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The Board Chronicles: Big Hat Days 2018   3 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.

April is a big month for our family: 2 birthdays for the granddaughters are in April. That means events take 2nd place to them.

As they should.

We did Big Hat Days when we were babies, way back in 2015. We had a single booth and no clue. At the time, that event was our Best. Event. Ever. It wore that crown proudly for all of 7 days, until it was surpassed by our first time at the California Poppy Festival – another April event that we don’t get to do very often.

This year, we carefully planned with the other Mrs Mowry, and decided to do Big Hat Days on the weekend between the 2 girls’ birthdays.

When a birthday party eventually got scheduled.

I’m not bitter. But I was in Fresno to try and recreate our early success.

New Ideas

  • The most different thing about this event was that the Lady & I obsessed over checking the weather. We were both checking the weather multiple times a day leading up to our trek north. Rain was forecast for Friday & Saturday. It was pretty clear we were in for it.

Observations

  • Event # 2 of 10 of the 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Our 6th event of the year … and 5 of those have been wet. I’m done with rain. Please.
  • This large vendor event (500 vendors!) takes place on a main street in “Old Downtown Clovis.” It’s full of what we, in a nice moment, call buy & sell vendors that are re-selling imported items for a few dollars. In the vernacular, we call it Chinese S***.
  • It is. When an event gets to where almost every booth seems like it’s offering imported goods for less than $10, then the event is probably not a good one for us. On the other hand, there is SO much traffic at this event (30,000+ I am sure), you’d think success would be there, even for vendors of handmade luxury items.
  • And then rain happened.
  • Load-in was at 5:30am. We just about got both canopies up when the rain started. I was wet until the rain stopped 7 hours later.
  • Wet & miserable.
  • We bought a new canopy to replace them one crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy, but we decided to use the old top to see if we could get some use out of it. We could … and learned the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Both canopy tops are about 7 months old, and they did repel water. Unfortunately, there was enough falling from the sky that the fabric saturated and we had drips just about everywhere.
  • As we were setting up, I looked across the street to the vendor setting up his booth of wind spinners – made in China, naturally. He had a canopy of sorts, but all of his product was getting wet. He didn’t care. Made me think I was in the wrong business. Thankfully, sanity returned quickly.
  • There was really nothing to do but close the walls in a bit, move everything away from the walls as much as possible and just endure. Mrs M’s front corner, with the samples, was soaked. My back table with my biggest boards was soaked, too. Good thing I put rubber feet on them; they were up away from the table cloths.
  • We were on a city street, remember, so water ran from the crown down to the side of the street all day long. Everything on the ground was wet – all of the tablecloths were wicking up moisture. It. Was. Wet. Thankfully, we could set up away from the gutter.
  • Mrs M didn’t put out ZooSoapia because of the, uh, advanced humidity. I cut down on my display, too. In the end, I have a few boards that want to be resurfaced (really not a big thing), and Mrs M will have to launder all of the table cloths. But, honestly, we endured.
  • First sale of the event was from a guy I met at the Home & Garden Show a month ago; he came looking for me to buy his cutting board. In the rain.
  • There was still business to be had, thankfully, and even in the rain there were customers walking down the street eating ice cream. But, of course, the day was impacted by the rain and many, many people stayed home. We were far below our expectations. Far below our results from 2015.
  • Sometimes, it rains.
  • The rain stopped about 1p, and the crowd did grow until the end of the day. Sunday, the forecast was for clouds – but no rain – and we hoped for much bigger results.
  • Nope. We ended the event lower than we did in 2015. When we were babies in a single booth. This year, as drenched veterans in a double booth (twice as expensive) with some pride in our accomplishments, we were quite disappointed in the event. But, there’s nothing we can do about the rain, so all we can do is pack up, drive south … and prepare for our next event, which just happens to be in 2 weeks, right back in Fresno.
  • Sold the chaos board recently chronicled as the 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round. It sold on the 2nd day I showed it, and it had already been touched by oh so many people that walked by and had to feel it. Thank goodness I have a 4 more boards with a similar design on the way….
  • Requests were for an ocean-themed cutting board (you know, like a starfish. HUH?), a grill cleaner (that’s a first), knife blocks (2x, but no) and a backgammon set (nope).

