Archive for the ‘craft fair’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Jackalope Summer Nights 2018   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.

We’ve never done an event in Pasadena, and that seems like a mistake.

Time to fix that.

Jackalope is a promoter that does events in Denver, Phoenix & Pasadena. It’s a partnership between 3 friends in those cities, and their efforts have been on our radar for a while. The calendar hasn’t worked before … but this time, it did, so I’m going to Pasadena.

Mrs M is staying at home – well, not really. She’s not going a-vendoring because of her “job.” And the summer heat. Or something.

I am breaking a rule or 3 to do this event: it’s a first-time event, and those are always a risk. Doing an event in the summer heat is always a gamble, of course: no telling what the weather might do to attendance.

Just like life. Time to roll the dice.

New Ideas

  • This is my first outdoor event under the lights in a very long time. We use the lights at Santa’s Art Shop every year, but we don’t do nighttime events at this point.
  • The Jackalope team is very social media savvy. They shared multiple graphics with their 200 vendors to use on social media, which was much appreciated. And used. Given the attendance on a Friday night, I believe their efforts were successful.

Observations

  • The event is in Pasadena’s Central Park, and there is artist loading zone parking on 3 sides. I drove right up and got to unloading.
  • There are a large number of rental tents here, it seems. I’m next door to one … that is a shared booth. Two strangers are sharing; one makes dog collars and the other makes greeting cards. Much of the vendor community at this event seems to be young, relatively inexperienced with outdoor events and etsy-driven. I’m none of those things. Hmmmm.
  • I only recognized 2 vendors at this event, and only 1 of those is known to me to be successful. Lots of newbees here, I believe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a recommendation, either.
  • An afternoon set-up in 90 degree heat is not for the faint of heart. It was hot, hot, hot. The cart had to be drug uphill. No fun was had.
  • First event I’ve ever been to where the promoter zip tied the canopies together. Every front leg was zip tied to its neighbor. This is an order from the Fire Marshall of Pasadena, I’m told.
  • Part of a nighttime event is that I’ll have lights … and electricity. Why wasn’t I smart enough to bring a fan?
  • Live entertainment is part of the event … and I was located in the nexus between 2 competing vocalists. Nothing good happens when I must hear 2 vocalists from 2 directions at the same volume.
  • Back to the shared booth: 5 people are in the booth, plus a dog who is post-surgery and can’t use its hind legs. Too many things going on in a 10’x10′ space, and that’s before you realize that 2 different vendors are competing for that limited space to try and sell something.
  • I met a Backer from Kickstarter! Brian sought me out at this event so he can choose design of the “Best End Grain Cutting Board” that he wants me to make. Great chatting with him, and a total surprise to have a person come into my booth and lead with “I’m one of your Backers.” Wow!
  • Friday sales were underwhelming, for sure. Traffic was good for a 1st time event, I thought. Sales, though, not so much.
  • Our lights are the best (compare the booth shot below showing my booth as well as parts of the neighbors on each side. See what’s brighter!). I was complimented on the booth lighting by other vendors and customers. Lighting is important: people will only buy what they can see. When electricity is provided, there’s really no reason for a vendor to have bad lighting.
  • Saturday, I brought the fan. Life was better.
  • Given the heat, I thought I probably wouldn’t sell anything until after 6pm.
  • I was right. Too right.
  • Unfortunately.
  • My neighbor with the paraplegic dog created dog clogs all weekend. She put a dog watering bowl in the aisle, well out in front of her booth … resulting in dog/dog owner/dog petter assemblies in front of my booth, as well as her 5′ half booth, all weekend. The inter-species gathering didn’t completely cut off traffic, nor access to my booth, but it was not an asset for me. For her dog collar sales, perhaps.
  • Dog enthusiasts rarely buy cutting boards, in my experience. They walk their dogs, talk about their dogs, and generally enjoy the canine community. And, they do so in the public space in front of my booth, often for extended periods.
  • Load out was just as bad as load in, because I had to drag the cart uphill again! You’d think I would catch a break, but nope. I was sweating at 11:30pm, loading the Jeep.
  • Vending is a glamorous thing.
  • Requests were for chess sets (which I left at home due to space limitations in the Jeep), a chess table, wooden tool holders from a leather craftsman as well as a potter, platters for a restaurant & a wall art display.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nothing good happened this weekend.
  • Worst Meal: Yup, had those.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 86
  • Booth cost: $326
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $45
  • Total sales: $377
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $6
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 7
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Oh, so many. I saw more of them than I did jewelry vendors, which is just unheard of. I’m glad Mrs M wasn’t here!
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a turner, and a hobbyist who had a couple of cutting boards mixed into the display with his wife’s ceramics.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 7

Cutting Boards: 3

CNC Signs: 2

Bread Saw: 1

Coaster: 1

The Board Chronicles: Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair 2018   4 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.

