we do.
This year, we applied as a duo OR as two single vendors … and Mrs M got accepted!
But me … I got nothing. No acceptance, no rejection. Nothing. Just … crickets.
So I emailed the volunteer committee chair, and she said she’d look into it for me. And, a couple of weeks later, the issues (whatever they were!) got resolved and we have now both been accepted into the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair. It took us 2 years to get to the event … what’s in store for us?
- Surprise! When I arrived for setup, I learned that we were in a middle aisle, with traffic on both sides. No front & back, just sides. We’ve never set up this way before. OK, go.
- When I tried to call Mrs M to discuss, Verizon could not deliver a connection. No conversation = no way to discuss options. I texted her: “I’ll set up the booth, and you will like it.”
- You would think the middle aisle, set in the middle of the street, would be at the crown of the street. Nope, we were in the gutter. There was a pronounced slope to the booth on its way to the gutter … nothing good comes from being in the gutter.
- The vendor booths are on a street between 2 parks on one side, and a walking path on the other. Very nice location; lots of trees & green … for a very crowded urban area near the beach.
- After intense visualization during set up, I settled on a layout that basically had Mrs M’s layout intact, with my booth turned 180 degrees to face hers. Entrances were on both sides of the booth, on her side. There was a small entrance by my chair, and we sat in opposite corners. The layout worked, though many people chose not to enter my booth, and just look over the table from the “outside.” That was not good; there was less customer engagement. Less touching of the boards. Also, the entrance on her side became a super highway with many, many people using our booth as an aisle. Unfortunately.
- The organizers have a map for the event – there was a very nice poster-sized map at the information booths. They didn’t share that with any of the vendors, though, and it is not posted on the website. Why would they keep the map a secret?
- Surprise! Two-sided booths are bad. This is only the 2nd time we’ve had one; the first time was when we still had a single booth, and we didn’t like that event, either.
- The event began with the mayor and mayor pro-tem driving down the narrow vendor aisle in classic cars. And then the high school marching band marched through, in full uniform. It was funny watching the people on cellphones try and talk over the percussion section as it marched by.
- Oh, so many groups of young girls visited Mrs M’s booth this weekend. Lip scrubs became a “gotta have” with the younger generation.
- I love community events.
- Saturday evening, the vendors closed at 5pm … but the beer garden & live music continued until 6pm. Why in the world would they close the vendors while drunk people with spending money were still nearby, and about to exit through all of the booths?
- We almost missed an exfolier sale because we didn’t have a purple one … I can’t believe Aunt Sis let us run out of purple. But then, when we got home we had received a new box holding a LOT of new exfoliers, so all is well. But we’re still low on purple. How can that be?
- Mrs M thought she had a busy weekend (she did), but we still didn’t do the number of transactions that we did at our biggest event … that had similar groups of young girls loving Mrs M’s stuff.
- One person observed that the domed cheese & cracker servers would be perfect for serving a cupcake under glass. Uh, OK … but they didn’t need one of those, I guess.
- Losing It: Mrs M lost it at 3pm Sunday when another group of young girls descended & left her scrub testing station in shambles. Frenzied Velda did not appear, but she was not far away.
- Sold my last large surfboard, and my last small sous chef board. Missed a sale because I only had one large sous chef board, and it was the wrong color. I hate being out of things; more work to do!
- My only request was for wine accessories. Alas, I’m still not there yet. Maybe in a month, if I’m lucky.
- Every returning vendor that I spoke with told me that sales were way down from prior year – perhaps half of last year! – in spite of the lovely weather. Theories abounded, from pre-election jitters to the phase of the moon. No way to know of course, but this year’s event was a shadow of last year’s event. Unfortunately.
- The load out was the worst I have ever seen. Total chaos. No management of traffic – vendors were allowed to drive in at 5:01pm, and there were still people walking every which way. The beer garden and free music was still going as well! Kids were darting between cars on bikes. This is an accident waiting to happen, unfortunately.
- Both aisles were wide enough for one line of cars to drive through while another line was parked, but only just. Large trucks and trailers were always a problem, and there were many of those. We had vans scraping by under our awning, inches from our booth just minutes after the official closing. The whole idea of strike your booth and then drive in to pack it away seems to have been lost on the organizers, who ceded total control of the load out. This part of the event was even worse than spending the whole weekend in the gutter.
Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. Hello, old friend.
Saturday Lunch: A Boy Scout cheese burger. Great char. Always happy to support BSA.
Saturday Snack: Nope.
Saturday Dinner: Dinner at Nancy & Bobby’s home. Lovely, simply lovely.
Sunday Breakfast: When it works, you don’t change. Hello, old friend.
Sunday Lunch: A different Boy Scout troop was selling pizzas as a fund raiser, so I had an individual pizza: pepperoni.
Sunday Snack: Potato chips left from yesterday’s lunch.
Sunday Dinner: Velda’s ham & pasta salad. And bourbon.
- Total miles driven: 221
- Booth cost: $850
- # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
- Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
- Total sales: $2,213
- # containers of product taken: all of them
- # boards available: 220
- Saturday alarm: 5:30a
- Sunday alarm: 6:45a
- # transactions: 114
- # soap & lotion vendors: there were 3 others, we think. Two had soap and a small lotion line (one was all about bath bombs); one just sold lip balm.
- # woodworking vendors: UNPRECEDENTED. There were 4 vendors selling cutting boards! One was from northern California, and had a broad product line (but a narrow use of exotic woods). One was a senior citizen selling stuff at his first ever event, and everything had inlays. Finally, a high school shop was selling untreated boards using cheap wood (soft wood & hard wood) as a fundraiser. I saw 2 of their boards on the aisle, and I saw 1 from the NorCal competitor.
- Edge grain vs. end grain: 21:1
- Returning next year? I think so … because staying with our hometown friends in Manhattan Beach made this a lovely weekend in spite of the disappointing sales! It’s not all about the vending, this vending thing.
Boards sold: 22
Small Boards: 4
Cheese Boards: 4
Small Surfboard: 3
Magic Bottle Openers: 3
Notepad Clipboards: 2
Custom Orders: 2
Large Surfboard: 1
Chess Board: 1
Bread Board: 1
Small Sous Chef Board: 1
Legal Clipboard: 1