The Food

  • Best Meal: We stayed in an AirBnB cottage behind the owner’s home that was really quite lovely. Mrs M planned our meals so we could eat in and save money, thankfully. Meals came from the fridge & freezer, so you ask me to choose between Velda’s Chicken Piccata (leftovers) and Velda’s Spaghetti (from the freezer). Not going to happen. Both were excellent, as always.
  • Worst Meal: It’s sacrilege, I know, but lunch on the road at the Arvin Black Bear Diner was not satisfying. Too much steam table, not enough comfort food. Should’ve had the omelette.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 412
  • Booth cost: $750
  • Food cost: $76 (we don’t count food brought from home)
  • Travel cost: $414
  • Total sales: $1,561
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $321
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: Not nearly enough.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 17:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 18

Coasters: 4

Trivets: 4

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

CNC Engraved Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Soap Deck: 1

Cheese Boards Are Just Small Cutting Boards   Leave a comment

It was a lesson learned early.

I may call these cheese boards – and I do – but to most customers, these are just little cutting boards.

Most cooks have multiple cutting boards in their kitchen. Some have separate boards for meat, vegetables, and bread. Some have a large counter-top, show piece board, and then smaller portable boards to complement the nice big board.

It’s their kitchen. They get to choose.

Some people like to have a small cutting board to slice fruit for after school snacks.

And, thankfully, some people do actually use these small boards as cheese boards. That’s what we do, and that’s why this small-sized board will always be called cheese boards when I make them!

Bread Board Ends   Leave a comment

They are called bread board ends.

“Bread Boards” are large, thin boards that were made for rolling out dough. Some of these boards had “bread hooks” which were a stop against the edge of the counter, so that when you rolled out your dough, the hook caught the edge of the counter and the board was held in place as you were rolling out the dough towards the back of the counter.

Those boards are rare today … as are bakers in the home.

However, the thin boards with the “bread board ends” are still around, and are most often found as in-counter boards that slide out from underneath the counter. They’re conveniently stored in a slot just below the counter – often above the silverware drawer.

The reason for the specially named ends is that the cross-grain strength helps to keep the board flat. Thin boards might warp without that mechanical stress put into the board.

“No one makes these anymore,” is a complaint I often hear at our events. Well … some woodworkers do.

Some woodworkers do.

This is a re-build of Cutting Board 16 – 023. That board somehow got stuck in the counter, and to unstick it, the owner had to get pliers out. When the board got to me, it looked like a screws had gotten stuck in the slot holding the board in place: there were 1/4″ deep gouges on both sides of the board. Couple that with the damage done by the pliers to the bread board ends, and I had to cut off all 4 edges and re-frame this board with splines holding on the bread board ends. It’s all Hard Maple, 20″ x 22″ x 1″.

One more thought about the above board: the damage happened in the owner’s home, and it had nothing to do with the board’s construction. Still, I repaired it. No charge. All the owner had to do was pay me for shipping … and then wait patiently. I took a while to repair it, so they had to be really patient, but they got a “just like new” board when I was done.

Cutting Board 18 – 311. Hard Maple, Purpleheart & Jatoba. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. This is the standard size for most in-counter boards, I’ve found.

Cutting Board 18 – 312. Red Oak ends (to match the kitchen), and a cutting surface made from Hard Maple & Jatoba. 16″ x 21″ x 3/4″. Commissioned piece.

 

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round   2 comments

Sometimes, I just can’t leave well enough alone.

I do enjoy making chaos boards, which have become surprisingly popular. I only make these about once a year … here’s one from the 2017 batch:

Cutting Board 17 – 411. Chaos Board, End Grain. Black Walnut, Hard Maple, Cherry, White Oak, Purpleheart, Jatoba, Hickory, Goncalo Alves, Yellowheart & Canarywood. 13-1/2″ x 17-3/4″ x 1-1/4″.

These boards were assembled with the left-brained Mrs M’s assistance, and are the unusually asymmetrical boards that I make.

Made.

This year, I decided I needed to shake it up a bit … because I just couldn’t do the same thing again. Plus, Mrs M politely declined the opportunity to assist me this year, so I was left to cope with just my brain, that’s right.

It’s my blog. Deal with it.

This kind of chaos board begins with me gluing up many boards, slicing them to make end grain pieces, and then only using a piece or 3 from each of several blanks, and assembling them in somewhat random fashion.

That was last year.

I did the same thing this year … and then cut the end grain board apart at an angle. Everything got randomized again … re-glued … and then cut apart at a different angle.

