Archive for the ‘Carpinteria’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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.

Time to get serious. The holidays are upon us.

Yes. Upon us.

We loved doing this event last year. Big traffic. Happy people. Party.

What’s not to like?

We stayed busy, Mrs M sold out of Avocado Soap, and we even got a very nice steak dinner Saturday night. Spectacular, even.

You bet we wanted to return for the 31st Annual California Avocado Festival!

As we eagerly anticipated returning to Carpinteria, we had 13 events in front of us during this 4th quarter. We truly have miles to go before we sleep, and here’s our very big first step.

New Ideas

  • We’re doing it just like last year … but with better inventory. We hope.

Observations

  • We drove up Friday, and had dinner at Clementine’s. Their filet is highly recommended. If you’re in Carpinteria, enjoy!
  • The event’s on a city street, so, as is often the case with a street fair-styled event, it’s a Saturday morning set-up … even though the commercial section in the next block was up on Friday night as well. Hmmmm.
  • The alarm didn’t go off. WHAT? My phone died … the outlet I plugged the phone in, on the desk lamp, worked just fine until it stopped working. My phone’s battery drained, and I had no alarm. Oh, and our credit card transactions go through my phone. We’re running a bit late, and the majority of our business has to go through my dead phone. OK, go.
  • Love turbo charging. I am a droid fan.
  • Went to go get my favorite breakfast, and charged the phone more in the only outlet in the restaurant, located between the 2 restrooms. 83% will have to be enough today.
  • We arrived at 6:20a for a 6:30a load-in, only to find that the City had left a forklift in the street to block access. The fork lift driver … was not there. OK, go.
  • I carted everything in. About a city block, which was a flat block, thankfully. But, it was 6:30a and I was playing mule to get everything to booths 23 & 24. Good times.
  • Fork lift driver showed up at 7:08a for what he thought was a 7a call. I was almost finished carting in, no thanks to Public Works Department. We were running more than 30 minutes behind schedule. We had walkers in the booth before we were setup due to the forklift delay.
  • First sale of the day = vindication. I can make a serving tray that people believe will be of use. It only took me most of my lifetime to get there….
  • A lady saw the trivets and asked, “Do you put crackers in the slots?”
  • Uh … no.  Not recommended. Sorry.
  • Vending can be a humbling experience.
  • A young lady walked into the booth wearing a pair of bananas on her purse. She observed that it’s the perfect snack … I observed it was an unusual accessory. She offered me a banana as a reward. I think.
  • A pirate walked into the booth with his wench. (That is what the women associating with pirates are called, right? I don’t want to be politically incorrect with the title for a woman accompanying a pirate in my booth.) They were doing some cosplay thing, I guess. She later assured me they were good pirates, and did take exception to being called a wench. So, now you know. Don’t make the same mistake I did when a pirate walks into your booth with his … uh … well, when 2 pirates walk into your booth.
  • Business was way up on Saturday. Looking good for a great weekend.
  • Sunday started with a spectacular breakfast. No load in, of course, and we were assured we would not have a fork lift problem for load out! Life was good.
  • A client came by that custom ordered 2 large cutting boards last year, and he loves them. Lots of kudos. I smiled.
  • And then his wife came by, and the kudos happened all over again. Life is good.
  • Business, though, slowed down. Way down. Last year, Sunday was unusual at this event: it was 20% up from Saturday. At most events, Sunday is 50% down from Saturday. This year, we seem to be following the normal model. Unfortunately.
  • Strike started promptly at 6p. We were in the dark soon … and they didn’t turn on the rented floodlights until well after dark. The Department of Public Works, late to the party. Again.
  • A 3 year old was walking with her family in front of our booth, and went into meltdown. She had a spectacular tantrum, with full-throated screaming for at least 5 minutes. She then got a time out (still in front of our booth) and screaming continued for another 8 minutes as the family tried to figure out what to do with little miss screamer. Finally, a family member picked her up and carried her away. Screaming.
  • I have had days like that, but I believe I was not as demonstratively spectacular as the young miss.
  • In the end, we were disappointed by this event. We were down from last year … but this was STILL our 7th best event ever. How can you be disappointed when you had one of your best ever?
  • Expectations kill you.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend. Thanks for the electricity, too.

Saturday Lunch: Pizza Dan’s was right in front of our booth, so it was easy. And cold, when I finally got to it.

Saturday Snack: Chips & guac when Little Girl came to visit. Life was good.

Saturday Dinner: Comfort food in the hotel bar, which I will not honor by calling it a restaurant.

