Archive for the ‘Art Festival’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Ventura Art & Street Painting 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.

Temps were over 100* in Santa Clarita last weekend … good thing I planned on going to the beach.

Well, the harbor, anyway.

Ventura’s harbor is 50 miles west, and hosts entertainment events throughout the year to increase attendance to the area to support local business. This weekend, the Ventura Art & Street Painting Festival will have artists creating artwork on streets & sidewalks … with a few vendors to complete the experience.

This event has been recommended to me, but you never know. Do chalk art enthusiasts need cutting boards? Signs? Game boards?

New Ideas

  • I’m doing a single booth in just the Jeep … so no rolling cabinet. Several products have to stay at home, including Lazy Susans, Serving Trays, Pigs, Word Blocks, some of the serving pieces and my canvas pictures. I don’t have room for all of the signs, either.

Observations

  • Setup was as easy as can be; I had to cart in my stuff about 20 yards from the parking lot.
  • The morning entertainment was from an artist and her 2 assistants that had a new Trimline 10×10 … and decided to set it up for the first time at this event. Big mistake, though they did get it set up.
  • And it was set up in the wrong place. They had to move the canopy after they were up. Luckily, they didn’t have their ProPanels & artwork up yet!
  • A young girl saw my Large Serving Pieces, AKA Large Surfboards, and suggested they would make good surfboards for her dolls.

Large Serving Piece 18 – 19. Black Walnut, Hard Maple, Cherry & White Oak.

  • A man walked into the booth, and said, “this booth has the best smell of the day.”
  • I had no response to that.
  • This is the 2nd event in a row that I’ve had a “I want to support your art” purchase. It didn’t seem like they wanted the piece as much as they wanted to do me a favor. I didn’t ask for a favor; this kind of transaction always makes me feel odd.
  • I continue to get people that want to buy my 3D cribbage tops without the cribbage board. I may have to do some 3D carving in my spare time.
  • This event was very pleasant in Ventura Harbor. Sales, though, were underwhelming for a 2-day event. I will only go back if a lot of my promised future sales (“Let me take your card; Christmas is coming….”) actually happen.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M made keto pizza for dinner; this was a good thing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 201
  • Booth cost: $195
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $105
  • Total sales: $607
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $307
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5:10a
  • Sunday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 11
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: one other cutting board maker was there (both of us were first timers at this event). Neither of us had good weekends.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 13:0
  • Returning next year? Probably not

Boards sold: 13

CNC Signs: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Board: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Faire On The Square 2018   1 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.

Once you embrace the idea of doing big events, you have to get out of town.

So, knowing that I had to do something over the holiday weekend, I decided to go a-vendoring in Arizona for the second time. But, since Mrs M claimed to have to work at her “job,” I was a solo act.

And I went far afield.

Prescott (rhymes with biscuit) was the original territorial capitol of Arizona. It’s the county seat, and the courtyard lawn hosts many vendor-driven events throughout the summer & fall: the city has an elevation over 5,000′, so Phoenix comes here to cool off.

I’m told.

I wonder if they need cutting boards?

Faire on the Square is produced by the Chamber of Commerce, and features 150+ vendors. Many “professional” vendors do this event. At this point, I think I’m in that group. One thing is for sure: I won’t be considered a local at this event.

New Ideas

  • I’m driving the trailer across the desert with my big Trimline canopy. I’m told it does rain on occasion. I’m ready for anything.
  • As I drove into Prescott, I heard a loud sound … cicadas, I thought. But, it’s been a while since I have been around them, and it was SO LOUD, I actually rolled down the car window to make sure something wasn’t wrong with the car. Lots of cicadas in the pine trees here!
  • I’m picking up temp labor at the event to help me put up & take down the canopy. I’m told there are homeless people around to help.
  • 2 new items here: cribbage boards sets (I have 4 prototypes), and I’ve actually made stands for sale. They are here. They are available.

