Archive for November 2017

The Board Chronicles: Gingerbread Boutique 2017   2 comments

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.

Last year, the Gingerbread Boutique was a very nice find for us. Sales were robust, albeit at an expensive event. Still, the event was a Thursday/Friday boutique (last year), so all sales could be viewed as incremental.

I definitely had a positive experience in 2016; read about it here.

The event is a fundraiser for the Westlake Village Junior Women’s Club. There are a relatively small number of vendors, and a lot of women come to shop. What could go wrong?

New Ideas

  • Another central cashier event, though this one is hardly inexpensive. For a 9 hour, one day event, the up-front fee is still $300. And then, add 20%.
  • Last year, this event had a VIP cocktail party on Thursday, followed by a day-long event on Friday. This year, it was Friday only, with the public event 10a-4p, a break for dinner, and then the VIP event 6p-9p. Odd schedule … a VIP party after the public event? Odd.
  • Since I was setting up on Thursday afternoon, during Anna’s Boutique, I had limited display pieces and inventory to actually set up. I did what I could, planted the flag, if you will, and called it good. The rest of setup would be done Friday morning when I had the trailer with everything else in it.

Observations

  • Event # 5 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Day 3 of 5 in my Week From Hell.
  • Set up on Thursday was a surprise: my space, though “the same” as last year, was “smaller” than last year. There just wasn’t as much space. OK, go.
  • This space is very much a “found space” as I called it in my black box theater days. I was at the edge of the stage, and had a stairway in the booth. That sounds like display space to me!
  • When I arrived on Friday to set up, I was told my neighbor was not there … so I could have their space as well. My space just got bigger than last year. OK, go.
  • Yes, I can fill the space.
  • Come to find out, the missing vendor was a re-seller of used wood serving pieces who insisted she should not be next to me. She sold large serving pieces & charcuterie boards that were uniformly silver in color: used wood. They looked good, but who wants to put their food on such a thing? I know what gets sprayed on barn wood, after all.
  • I really don’t like central cashier events. They hide their true cost by charging a percentage of sales after the event, so that cost is not felt as much as writing a big check in advance. In any case, since I don’t really like them, I think I have to make a new rule for next year: no central cashier events. There. Done.
  • Last year, this was a 12 hour event. This year, it’s 9 hours. This may not end well.
  • My neighbor is a high end jewelry designer that has a few brick & mortar boutiques that carry her stuff, she said. For this event, she took her normal wholesale price, added 20% and more … and ended up making more money from each sale at this event. Her first sale was $1,750. I’m definitely not the vendor with the highest prices at this boutique!
  • Sales are down this year. Is it because this is only a one day event instead of two days? Is LA just out of it due to the World Series loss? Did the sponsor not promote this event as well this year since there’s a new coordinator? No clue. In any event, sales are down from last year … and we’ve got better stuff, more stuff, in a larger space. Not. Good.
  • The aftermath of this event proved to be memorable. After the 9p close of the event, I struck everything and moved it to the walkway that was just outside of my entrance door, 5′ from my booth. Convenient. That way, I moved everything out of the room so the promoters could lock the door and leave … which left me to load the trailer from the public access sidewalk. Unfortunately, it was a long load due to the chaos I had left the trailer in. Oh, and I was tired. Go figure.
  • 11p: trailer locked. Time to drive home. I got on the 118 freeway, which was narrowed to only 1 lane due to construction … on a Friday night. Then, unfortunately, there was an accident that I was fairly close to, and the artificially narrowed freeway had to be closed to clear it. There I was, 11:30p on a Friday night, at a dead stop for 20 minutes due to a traffic accident. Not. Happy.
  • Home at 12:30a. So ended Day 3 … and began Day 4 of my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for Boutique Fantastique!

The Food

Friday Breakfast: A breakfast burrito from Carl’s Jr. Sometimes you have to shake it up.

Friday Lunch: Sandwiches were provided by the producer, which was very nice. Not very filling, mind you, but I should not complain. Free is free. And given what the event costs….

Friday Snack: Nope.

Friday Dinner: I found Maria’s Italian Cafe during the break, and have a very nice dinner of Brussel sprouts & lasagna. This was the best part of my day.

