Archive for the ‘Arts & Crafts Festival’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Rodeo Days Arts & Crafts Fair 2020   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 long darkness lifted a bit.

I went to an event. I sold stuff. It was almost normal. Except, you know, for the masks & health checks & threats & such.

This was my 4th trip to Prescott, AZ, and I was going for their big 4th of July celebration that centers around the World’s Oldest Rodeo. The Rodeo happened … limited to 25% capacity. The Arts & Crafts Fair happened … with all of the booths socially distanced. The very popular parade … canceled.

But I was back in business, if only for a moment. I had to leave California & drive 400+ miles each way, but I had an event!

New Ideas

  • Geez, it was all new. I hadn’t had an event in 5 months. I hadn’t set up this canopy in 6 months.
  • New products, made during the pandemic:
    • 2x sizes of Dip Servers
    • Magic Bottle Openers returned from a 2 year hiatus, both wall & fridge mount
    • Cutting Board selection was deep, with highlights to include several charcuterie boards like a live edge Black Walnut board (sold), a Dough Board with Hooks, and many traditional boards.
    • Also returning from being sold out previously: Hearts, Coasters, Ampersand Boards, Cracker Things, California Bears, 5 Section Servers & a wide array of Handled Boards on a new display stand.
  • The Mowry Cookbook made a rare appearance for sale, as I had the space.
  • Mrs M stepped up and made “Keep ‘Em Clean,” a Waterless Hand Cleanser. This new alcohol-based product was offered for free so everyone could clean their hands before/after entering the booth, or even just as they wandered by. Everyone appreciated that.