Sunday Breakfast: Goodbye, old friend. Esau’s was just down the street from us, and this breakfast/lunch cafe is highly recommended. Yum.

Sunday Lunch: Carry out from Esau’s. Yum. A new tradition.

Sunday Snack: Nope.

Sunday Dinner: Carl’s Jr, eaten in the car on the way home. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 274
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $747
  • Total sales: $3,476
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,532
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: It wanted to be 4:30a, but ’twas not to be.
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • # transactions: 119
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 3 other soapers. There may have only been 1 other last year, according to my notes … so perhaps this explains why Mrs M’s sales fell.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board maker, located in the Carpinteria Artist Center (he is a member, he said). They were up near the action, adjacent to the food/music area, but off the street. I heard traffic was not great. They were a bit hidden, it seems.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:2
  • Returning next year? Probably

Boards sold: 33

MBOs: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Trivets: 5

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susans: 3

Serving Trays: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Bread Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Legal Clipboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2016   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

carpinteriaThe Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-style event on their grounds in their city. In November, the event transforms into a handmade-only holiday boutique. We’ve done the event for a couple of years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of this community event.

Here’s the Board Chronicles from last year: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2015.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend is a bit crazy.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend when we could be making product for next week’s biggest event of the year might be a bit crazy.

But we like the feel of this event! It’s community. It’s handmade. It’s what we do.

We’re in.

New Ideas

  • We asked for a booth on the front side of the museum (the city street) instead of our traditional booth on the other side (the parking lot, which is cramped quarters). No double space was available on the street, but the museum director assured us he would help us get the trailer through the unloading/loading process. We’re in.

Observations

  • We checked the forecast Friday … and it was bad. Rain was forecast throughout the event. In fact, the forecast said it would rain 10a – 3p … the entire span of the event! Rain would continue through 6pm, so we would not have any respite for the load out.
  • I just did a wet event last weekend.
  • Velda’s recovering from a bad cold.
  • We became 2 of “those people.”
  • I learned the phrase when I was running marathons: DNS DNF. Did Not Start, Did Not Finish. We stayed home.
  • We made product.
  • And the weather was awful; raining as predicted. We made the right call, IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 0
  • Booth cost: $150
  • Total sales: 0
  • Returning next year? If we continue down the path of not doing one day events….

Boards sold: 0

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2016   7 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.

Avocado FestivalThe California Avocado Festival is set in Carpinteria, which is on the coast in Santa Barbara county.

How far away? About an hour.

We enjoy doing the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History Holiday Boutique in November, so it was natural to add this much, much larger event. We tried to get in last year, actually, but we were late to the party and could not get a space. With advance planning and patience, we were accepted into this very expensive event that promises traffic of over 100,000.

That sounds like a party to me.

I’ve called the event Holy Guacamole ever since, much to Mrs M’s chagrin. Come to find out, there was a booth called Holy Guaca-Moly selling the stuff … but they were sold out when I finally went to buy our snack on Sunday. We got no guacamole at the event that proudly states they have the largest vat of the stuff in the world.

As if you want a vat of food.

This year was the 30th annual California Avocado Festival. There were community fundraisers everywhere you looked – unless you looked to the west, where the ocean was just 6 blocks away. The event itself is a non-profit that raises funds for local charities, which might explain why the booth fees are so high. Charity events are always pricey for vendors, it seems.

We have had a run of a few events with unexpectedly poor sales results … and unexpectedly poor food choices, as well. We were anxious to get back to our winning ways.

New Ideas

  • This event set a new record for us, with a booth fee for our 10×20 space of $950.
  • This event was unprecedented in our experience, as they kept a $100 cleaning deposit per 10×10 booth space. Since we do a double booth, we had to provide a $200 cleaning deposit to guarantee our little piece of roadway would be left as clean as asphalt should be.
  • Mrs M brought out Lime Avocado soap just for this event … which speaks to 8 weeks of planning, culminating in this new offering that was properly cured in her soap drying rack. Hope it sells!

