The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2016   8 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.

Avocado FestivalThe California Avocado Festival is set in Carpinteria, which is on the coast in Santa Barbara county.

How far away? About an hour.

We enjoy doing the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History Holiday Boutique in November, so it was natural to add this much, much larger event. We tried to get in last year, actually, but we were late to the party and could not get a space. With advance planning and patience, we were accepted into this very expensive event that promises traffic of over 100,000.

That sounds like a party to me.

I’ve called the event Holy Guacamole ever since, much to Mrs M’s chagrin. Come to find out, there was a booth called Holy Guaca-Moly selling the stuff … but they were sold out when I finally went to buy our snack on Sunday. We got no guacamole at the event that proudly states they have the largest vat of the stuff in the world.

As if you want a vat of food.

This year was the 30th annual California Avocado Festival. There were community fundraisers everywhere you looked – unless you looked to the west, where the ocean was just 6 blocks away. The event itself is a non-profit that raises funds for local charities, which might explain why the booth fees are so high. Charity events are always pricey for vendors, it seems.

We have had a run of a few events with unexpectedly poor sales results … and unexpectedly poor food choices, as well. We were anxious to get back to our winning ways.

New Ideas

  • This event set a new record for us, with a booth fee for our 10×20 space of $950.
  • This event was unprecedented in our experience, as they kept a $100 cleaning deposit per 10×10 booth space. Since we do a double booth, we had to provide a $200 cleaning deposit to guarantee our little piece of roadway would be left as clean as asphalt should be.
  • Mrs M brought out Lime Avocado soap just for this event … which speaks to 8 weeks of planning, culminating in this new offering that was properly cured in her soap drying rack. Hope it sells!


  • This is event # 2 of 11 in our 4th quarter. Yes, we’ve added an event. No, we won’t be adding another.
  • Overheard, 9:30am, from a 4-year old. “I want ice cream.” She was doing it right, even though Mom was a bit aghast.
  • My goal is to be of use. I make kitchen tools … not kitchen decor. I am aware, however, that some people make their own decisions about how to use my boards without consulting me. I need to come to terms with that. On the other hand, I’m thinking about traveling with a knife & an array of vegetables. Then, I can make every buyer chop something before I’ll let them have their board. The first cut’s the hardest.
  • My goal is to be of use. I may become the Soup Nazi of cutting boards.
  • It was surprising how many people approached us here and told stories of buying boards in Ventura, Oxnard, Carpinteria, and even Ridgecrest (200 miles away) in years past. Everyone was still ecstatic with their purchase, thankfully. This whole brand loyalty thing just might be worth serious consideration….
  • As soon as I sold 3 boards (today’s first 3 were 2 Magic Bottle Openers & 1 Lazy Susan), I was under 200 pieces in inventory … and then I sold 31 more. 200 is but a distant memory. Again.
  • I had 3 new cutting boards on display this weekend, and my booth was in the sun most of the day. The result: the boards heat up, and the oil weeps out. I explained this to a lady in the booth, telling her that the boards were wet because the sun makes the oil weep out. Her reply, “Me, too.” Best line I’ve heard in quite some time.
  • Two different purchasers were rewarded with a passionate kiss from their significant other in the booth on Saturday. My boards create happiness. My goal is to be of use.
  • Saturday night found us hot, tired, and resolved that we would not eat at the hotel. We drove to the hotel, and then just made a right turn in search of acceptable sustenance. Velda was Yelping as I was driving, and we quickly found Clementine’s. 4 stars. Steak. Sold. We found a very homey, old-fashioned kind of place that gives you celery, carrots & pickles to munch on before the bread arrives. When Pat came to take our order, Velda had just taken a bite and was chewing furiously to be able to speak. Seeing her distress, I started to give my order, but Pat shushed me. “Be quiet. It’s not your turn,” she said. Duly noted.
  • I went walkabout to see the event, and at the top of the street, there was a party going on. The whole food area was a designated drinking area … and there was music on 3 stages, going constantly. So, you had music, guacamole & beer. It was clear that people were having a very good time here!
  • Mrs M did sell the Lime Avocado soap … all 17 bars that were available. Next year, she promises to make 3 times as much. She’ll also highlight that she uses avocado oil in all of her lotions, a little fact she kept hidden at this event for no good reason at all. Well, not hidden, exactly, if you read the ingredients list on the back of the lotion bottle, but next year the avocado inclusion will be highlighted, not ignored.
  • A nearby neighbor sold jewelry, and left some glass bead debris on the pavement. The organizers documented the mess she left … and then she came back with a broom to clean it up & save her $100 deposit.
  • Requests were for a pineapple-shaped board, an elephant-shaped board, a turtle-shaped board, and hair sticks. I could help none of them, but I’m now considering doing some sort of shaped board complement to the soon-to-be ZooSoapia.
  • Mrs M thought she was busy this weekend.

Most. Transactions. Ever.

Best. Mrs. M. Event. Ever.

  • This is an expensive event, and the sales results were not spectacular (it was only our 3rd best sales event ever). This event was not our most profitable, given the high costs, but I’ll take this level of success any day.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Cold bagels in the hotel room at 0 dark 30. We were at the event site at 6:15am for setup.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M’s Cheese & Crackers & Charcuterie

Saturday Snack: Trail mix

Saturday Dinner: Clementine’s is the place to go in Carpinteria … and I even got blackberry pie! Dessert is included with dinner, so you know they’re treating people right at Clementine’s.

Sunday Breakfast: An omelet at the hotel. Hardly good, but it was hot.

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & Crackers & Charcuterie, part deux

Sunday Snack: Trail mix … and mixed nuts

Sunday Dinner: Carl’s Jr was at the freeway on-ramp. We ate while driving home (sigh).

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 142
  • Booth cost: $950
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many. This was a rare high-touch event; the organizers were present, and engaged with their vendors.
  • Total sales: $3,931
  • # containers of product taken: almost all of them
  • # boards available: 202
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 167
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others that seemed to be less than truthful about their products. “Organic” has a specific meaning, which some people choose to ignore.
  • # woodworking vendors: only one other, a newby that was making boards specifically tricked out for the eating of avocados – and made from avocado wood. Now, this was the perfect event for that, but how many people really want a board just for the eating of avocados?
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 33:1
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 34

Magic Bottle Openers: 11

Cheese Boards: 6

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susan: 2

Pigs: 2

Legal Clipboards: 2

Letter Clipboards: 2

Notepad Clipboards: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

8 responses to “The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2016

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  1. I sold 19 bars of Avocado soap-all but the one we got! And you forgot to mention that the filet mignon at Clementines was the best steak we’ve had in California in a long time.

  2. I’m so happy you had a great event! The displays really look nice. I like your new signage. Very eye catching!
    I think Pat is fantastic. Guess she let you know who’s boss;)
    I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

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