Observations

  • I have no expectations for this weekend. None. I mean, how can you? Who knows who will show up, or if they will have money in their pocket?
  • I found this event because my original event for this weekend in Morro Bay, CA was canceled on June 1. I scrambled & followed my friend Delinda back to Prescott because Arizona is open. Delinda had been there for Memorial Day; I stayed home then. But, no more.
  • I was very fortunate that some good friends had recently moved to Prescott, and invited me into their home for the weekend. Not only was the lodging free, but they cooked for me, too. This was not only incredibly kind, but allowed me to do this event with much less financial risk.
  • Vendors were required to wear masks. Vendors had to pass a health check at set-up on Thursday, and had temps taken daily. We were warned that if we were non-compliant with the masks, we would be required to close our booth. We were told that if the event was found to be non-compliant, it would be closed by the county. We live in an era of threats.
  • My local friends connected me to a recent high school graduate to help with set up. He had a buddy … so I had a crew to set up. I love it when that happens.
  • In spite of the help, we didn’t get set up done on Thursday evening. A quirk of events on the courthouse square in Prescott (which is *lovely*) is that you can’t begin set up until the last judge leaves the courthouse. That was after 6p … we worked until dark, and then buttoned up. I had an early morning on Friday.
  • Friday, I couldn’t sleep so I got to the booth at 6a. Set up continued, with a brief pause at 7a for a mandatory vendor meeting where the threats were repeated. I continued with set up and was ready for customers at 9a.
  • Here’s a truth: dog walkers aren’t buyers of my product. They are out to get exercise, see the sights, and share with other dog owners. They never buy cutting boards (Oh, ok, there was this one lady … in six years.). Not my people.
  • One dog walker met another dog walker in front of my booth. The dogs were the same species. Or something. They chatted. They talked. One of the dogs pissed on my table cloth.
  • The dog owner, deep in conversation, barely turned her head for a pro forma “sorry” and kept talking. My table cloth now serving as a territorial marker for the rest of the weekend was unimportant to her.
  • Not. My. People.
  • It began to sprinkle about midday on Friday, and it eventually worked itself up to raining for 30 minutes. I had to tarp over my exterior displays and wait for the blue skies to return at 2p or so.
  • My biggest sale of the weekend was during the rain. I feel sorry for the vendors that close up when it gets wet outside. They just don’t get it.
  • Saturday was the 4th, and Prescott traditionally has a parade that’s a little slice of Americana in this rural town of 40,000+. The parade was canceled this year due to the virus, though, so no one knew how large crowds might be on this holiday weekend. They were good, but perhaps not great. There was a steady flow past my booth all weekend which had both locals and tourists.
  • The morning of the 4th saw some convoys of vehicles cruising through town with many American flags & much honking. The town leaders might have canceled the parade … but there was still a parade.
  • People carried flags around the square as well. It was very red, white & blue on the 4th. I appreciated that very much.
  • Masks are hot when you wear them for hours.
  • The vast majority of shoppers were masked. Some were not, certainly, but most people were following the directives that the governor of Arizona had given.
  • Did I mention masks are hot? I took to alternating between my various masks: I brought 5x styles with me. I preferred the gaiters, though the paper masks were good. I did discover that if I was setting up – working – I felt the mask limited my oxygen. I didn’t wear a mask when I was doing the physical labor required to do what I do.
  • New at this event were the Dip Servers, which were prominently displayed, front & center. I heard the Dad joke twice and was embarrassed I hadn’t thought of it myself. “Dip Servers … oh, this is for me?”
  • I did see a lot of hats & shirts promoting President Trump. Through the whole weekend, I only saw one Democratic sign. Truly, 99+% were pro-Trump. This is a conservative area, but I was still struck by the absence of visual Biden support.
  • Two ladies were wearing Q t-shirts, which caused a bit of a stir. People were asking to take pictures with them!
  • I can’t believe I saw more Q than Biden.
  • Please note: my selling of cutting boards is 100% non-political. So is this blog. I am reporting on what I saw, nothing more.
  • My handled cutting boards were again compared to paddles (sigh). I was asked if I had one engraved, “Make Kids Great Again.”
  • I do not.
  • I will not.
  • Definitely saw some price resistance this weekend, but, honestly, no more than I typically do. I wondered if there would be more due to the large unemployment numbers, virus damage to the economy, etc. Things seemed pretty OK for those that were shopping. And, I did sell the most expensive board in the booth, so there is that.
  • Saturday afternoon, I was processing a credit card transaction when out of NOWHERE, water started running down the roof onto my front table. Did somebody launch a water bottle onto my roof? Squirt gun war. HUH??? My table was soaked.
  • Come to find out, there was a pool of water trapped on the roof from yesterday’s rain. 24 hours later, the wind must have caught it just right, and I suddenly had an ill-positioned cascade. No boards were damaged, but it was freaky to have water just appear.
  • My worst day of the weekend was … Saturday, July 4th. That wasn’t typical of most other vendors according to my informal survey. My best day was Sunday. Weird.
  • But what would you expect from 2020?
  • Taking everything down was speedy, as I had 2 helpers + my hosts help me. I was more manager than worker, and we got everything back into the trailer well before dark.
  • On the drive home, I thought I would stop in Barstow at the Black Bear Diner … closed. Back to the reality of living in California.
  • In the end, I broke even on the weekend. The booth cost was relatively expensive. Event promoters are not giving a Covid-19 discount. The attendance was clearly lighter than prior years, I was told by many. There were fewer vendors, too … but sales didn’t rise as a result. But, I got out of the house, remembered how to set up the Trimline again, and went a-vendoring. I’ll take that as a win.
  • Request included a larger Cracker Thing, a Cheese Board/Cracker Thing combination, and a Cutting Board display stand (sigh). Maybe someday.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Pot Roast. Home cooking for the win.
  • Honorable Mention: Creamy Shrimpy stuff.
  • Worst Meal: Friday bagels that tried to get eaten after set up. They didn’t age well in my gear bag.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 882
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Total sales: $2,695
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 4
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 35
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue, but I know at least 2 others were selling similar things. The guy selling cheap, shaped boards made from Corian was there, too.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 36:3
  • Returning next year? probably not, if California is open

Boards sold: 39

  • Signs: 8
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 4
  • Charcuterie Boards: 4
  • Dip Servers: 3
  • Cracker Thing: 3
  • Handled Boards: 3
  • Magic Bottle Openers: 2
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Board: 1
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Special Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire 2017   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.

Last year, I had a respectable solo outing at this community event. Plus, a marching band went by my booth. What’s not to like?

It’s rare for me to repeat solo events, actually. This is the only solo event I’m repeating from 2016 (read about that event here), which is a pretty strong endorsement.

On the other hand, I have to do this event solo, as they require a unique California sales permit for each booth: no double booths for any vendor. Since Mr M’s Woodshop is officially a subsidiary of Mrs M’s Handmade, only one of us could do this event.

And you didn’t think I’d solo selling soap only, did you?

In any event, I’m off to the poorly named 36th annual Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire. Can’t wait to see that marching band!

New Ideas

  • We have a new pop-up! The Caravan pop ups we’ve used from the beginning were done: holes in the roof, holes in the walls. Velcro was worn out. So, we bought an Undercover canopy with a vented top and heat reflective roof. Upgrade!
  • We have new weights! The DIY weights made of concrete in 4″ PVC are retired after keeping us firmly on Terra Firma for 3 years … uglying up the place in the process. The new weights are much easier to handle. They velcro to the legs. With 30 pounds/leg, we are not launching in the wind.