Observations

  • This is event # 2 of 11 in our 4th quarter. Yes, we’ve added an event. No, we won’t be adding another.
  • Overheard, 9:30am, from a 4-year old. “I want ice cream.” She was doing it right, even though Mom was a bit aghast.
  • My goal is to be of use. I make kitchen tools … not kitchen decor. I am aware, however, that some people make their own decisions about how to use my boards without consulting me. I need to come to terms with that. On the other hand, I’m thinking about traveling with a knife & an array of vegetables. Then, I can make every buyer chop something before I’ll let them have their board. The first cut’s the hardest.
  • My goal is to be of use. I may become the Soup Nazi of cutting boards.
  • It was surprising how many people approached us here and told stories of buying boards in Ventura, Oxnard, Carpinteria, and even Ridgecrest (200 miles away) in years past. Everyone was still ecstatic with their purchase, thankfully. This whole brand loyalty thing just might be worth serious consideration….
  • As soon as I sold 3 boards (today’s first 3 were 2 Magic Bottle Openers & 1 Lazy Susan), I was under 200 pieces in inventory … and then I sold 31 more. 200 is but a distant memory. Again.
  • I had 3 new cutting boards on display this weekend, and my booth was in the sun most of the day. The result: the boards heat up, and the oil weeps out. I explained this to a lady in the booth, telling her that the boards were wet because the sun makes the oil weep out. Her reply, “Me, too.” Best line I’ve heard in quite some time.
  • Two different purchasers were rewarded with a passionate kiss from their significant other in the booth on Saturday. My boards create happiness. My goal is to be of use.
  • Saturday night found us hot, tired, and resolved that we would not eat at the hotel. We drove to the hotel, and then just made a right turn in search of acceptable sustenance. Velda was Yelping as I was driving, and we quickly found Clementine’s. 4 stars. Steak. Sold. We found a very homey, old-fashioned kind of place that gives you celery, carrots & pickles to munch on before the bread arrives. When Pat came to take our order, Velda had just taken a bite and was chewing furiously to be able to speak. Seeing her distress, I started to give my order, but Pat shushed me. “Be quiet. It’s not your turn,” she said. Duly noted.
  • I went walkabout to see the event, and at the top of the street, there was a party going on. The whole food area was a designated drinking area … and there was music on 3 stages, going constantly. So, you had music, guacamole & beer. It was clear that people were having a very good time here!
  • Mrs M did sell the Lime Avocado soap … all 17 bars that were available. Next year, she promises to make 3 times as much. She’ll also highlight that she uses avocado oil in all of her lotions, a little fact she kept hidden at this event for no good reason at all. Well, not hidden, exactly, if you read the ingredients list on the back of the lotion bottle, but next year the avocado inclusion will be highlighted, not ignored.
  • A nearby neighbor sold jewelry, and left some glass bead debris on the pavement. The organizers documented the mess she left … and then she came back with a broom to clean it up & save her $100 deposit.
  • Requests were for a pineapple-shaped board, an elephant-shaped board, a turtle-shaped board, and hair sticks. I could help none of them, but I’m now considering doing some sort of shaped board complement to the soon-to-be ZooSoapia.
  • Mrs M thought she was busy this weekend.

Most. Transactions. Ever.

Best. Mrs. M. Event. Ever.

  • This is an expensive event, and the sales results were not spectacular (it was only our 3rd best sales event ever). This event was not our most profitable, given the high costs, but I’ll take this level of success any day.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Cold bagels in the hotel room at 0 dark 30. We were at the event site at 6:15am for setup.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M’s Cheese & Crackers & Charcuterie

Saturday Snack: Trail mix

Saturday Dinner: Clementine’s is the place to go in Carpinteria … and I even got blackberry pie! Dessert is included with dinner, so you know they’re treating people right at Clementine’s.

Sunday Breakfast: An omelet at the hotel. Hardly good, but it was hot.

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & Crackers & Charcuterie, part deux

Sunday Snack: Trail mix … and mixed nuts

Sunday Dinner: Carl’s Jr was at the freeway on-ramp. We ate while driving home (sigh).

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 142
  • Booth cost: $950
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many. This was a rare high-touch event; the organizers were present, and engaged with their vendors.
  • Total sales: $3,931
  • # containers of product taken: almost all of them
  • # boards available: 202
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 167
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others that seemed to be less than truthful about their products. “Organic” has a specific meaning, which some people choose to ignore.
  • # woodworking vendors: only one other, a newby that was making boards specifically tricked out for the eating of avocados – and made from avocado wood. Now, this was the perfect event for that, but how many people really want a board just for the eating of avocados?
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 33:1
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 34

Magic Bottle Openers: 11

Cheese Boards: 6

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susan: 2

Pigs: 2

Legal Clipboards: 2

Letter Clipboards: 2

Notepad Clipboards: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Arts & Crafts Faire   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.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-type affair on its grounds, and in November it transforms into a holiday boutique featuring handmade goods only.

I did the event solo last year, and did it poorly. We decided that I would only take boards, but it was near the end of my inventory last year … so I didn’t have a good stock.

And then I left one container of boards at home, to boot.