After the 4th glue-up, I spent a lot of time at the drum sander to get the glass-smooth finish that you can get when the joinery is done well.

This is my 300th cutting board; my inventory has reached a magical plateau again. I doubt that I’ll stay above 300 through April, but I’m happy to report that I’m making some satisfying pieces along the way.

Cutting Board 18 – 706. End Grain. Chaos Board. I count 13 species in this board. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

Back detail of Cutting Board 18 – 706, showing the non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws, as well as the routed handholds. These are standard on just about all of the cutting boards that I make.

More

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

The Board Chronicles: Champagne on Main 2018   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.

The 4th Annual Spring Fling is upon us … so it’s time to break some rules.

Apparently.

Last year, I found the event to be underwhelming, and I put it on my “don’t do it” list for this year.

And then I broke the rule.

After all, it fit on the calendar. There wasn’t an attractive alternative … and I remembered that many seasoned vendors last year said it was well below average for them. So, maybe there’s an upside?

Let’s see.

New Ideas

  • A solo, one-day event means I fit everything I can into the Jeep, and that’s what goes to the event. I left many things at home … like the keys to the hitch carrier. Ooops.
  • Also left at home were engraved pieces, the Word Blocks, chess pieces, cheese knives and most of my cutting board inventory. I had 5 pieces in back stock below the table. Roomy, it was.
  • I broke another rule: I had no demo of bottle opening and cap catching to propel MBO sales. No crate to put the MBOs in. I did grab some bottle caps to stick on a few of the display MBOs to show their magic … but that was it. Maybe less is more. Maybe.

Observations

  • Event # 1 of 10 in the 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Nice to have an event with no rain in the forecast. This is our 5th event of the year, and the first one without rain!
  • Mrs M packed the table cloths for me, but she shorted me a couple. I needed a tablecloth for another 6′ table, not a 4′ … so my back table was sort of partially covered by a too-short cloth. Also, I needed a covering for my container stack that’s used as a platform to wrap boards on. I borrowed a cloth from our good friend Delinda of Sweet Spot Home Decor, and all was well.
  • I arrived at 7:30a, and was setting up by 8a. I was ready to go at 9a … and immediately had people in the booth. The event was “scheduled” to start at 11a, but when you’re on Main Street and it’s open to the public, you’re open when they wander by.
  • My first sale was at 10a … the only Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Large Surfboard, that I brought. Perhaps I should have found room for more.
  • I get annoyed when people look at my work and talk about how I must use scrap lumber. I do NOT use scraps when I do what I do. Every board is hand selected by me for the piece it goes in. Every time. Scraps are what I recycle, or put in the pizza oven stack to burn.
  • I don’t use scrap in my cutting boards & serving pieces & such.
  • Annoyed, I am.
  • Met another fan of this blog at the event. That’s getting to be a regular occasion … and that’s a good thing!
  • I identified 5 kinds of people that were walking Main Street during the event:
    • People going to the Farmer’s Market, who walked by the booth going to & fro. Produce buyers seem like a good target audience for me, but people that go to Farmer’s Market don’t generally impulse buy a handmade cutting board … in my experience. Today, a few stopped in the booth, but they did not buy from me.
    • Easter Egg Hunters … there was an egg hunt nearby, apparently. Young families are not a particularly good target audience for me, and with kids & baskets in tow, not one stopped in my booth.
    • Dog walkers were on the street throughout the event … not one came into the booth.
    • Restaurant goers and other people on Main Street for reasons having nothing to do with the event were in my booth throughout the day, and they were my primary source of sales.
    • Champagne Drinkers are the reason for the event, on its surface, but they were not the main source of booth traffic all day. The event was officially on 11a – 6:30p, but the drinking was only 3p – 6p. On this day, not one person holding a sampling glass was in my booth. I’m not saying the Champagne Drinkers were not buyers, but they were Secret Shoppers if they were.
  • If your event is not the primary reason that buyers are coming to your booth, then I think there’s a problem with the event. Random traffic & walk-up business is appreciated, of course – but it is not predictable nor repeatable. I do not think it’s a reliable source of business, ever: I am there for the audience of the event that I paid my money to.
  • And on this day, it wasn’t worth it. I heard that same story from other vendors up and down the street. This event is too expensive for the results generated.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Leftovers for dinner – meatloaf. Yum.
  • Worst Meal: In the spirit of the day, I broke a rule and had Jack in the Box for breakfast. Mistake. Again.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 103
  • Booth cost: $225
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $567
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $288
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue, though I did see a wine barrel products guy.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 14

5x Coasters

3x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Cheese Boards

1x Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Lazy Susan

1x Medium Surfboard

1x Small Board

Going Big To The Spring Fling   Leave a comment

Not only have I completed a bevy of smaller items, I also have completed a bunch of large cutting boards.