Observations

  • I only got a little lost on my way to the Faire. I arrived at about 6:40am. With only me to set up, I had time to burn.
  • I was annoyed, though, when I showed up and both of my neighbors had their cars in place, blocking my booth, while they were mostly set up. Canopies were already up. Shelving was up. But … cars were still in place. Rules are clear: 1. Unload. 2. Go park. 3. THEN, set up.
  • I love rules. Mrs M observes that I’m the only one.
  • There was a helpful volunteer right there to help. She told the neighbors to move their cars. One did almost immediately … the other still had not moved when I was unloaded and going to park. Unbelievable.
  • “How do you get empty beer bottles?” she asked. First time I’ve heard that one. Most people know how bottles get emptied … often from personal experience. Of course, putting caps on those empties is outside of many’s experience, and that definitely confused that young lady until she saw the magic demonstrated. Everyone loves the MBO demo.
  • One guy came into the booth to tell me my work was as good as that of Sam Maloof. Uh, no. That man was an artist; I would love to be able to make a rocking chair like his!
  • “Do you deliver?” Uh, no. But I do ship….
  • I miss my cash drawer. Doing change out of cargo pockets is not for the faint of heart … especially with customers stacked up wanting to give me money.
  • Love that.
  • This is a massive event. Hundreds of vendors, and everything looks handcrafted to me. Outstanding job of curation!
  • Requests were for Keepsake Boxes, a board shaped like Texas (“you’ll make millions!”), a knife holder, a ladle, a board shaped like California (patience! I have a plan), a wired cheese slicer (patience! I have a plan) and a game board for something called Pegs & Jokers. And, the # 1 request was for … chess boards.
  • Maybe I should make some. Got a month of shop time to give me?
  • Another volunteer came to introduce himself to me; he was in charge of my area during load out.
    • I said: “Great. I love the way you guys do this. So well done.”
    • He said: “What do you mean?”
    • I said: “The way you did it last year.”
    • He said: “We don’t do it that way anymore.”
  • “Sigh.”
  • I was ‘whelmed about noon.
  • I stayed ‘whelmed until about 2.
  • So many customers telling me they bought last year, and are back for more.
  • So many customers & prospects shaking my hand and thanking me for being there. People were so friendly. Nice. Happy. I’m just not used to this!
  • The business kept coming until about 3pm, when it fell off. These people came to shop, however: everyone had bags. Backpacks. Pull carts. The holidays approach, and people were buying gifts.
  • My People. And they showed up in Claremont, I’m happy to report.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Who needs a double booth? Today, I was an overachiever. Who needs help?

Best. One. Day. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home

Saturday Lunch: Sesame bagel ham sandwich, from the 42nd Street Deli … 15′ from my booth. Knowing where the booth is located is a wonderful thing.

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: Tri tip with the family. I got to sit by Camdyn.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 126
  • Booth cost: $195
  • Food cost: $19
  • Travel cost: $66
  • Total sales: $1,940
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,660
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 24
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue. At least one.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue. At least one other.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 28:4
  • Returning next year? Yup

Boards sold: 32

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Small Boards: 5

Lazy Susans: 4

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Trivets: 2

Wine Bottle Holders: 2 (I’m now out)

Large Cutting Board: 1

Letter-size Clipboard: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Claremont Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire 2016   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.

Village VentureTalking to vendors, we were told me had to do this event. Had to. Great for handmade goods. It’s a big, one-day event … we had to be there. We missed the first 34 of these, so let’s see what # 35 has in store.

Claremont is a city of 36,000, located in the eastern part of the LA sprawl. According to Wikipedia:

Due to its large number of trees and residents with doctoral degrees, it is sometimes referred to as “The City of Trees and PhDs”.

I like trees. I like smart people. Here’s hoping I like this awkwardly named event.

New Ideas

  • This event allows one booth per California Seller’s Permit, so we could not do a double booth here (We have a permit for Mrs M’s Handmade, which is officially the company. Mr M’s Woodshop does not have legal standing nor a permit.).
  • That means Mr M’s Woodshop is just a figment of my imagination.
  • After careful consideration (we learned we were having family in town this weekend after we applied), we decided that I would solo at Claremont & Mrs M would stay home to make product with her visiting assistant.
  • This event The LA County Fire Department requires every booth to hang a fire extinguisher from their canopy. Not a bad idea, but really? I bought a fire extinguisher; I’ll mount it in the trailer after the event. That’s a good idea in any event.
  • Since I’m a solo act, I’m going to do this event driving the Jeep with the old cargo basket mounted on the hitch. No trailer for me … which is now a new idea? I’ve done the last 8 events with the trailer, so I need to re-learn how to pack for a solo event. This year, we’ve done 20 events. 16 have been done with a trailer, 1 with 2 cars, and 3 with only the Jeep. It’s an increasingly rare thing in this modern era!
  • I have a little cold and a cough. Wonderful.