Once upon a time, a friend told me this was a good event.

Not sure I still believe her.

Last year, I didn’t pass $1,000 in sales with my solo effort. On my birthday. That’s not a good thing, truly.

This seems like a good community event, though. Free music. Beer gardens. Carnival rides. Vendors. 30,000 in attendance projected. What’s not to like?

It’s not like there are many better events in July that I’ve found, after all.

So, I’m in for another year. I want to see if I can do better with some legacy working for me. It’ll be just me and a couple of hundred buy & sell vendors offering imported goods….

New Ideas

  • This event was marginal last year, really. It was barely OK. So what did I do? I doubled down with a double booth. I have room for everything this way. Still no Mrs M, though. She might melt in the heat. Oh, wait, I mean her lotions & balms & such might melt. That’s it.

Observations

  • I left home at 5:08a on my way to the Golden State Freeway … and my ramp was closed. No problem; the GPS will get me there on the 126. I’m told. I arrived at my booths at 6:18a, and was unloaded 30 minutes later. Same location as last year, so it’s easy.
  • This event does not send out formal confirmations, maps, booth #s or anything to help you find your booth or your customers to find you. Things may change up until the last minute, they say. At check in, they don’t give you a map, they just show you about where your booth is on a spreadsheet that has business landmarks on it that are years out of date.
  • No clue why they think that’s OK. It’s annoying, in my not-so-humble opinion as a well-seasoned veteran.
  • Canopies were up at 7:30a, and the booth & products were set up at about 9:30a. I was still putting pricing up at the official opening, 10a.
  • I looked across the street at 10 booths, most of which were community businesses (bath remodel, new windows, insurance agent, etc). Of the 10 booths, 8 had canopies that were totally unweighted. 1 had 20 pounds of weight, total. One had sandbags of undeterminate weight. I hope there’s no wind this weekend.
  • 11:40a: first sale of the day. I try to not every make duplicates of the same cheese board blanks, and I did make 4 of the same pattern in the last go round. Finally, finally, I sold one of them in this sale.
  • 1:03p: second sale of the day … and it’s another copy of that same cheese board. Huh?
  • I’m a monkey in a cage. Seems like it, anyway. Since I’ve added the signs on the mesh walls … people stop in front of the booth, look, point & laugh. And I just sit there looking at them.
  • Me. Monkey. Cage.
  • I did not expect that to happen.
  • Saturday ended barely ahead of last year … but I doubled my booth size. Did sales double? Nope, they were basically unchanged.
  • The drive home was an adventure. I followed the GPS, and it sent me through farmland. I drove a canyon to get to Fillmore. Why has the GPS forsaken me?
  • Sunday opens at 12n for some reason. I arrived a bit after 10a, and was open by 11a. I had walkers immediately.
  • No buyers though. First sale was at 12:45a.
  • But something did happen early: the insurance agent across the way brought a sound system. They turned it up so they were broadcasting to a 100′ radius above speaking volume, and proceeded to chat to everyone about their raffle.
  • I was that guy. I called the organizer to complain. She showed up 15 minutes later and had them turn down, thankfully. For some reason, they shut down the sound system & it left at 2p. No problem from my perspective.
  • A lady walked into the booth.
    • She said, “I have a cutting board. I got it from your competition. I love it. It’s my favorite thing. I got it from your competition.”
    • I said, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s good to have a favorite thing.”
    • She said, “I got it from your competition.” And then she left.
    • Before I was unkind to her.
  • At the end of Sunday, sales were barely ahead of prior year, and far, far below my expectations for a 2-day event and my double booth. Very disappointing.
  • The drive home was another adventure, but I at least drove a different canyon. Why is Camarillo so hard to get home from?
  • This is my last July event before the end of my Kickstarter campaign, and I did mention it to several customers in the hopes of garnering a bit of support. The campaign is currently at 93% and just $329 away from goal! I know that I’ll bring it home, but it is oh so close. Here’s the link: Handmade Cutting Boards & Wooden Serving Pieces.
  • Requests were for bigger chess pieces (nope), a cheese slicer (on the list!), a cookbook stand, a horse tack shadow box, a coffee table top, knife cases and the 10 Commandments on a plaque. Bilingual, too. Oh, and a chicken shaped cutting board. That’s a trend. And I still haven’t made it.

