The Board Chronicles: Hillside Farm’s Holiday Craft Fair 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.

This spring, we had a good outing at the Hillside Farm Arts & Crafts Show. We were pleasantly surprised, and their holiday craft fair would be even better, we were told.

We like even better.

Their bigger event is the Holiday Craft Fair, and this year they are hosting their 33rd Annual.

There’s a downside, though: the event takes place over Thanksgiving Weekend, Friday – Sunday. There’s a 2nd weekend as well, but we’ll miss that to do Santa’s Art Shop the following weekend. Week 1 is supposed to be the best of the 2 weekends, we’re told.

And I get to spend another weekend in Norco. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had to work at her “job.” She said. So, I’m soloing with our normal double booth set-up. Me. Solo. At a big deal Holiday Craft Fair with lofty expectations. What could go wrong?
  • Since I’m solo, I have to set up both sides of the booth. Luckily, Hillside Farm will open their gates at 6am on Black Friday for me to setup for their event which starts at 10am.

Observations

  • Event # 9 of 15 in our 4th quarter.
  • I’m a lonely, lonely man.
  • I left shortly after 4am to arrive at the venue at about 5:40am. I backed the trailer into the best spot to unload from, and got to work.
  • I was still setting up at 9:30am, and realized that the trailer had to be moved to remote parking. I must have had a crazed look on my face. When I passed the booth for Sweet Spot Home Decor, Dalinda flagged me down and offered me water. “What’s wrong,” she asked? I explained I was on the hustle to move the trailer, and she kindly volunteered her husband to do the deed. I gave him the keys, and all was well. Thank you, Danny!
  • Vendors help each other, but this was above and beyond. Dalinda gets a gold star. One more thing I have to make….
  • Set up was over 4 hours. I’m pretty sure me doing a solo setup of our complete display is not a good idea.
  • I was very worried coming into this event about me handling all of the transactions solo. After all, we were expecting a holiday-crazed event. I strategized on how to do packaging quickly so I could keep up.
  • The event started well: a cutting board was my first sale. That’s usually an auspicious beginning. Unfortunately, that one board was the only sale on Friday from my side of the booth. Total sales on Friday disappointed.
  • As they did on Saturday.
  • As they did on Sunday.
  • A lady was talking to her friend in my booth. She said, “I just read an article about the 3 dirtiest things in your house. # 1 was your wooden cutting board. # 2 was a dog toy.” I never learned what # 3 was, as I interrupted her, told her that wooden cutting boards should be very clean if you washed them, and that wood was, in fact, naturally anti-bacterial.
  • People in my booth must not insult my work, or I will be aggressive and interrupt them. Every time.
  • Requests were for a tongue drum (another woodworker had them), a cribbage board with a holder for the pegs (sigh) and a large cutting board with a hole in it for hanging (nope).
  • Load out was more difficult than load in, as many vendors that were returning for the event the following weekend just left that canopies in place. That meant my 50′ trip to the trailer became 150′. That’s not too big of an inconvenience, though … booth tear down took 2 hours 20 minutes, but loading only took 40 minutes. I was on the road at 7:10pm. Luckily, I had no holiday traffic getting home, which was the best part of the weekend.
  • I know a couple of vendors left after Saturday due to poor sales. Not sure why this event didn’t work this year, but it did not live up to its reputation. Every vendor I talked to – and many vendors do this event every year – said their sales were significantly down this year. Maybe it’s no fun to do Christmas shopping at an outdoor holiday boutique in 90* temperatures. Ya think?

The Food: the worst

When I solo out of town, I seldom invest any effort in good food. To my detriment. The hotel in Corona was next to a restaurant called “Good Fellas,” and they had a great breakfast. Other than that … I didn’t have much good food. I even skipped a meal, which I never do.

When I returned home Sunday evening, I had Thanksgiving leftovers. And bourbon. All was well. Again.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 236
  • Booth cost: $330
  • Food cost: $100
  • Travel cost: $318
  • Total sales: $1,222
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $474
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 38. Let’s me be very clear: I could keep up with that level of business, even solo. I was never close to being ‘whelmed. Unfortunately.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. Though none offered the complete line that we have, there were easily 6 other vendors that offered part of what we did. That’s too many for an event of this size, IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: several. There were 4 woodworkers that sold cutting boards at this event, though each had different offerings, of course. 3 different woodworkers had Lazy Susans. It was unusually crowded in my category.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 9

Lazy Susans: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Trivet: 1

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