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The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Spring 2019   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.

Behind. Yes, I’m behind. I’m working on it. So, from Paso Robles:

We love Paso Robles. It’s a great getaway destination, especially for wine drinkers (which I am not). Also great for olive oil lovers (check). There’s an event there in a lovely downtown park, all handmade … and it fits on the calendar.

You know it: I’m in.

New Ideas

  • First event in Paso, and it’s just for me. We booked the AirBnB, and Mrs M even agreed to accompany me as my designated wrapper.


  • This is a well juried handmade event. There were a couple of vendors I might quibble with the definition of “handmade,” but over all, this is a good one. Love Paso, too … lots of tourists. Lots of locals. Here to shop.
  • My people.
  • So much CNC & plasma cutter work being done these days. Everybody’s getting into the act. You better bring your “A” game.
  • Had a stalker show up who recognized my booth at first glance when he saw my trivets! Great chatting with him.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch. Oh my goodness. The Hatch. If you haven’t been, you must. 100%. You. Must. Meatloaf for the entree. Maitake mushroom appetizer. You can thank me later.
  • Honorable Mention: We rarely are social when we are working at an event, but we did accept an invitation to dinner from my stalker, and we had a fabulous time with his wife & family. Lovely. Oh, and I got to tour his shop. Bonus points!
  • Worst Meal: Given the above meals, we had a nice culinary glow all weekend. No losers here.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 382
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: We ate at The Hatch. I’m not counting the cost of that lovely meal.
  • Travel cost: $550
  • Total sales: $1,050
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): Loser, but the food was good.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: 9
  • # woodworking vendors: there were several. 1 was a direct competitor, but several had competitive products.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe. This certainly wasn’t a barn burner, but I did have a good follow up order … and I’m going back in October for the “better” fall event. We shall see.

Boards sold: 9

Cutting Board: 3

Coaster Set: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Cheese Slicer: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Clipboard: 1


Be Kind To Vendors   2 comments

Poppy Festival 01As we approach our first event in 2017, it’s time to share some thoughts about kindness. I know producers & customers alike are eagerly awaiting my opinions on this subject.

  1. Producers: if you give me 2 hours to set up, then please give me 2 hours to tear down. Putting more pressure on me doesn’t make it go back into the trailer any faster.
  2. Customers: if it’s raining, don’t let your rain gear sprinkle rain onto my glass-smooth wax finishes, or else they won’t be.
  3. Producers: I’ll arrive at the beginning time you set for vendors to arrive & set up. Please be ready for me.
  4. Customers: I’m always OK for you to take pictures of my work, but always appreciate it when you ask. I know some vendors are a bit more private (which strikes me as odd, but waddayagunnado?).
  5. Producers: I actually read everything you send me and will follow the rules as I understand them. If you don’t know what you sent me and don’t intend to follow your own rules, I will be frustrated. And I will tell you that, on the spot.
  6. Customers: don’t assume you’re the smartest one in the booth. You may not like the products offered; that’s fine. However, just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean you can lecture the vendor on what they have done wrong (both Mrs M and I have received such lectures about our handmade products). (And the lectures were not from the smartest person in the booth – ed. note)
  7. claremont-band-criticProducers: please give me a street address to drive to your vendor entry/check-in location. Be GPS friendly. If I have never been to your event before, and I’m not local, then I don’t know where “Smith Park” is. And, if I’m not local, I don’t know from which direction to approach the gate/nice person with the clipboard in order to smoothly enter your event space.
  8. Customers: if you’re standing in my booth, or in front of my booth, or beside my booth … you should be looking at my merchandise and, hopefully, thinking about buying something. If you’re blocking access to my booth while loitering for an extended time, that’s rude. If you’re standing in the shade of my awning without allowing my customers to enjoy that shade, that’s a problem for me. If you’re a dog walker, who’s run into your good friend the dog walker, or you’ve got a baby stroller … then the blockade you’ve put in front of my booth might be several feet across. Please be considerate of your immense size in such circumstances.
  9. Producers: customers ask me all sorts of things, like where the bathrooms are, what the entertainment schedule is, and where they can find whatever they might be looking for. If you give me a map, list of events & vendors & such, I’ll help them. Otherwise, I’ll tell them that the producers kept that information secret from us. You choose which response you’d like.
  10. Customers: if we’re past closing time, I’m packing up. Many events promise fines – and banishment – if I sell you something after closing time. I’m definitely on a clock to pack up and get out so everyone can go home. Please accept my business card and visit my website, as I don’t have time to talk to you when I have to pack.
  11. Producers: you need to control the unloading and loading processes. Some producers are oh-so-controlling, and others are totally laissez-faire. What you should do is enforce the rules that you publish, and in all cases provide for public safety. When cars are driving in, baby strollers are pushing through and kids on skate boards are dodging around everything … well, my prayers may not be enough to save everyone from harm, I fear.
  12. Big Hat DaysCustomers: if you’re paying in cash (thank you!), please hand me flattened, relatively wrinkle-free bills. The women that hand me wadded up bills (and it has always been a woman that does this in my experience) are not my favorites. And yes, I will take the time to smooth out each bill to make sure I know what it is AND make sure it will go into the cash drawer before I will accept it.
  13. Producers: you are renting me space for a day or two, and I thank you for that. Your job is to make sure I stay within that space, and I respect that. Your job is also to make sure other vendors stay within their allotted space, and I will expect you to do that job as well. It’s why you get paid the big bucks. If your approach is to make me enforce your rules upon my neighbors, then many people will be frustrated by the experience. Including you.

Vendors: yes, you also need to follow the rules about how you set up, how much space you get, how you unload and load back up. Please be considerate: life is far too short to “accidentally” take advantage of others just so you can make a buck or get home a few minutes earlier.

Speaking for myself, I’m here for the joy of conversation, the pleasure of sharing my creations, and to spend a pleasant day or two outdoors. Most of the time, that’s exactly what I get, and I thank all of you for that!


Belleville News Democrat: How Customers Should Treat Craft Fair Vendors

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