The Food

  • Best Meal: I tried to order take out ahead of arriving back in Santa Clarita … and a lousy cell connection resulted in a bad order. Oh well, I guess we will eat 5 side Caesars. Eventually.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 220
  • Booth cost: $500
  • Food cost: none
  • Travel cost: $114
  • Total sales: $1,092
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $478
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:20a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: far too few
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:0
  • Returning next year? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Boards sold: 23

Word Blocks: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

CNC Signs: 3

Trivets: 2

Heart Board: 1

Coaster Set: 1

Wine Bottle Coaster: 1

Sous Chef Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 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.

It’s become our tradition.

This is our 4th year celebrating our nation’s independence through vendoring on Main Street in Ventura, CA. Read about the first 3 events here: 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Ventura’s a beach community, about an hour due west of our home in Santa Clarita. History has taught us that it’s definitely a great place for us to go a-vendoring.

We don’t do fireworks on the 4th, but we do watch the parade of Red, White & Blue go by our booth. It’s a wonderful thing.

New Ideas

  • I’m embracing my inner foodie. I’ve made a new batch of signs that are all food themed, and I’m going to put up all of my mesh walls so I can hang them. That means my traditional open corner that allows 2-sided viewing of cutting boards will go away … now, I’m using the open corner for sign display on the outside of the booth. That’s how a traditional 2D artist displays their work. Just sayin’.
  • The new worry: will curbing the cutting board display hurt those sales? Is trading sign display for cutting board visibility a bad thing?

Observations

  • Why do events always start at 4 in the morning?
  • On the road shortly after 5a. We can do this. We have done this.
  • We’ve got the routine pretty much down at this point. We arrived at the event at 6:10a, and both of our neighbors were already well into their set-ups. We were able to load in with a minimum of trouble. From there, it was a rush to set-up, because we know this is an early crowd. The 10am official start means nothing.
  • The signs are an immediate hit. 3 are sold before set-up is done.
  • I have no inventory to replace signs when they sell (sigh).
  • My neighbor, across the aisle, is a direct competitor for Mrs M with bath bombs, lotions, and such. Direct competitor. Apparently the promoter (the city of Ventura) does not care.
  • At all.
  • Such is the case at many city-sponsored events. They may know how to stage a vendor event, but that doesn’t mean they know/care about the subtleties of managing vendor relationships.
  • I had a manly encounter with a woodworker:
    • He walks into the booth.
    • He fondles a board.
    • He fondles another board.
    • He looks at me, smiles, nods.
    • I reciprocate with a smile and a nod.
    • He leaves.
    • We communicated everything we needed to communicate, right?
  • The stream of humanity by the booth was impressive. People are definitely here … but here to shop? Vendors always try to count shopping bags as they walk by the booth … and there are never enough, it seems. We were busy throughout the day, thank goodness.
  • Lady holding a plaque: “Can you cut on this?”
  • AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • For reference, Mrs M’s all-time favorite question, from a customer holding a boar of soap: “How do you use this?”
  • When appropriate, I did mention my Kickstarter campaign to anyone that might care. Former customers, walk-in prospects … I did talk about supporting my Kickstarter campaign. Wasn’t this a good transition for my naked pitch? If you’re interested, see the video & read all about it, here.
  • We never had time to go walkabout, which is a good thing, I guess. Therefore, we have no idea who else is at this event beyond our small circuit for lunch & such around the neighborhood. We did hear that there are a lot of soapmakers.
  • Woodworkers? No clue.
  • We began tearing down at 4:45p. Banners. Price tags. A “soft close,” which is totally against our nature. Sales, though, had largely stopped before 4pm. We had no late surge on this day.
  • Sales were down a bit from last year, but far beyond the 2 years prior. Not a record setter, but definitely worthwhile.
  • Requests were for a rooster board (sigh), smaller Lazy Susans (sigh) and a dachshund board (NO. Why do people want to cut on dogs?).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda bought sushi for herself & teriyaki chicken for me from a nearby Japanese restaurant. Very well done: not fair food.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 115
  • Booth cost: $385
  • Food cost: $41
  • Travel cost: $60
  • Total sales: $2,099
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,613
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several by the anonymous “block captain”
  • Wednesday alarm: 4a
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Many, we were told
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 33:0
  • Returning next year? Yup

Boards sold: 33

CNC Signs: 9

Coasters: 5

Trivets: 4

Hearts: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Sous Chef Board: 1

Clipboard: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

The Board Chronicles: Ojai Lavender 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.

Ojai is a community in the mountains above Ventura. It is a little over an hour west of my home, but I’ve never been there.

