The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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 love this event.

This is one of three events that we’ve done every year for the four years that Mrs M has been … Mrs M. For each of the previous three years, this has been our Best. Event. Ever.

Every year. We keep getting better, thank goodness.

You bet we love our December trip to Ridgecrest every year. Wouldn’t you?

Read about our past years here: 2015 and 2016. Alas, I didn’t start writing The Board Chronicles until 2015, so there is no official record of our initial 2014 outing.

On the eve of our departure, I read last year’s post. I was forced to confront that I sold 20% of my inventory last year at this event. I’m scared all over again.

New Ideas

  • Knowing that CNC would be changing my life, and that I should have many more products to show, we committed to a triple booth this year: 10′ x 30′. This is only the 2nd time we’ve had a triple booth, which breaks down to Mrs M having a normal 10′ x 10′ … plus a bit, and I have the remaining 10′ x 20ish. There was at least one woodworker co-op there last year with a 10′ x 20′ booth (and 2 woodworkers had 10x20s last week in Norco!), so I need to keep up in order to show my stuff well. And since this is our best event, we have a lot to protect!
  • Little Girl is joining us again this year to make sure we have enough hands to, uh, handle all of the transactions that we hope to have.
  • I’ve made 2 new display pieces for me to show 4 items: Serving Trays, Lazy Susans, Chess Boards & Large Cheese & Cracker Servers. I have lots of these unique items to show … space to show them … and now, a way to show them. Here’s hoping I find customers, or all will be for naught.
  • We bought 2 new tables for this booth presentation. We are optimistically expanding.
  • Given how heavy our load out is, Little Girl is driving her new SUV with our extra cargo. So … we’ve outgrown our 6’x10′ trailer. It took us a year and a half. That is sobering.

Observations

  • This is event # 10 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter … but since this event is such a focus, everything gets easier from here.
  • I hope.
  • I had oh so many plans for new CNC products, but most of them did not see the light of day. I had so much work keeping up with “normal” products, I never got to many new ideas. Unfortunately.
  • Here’s hoping I’ve done enough. My beginning inventory is larger than ever, at 280 pieces. Mrs M has been busy as well; she’s got more soap finished than ever before, including 3 new Christmas scents.
  • We arrived for setup at 1pm, and got busy. I backed the trailer into the perfect spot, about 40′ from our booth. We brought it all: canopies. Lights. Displays. Christmas table cloths. Christmas decorations. Now, where does it all go? We have never set up in this configuration before, and I have 2 new display pieces … time to move the puzzle pieces around.
  • And move they did. I think we settled on the 3rd configuration. Mrs M even agreed to take a bigger table in the deal (which was a negotiation, I assure you).
  • We did it up, and went to a very nice dinner at Olvera’s, where we were all pregnant with anticipation.
  • Expectations.
  • There’s only one number I care about this year: $5,000. We have never done that at an event, and it’s time we broke through. Expectations … high expectations. We have them.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • This event has a “hard gate:” they charge admission. So, the start time really is 9am … though you get a lot of vendors & such walking around before the gates open. At 8:30a, we were ready. So ready.
  • My first sale: a chess board. Of course.
  • The Ladies got busy almost immediately, and we were ‘whelmed within the hour. People were standing in line to give Mrs & Miss M money for their soaps & lotions & such. Thank goodness Little Girl was there to help.
  • One customer walked up, smelled a few lotions, and settled on Sequoia. “I’ll take 9,” she said. It’s good to have deep inventory.
  • I met another Fanboy of this blog! After recognizing me from my picture (!), he introduced himself. He’s a vendor & designer of jewelry, and says that as he reads the blog, he laughs, he cries … right there with us. Love it. Well, not the crying part so much.
  • Saturday began to slow down about 1p, and we were no longer ‘whelmed. Business continued until closing at 5p, though: there was constant traffic. Constant.
  • I sold 24 boards on Saturday, which was great. It was the other side of the booth, though, that was burning it up. Her big sign says “Handmade Soaps & Lotions,” and that’s what she sold. In abundance. For Mrs M, this was the

Best. Day. Ever.

  • But we were definitely not there yet. The number still loomed as we went to dinner … and found an excellent French restaurant. The Ladies had wine. Little Girl said she deserved 2 alcohols. They both did. I drove home.
  • Do you know how rare it is to have 2 nice dinners when we go a-vendoring? I think it’s happened once before. If you find yourself hungry in Ridgecrest, I heartily recommend Olvera’s for Mexican food, and Mon Reve for French food. And they just happen to be a block apart, so navigation is easy!
  • A customer was in my booth talking to her spouse – and me – about purchasing a chess board. They met playing chess, she said. Somehow, he offered to teach her the game … and she lost when they played. As she said, though, she was playing the long game. Years later, still together, kids in the home … who really won when they played?
  • Sundays are known to be slower. More strolling. More friendly conversations. For me, though, it was busy. I was selling a lot of stuff, I thought. And, I was. Then, a lady bought 8 boards.
  • And she wasn’t my best customer.
  • I ended Sunday selling 47 boards. For me,

Best. Day. Ever.

  • So, for those of you keeping track, I ended up selling 24% of my inventory at this one event. The fear is real. I have 5 more events to do this year!
  • All told, I sold 14x different items. My big sign says “Cutting Boards … Serving Pieces & More.” It’s about the More, I think. If I limited myself to just cutting boards, I would not have nearly as much fun.
  • One of the reasons that Mrs M’s Handmade works is that we have very different products, and we have different strengths. (And we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next year. No coincidence.) Mrs M burned it up on Saturday; I had a better day on Sunday.
  • Yes, faithful readers, we got it done. We got better, again. 4 years in a row:

Best. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” at the Best Western … biscuits & gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla … good finger food between conversations with customers.

Saturday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. When only the best will do….

Saturday Dinner: EXCELLENT French cuisine at Mon Reve. Highly recommended. Get a reservation.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” again … but no biscuits & gravy. You get what you pay for, sort of.

Sunday Lunch: A big hot dog & chips. “Nourishment.”

Sunday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. I came prepared.

Sunday Dinner: After a long, frustrating drive home, the ladies had In N Out waiting when I walked in the door. And Blanton’s. Bless them.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 548
  • Booth cost: $712
  • Food cost: $306
  • Travel cost: $285
  • Total sales: $5,887
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $4,584
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too many to count
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 4
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 5
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 64:3
  • Returning next year? Yes. In a triple booth, again. And I still need to figure out how to get those bells on.

Boards sold: 67

Magic Bottle Openers: 14

Cheese Boards: 14

Cutting Boards: 8

Word Blocks: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 5

Trivets: 4

Serving Tray: 3

Lazy Susan: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Pig Cutting Board: 2

Custom Order: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

 

 

 

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