The Board Chronicles: Hillside Farm Arts & Crafts Show 2017   Leave a 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.

We found this event the best way: networking. My good vendor pal Dalinda told me this was one of her favorite events, so we signed up.

If she’s wrong, I will have to extract my revenge. After all, this is our first foray into Riverside County to do an event … who’s actually been to Norco, anyway? I’ve only been there once, to help Christopher buy a truck. Other than that … nope.

Google tells me this is an 87 mile drive, and I’m going to be doing it 4 times. Lovely.

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had been off playing at the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild annual convention in Las Vegas earlier this week, so she has to work Friday. That means I’m driving to the event, setting up solo, and then driving back home on Friday evening through the Friday commuter chaos. Saturday, we’ll get up at O dark :30 to go set up for the event’s 9am start.

Observations

  • This is our Spring Fling’s event # 3 of 7. Miles to go before we sleep. 87 miles one way, this weekend … and Memorial Day Weekend will be farther. Miles to go before we sleep.
  • It’s always an adventure when you pull into a new event site and know nothin’ ’bout nothin’. All was good; these are good people. Many of the vendors have been doing this twice yearly event (the weekend before Mother’s Day in the spring, and Thanksgiving weekend and the first weekend of December for the holidays) for a long time.
  • Set-up was uneventful, once I got the trailer backed in. I didn’t do it well, and the men that live in this horsey community definitely noticed. And commented. One said, “You never owned a boat, huh?”
  • Nope.
  • Lots of woodworkers here, though none are as single-minded as I am. I’m very comfortable being “the cutting board guy.” Another vendor commented that he had more than just bread boards.
  • And he did. As Hamm said in Beckett’s Endgame (say it with me), “Each to their own speciality.”
  • Many customers assumed that I was the guy they bought a board from last year at this event (I’m not). One couple came to me, upset that their board had warped. I gave them the “some other guy did it” explanation, and then told them why their board did what it did. I showed them my thinnest cutting board with bread board ends to ensure it didn’t warp. They left frustrated they bought a board from some other guy.
  • Things you don’t see every day: a lady walked by the booth, and kissed the chicken she was carrying. Live chicken. Kissed.
  • Lots of vendors at this community event – 74, to be exact. That’s too many for this event’s traffic, IMHO. We did OK, but not great on Saturday.
  • We had time to go walk about on Sunday, and we always introduce ourselves to vendors that do what we do. I met all of the woodworkers, and they were a nice bunch. We all do something different, and I enjoy encouraging my peers by recognizing their good work. I will note that I try to visit their booths, and only 1 visited my booth.
  • Mrs M did the same thing, and had a rather unpleasant conversation with a long-time soaper at this event. This other soaper was, uh, marking her territory when she talked to Mrs M. This other vendor lied about the science involved and was rather imperial in her attitude as an obviously accomplished soaper. In her mind.
  • Good thing Mrs M hadn’t visited her website yet to see the medical claims and outright falsehoods that are included there. Best practices of soap making were clearly being ignored in addition to the flouting of the FDA regulations. We’ll always have snake oil salespeople, it seems. It’s a pity they have to act like the snakes that they are.
  • I think I was madder about it than Mrs M.
  • Sunday, there was a forecast for thunderstorms throughout the day (yikes!). Luckily, that did not happen, but the downpour did arrive shortly after the event closed at 4pm Sunday. We got drenched for about an hour, and then the sky cleared and we were able to quickly load the trailer. We don’t think that we lost any product to the wet … well, except for one monkey that escaped from the zoo and was later found, face down in a puddle, drowned.

  • Requests were for a cribbage board, a top for an island, and a surfboard-shaped MBO.
  • Chess board sales: $0.

The Food: The Lost Weekend

Saturday Breakfast: Bagel & cream cheese at home. Yum.

Saturday Lunch: A hot dog, which came from a high school group that was doing a fundraiser selling lunch. Somehow, they managed to get the hot dog bun both soggy and crunchy. Not recommended.

Saturday Snack: Some fabulous soft molasses, ginger bread cookies. Warm from the oven. Fabulous.

Saturday Dinner: We went to Con Amore Ristorante in Corona, which had absolutely rave reviews on Yelp and Google. Many, many reviews with an average of 4-1/2 stars. We were seated quickly, and that’s the only good thing that happened. Velda wrote a Yelp review giving it one star (only because they require one star. You can’t give a review zero stars). She had a pesto gnocchi, and it was truly tasteless. She swears that the warm bread (or was it stale?) was served with a canola/olive oil blend, not true EVOO. And when her flavor analyzer says it, I trust it. Interestingly, the owner of Con Amore messaged her within 3 hours of her review posting, citing a personnel problem resulting in him being alone in the kitchen on a Saturday night (!) and offering a free meal for us to go back … not going to happen.

Sunday Breakfast: We stayed at Corona’s Holiday Inn Express, and Sunday’s breakfast was the dreaded plastic cheese omelette. Velda intervened: an English muffin, pork sausage, an omelette and mayo made a much better sandwich. It was like I was on a Cub Scout campout again. It was definitely good for the pork and mayo to hide the taste of plastic. Almost.

Sunday Lunch: We switched to burgers from the Chuck Wagon fundraiser, and they were better … though Velda fetched the meal this day, and didn’t remember that burgers taste better with ketchup and mustard. Oh well…. At least they were better than the hot dogs.

Sunday Snack: More cookies, saved from yesterday. Still fabulous.

Sunday Dinner: We went to Wolf Creek – that is open until 9:30p on Sundays! That’s an important find for us. I had the sun-dried tomato pasta with chicken, whatever they call it. Best meal of the weekend, and it wasn’t close.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 342
  • Booth cost: $220
  • Food cost: $123
  • Travel cost: $179
  • Total sales: $1,452
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $930
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 28
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several – 5 soapers; a couple of people with other skin care products. Please note that if medical treatments for acne or eczema are offered, don’t buy their soap!
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 or so. 3 turners, a scroll saw artist; a couple that made toys. Several sign makers, of course. One guy made cheese boards and handled cutting boards with juice grooves (that’s a thing?).
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 6:3
  • Returning next year? For the holiday event, it’s our plan. For next spring … we’ll see, but probably. We think it’ll take a while to become part of the in-crowd of vendors here.

Boards sold: 9

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 1

Letter-sized Clip Board: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

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