But it was a lovely day in Carpinteria. 70+ degrees, sunny, blue skies … what’s not to like on a Thanksgiving Saturday? Total sales were only $285, though … but I enjoyed the day, and we decided to do the event again. After all, it fit on the calendar.

So we doubled down, and the elder Mrs M joined me to see if we could have a better day with a full effort.

New Ideas

  • Our standard 10×20 booth, with both of us driving to get the product and booths to Carpinteria.
  • We did this for a 5 hour event on a holiday weekend.
  • Mrs M set up her tables with a price list on both … and that worked very well. Having to create 2 separate booth displays for earlier events, and then being able to combine them for the rest of this year’s events, definitely was a good thing in this case.

Observations

  • We’re crazy.
  • After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving with family – even though I’ve been working non-stop in the woodshop – packing the cars for this event Friday evening just seemed crazy. We doubled down on an event that didn’t work well last year, no matter the reason. I was crazy. We were crazy. We had crossed over from sanity to looney land.
  • But at least it was a beautiful ride. We hit PCH (that’s Pacific Coast Highway for you non-SoCal folks) just as the sun crested the mountains, so we watched the sun rise and kiss the Pacific ocean for a glorious day. Blue skies. Blue water. Some people have to pay lots of money to get to see that sight.
  • My second customer of the day told me that my work had been highly recommended to her while she was buying a taquito snack. Apparently, I’ve made an impact on taquito eaters, so I’ve got that.
  • This show is probably the best I’ve seen at selecting vendors that are only offering handmade goods. If any were offering “buy & sell” goods, I didn’t see them. This is truly a handmade show.
  • While talking to my cutting board maker competitor (who’s a really nice guy that calls me “brother”), I explained that I have one chess board on display, and then I said it out loud: I hope I never sell it. That way, I’ll continue to have an answer to what was my # 1 request (“Do you make chess boards?”) without having to make another. This single board, the final remnant of my June production of 5 boards, has been on display since the July 4 event.
  • I sold it an hour later.
  • Lots of dog walkers at this community event. At one point, we had a convention of 4 Yorkies sharing fashion tips in front of our booth. Well, I assume they were sharing fashion tips, as they were all wearing sweaters that each closely examined. That’s how it looked to me, anyway.
  • Joke of the Day:

A senior citizen walked into the booth, and eventually declared that he was an 80-year old cabinet maker that had built over 100 houses in Carpinteria. He said he had a complete shop, but he just didn’t go into it much anymore. He asked what glue I used, and when I said “Titebond III” he said he’s never heard of it. He came back a minute later, and asked me to write it down for him so he could investigate. I’d taught him something, he said, and he wanted to look it up.

OK.

Then he stepped in close to me, and in sotto voice, said, “Don’t get mad at me. I don’t know what side you’re on. Don’t get mad at me.” “OK,” I said. (Where in the world is this going to lead???)

“A man walked into the White House, walked up to the guard, and asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. President Obama is not the President anymore.’ The man left.

“The next day, the man returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, as I told you yesterday, it’s 2017. President Obama is not here. He’s not President anymore.’ The man left.

“The third day, the man again returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. As I’ve told you for the last 2 days, President Obama is not here. Why do you keep asking me that question?’

The confident reply: “Because it sounds so damn good to hear you say it.”

With that, my retired cabinet maker turned on his heel and left the booth to the sound of my laughter. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.”

  • The drive home was as the sun set over the Pacific. Some were fishing in the surf; some were camping. Every sunset is precious. Some people pay good money to see sunsets like this.
  • Did we make our goal? Absolutely.
  • Same booth next year? Absolutely.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 28

Saturday Lunch: Taquitos, sold by the Museum. They bought frozen and served them for $1 each with salsa & guacamole. Same lunch I had last year, and they were the only thing I saw not handmade at this event.

Saturday Snack: nope. Velda wanted to go to the bake sale … but didn’t.

Saturday Dinner: Thanksgiving leftovers, of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $150
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,093
  • # containers of product taken: 17
  • # boards available: 77
  • Saturday alarm: 5:01 am
  • # transactions: 43
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 5. We had 3 soapers, one lotion vendor right across from us, and someone else selling oils. Lots of activity in the skin & body products area at this handmade event.
  • # woodworking vendors: 7. WOW. We had another cutting board maker (incredibly, 1 of only 2 true direct competitors I’ve met in Southern California), a trio of turners, a wooden jewelry maker, a rustic furniture maker and me. That’s an unprecedented collection of craftsmen in my experience at pop-up events.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:1

Boards sold: 8

Large Sous Chef Board: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Chess Board: 1

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