The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2018   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 look forward to the California Strawberry Festival all year long. This will be our 4th trip to Oxnard; read about our past successes & frustrations here: 2017, 2016, 2015.

This year, the event has moved the handmade vendor section to the other side of the event: instead of being on Rose Avenue, we’re now located on a soccer field.

More on that later.

This event has a “hard gate:” you have to pay to get in. Once in, you can sample all manner of strawberry delights, including Mrs M’s favorite, Strawberry beer.

Will we survive the change in vendor location? Will we recover from our off year in 2017 and beat our record performance from 2016?

New Ideas

  • Because we’re not on Rose Avenue, vendors can’t drive up to their spaces to unload. Rather, they must park outside of the soccer field fence and hand cart in their display. Oh, and….
  • All vendors are required to use carts with pneumatic tires only. I’ve never seen that requirement put on vendors before. Our cart doesn’t qualify – nor does my booth display cart or the shelf unit that we transport Mrs M’s display in. I asked for permission to use them, and that was denied. Only pneumatic tires were allowed.
  • I set up on Friday, so we used our Trimline with the mesh walls. Hung on those walls, for the first time, are pictures of my cutting boards & serving pieces in action. Mrs M & I staged most of the photos, but a few were contributed by happy customers.

Observations

  • This is event # 7 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • I bought a new cart with pneumatic tires, so load in proceeded OK. 10 trips in, 140 steps each way … so load in was roughly 14 times as hard as last year.
  • Yes. I counted.
  • While I counted steps, I also observed the other vendors to see what their cart tires were like. Unfortunately, I estimate only 10-20% of vendors were using appropriate carts.
  • A few vendors also used rolling carts in their booth, and not one had the appropriate tires.
  • In addition to the cart requirement, vendors were to mitigate damage to the turf by putting squares of carpet or wood between the turf and every point of contact the vendors put in place in their booth, including the canopy legs, product containers, display pieces, etc. I cut 80 squares of plywood so we would have enough for our double booth. Nearly every vendor did similar mitigation; I only saw one that didn’t.
  • Did the promoter do anything about the vendors that didn’t comply? Not in my experience. Did I get an apology because I bought a special cart, and didn’t use my rolling display pieces like the other vendors did? Nope.
  • I know I have a problem: I’m a black & white guy. I follow the rules, every time. When other vendors cheat the rules (you know, like artists always do!), I don’t know how to cope. I am very frustrated, though.
  • A lady rolled up to the booth in a wheel chair, pushed by her son. She stood, took off the cannula that was supplying her with oxygen, and walked into the booth to choose her cutting board. Her husband and son stayed on the outside of the booth while she made her choice. First time that has happened.
  • Another lady walked into the booth with her young daughter. She was Asian American, I thought … but perhaps not. She could not speak English, and her daughter was her translator. They looked at cutting boards, asked questions, and then eventually transitioned over to looking at Magic Bottle Openers. The non-English speaker touched every MBO, and opened bottles with most of them to make sure they worked! She found one she liked before I was out of bottle caps, fortunately.
  • A family with a very young daughter (4? 5?) walked into Mrs M’s booth, and the mother informed Mrs M that her daughter had stolen an animal from ZooSoapia, and had returned it. She was in the booth to formally apologize to Mrs M. Her parents stood there and made her get the words out before they would let the daughter leave the booth. Aggressive parenting, on display. Kudos.
  • We went to load out … and I discovered this:

Yes, our brand new cart with blow up tires … didn’t hold air for 2 days. 3 tires were flat after 2 days, and I had to borrow a cart to load out.

  • Requests included a board shaped like California (2x!), a backgammon board, a spoon rest and a smaller heart (who would want that?).
  • In the end, the relocation of the handmade vendor area to the soccer field was an improvement, I felt. The shopping experience was an improvement. It was a stroll across the grass, rather than a walk down the hard pavement. So, the result was good … but our sales were essentially flat to last year, which was a down year. This year, we were down again … by $29. Down 0.9%. Hard to be upset about that. But pleased? Nope.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We went to El Pescadero in Fillmore on our way home Saturday night, and it was a fabulous meal. Officially, this is the best Mexican restaurant we have found in our neighborhood. It’s better than any Mexican restaurant in Santa Clarita, without question.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 315
  • Booth cost: $780
  • Food cost: $30
  • Travel cost: $164
  • Total sales: $3,588
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,614
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Saturday alarm: Nope
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 155
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 5
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, but each offering was unique
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:  27:2
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 29

Trivets: 7

Cutting Board: 4

Coasters: 4

Pig Cutting Boards: 2

Magic Bottle Openers: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Bear: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Boards: 1

Coaster Holder (with no Coasters): 1

Custom Order: 1

CNC Plaque: 1

 

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