Observations

  • Wait, what? I’m supposed to hire homeless people?
  • Come to find out, I did find some helpers, and they were underemployed but not homeless. Nice people. Of the 5 that I talked to about helping me, I actually had 2 show up as promised. I made it work.
  • This event has a couple of quirks you have to deal with:
    • Check in is 4pm Friday, and set up can begin after the last judge leaves the courthouse at about 6pm.
    • No vendor displays, canopies, etc, are allowed to touch the courthouse lawn. Wooden blocks (2x4s suggested) must be between every canopy leg, table & product container so that the grass can be allowed to breathe as much as possible.
    • I dealt with it.
  • Set-up was fine, and I ended up having 3 people help. One helper was great, one was good, and one was annoying. Such is life.
  • Parking is a bit of a challenge for loading/unloading, but the COC reserves the parking around the square for vendors. I was there early for check-in, and parked the trailer in the perfect spot. After load-in began, I was yelled at by a vendor for parking my trailer in 5 parking spots so no one else could use them. Not accurate: I was in 2 spots, not 5. And I was actively unloading, as I was supposed to be doing. Why she was entitled to the parking spots that I had, I’m not sure, but she was ticked at me.
  • And, vice versa.
  • First sale on Saturday: one of the new 5-section servers.
  • Second sale: one of the new cribbage boards.
  • Third sale: Can I have a stand with that? Why, yes, yes you can.
  • I know I’m in the west. Cowboys are here. And … one lady saw my 3D carved cribbage board top, and wanted to buy it. Just the top. I eventually got 2 requests (and no sales at my quoted price).
  • We take shop towels to events to clean with. I dust off my boards. Mrs M cleans her soap (think about it). We use a few towels; I typically stick a few into a cutting board container; there are a few in our bag of bags as well. At the last event, we had towels everywhere. Mrs M was offended, I guess, and she, uh, got us better organized. This time, there were zero towels. None. Good thing Mrs M didn’t need one to clean her soap, since she was at her “job.”
  • Most common question of the weekend: “Did you write these signs?”
  • Hmmm. I didn’t write the quotes from Julia Child, Mark Twain, Shakespeare or Miss Piggy, no. I did write some of the others; I researched some and made them my own. One thing I do know: my signs amuse people passing the booth, and I think that’s a good thing. Maybe someday they’ll stop passing by and begin to look around to buy stuff. Maybe.
  • A woman walks into the booth:
    • “Are these canvases marked full price?”
      • “Uh … well, they are marked at the only price. Yes, that’s full price.”
    • “But there was a booth across the square that said all canvases are half off. So are these half off?”
      • No. Just no.
  • A man walks into the booth:
    • “Do you have any cat signs?”
      • “No, no cat signs.”
    • “What, you don’t like cats?”
      • “Uh, no, all of my signs are food-related. I’m all about food here.”
    • “Maybe you’ll have cat signs next year.”
      • No. Just no.
  • A woman walks into the booth:
    • “You know what sign you should make?”
      • (this will end badly, I know) “What?”
    • “Make ‘I laughed so hard that tears ran down my leg!’ Ladies will love it!”
      • No. Just no.
  • A couple walks into the booth:
    • She said, “What’s a trivet?”
      • “It’s to protect your table & counter from hot stuff. When you have hot stuff, it needs protecting.”
    • He said, “I tell her that all of the time.”
  • I have 2 plaques, “Family” & “In This House,” that I often display on a front table. I had them there on Saturday, and then moved them on Sunday to put a pig-themed display in their place, as Mrs M did last week. Changing things up can be good, right? Monday, a lady walked by with her friend and I overheard her say “It serves me right for not buying it when I saw it!” I asked what, and the Family sign was what she liked. I showed it to her around the corner, hanging on the wall, and she was surprised she hadn’t noticed that WALL OF SIGNS when she walked by them. Eventually, she bought a different sign from that display.

CNC Sign 18 – 46. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.

CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

  • Oh, and 2 pig signs did sell. Family & In This House? Nope.
  • It rained a bit on Sunday evening, but after the event was really over at 5pm. It rained again on Monday after load out was in full swing … I was soaked by the time I was loaded. Soaked. Happily, I was going back to the AirBnB so I could dry off and have a nice dinner. Driving home, soaked to the skin … would not have been fun.
  • Requests were for wooden crosses, a magnetic chess board, a 2-player cribbage set (coming!), very small cutting boards, a smaller Lazy Susan and a board to cook a fish on (no, I don’t sell raw cedar planks to burn in a fire).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Frozen meals from the microwave were my dinner each night. I had Velda’s spaghetti, Chicken Marsala, and a travel-ready lasagna she put together.
  • Worst Meal: Driving across the desert, I couldn’t find suitable nourishment, so I settled for a gas station cheeseburger & chips. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 891
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $49
  • Travel cost: $530
  • Total sales: $2,439
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,310
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • Monday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 29
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple I saw, but I only saw about half of the vendors
  • # woodworking vendors: there was one guy making wooden acoustic amplifiers for smart phones … very interesting little creations featuring brass horns.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 37:4
  • Returning next year? Probably

Boards sold: 41

Trivets: 11

CNC Signs: 6

Word Blocks: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Cutting Board: 2

Coasters: 2

Custom Orders: 2

Hearts: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

5-section Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Serving Piece: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

Serving Tray: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 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.

This will be our 4th consecutive annual trip to the mountains in southern Kern County for the 55th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival.

We love this event. You can read about our previous visits: 2017, 2016 and 2015. Note that when Mrs M’s Handmade was just 18 months old, the 2015 event was our Best. Event. Ever.

We love Tehachapi.

Great community. Park atmosphere. Handmade vendors are in the vast majority – and we get to set up on the grass. Live music. Oh, and there’s a carnival, a car show and fair food (we didn’t do any of those!).

We’ve been surprisingly successful at this event over the years, and got a large special order last year that really put me over the top. That’s not expected this year, of course, but we still expect to have another nice jaunt north.

New Ideas

  • After putting up our Trimline canopy last year, we return to pop-ups this year. That saves about 30 minutes or so on the set up and the tear down … and since we’re driving home Sunday evening, we thought that was a good idea.

Observations

  • Set up began at 3pm Friday afternoon. Heat of the day. We took our time, though, and worked the process until we wanted to quit. Mrs M got most of her product up, but I elected to do my product set up on Saturday morning. Opening was at 10a; we were ready.
  • This community comes to the event, and they walk the booths. There’s traffic here, and you just need to find your audience.
  • A lady came into the booth and wanted me to do a replacement board for her Hoosier. Huh? Come to find out, this is an old, freestanding kitchen cabinet that has an integrated flour mill below the upper cabinet. I have seen these, but never knew they were named after the state’s nickname where so many of them were made: in Indiana. Who knew?
  • A side note: when I write these blogs, I have an opportunity to have the website check them before publication. Basic spelling is checked (I have trained the checker how to spell Padauk, Bubinga & Morado, by the way). Grammar is checked. And, every time I use the word “lady” the checker accuses me of using biased language.
  • I’m not biased. I believe people are good, and every female that enters my booth is a lady until she proves otherwise. If that makes me biased, then so be it. I’m not changing. And I calls ’em the way I sees ’em.
  • I got a few more chaos boards finished for this event (I had been out for 6 weeks). Those boards are a stopper … but they always inspire people to tell me that they see what I do with my scrap wood. Here’s the board:

Cutting Board 18 – 724. 18 species are in this board! End Grain. Chaos Board.