Some are very large.

One is really heavy.

I got to make a few of my favorite end grain cutting boards, too, though not all of those are finished. I have some waiting in the closet for my next opportunity … which will not be in April. I’m otherwise engaged.

However, these cutting boards did make it to the finish line, and I trust you’ll agree that the boards are worth the effort.

There’s more to come, of course, but I’m happy to say that I’m ready for the Spring Fling!

Spring Fling Is Real   Leave a comment

Every year, we do a Spring Fling … a series of events in March/April/May/June. This year, we’ve got 10 events scheduled in 11 weeks.

It’s just a fling. Really. 7 of these events are our traditional duets, but 4 of them are solo events for me. I’m even doing a long holiday bachelor weekend in a double booth in Bishop, to celebrate Mule Days.

So, since we’re going a-vendoring in locales as exotic as Clovis, Montrose and Palos Verdes, I need to get to the shop. A bunch of special orders have been finished, thankfully, and a fair number of boards made it out of the shop simultaneously.

Thank goodness.

Here’s the first batch; please enjoy!

The Board Chronicles: Dealing With An Insurance Claim   4 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.

In Velda’s mind, here’s what almost happened.

Velda was not harmed in the making of this photo.

Now, I’m don’t think she’s the Wicked Witch of the West, at least on a good day, but the truth is her booth was crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. This is the story of what happened after we picked up the pieces, left stormy Arizona and sought compensation from the company that owned that wind-blown destroyer.

Need to know what happened to cause this problem? Read that story in Wind. Blows. A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

First things first: I took pictures. I took pictures from each corner of Mrs M’s booth so I prove that we had been squashed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. I thought I took pictures of everything, but I really didn’t. I got everything I needed, fortunately, but wish I would have doubled the number of shots to get more close-ups. I didn’t have a good shot of the middle legs of the upside down canopy destroyer, for example. I had a long shot, but not one with as much detail as I would have liked.

Photos in hand, and once the shock wore off a bit, we proceeded to cooperatively disassemble the Flying Dry Soup Canopy … it was toast. Once it was off of Mrs M’s booth, we could see what had happened to her booth. Her canopy was also done for, of course, so we lifted it over her display and folded it up crushed it together so I could cart if off to the dumpster, as I was directed when I sought out event staff to ask what I should do.

Event staff, by the way, did not visit our booth and did not volunteer any direction as to what should happen or who should do what. We were on our own. Totally on our own.

I did salvage the canopy’s fabric top and walls. They all appeared to be somewhat soiled, but not ripped. I continued to take photos, documenting all of the damaged product, the damaged display pieces, the product on the ground, the broken signs … anything I could think of that showed damage, I took pictures of.

Anything.

I didn’t ask permission, I just took pictures. I thought they would come in handy.

They did.

We then proceeded with our day and completed the event. Once home, I got to work repairing Mrs M’s display, replacing broken pieces and missing hardware. Mrs M got to work replacing her product that was damaged, but all damaged product was held in case we needed more than photographic evidence taken at the event to prove the amount of damages we incurred.

Mrs M’s repaired booth, good as new.

Once we recovered, I reached out to the insurance agent with the contact information I was given on that fateful day in Arizona at Winterfest, in Lake Havasu City.

“I’m sorry, that agent doesn’t work here anymore.”

The Claim

However, the lead agent did come on the line and gave me an email address. I then sent them this letter, copying the client:

Thank you for your time on the phone today.

As we discussed, Mrs M’s Handmade was a vendor at the recent Lake Havasu City Winterfest. At that event, a windstorm on Saturday night lifted the canopy of your client, [Company Name/Client Name]. That canopy came down on top of our canopy, crushing it and damaging our products and display pieces underneath.

Amazingly, most of our products were undamaged. There were some broken display pieces. One display crate crashed and most of the products inside were destroyed (109 small lotion bars). Other product losses were nominal. The canopy, unfortunately, was a total loss. The main wooden display was somewhat damaged, and it had to have broken pieces and hardware replaced.