 

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 231
  • Booth cost: $300 + 20% = $520
  • Food cost: $38
  • Travel cost: $120
  • Total sales: $1,272
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $594
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 39
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was a soap maker selling soap art (very pretty cupcakes “made with food-quality ingredients.” What does that MEAN?), but their prices were much higher than Mrs M’s. But then, we don’t sell cupcake soap, either.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me and the used wood retailer.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Word Blocks: 2

The Board Chronicles: Anna’s Boutique 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 is the week I decided to hurt myself. Or, try to hurt myself. Whatever.

In any event, I’m doing 3 Boutiques in 3 cities in 5 days. I’m writing this the night before the first setup, and I hurt already. What was I thinking?

New Ideas

  • A Tuesday afternoon set-up for a Wednesday/Thursday Holiday Boutique in a hotel ballroom. What could possibly go wrong?
  • This event has a central cashier … my first such event in a year. As is normal for such events, the booth fee for our double space is relatively low ($250) but the event producer then keeps 20% of total sales. Since my normal sales on a Wednesday/Thursday are zero, perhaps this event – even at a high cost – will be worthwhile.

Observations

  • Event # 4 of 14 in our 4th quarter schedule. Yes, we added another event. Yes, I’m crazy.
  • Arrived for setup to find that my booths were in a peninsula configuration. OK, this setup will be unique. I also found that my single neighbor had decided that she need 6″ of my space, so she ignored the border & set up her backdrop on my peninsula. I moved the backdrop; it’s not my fault there’s no room for her to sit in her space now. Tuesday setup’s done.
  • 6am: I’m up. Aren’t vacations wonderful?
  • 7:04am: Hello, old friend.
  • 7:57am: At the event.
  • 9am: Doors open … lots of folks. Everyone’s carrying a shopping basket, provided by the promoter. Looks good.
  • ZooSoapia is SO popular at this event! The location is better on the peninsula … but we’ve never had sales like this for ZooSoapia, nor the other shaped soaps that Mrs M creates. This week, it’s Employee of the Month Judy that’s helping with ZooSoapia, and the holiday-themed soaps flew off the table.
  • Wednesday, I solo at the event and am bored much of the day. There was a constant flow of people, luckily, but many were not customers. The business crowd expected at lunch never appeared.
  • For the first time ever, the LA Dodgers are playing in November. It’s game 7 of the World Series … and I’m in a Simi Valley ballroom while the game is happening. Customers that aren’t baseball fans? No chance. Wednesday was a big disappointment (on every level!). No one to blame; baseball just got in the way. Even the post game customers that came to shop away their disappointment weren’t customers for us!
  • Thursday had Velda & Judy come to take my place at the Boutique while I went to set up our next event in Westlake Village. Sales did not improve appreciably, unfortunately.
  • This event has been around a long time, and the promoter has a large mailing list. People definitely come to the Boutique, but they seemed to be a bit older than my normal buyers. Partner that with the collision with baseball, and this event just didn’t meet expectations. But no worries … this is just the first 2 days of events in my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for the Gingerbread Boutique!

The Food

Wednesday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Wednesday Lunch: Booth delivery from the hotel, who definitely makes it easy to be at this event. There’s a special menu for vendors, and service was perfect. This is a big plus!

Wednesday Snack: Nope.

Wednesday Dinner: A burger from the hotel bar … and a bourbon to drown my boredom in.

Thursday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Thursday Lunch: A taco on the road as I drive to the next setup for the Gingerbread Boutique.

Thursday Snack: Nope.

Thursday Dinner: I had pasta in the hotel bar while the ladies took over the booth. I brought them dinner when I was done … high living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 249
  • Booth cost: $250 + 20% = $516
  • Food cost: $114
  • Travel cost: $129
  • Total sales: $1,331
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $572
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Wednesday alarm: 6a
  • Thursday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 64
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was an all-natural goat milk soapmaker – who milks her own goats! She was not happy with her sales, but then her booth was unattended, so at least she didn’t have to spend all of her time at the event.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 11

Cheese Boards: 4

Word Blocks: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Magic Bottle Openers: 1

Small Board: 1

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