  • Please note I do not make my boards out of scrap. I start with lumber, and I end up at the finish line. Each board is hand selected to be a part of the cutting board. Scrap is what I burn or recycle. Good lumber is what I use. I do get rather insistent when people tell me that I use scrap to make things.
  • The price tag on this board is $200. It is not made out of scrap. Nothing I make is out of scrap.
  • Rant over.
  • We expected this year to be down from the record-setting event last year, and we were not wrong. We didn’t want to be this wrong, however: Saturday was down about 50%. Several other vendors reported similar numbers, unfortunately. Temperatures were in the 90s … the ice cream vendor had a line all day long. Cutting Board sales? Not so much.
  • Sunday is another day.
  • A pair of ladies (yup) walked by the booth. One observed that it might be fun to get a pig cutting board. Or a bear cutting board. I pointed them both out to her (win!). Come to find out, her family had a cabin complete with a shaped cutting board from the ’30s (!) that was shaped like a pig. Or, probably a bear. They really weren’t sure which. Interesting; I told them how rare a vintage bear board is. Pig boards are out there, but bears? Not so much.
  • No sale for me, however.
  • This event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. During the course of the event, 5 different board members came into the booth to introduce themselves and thank us for our support.
  • Promoters, take note. It is nice to feel appreciated.
  • We love this event.
  • Sunday sales ended up being much better than expected. It didn’t make up for our oh so slow Saturday, but our ending total was much more respectable than we feared the night before. We were down, as expected, but we had a very respectable event. We’re already planning for next year … and we’re going to get bigger.
  • Requests were for cribbage boards (2x. I am so over not having these done yet!), more boards with juice grooves, more smaller boards & a sign defining a chicken, since I’ve already defined a pig (hmmmm).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Dinner with friends. Does it matter what you eat?
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner with friends. See above.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 148
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $104
  • Travel cost: $77
  • Total sales: $2,107
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,626
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other
  • # woodworking vendors: there was one maker and 2 importers
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 17:1
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 18x

Trivets: 4

Large Serving Pieces: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 2

Coasters Set: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Clipboard: 1

Custom Order: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Heart: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Bishop Mule Days 2018   1 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.

I don’t know anything about mules. Some are from Missouri, I think. Shouldn’t I know more about that?

Bishop is a mountain community on the eastern Sierra located on US 395. They have the world’s largest annual celebration of mules each Memorial Day weekend. In addition to the events at the fairgrounds (and the vendors there), a parade is held on Main Street (AKA US 395). The Bishop City Park is there, and the local arts council sponsors their annual craft fair for vendors of handmade goods at that bucolic park with a stream, a duck pond and large shade trees.

Sounds like home.

We’re in. Well, I’m in. Mrs M had to work at her “job,” so my solo act was headed north to see if a celebration of mules was the right place to sell my cutting boards.

New Ideas

  • This is our my first 4-day event. Fridays are slow and Mondays are awful, I’m told … but it is nice to not put up early Saturday morning and take down late Sunday night. Recovery is a good thing.
  • Carved signs make their debut on the mesh walls at this event. Booth decor is now complete, for the moment: photographs of my boards in use are mixed with CNC-carved signs with a bit of sass and quotes with a bit of historical interest.

