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.
I listened, but I was sceptical. After all, the GingerBread Boutique was happening on a Thursday evening and a Friday … successful weekday events aren’t just unusual. They don’t exist.
In my experience.
But, Michelle kept after me, patiently answered my questions, and assured me that Mrs M’s Handmade could be successful at this event.
She wore me down. We’re in for the 35th Annual GingerBread Boutique, which is staged at St Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village as a fundraiser for the Westlake Village Junior Women’s Club. The event proceeds are 100% donated to local charities.
- Who needs Mrs M? I solo’d at the event with our double booth. I drove the trailer to the event with all of our product, but only used some of our display pieces due to the limited space.
- This is an indoor booth, and booth spaces are about 8’x7′, the instructions say. I got there, and my space was by the back door, and wrapped around a stairway to the stage … and my job was to make it work. OK. This was going to be an unusual layout. Can do.
- Event # 4 in our parade of 11 events in the 4th quarter. I can only see more from here.
- Who needs Mrs M?
- I finally filled out & sent in my application for this event in September … 7 weeks ago. Every time I had a question about how the event worked, I found the answer in the application. With my required initials beside the passage. Excellent application; excellent information in it. My retention of that information: not so good.
- This is a central cashier event. Good news: I don’t handle any money at the event. Bad news: I have to hand write a receipt in triplicate for every transaction, and then keep the purchased items until a receipt stamped “paid” is returned to me by the customer. Not my favorite way to handle cash at an event, but it did give Mrs M an accurate representation of how many lotion bars I sold. But what scents, she asks?
- I do have my limits.
- The Thursday night event was a cocktail party. Wine. Women. Me. What’s not to like?
- I was a bit under dressed, though, as many of the ladies were at a cocktail party and wore their heels & little black dresses. I was at a vendor event, in shorts. They tolerated my presence, but I should have thought through the whole Wine, Women & Me thing.
- … when I initialed the passage on the application, no doubt.
- One of the legendary moments at the Mowry table was when I instructed our growing family to no longer discuss underwear during our family dinners. The boys had brought their girlfriends to our table, and eventually those young ladies were fiancés, and now wives … but somewhere early in the process, I was uncomfortable with the discussion of under garments. I figured boys’ minds were focused enough on such things without added discussion. In my presence.
- The girls decided that discussing U-wear was perfectly fine, since they couldn’t discuss underwear. I took exception to that opinion, and a family legend was born. Now, many years later, both the boss of me (the younger Mrs M) and MrsMowry were delighted, however, with my story from this event: one of my vendor neighbors sold, uh, ladies underwear. During her sales pitch, she shared her cup size with her customers. And with me, a very few feet away. All of the time.
- Sometimes I just can’t catch a break.
- No free lunch, apparently. Vendors were supposed to get a coupon for a free hot dog from the cart, but somehow the person handing out the coupons missed me in my double booth. I should have gotten 2 lunches. Free. And I got nada.
- Part of the Mrs M tradition is the packaging that every purchase gets, complete with a bow around a pretty cellophane bag. Mrs M gets lots of props for her post-sale presentation, but she wasn’t at this event. My packaging got big props. One lady told me that I have a very feminine side. Well, OK, then.
- Own the demo. When Mrs M is not available, I excel at demo-ing lotion bars. I explain the advantages of Mrs M’s lotion bars, and the relative disadvantages of regular lotions. I own the demo. I effectively sell lotion bars.
- Must be my feminine side.
- Nope. It’s my speech degree from Mizzou. In my humble opinion.
- I’m a communicator. That’s me.
- The application told me that I had 90 minutes to strike the booth … and I included on the app my note that 90 minutes would be tough. It was. I was packed in 90 minutes, but it took me another 30 to cart the stuff out to the trailer and begin loading. The organizers were patient with me … and good communication was key. They knew what I was doing, and I asked for their guidance. As you should.
- This charity event takes 20% of your sales in addition to a $400 booth fee for a 12 hour event. Our sales were really very strong for a Thursday night/Friday event, but with that 20% take by the house, the fee for our strong sales ended up being $895 (according to my calculations. I won’t get the actual check for 3 weeks. Sigh.). That’s a huge fee – our 2nd largest booth fee EVER. However, we did end up doing sales of three times that booth fee … and it was a Thursday/Friday event. I could have been sitting at home, with no revenue. Or, I could have been with the women & wine.
- You know what I chose.
Thursday Dinner: Subway
Friday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.
Friday Lunch: A Polish Dog from a cart. And chips.
Friday Snack: Nope
Friday Dinner: With leftovers like Velda’s Chicken Piccata, I am always OK. Oh, and bourbon.
- Total miles driven: 192
- Booth cost: $400 booth fee + 20% of sales = $895. Oh, and a $30 raffle prize.
- # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
- Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
- Total sales: $2,661
- # boards available: almost all of them
- Thursday alarm: nope
- Friday alarm: nope
- # transactions: 56
- # soap & lotion vendors: just us
- # woodworking vendors: just us
- Edge grain vs. end grain: 19:2
- Returning next year? Probably
Boards sold: 21
Magic Bottle Openers: 10
Medium Surfboard: 4
Custom Order: 2
Notepad Clipboard: 1
Large Cutting Board: 1
Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1
Cheese & Cracker Server: 1