The Board Chronicles: Boutique Fantastique 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.

boutique-fantastiqueI want to love the Boutique Fantastique, put on by the Saugus High PTSO. It’s the high school my kids graduated from, and this event raises about $10,000 each year to help fund scholarships for students from my neighborhood. This is an event I want to support.

However, last year, the results were down from our first year, and our first event with a double booth. 2014 sales were just over $1,400, and 2015 sales were only $1,311. This event has the reputation of being the best holiday boutique in the valley … but is this the best we can do on this prime time first weekend in November?

New Ideas

  • ZooSoapia premieres for Mrs M: soap for kids. The soaps are in molded animal shapes and are really quite spectacular. When we first posted a picture of the hedgehog on Facebook, we got immediate, positive feedback. We got orders for a product Mrs M had barely begun to make.
  • Also new at this event are Mrs M’s Bags of Coal Soap. If someone you know has been naughty….


  • Event # 5 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. Still not half way. Still not close to done.
  • I love local.
  • Event load-in was scheduled to begin at 6:30am, and some vendors began showing up in the parking lot at 5:30am. I got there at 6:03am … and they started letting people in a few minutes later, well ahead of schedule. When I got to the gate with my Jeep + trailer, the only comment from the guard was “You’re large.” Thank you very much. I was directed to the far side of the loading zone, where there was room for me. I was unloaded and students were carrying our stuff in by 6:30am. Amazing help from student volunteers.
  • I had gotten away from saying that we were from THIS TOWN … because we haven’t been for several events. However, at this event, I made a point of saying that the boards on display were made in my garage workshop … 2 miles that way. Local, local local.
  • After a run of events that were not in Santa Clarita, this event felt like we were enjoying the fruits of building a brand. People talked about seeing us at this event for 3 years. People talked about buying local. People talked about seeing us at another event 2 years ago, and buying from us several times.
  • I love local.
  • I got a large custom order on Saturday from a guy that stalked me … right to this event. After emailing me on Thursday (which I returned at midnight that day, explaining I was in the middle of 4 event days, and couldn’t talk to him until next week), he followed my advice and found me at this local event on Saturday. And ordered 8 boards for corporate Christmas presents. He first saw my work a couple of years ago at a local event at the Elks Lodge … and now, he’s talking about what we could do next Christmas. Sometimes, you just have to be available. Oh, and be willing to do the work.
  • Which I am. And I do.
  • Dinner proved to be an adventure Saturday evening. After we completed our salads, the manager approached the table and apologized. And apologized. Our waitress, we were told, had lost our order and could not find it. The manager apologized, and assured us that she would buy us dinner, dessert, and whatever we wanted. We placed our order (and Velda didn’t get her chicken pot pie, as they were now out), and the waitress apologized when she came to refill our drinks. The guy delivering our dinners – eventually – apologized. The manager apologized again. We got it: everyone was sorry, and a mistake happened. We got a free dinner, and free muffins to go. Why get angry? No big thing.
  • Mrs M had her single biggest event sale ever on Sunday. The lady decided Mrs M products would make great Christmas presents for a lot of people, and she bought a large shopping bag full of soaps, lotions, scrubs, lotion bars, lip scrubs, lip balms….
  • I love Christmas.
  • Several people talked to me about special orders … and I honestly believe they will come through. This event had value beyond the sales we gained Saturday & Sunday. I hope.
  • (Note to self: expectations can kill you.)
  • Load-out had rules that you must follow: take down your booth, carry it all to the loading area curb, and THEN ask for a pass to bring in your car to load. I went to the lady in charge when we were packed up, and asked where I should carry our stuff to, since I was driving a Jeep + trailer. She told me to get help, organize my student volunteers, and drive my trailer in immediately. Suddenly, we had a bevy of volunteers, and we were home 2 hours after tear down started.
  • Did we tip the volunteers? You bet.
  • I love local.
  • Requests were for a Mickey Mouse cutting board (I don’t emulate licensed products without a license) and a coffee table.
  • I think we’re in a lousy location at this event, which fills the Saugus High gymnasium with vendor spaces. We’re in the back of the gym on the right side … and it sure seems like most vendors in the front of the gym have better sales than we do. After trending down in year 2, we were way up in year 3, thanks to the big custom order that I got. The custom order wasn’t really driven by the event, but it did happen at the event, and that’s how we look at the business. We had a great event in year 3.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Velda made egg sandwiches & brought them to the high school; we ate before completing set up

Saturday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s 4″ sub. Mike’s way.

Saturday Snack: the chips from lunch

Saturday Dinner: Mimi’s Cafe … for meatloaf with all of the other old people

Sunday Breakfast: bagels & cream cheese. And a banana.

Sunday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s 4″ sub. Mike’s way.

Sunday Snack: the chips from lunch (see a pattern here?)

Sunday Dinner: Bella Cucina for Chicken Marsala. Best Italian restaurant in Santa Clarita. Fabulous.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 16
  • Booth cost: $265
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Total sales: $2,269
  • # boards available: all of them
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: 63
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other
  • # woodworking vendors: two others, both had turned objects. One had a few cutting boards & such.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:0 … NO end grain!
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 22

Custom Orders: 8

Magic Bottle Openers: 7

Small Surfboards: 1

Medium Surfboards: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Cheese Board: 1

One response to “The Board Chronicles: Boutique Fantastique 2016

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  1. The Boutique Fantastique was indeed Fantastic! There were some quiet moments on Sunday but in reviewing last years numbers the day followed suit from the year before.

    I agree with you on the student volunteers. They had my car unloaded in no time on Saturday morning and I was beyond surprised when I went to my spot after parking my car. Everything was there and ready for me to put up my display! Sunday breakdown was also very smooth. It was hard trying to explain to the students how to load my car. They all wanted to help and far be it from me to discourage their willingness to help! The tips the students receive are divided among the organizations they belong to.

    There is a raffle event whereby funds are raised to help homeless students who attend the school. A young lady of about 10 or 11 won the blanket I donated. She came over to my booth to tell me how excited she was to win and how much she likes her new blanket. She planned on putting it on her bed the moment she got home! She made me feel very special!

    I am glad the event went well for you, Velda and all of the other vendors who participated. There were some first time vendors there and they learned from watching and talking with others. We are all looking forward to next years event.

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