Observations

  • This is event # 8 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • My goodness, will it never end?
  • I drove up on Thursday to set up, and met the coordinator, Lynn, who showed me to my booth spaces. By the time I got there in the afternoon, many of the vendors were set up – and gone. I wasn’t late to the party, but I was certainly not early.
  • By the time I was putting up the Trimline, the late afternoon winds had picked up. Fortunately, a dad that was watching his daughters’ very long swim team meeting at the pool nearby volunteered to help me hold down the dome as I erected the framework.
  • Yes, his wife got to pick out a cutting board to take home. He was a very big help!
  • Love our new strategy of staying at AirBnB guest houses whenever we can at out-of-town events. I was in an in-law cottage that was just perfect for a couple’s getaway to the Sierra. Too bad I wasn’t a couple.
  • The forecast had thunderstorms forecast for Friday and Saturday. Can I not catch a break with the weather this year?
  • It only took a couple of hours … I was quickly asked how much for the engraved signs on the walls. But I don’t want to sell my booth decor!
  • Well….
  • #1 question of the weekend, by a wide margin: “What’s a trivet?”
  • #1 seller for the last 2 weekends: trivets.
  • You can’t make this stuff up.
  • Best visual of the first day was a pair of grandparents facetiming with their daughter and granddaughter. They had bought a stick mule (like a stick pony), and the mule kept dancing in front of the camera during the call. I can appreciate grandparents having fun.
  • Luckily, the rain stayed away. Ended the first day over $600 in sales.  I didn’t really have specific expectations at my first time for this event, but that seemed good to me.
  • Saturday, I was told to expect light crowds until after the parade, and then expect to be ‘whelmed. It didn’t really happen that way: business was steady all day. I never really got slammed, though there were a few times that transactions happened right on top of each other. I was busy all day.
  • Best t-shirt of the weekend: a lady wore a shirt that said “Don’t eat watermelon seeds.” It appeared that perhaps she had; something was growing, that’s for sure.
  • Ended the day Saturday with no rain! I had very good sales, propelled by selling 2x end grain cutting boards with a design I call “Chaos.” They are show stoppers.
  • And I’m out of them.
  • Sunday dawned with no rain in the forecast.
  • It rained on and off through much of the afternoon. I still had OK sales, though. Definitely having a good event, in spite of the rain.
  • Sold a cheese board that’s going to Essex, and then another that’s going to London. Must be a lot of English tourists here to get a taste of the old west. Or something.
  • #2 question of the weekend: “Did Benjamin Franklin really say that?”
  • The day ended with 2x twenty-something couples, and both of the guys really wanted to buy the meat carving boards. Somehow, their delay in making a decision became a discussion about how there was a lack of commitment problem at work here. I backed away. The couples strolled on.
  • And came back. I sold 2x boards. This was a very good day. Not as good as Saturday, but I got close to a good number. If I can just do a little bit on Monday….
  • I sputtered along on Monday; we only had 5 hours before we closed up. In the final hour (OF COURSE), I sold one more large cheese & cracker server that put me over $300 for the day. That put me over a very nice number … and yes!

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Requests were for a spatula, pepper mills, cribbage boards (multiple requests. I’m trying. Geez.), a backgammon set (NO NO NO), Chinese checkers (NO), a smaller “&” board, a carving board (I am out!) and a lap board for your car to eat lunch on (huh?).
  • Two more events in the Spring Fling. Four total events in June. Hope I can make it … I’m selling out of things!
  • And, yes, that’s a wonderful problem to have.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M opened the freezer, and I got meals – and a pre-planned menu – for the weekend. Chicken Marsala for the win. Of course.
  • Worst Meal: I stopped in Mojave for a Big Mac, and I was annoyed by the service. Not the best McDonald’s I’ve been to.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 504
  • Booth cost: $580
  • Food cost: $34
  • Travel cost: $854
  • Total sales: $3,532
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,064
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Alarm clock: Nope
  • # transactions: 44
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple … but not Mrs M, unfortunately
  • # woodworking vendors: several. There was a turner & a maker of pine log furniture. Rustic furniture and decor was everywhere, it seemed.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 60:4
  • Returning next year? Absolutely.

Boards sold: 64

Coasters: 13

Trivets: 8

Cutting Boards: 7

Cheese Boards: 6

Word Blocks: 5

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Small Boards: 4

Lazy Susans: 3

CNC Plaque: 3

Custom Orders: 2

Cheese & Cracker Server: 2

Wine Bottle Coaster: 1

Heart: 1

Serving Tray: 1

Bear: 1

Pig: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

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

 

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   8 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.

What a weekend.

Hang on kids, this one’s going to get bumpy.

I’m breaking format for this Special Edition; there was just too much happening this weekend to do a normal Board Chronicles for our event. I’ll cover the basics tomorrow; in this post I’ll cover, to quote Paul Harvey, the rest of the story.

We had such a wonderful plan.

The problem, you see, is that our out-of-control hobby – doing these craft fairs – results in us working 7 days a week. Day off? HA. Evening out? HA. We have to make more product. We have an event to prepare for.

Except … that’s no way to live. Right? You need to enjoy yourself now and again. Both Velda and I do these events, as you know, to scratch another itch, if you will … to actually talk to living humans face-to-face (in my case) and to have them talk oh-so-enthusiastically about your products (in Velda’s case). We do this for the fun … except, sometimes, it just feels like we’re working all of the time, and not enjoying anything.

