The Board Chronicles: Fine Craft Show 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.

Fine Craft ShowCity-sponsored events can be quirky. Few cities are genuinely staffed to run craft fairs or art boutiques, and this event has suffered from some of that lack of institutional knowledge.

This is Santa Clarita’s 24th iteration of the Fine Craft Show. The event started before the city incorporated, though, and used to be a much bigger deal. The event was founded by a member of the community (by the effervescent Linda Hollingsworth, in fact!), and then ownership eventually passed to the city … who offers the event as a revenue generator for itself. The event’s not intended to provide entertainment, and it really doesn’t. It’s got 40 vendors with their handmade goods in a nice park … and that’s it.

Still, it’s the oldest & largest boutique for handmade goods in Santa Clarita. It was our best Santa Clarita event by far in 2015 (read about the 2015 event here). In 2016, though, we’ve upped our game by a significant margin. Will this show keep up with us?

New Ideas

  • Who needs me? After selling nearly all of my remaining Magic Bottle Openers, I’ve been given this weekend off from vendoring to stay home to get to making. Mrs M & Little Girl are running the booth this weekend at one of my favorite hometown events (sigh).
  • Who needs her? Mrs M decided she would prefer getting sick to giving me 2 days off, so she stayed home on Sunday to try and deal with a cold. Local events make life so much more flexible! My 2nd day off? Dead by virus.
  • It’s hard to get good, reliable help these days.

Observations

  • Event # 6 of the eleven events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. Finally. Over the hump.
  • I love local.
  • Load in was a bear. I ended up having to park about 70 yards away from the booth, and then pull 9 rolling cart loads of stuff up the hill to get it to our space. I did this in 90* heat, just after getting my flu shot. At the end of it all, I was whooped. Capital W Whooped, in fact.
  • Yes, it was 90* in November. Deal with it.
  • Perfect weather for this weekend event!
  • Mrs M & Little Girl knew I was not at the event on Saturday, so they were tasked with keeping track of sales and giving me information so I could write this blog. Here’s a message I received from Mrs M: “parrot handlebar of bike.”
  • Make of that what you will.
  • A toddler on a leash graced the booth with her presence. She was cuteness personified. Dad lifted her, and she grabbed a sous chef board on her way up. Dad tried to take it, and she said, “Mine.”
  • Love her.
  • Dad didn’t buy it for her, however.
  • Several people in the booth talked about how they just drove by the park, saw the canopies, and thought they would drop in. Traffic was not that great … and if a significant percentage were walk-ins that didn’t know of the event in advance, what does that say about the effectiveness of the marketing?
  • It was great to see some old friends – and Santa Clarita residents – come by. I worked with Jill for many years, but we haven’t seen each other for, uh, quite some time. A Cub Scout family came by (well, most of them) … 20 years after I hung up my Cubmaster patch. Great memories.
  • Vendors can provide effective marketing when they invite friends, families & customers to events, as we do. Social media works, and that helps everyone … but promoters who rely on vendor marketing as a replacement for traditional event marketing are not really promoters. This event was promoted (banners were up & ads ran in local magazines, I know), but ultimately, we needed more traffic.
  • Another couple came by that actually gave me my first custom order at Mrs M’s 2nd event in April of 2014. They told me their in-counter board still looks great, and promised pictures!
  • I love local.
  • 9 loads in = 9 loads out. Load out was no more fun, though it was down hill. Sort of.
  • Some other vendors reported down sales, and some said they had a great weekend. And so it always is. Several jewelry vendors said this was a very good event for them.
  • I wish this event had more community in it. I mean, you don’t have an event at a high school without high school students helping. A community event should have family fun. Or a parade. Live music. A beer garden. A Christmas theme. Support of local charities. Something to inject some personality, IMHO. This event feels as generic as it can be. There’s just not much “there” there.
  • The event disappointed this year. It went from being 2015’s best event in Santa Clarita for us … to being no better than 3rd best this year! In fact, sales dipped below our average event this year. Do we need to go farther afield in 2017 to keep upping our game, or will we find happiness by staying local?
  • Note I said the event disappointed, not that it was bad. We still made almost 5x booth fees, which is good. Good, not great. And who doesn’t want great?

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: no information available

Saturday Lunch: no information available. But, there was a food truck.

Saturday Snack: no information available

Saturday Dinner: Velda’s legendary Beef Barley Soup. Be afraid of the legend. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Sunday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Sunday Lunch: Del Taco. It’s Little Girl’s fave, and the closest food source to the event on Sunday. No food trucks.

Sunday Snack: nope.

Sunday Dinner: Grand Panda takeout. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 72
  • Booth cost: $350
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Total sales: $1,720
  • # boards available: all of them
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • # transactions: 68
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others, but they didn’t have Mrs M’s complete product line
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others. The Santa Clarita-based scroll saw guy was here, as always. There were 2 others making decorative pieces from wine barrel staves, and one newbie that is a very direct competitor to me. He was at his 5th event; had a nice, clean display shared with the sewing offered by his wife. Exactly the way we started!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 13:0
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 13

4x Magic Bottler Openers

3x Custom Orders

2x IDKWIWSS (I Don’t Know What It Was, She Said)

1x Cutting Boards

1x Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Notepad Clipboard

1x Pizza Server

One response to “The Board Chronicles: Fine Craft Show 2016

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  1. Be afraid of the legend!

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