Observations

  • This is event # 3 in our commitment to eleven 4th quarter events … which means we’re doing 11 events in 11 weeks (sigh). Miles to go before we sleep.
  • Since we have 2 weeks with double events, we get 2 weeks off, and one of them was last week … and the other is next week. That means I have very few days left to make more product. I no longer promise delivery of custom orders by Thanksgiving. To anyone.
  • I filled the car with containers of boards & such … and left the rest at home. So, for this event there were no Small Boards, no Engraved Boards, and no Domed Cheese & Cracker Boards on display. This is what it means to not pull the trailer. Can you believe I used to do events like this with product for both Mrs M and myself in one vehicle? Things change.
  • One handout vendors received was a memo from the Chief of Police recommending we have 2 people in the booth to help watch valuables and guard against theft. Failing that, he recommended that if we were in a booth solo (like me) that we introduce ourselves to our neighbors so they could help keep on eye on my personal items.
  • So, as directed by the Chief of Police, I introduced myself to both neighbors. I always do what the police tell me to do.
  • Didn’t expect a marching band, but one of them came by. I don’t know which one, as they didn’t have any identifying uniform. They had somewhat matching t-shirts, and I assume that this was Claremont High. But, in the end, I had no clue.

claremont-band-critic

  • I suffered in wool band uniforms when the temperature was 90+. What gives with bands being oh so casual these days?
  • Following the band was every little person in costume, plus many moms & dogs in costumes as well. They were hot on the heels of the band for some reason. I did like the inflatable T-Rex costume.
  • We have an e-chip transaction problem. Every event now, our e-chip reader has a transaction that it just doesn’t work for … this time, I got a “transaction canceled” and then a “declined” message. I had the buyer call his credit card issuer, and, sure enough, the bank had credited our account, but Paypal never told me that. This has got to stop.
  • My booth was on the main street, which was a good thing. We had very good traffic, and I heard that wasn’t always the case on the side streets that were much narrower.
  • Requests were for a guitar cutting board, a chicken, a hippo, and a turtle-shaped board. An earring holder and a cup tree were also requested.
  • Load-out was organized very well by the Chamber: you had to get an entry slip from a volunteer after your gear was packed in order to drive your car in to load. Until then, you couldn’t bring your vehicle in. Since this is how we roll, I thought the system was great.

The large sheet was the original entry pass for the morning; you had to have both it and the blue loading pass (for the blue zone) in order to bring your car in for loading.

The large sheet was the original entry pass for the morning; you had to have both it and the blue loading pass (for the blue zone) in order to bring your car in for loading.

  • When I got to the gate to drive in, I saw that the Claremont Police Department was manning the barricade and communicating to motorists after they verified you had the right pass (!). The cop came to my window, verified that I knew where I was going, and then told me to be careful: people were driving crazy, he said. Wow!
  • When I got to my space to load out, I couldn’t park near my gear. My neighbor on one side was a senior citizen couple that wasn’t loading quickly. On the other side were a couple of young girls (one in high school, one perhaps in college or a bit older) trying to load the pickup “just like Mom does.” So, on one side I was slowed by age and on the other side, by the lack of it. As Rosanne Rosannadanna said, “It’s always something.”
  • In the end, this was a good event. The organization was very smooth … but I wish there had been more buyers.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Carl’s Jr Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit Combo. Hello, 24 hour service at 5am.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s ham sandwich

Saturday Snack: Trail mix

Saturday Dinner: Bourbon. Roast beef. Carrots. Mashed Potatoes & Gravy. Green Beans. Chocolate Chip Cookies.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 141
  • Booth cost: $210
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 4
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 3
  • Total sales: $1,185
  • # containers of product taken: 12
  • # boards available: 92
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue. I don’t get out much when I solo. And there are so many vendors at this event, but I did see the booths of 2 soapers, and one of them was a liar, assuming they don’t have FDA approval to say their product treats psoriasis. Good thing they didn’t get to meet FrenziedVelda while making a claim like that.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue. I did see another maker of cutting boards, though he was mainly a turner (with a display of 12x different pizza cutters! Seemed like overkill to me.). There was also another turner that I saw, but I only saw about 15% of the total booths at the event.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 24

14x Magic Bottle Openers

3x Cheese Boards

3x Small Surfboards

1x Cutting Board

1x Bread Board

1x Lazy Susan

1x Notepad Clipboard

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