Mammoth LakesSo this weekend was about getting some enjoyment while working a new event. We love the mountains, and this event at Mammoth Lakes was recommended to us. It sounded like a great escape, so we thought we’d make a weekend of it. Have some privacy. Get away from it all. Enjoy the mountain air.

That was the plan. Those were our expectations. And, as you know, expectations can kill you.

We had relatively low expectations for the event, honestly. We wanted to break even. Pay for our hotel, pay for our event costs and travel costs … and leave with a smile on our face. With me?

The event was the 44th annual Mammoth Lakes Fine Arts & Crafts Festival.

The erudite MrsM recommended we use airbnb, which we enthusiastically embraced. I searched for available lodgings for this weekend, and found Chantal’s home:

We booked it. We did this not knowing that there was also a foosball table in the suite we were booking. I mean, c’mon, have you ever stayed in a room with a wonderful foosball table?

The loveliest Foosball table I have ever used to beat Velda at a game she does not understand.

The loveliest Foosball table I have ever used to beat Velda at a game she does not understand.

It’s probably true that we came late to the party … we didn’t apply for this August event until May 30, and received our confirmation on June 1. When we then searched for lodgings IN Mammoth Lakes, the prices were, uh, significant. Chantal’s home looked lovely, and even though it was 20 miles out of town and still a bit pricey, it seemed to fit with our over-all goal of enjoying the weekend.

We were all in. I booked Chantal’s master suite for the weekend. Velda began planning menus for us to enjoy at both the event in Mammoth Lakes as well as at Chantal’s home, which is in Swall Meadows – about halfway between Bishop & Mammoth Lakes, CA.

We received the event instructions on July 25, and I dutifully printed them and put then in my event instructions pile … to read when it was time to get ready for the event. I read the instructions on Wednesday, August 3. I had other things to do in the interim … like finishing the 99 boards that you’ve seen pictured over the last few days. But I digress.

There I was, reading the instructions with Velda the evening of August 3, and something caught my eye on page 2: the producer did not provide event security. At all. This open-air event had no one protecting your booth in the wee hours, and the producers clearly stated they were not responsible.

Whoa.

I’ve never done an outdoor, multi-day event that didn’t provide security. Wowzer.

I kept reading.

And that’s when I got hit. Hard. The letter said:

Bears have been known to walk through the site at night. Please do not leave anything fragrant (food, lotions,
trash, chapstick, etc.) in your booth that might attract their attention.

Now, I’ve been trained by professionals about bears & smellables. They cannot be in the same place, or the bear will have them.

  • Mrs M’s display … 100% smellable. I mean, that’s the purpose of her products!
  • Mr M’s display … 100% smellable. I coat every board in beeswax. My booth would have to smell like a honey pot to any wandering bear.

We were going to have to strike our display every night, and set it up every morning. Our 7-hour daily event just became an 11-hour daily event. Our vision of a getaway weekend in a mountain retreat seemed to be slipping away.

But, we were already all-in. Non-refundable payments in full were already sent. So, we embraced the situation and resolved to make the best of it. When I arrived for set up, I confirmed that our understanding of the details was 100% correct. Oh, one of the artists generally sleeps at the event site to provide “security,” but the ursine population was a constant problem … which is why every garbage can in Mammoth Lakes has a lock on it.

Wha’cha gonna do, right? We were already all in.

Our first night at Chantal’s was great. Quiet. We went to bed early, anticipating our early set-up for day one.

Friday was a total surprise for us: most 3-day events have a Friday that’s a snooze at best. I hoped we would sell enough to pay our hotel bill for one night, and had low expectations of actually doing that. Fridays were always slow, slow, slow.

Except for this one.

Sales on Friday were over $1,000. Incredible! We have never done that well on the first day of a 3-day event. Fabulous. With smiles on faces, we packed all of the smellables back into the trailer, and headed for Chantal’s for grilled burgers, and a tête-à-tête on the patio.