To figure the loss of business profits for this Sunday, I averaged the actual sales for our last 5 outdoor events, and figured the lost net profit from that.

Any questions? Please call me at the numbers below.

I enclosed an itemization of our damaged items, which included actual cost estimates:

  • 1, Undercover Canopy, commercial weight
  • 109, Small Lotion Bars, Replacement Cost
  • 8, Lotions, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Beard Oil, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Body Polish, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Loss of Business Profits, Sunday
  • 1, Bowl, Display Piece
  • 1, Picture Frame, Display Piece
  • 1, Repair of Display, 4 hours

Those are actual losses; I didn’t inflate any item. It doesn’t matter what others might do; I have to live with me. I played this totally above board. Just like life.

Also attached to the email were these photos:

The Denial

After 2 weeks, I got a response from a claims agent, who denied the claim. No idea if this was an automatic thing (as we all fear insurance companies that just deny every claim). Here’s the letter:

Dear Mr Mowry:

[Insurance company name] has been notified of your attempt to file a claim under our insured’s Commercial General Liability policy. After a thorough review of the evidence, documentation and evidence submitted, our findings indicate that our insured is not legally liable for the damages caused to your unit.

The loss concerned a wind storm which occurred late at night on the above-listed date. This wind event caused widespread damage to several vendor tents at the Lake Havasu City Winterfest trade show, including that of the insured. It has been reported that our insured’s tent blew over during this wind event, causing damage to your tent, your product, and affecting your ability to conduct business on the following day.

In review of the weather report for that particular day, it appears that these gusts of wind were in excess of forty miles per hour. Our insured reported to us that they had used – as they always do – five individual thirty-five pound weights hanging from their tent in order to secure it from such wind events that could occur overnight at the event. They also reported that his has seemed to work ever since they started their business.

It is our opinion that it is reasonable to expect that the weight they used, which totals 175 pounds, should be sufficient to hold down a ten-by-ten tent during a normal wind event. The wind event which occurred is considered an “act of God”. It is our opinion that our insured took all reasonable steps to protect against normal wind events, but it is not reasonable for them to expect that an act of God such as  this could occur. After reviewing the information available on this loss, we do not find that our insured was negligence (sic) in the cause of your loss. Therefore, we are denying liability for your damages.

In the state of Arizona, negligence must be proven by some breach of a duty of care. The results of our investigation show that there was no such breach. Therefore, we are denying your claim for property damage.

If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact the undersigned.

The Refutation

I had questions. You bet I had questions.

Needless to say, I was a bit ticked. I took a deep breath, and that night, I responded to the claims agent’s letter. I sent the email to the claims agent that night, this time copying both their client and the original agent.

If there was any pressure that could be brought to bear from those quarters, I wanted it. I had no incentive to just follow the claims agent’s direction and only communicate with them.

Here is what I wrote:

Thank you for your response of March 8, just received today by me. You have several errors of fact in your letter that require your attention.

  1. I understand that your insured is surprised that their actions directly resulted in the destruction of our canopy and booth. However, their direct actions resulted in that damage, so they are liable. An act of God may have made the wind blow, but it was your client’s negligence that resulted in the destruction of my property. Absent your client’s negligence, we would not be having this conversation.
  2. Your contention that your client had 5 weights each weighing 35 pounds on their 10×10 canopy fails on many points, as follows:
    • They did not have a single 10×10 canopy. Rather, they had two (2) canopies that were bungeed together at the roof line. Those 2 canopies did not have 4 legs. They had 8 legs, as is clearly visible in the photographs that I submitted to your company.
    • Their weights were not found to weigh 35 pounds. I have made very similar “do it yourself” weights using PVC pipe and concrete, and I can assure you that their weights did not weigh 35 pounds each.
    • My wife lifted one of those supposed 35 pound weights with one arthritic finger.
    • I have another witness who will testify that those weights were definitely not 35 pounds each.
  3. Even if the weights did weigh a total of 175 pounds – which is a supposition that I reject – then that weight is STILL not adequate per the rules of the event. In fact, Winterfest requires each canopy to have fifty (50) pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. Your client, therefore, should have had 400 pounds of weight on their two canopies, not the 175 that you claim.
  4. Further, the rules from Winterfest are clear that there should be 50 pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. By your admission in the letter of March 8, your client did not weight all corners of their canopies with the required fifty (50) pounds.
  5. Further, your client weighted the four (4) outside corners, and then put one weight (not the two required to have one on each leg) in the center back. They did not weight the center front of their canopies at all, which happened to be facing the direction from which the wind blew. Therefore, their canopies were not weighted on two (2) legs in the most vulnerable section of their canopies.

