Archive for the ‘art fair’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Fall 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.

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A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives. After this one … just 2 more to go. And they are the big ones.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Paso Robles is a lovely town near the central coast of California. It’s the home to several wineries, and it’s a nice distance for weekend getaways from the LA area.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

The big park near the downtown area is perfect for strolling through an art fair. You get tourists, you get locals. I did this event with the same promoter in April, and now I’m back to see if October is as good as its reputation. The event was 10/19 & 20/2019.

New Ideas

  • I’ve got a woodworking buddy, Jeff Hewitt, that lives in town. He doesn’t do this event, but he showed up – uninvited! – to help me set up. That is above and beyond the call of duty, and his help was greatly appreciated. As you know, it’s usually just me. Jeff was a great help.
  • You can see Jeff’s work here. Enjoy!

Observations

  • I found a “Granny cottage” AirBnB about 4 blocks from downtown, and it was a perfect place for me. Well, nearly, anyway.
  • Suggested sign: “There are a thousand reasons not to drink, but I can’t think of one.” – Mark Twain. The only problem is, I couldn’t source the quote. I did find this quote from him: “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.” Alas, that’s not a foodie quote, so I won’t make that sign.
  • This, however, is one that will be appearing soon: “Never Delay Kissing A Pretty Girl, Or Opening A Bottle Of Whiskey.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • Reviewing the above quotes … I’m pretty sure that it’s true that writers drink. And I must admit I’m enjoying some bourbon as I write this. Hmmmm.
  • I’m a guy. Logically driven. I like my wood designs symmetrical. And, when I display my work, I line things up. Straight lines.
  • And then there’s Mrs M. She (though absent this weekend!) will walk up to my display and make everything crooked. No straight lines. And, for the record, she’s a Lady. I believe that’s how women’s minds work.
  • My retail consultant (!), Delinda from Sweet Spot Home Decor, is also a Lady. She also makes my displays crooked. See, it’s a woman thing.
  • I note that for this event, I endeavored to make crooked displays, channeling my left brain. My inner female, if you will. And, try though I might, my customers – most of whom are female – will straighten them out.
  • So, like men from the dawn of time, I’m confused. Ladies like crooked displays, but if I make them crooked, they straighten them out.
  • Men. Can’t. Win.
  • In my opinion.
  • Results for the weekend were pretty good, actually, but not outstanding. In 2020, I have another event in mind, so I’ll probably miss this one. Which, gastronomically, sounds like a horrible idea.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch is a true find. I bought Jeff and his lovely wife dinner at my favorite Paso restaurant (and he makes the serving boards that they use!). Worth the trip, highly recommended.
  • Honorable Mention: Leftovers in the AirBnB. Saves money!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 372
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $382
  • Total sales: $1,939
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: At least 4 others
  • Returning next year? I don’t think so

Boards sold: 24

  • Serving Pieces: 1
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 7
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

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.

Observations

  • 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!

More

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