We got on US 395 and headed south … and there was a large, 2-rotor helicopter carrying a big orange thing over the highway in front of us. Odd. We knew there was a fire somewhere; they must be doing water drops on the fire.

Yup.

Smokey does not mess around. When he says the danger is extreme, believe him.

Smokey does not mess around. When he says the danger is extreme, believe him.

We got to our turn-off, and there was a CHP officer there to tell us the road was closed; we would have to go the long way ’round to get to Swall Meadows. Lower Rock Creek Road had been closed, due to the Rock Creek Fire, now burning on about 10 acres with 5% containment, Velda found. No worries. The new path to our room was a few miles longer, but GPS is a wonderful thing. No worries.

We got to Chantal’s and relaxed a bit. I poured a Woodford (of course) and Velda poured her new obsession, a small batch, handmade Lavender Honey mixer with Vodka. We got the groceries together, and trooped down to the patio to enjoy our dinner. Once I helped Velda figure out how to turn a BBQ’s gas valve to “On,” the cooking got started.

By the time we were eating, there was smoke in the air. And Velda never burns the BBQ, so the smoke was from a more sinister source. Breathing outdoors became a bad idea.

No problem, we finished & went upstairs to rest up for the big day of vending that was ahead of us. I went to bed early, but Velda was dealing with nerves & stayed up reading.

At 10:30pm, the local Sheriffs began knocking on the doors in the neighborhood, advising everyone to evacuate. The winds had shifted, and the fire that was nearly contained at 7pm was suddenly breaking through the fire lines. Swall Meadows (which had partially burned just 18 months ago) was threatened. We had to get out.

Get. Out.

11pm. Fleeing a fire. Homeless. Hotels were already known to be sold out due to the “Bluesapalooza” event going on, concurrently with ours. And set-up for the next day’s event began in 8-1/2 hours.

OK, go.

Velda got a very large adrenaline rush (not a good thing) and transformed into FrenziedVelda. If you’ve ever been around FrenziedVelda … well, you know what I’m talking about. If this is a new idea for you, all I can say is be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid.

I advised her that we would be going to Bishop to look for a room for the night, and she followed the Jeep/trailer in her Honda. She assured me she was OK to drive, and when faced with the choice of making her ride with me or allowing her to drive herself, I took the coward’s path & let her have her way.

We headed south. I turned into the first motel we came to, a Motel 6. Sold Out. OK, I was ready to move on. I told asked FrienziedVelda to stay at the entrance, and I drove forward in the parking lot to turn around. And I came to a dead end. The only way out was to back the trailer out. Back about 40 yards, do a dog leg right around the pool, and then back up another 200 yards. No problem. FrenziedVelda will help me.

But, FrenziedVelda. Where is she?

Gone.

Well, OK, then. Nothing to do but to get to it. I am by no measure an expert at handling a trailer. I haven’t been comfortable with something attached to a hitch since I nearly broke the hay wagon tongue attached to the tractor and FrenziedDad nearly bit my head off.

But I digress.

I commenced to backing, and got about 70% done before FrenziedVelda showed back up. She’d secured us a room across the street at the Vagabond Inn. We were lucky: it was the last room they had. Only $219 for the night. Or, rather, for the 6 hours we had left in the night.

FrenziedVelda then helped me back up a bit, and put her car in the road with flashers on to clear the way for me. That got the attention of a passing cop, who spoke briefly to FrenziedVelda and then immediately started telling the drivers of all passing cars to stay far, far away from this developing incident.

With Officer Friendly’s kind help, I was able to extricate my rig from the Motel 6 parking lot from Hell, and turned to get gas and find solace in another parking lot. As I was parking in an abandoned grocery store lot near the motel, FrenziedVelda called to say I should come directly to the Vagabond Inn. With a little prompting, she even asked the clerk where I should park since I was pretty sure Officer Friendly had departed this area as quickly as possible once I was clear of the parking lot from Hell.