It is my desire to resolve the situation amicably. However, if you persist in your insistence that your client is not liable for their canopies destroying my booth, then I will have no choice but to seek justice in the legal system. As you know, your costs will go up precipitously at that point.

Perhaps your client did not share with you that they did not follow the rules of Winterfest. Perhaps you have not personally evaluated each of the weights that your client claims to weigh 35 pounds. I offer you the opportunity to satisfy my original cost estimate, and deliver me a check in 14 days (March 26). If you choose to ignore that deadline or reject this claim outright, then the next conversation you will have will be with my legal counsel.

My original claim is attached for your convenience. We have since found additional damage caused by your client’s negligence, by the way, which is not included. Settle now, and the price will not go up.

Sincerely,

The Victory

The agent was back to me within 24 hours,

Thank you for your detailed description of the events as you understand them.  It was not brought to my attention that the event had specific rules for vendors to follow with regards to their operations.  Could you please forward a copy of these rules for my review, since you allege that our insureds were in violation of such rules?

Additionally, if there is more damage than simply to that which you listed in the document you forwarded, then we would ask that you provide information regarding such damage so that we may include it with your claim.

You bet I could forward the rules, sent within the hour:

The rules for Winterfest vendors are attached. These were a part of the standard event application that was signed by all vendors. The relevant information on booth weights is on page 2, under “Requirements:”

All vendors must have weights for any canopies in use. All four corners must have weights of at least 50 lbs. attached.

We agreed to the settlement that day.

Thank you for forwarding this.  It would appear, based on the rules all vendors are bound to for this event, that our insured did not, by their statement, take the necessary precautionary steps to secure their tent.

He invited me to submit the additional damages as well, which I did.

The check was received one week later, a week before my deadline.

I am no insurance expert; I did not consult legal counsel.

But, I won.

Morals of the story:

  1. Take lots of pictures
  2. Carefully document exactly what happened
  3. Know the event rules, and keep them on file. You never know when you might need to quote them!

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom 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.

The Almond Blossom Festival in nearby Quartz Hill has become one of our traditional first quarter events: this will be our 4th year doing this event. Sales have never been spectacular, but it’s close, it’s easy, and we spend the weekend with the Granddaughters. What’s not to like?

Well, I have a few answers to that question, as you shall see. But we were committed, and we were off to the 69th Annual Almond Blossom Festival!

New Ideas

  • The forecast was very clear: rain throughout Saturday, with more rain Saturday night. We opted for our best weather protection, and put up the big Trimline canopy. It takes more time to put up, but it is dry inside.
  • I now have an array of cheese knives (one individual knife and 4 different sets are available) I can offer to people wanting a “complete” cheese & cracker gift set. I also have chess & checker pieces for those that want a “complete” game set.