I parked the Jeep in the designated “trucker’s lot,” and walked to FrenziedVelda. She had the room key, as well as the suitcases & such in her car. We got to the sumptuous clean room, and unpacked. We found that in the chaos that created FrenziedVelda, a few items had been left behind.

Like her shampoo. And her hair brush. And her makeup.

And my comb. And my shampoo.

And my bourbon.

Things went downhill from there.

We turned out the light, agreeing to get up for breakfast at the conveniently located Denny’s next door at 6a, in order to be at the event by 7:15a for setup.

Sierra Nevada 01

This may have been quaint in the ’50s as room decor, but today it was just annoying.

We got to Denny’s, homeless again after a few hours of tossing and turning at the unfortunately-named Vagabond Inn, and I volunteered that I’d found another hotel, in Mammoth Lakes, for the next 2 nights: the Sierra Nevada Resort. Only $199/night. Sold. I made the reservation on my tablet, and we drove back to the event for Saturday set-up.

Saturday sucked. Sales were oh-so-slow all day. Every vendor said they were down to Friday. The energy was down; the crowd was there but it just didn’t feel like anyone cared. Saturdays are supposed to be the best day! What’s happening?

In the end, however, the day went well. Sales for us were up 35% over our spectacular Friday, so we had no complaints. About the sales part. Oh, and FrenziedVelda eventually went away, so that was good unbelievably excellent, as well.

At the end of the day, we loaded all of our wonderful smellables back into the trailer, and left it parked right at the event. At this point, I was clear that if a bear wanted to tear open the trailer so they could eat a bar of soap, then I would let’em.

I then drove the Honda to our motel resort. The online booking was correct; the room fee was $199. What I had not seen was that there was a resort fee of $25 per night as well.

Resort fee. You know, so we could relax during our getaway weekend.

Mammoth Mogul, formerly known as Ixis Mogul. But you knew that, right?

Mammoth Mogul, formerly known as Ixis Mogul. But you knew that, right?

We loaded into our new home for the next 48 hours, relaxed a minute … well, sort of. The problem was the guy in the room across the courtyard had a direct view into our room if the curtain was open … which it needed to be if you wanted to survive having no air conditioning in the room. So, privacy or cooler temperatures. You choose.

Soon after we gave up on choosing between that rock & the hard place, we went to dinner. Velda had selected a nice Mammoth Lakes restaurant called The Mogul. Note this is not the Mammoth Mogul of Sonic the Hedgehog fame, which Velda was almost certainly unaware of when she selected the restaurant.

Why this restaurant? It was a peace offering. You see, they sold Blackberry Pie a la mode as a featured dessert, and even though Velda won’t make me such a dessert, she was offering to let me buy one.

And I did. But first, there was a Bulleit on the rocks … which was the best Bourbon they had (sigh). But the dinner got better, starting with a wonderful Caesar salad with whole anchovies. Then, a Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola butter. Yum.

Thank you, Velda. After the weekend we’d had … so far … this meal was a singular treat. The singular treat.

Once the meal was over, though, it was off to Von’s to buy emergency replacements. Here’s Velda’s actual shopping list:

  1. brush
  2. shampoo
  3. comb
  4. liquor

Sunday, we started with a totally unsatisfying breakfast at Carl’s Jr, since Velda’s carefully planned menu was still at our evacuated airbnb home. We got to the event site on time and began our 3rd 2-hour set up for this 3-day event.

Generally, I expect Sunday sales to be about 40% of a Saturday/Sunday event. This Sunday’s results did not disappoint, thankfully, and we eventually had sales that surpassed our expectations. Our 3 day sales were … well, that’s what I’ll discuss tomorrow in the official event review, in the next episode of The Board Chronicles.

For now, though, how do you think we’re doing against the stated goals for the weekend? Here they are:

  1. Have some privacy.
  2. Get away from it all.
  3. Enjoy the mountain air.
  4. We wanted to break even: pay for our hotel, pay for our event costs and travel costs.
  5. Leave with a smile on our face.

By my count, we’re 1 for 5, or worse. Perhaps using vending as an excuse for vacationing was not our best idea….

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