Observations

  • This event has a problem with communication. They have no social media presence, and don’t provide any tools for vendors to promote the event for them. Emails sent to the venders vendors had grammatical errors, factual errors, and were just plain annoying to wade through. They’re trying … but with the long legacy of this event, they should have the details right by now.
  • They should know how to use spell check, too.
  • Can you tell I’m annoyed?
  • Two years ago, our booth cost was 1/3 less. They’ve taken a 33% price increase in 2 years. Wanna bet my sales don’t go up that much?
  • I arrived at 11am to set up, only to be told that I had not understood the instructions. Well, I was actually told that they were sorry that their English wasn’t correct. I had to go away because some RV might show up to be parked in the next hour, so they weren’t letting anyone else in until the 12noon start time they had tried to announce.
  • This event does have many youth volunteers that are eager to help you. Unfortunately, they were not available when I most needed them, since they were pulled off to do duties for the event itself. And, as supervision waned, the attention of the youth wandered as well. Still, I appreciate the effort to provide youth volunteers.
  • The weather heavily impacted vendor participation. Many vendors were NCNS: No Call, No Show. That resulted in the aisles being very spotty due to all of the empty spaces. That made the event much less than it might have been had the positions been tight.
  • Another stalker reader of this blog found us on Saturday, and we had a great conversation with Catherine about going a-vendoring with her horseshoe art. Always nice to meet people that already know us because of The Board Chronicles.
  • Philosophy that was shared with me: “I always tell my kids to do what you love. If you like selling a bucket of rocks, then do that. Someone will be looking for that!” And, indeed, that is true.
  • My neighbor was hawking a solar company, and he was standing in his booth and saying “How’s your electric bill?” to every person that passed his booth to engage them in conversation. Every person. Most people just kept walking, but if they acknowledged him, he kept talking to them as they walked past my booth.
  • One lady reached Mrs M’s booth, and then turned and said to us, “I hate solar people. I hate’m.”
  • As a vendor, those kinds of aggressive sales techniques truly lower the quality of the event. The promoters take the booth fees … and vendors like us have to endure potential but lost customers running down the aisles to escape the obnoxious sales pitches.
  • My favorite events are all handmade. Events that mix in some buy & sell vendors can be fine – especially if they keep handmade vendors in a dedicated section – but if there are “professional” hawkers in the mix, then the quality of the shopping experience deteriorates rapidly. IMHO.
  • It started raining on Saturday in mid-afternoon, and didn’t stop. It rained all night, and was still misty/wet in the morning until about 10am.
  • Sunday morning, we were hit by the trifecta: 1) bad weather, 2) Sundays are for church, and 3) it was the day to jump ahead for Daylight Savings Time, so everyone lost an hour’s sleep. No one was at the event at 10am … including many of the vendors. I read most of a book on Sunday. Everything finally got going at about 1:30pm.
  • The Trimline canopy generated a lot of comment from other vendors … one thought it was a car port that I re-purposed as a vendor canopy.
  • Uh, no.
  • From one of Mrs M’s customers: “When you hang out with drag queens, you learn a lot of tricks.”
  • Uh, OK.
  • A lady came by and wanted to talk about the use of a wooden board. She had been told by one of her bosses to never wash a wooden board: only apply mineral oil to it. WOW. That is such incredibly bad advice. OF COURSE you should wash your cutting board! After every use, in fact! For complete instructions on how to care for your cutting board, go here. For a summary of cutting board research done at UC Davis & the University of Wisconsin that shows why wooden cutting boards are the most recommended – by science! – then go here.
  • A guy walked by the booth, and thanked us for being at the event. “You’re classing up the place,” he said. He went on to suggest that he’d once seen a guy making wooden ties, and that perhaps I should make some. He’d take me to the prom if I was wearing a wooden tie, he said. I declined the offer to go to the prom with him – to the relief of everyone present, I expect.
  • In the end, this event was weather-impacted so you should not draw firm conclusions from this one event. However, we’ve done this event 4 times, and 2 of those had heavy weather impacts (2016 was even worse!). 2017 had better weather, but sales were still disappointing. It’s clear after 4 years that this is a convenient but annoying local event that’s significantly below average for us. Time to move on.

The Food

  • Best Meals: Dinners with the Kids & Granddaughters.
  • Worst Meal: We decided to eat lunches at the event … Fair Food, as we call it. Both of them were overpriced and not that good. But, they were easy.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $365
  • Food cost: $252
  • Travel cost: $79
  • Total sales: $1,078
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $382
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: nope
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:45a
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other, who is also a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild! I looked her up on the member directory, and then reviewed all of the listings for California. I found that Mrs M is one of only 15 certified soapmakers by the HSCG in the state of California.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? Nope. We’re done.

Boards sold: 8x

2x Custom Orders

2x Cheese Board

1x Small Board

1x Clipboard

1x Chess Board

1x Cutting Board

I Keep Making New Stuff   Leave a comment

This is a pot pourri of recent boards that made it to the finish line.

The first cutting board was a special order, and it’s the first piece I’m completed that uses Mesquite. Further down in this group is a Lazy Susan that better showcases this wood that’s uncommon in Southern California.

At the bottom of this group are a pair of “Family” signs that are the first of the true 3D carving signs that I’ve gotten to the finish line. Both of these are made from Hard Maple, though one of them is made from a dark wood that’s got some curly figure in it … unusual for Maple.

I got disorganized enough that a few pieces made it out of the shop and to last week’s event … and were sold before I got their pictures. That has not happened before!

I’ve got 4 more Lazy Susans in the shop that just might be finished for this weekend’s event … but I’ve got several custom orders that will be my focus this week.

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