Their annual Lavender Festival has been on our radar for a while (this is the 15th edition), but Mrs M has always opted out since her products are temperature sensitive and … well, it’s summer. It’s hot out there. Or, can be. Might be.

No matter.

I have a more robust product, so summer heat doesn’t scare me. Time to leave Mrs M at home and get to it. I wonder what Ojai will have for me?

New Ideas

  • I got a single booth, which is unusual these days. I’m driving in the Jeep with my hitch carrier, so no trailer. No rolling cart. Just me and what I can fit in the Jeep.

Observations

  • This is our 15th event of the year. It’s my 5th solo event and the 3rd one-day event that I’ve done. I’m not sure I can say not doing one day events is a rule if 20% of the events have been one day only. Hmmmm.
  • I so overpacked for this event. I barely fit into the Jeep. I had to leave the 16×20 photographs at home: no room. I thought I brought the smaller photos & signs, but that container got left behind (sigh). Limited signs in the booth, unfortunately.
  • Lavender Lemonade. It’s a thing, apparently, and was all the rave at this event.
  • The setting is really great. It’s a city park, filled with large oak trees. I was in the shade all day. There’s a gazebo; they had live music throughout. I really enjoyed the bluegrass … but then they went to local folk artists and the music went dark. Take the bad with the good, apparently.
  • The day started very well; the first transaction was for a large custom order. It all ended, though, when an immigration protest took over Main Street. I didn’t sell another item after 1pm. Other vendors had sales, but several reported down sales from prior years. The protest took the life out of this event.
  • The reality is I paid money to be a vendor at this event, and the protest interfered with my small commercial opportunity in Ojai. I am dead certain that I paid money to be there, and the protestors did not.
  • Free speech has a cost, and on this day I was made to pay it out of my pocket. It’s hard for me to feel good about that.
  • Good news, though: my Kickstarter campaign had a good day, and is now 41% funded. On my way!
  • Requests were for a cribbage board, boxes, a cook book stand and a board with bread hooks.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Lunch was a ham sandwich from home. High living in Ojai.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 103
  • Booth cost: $185
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $640
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $401
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 5a
  • # transactions: 7
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several, but no Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: I know there was another cutting board maker as well as a toy maker. I didn’t see the whole event, though; there may have been others.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 10

2x Cheese Boards

2x Trivets

1x Custom Order

1x Medium Surfboard

1x Lazy Susan

1x CNC Plaque

1x Small Board

1x Clipboard

The Board Chronicles: Lompoc Flower 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 went to the 2016 edition of the Lompoc Flower Festival and loved it. At the time, that Flower Festival our 3rd best event ever, with sales over $3,000.

Lompoc was good to us … except for that first night restaurant. But, I digress.

We definitely wanted to return to Lompoc when it fit into the calendar, and 2 years later, we’re returning for the 66th Annual Lompoc Flower Festival.

It’s a classic event in a city park. It’s truly a community get-together, with many high school reunions keyed to the event. Once you get there, it’s a paid gate (increased this year from $3 to $5), live music throughout, and a beer garden. Food booths are for local charities. It was a good time in 2016 …

New Ideas

  • This event sells booths that are 10′ wide x 20′ deep. We bought our typical double booth … so we had our first ever quadruple booth, 20′ x 20′. We brought 2 pop-up canopies and the Trimline 10′ x 20′ canopy. 4x mesh walls. We were stylin’.
  • We got there Friday morning for set-up, and asked the organizer if she knew of any teenagers that might want to help us. Her 2 teenagers just happened to be nearby….

Observations

  • We had low expectations for Friday; 2 years ago sales were only $245. No worries … but sales this year were only $119. Board sales were $0. Yuck.
  • We had family in town, and Aunt Sis (maker of Aunt Sis’ Exfoliers) and Dr H (author of the Harbstreit method of routing fingerholds on an end grain board) came to visit us in Lompoc. We had a great couple of days with them … the event, not so much.
  • Saturday started slow, as expected: no one comes to the park until after the parade is over. Once it’s done, the people flood into the park to set up their lawn chairs, see their friends, and enjoy the music.
  • Oh, and shop. We hope.
  • Unfortunately, Saturday stayed slow. Sales were less than half of 2016.
  • This has never happened to us before. Sales down more than half? Well, there’s Sunday. We hope.
  • Nope.
  • Sunday sales totaled $200. Total sales were 40% of 2016. Our neighbor reported their sales were 42% of prior year. 2018 was just way, way off.
  • Vendors always talk about how it used to be better. Nostalgia is always a positive thing, right? People always enjoy talking about the “good old days.” At this event, we heard some of that … but we heard it from the customers, as well. We were told that the Flower Festival used to have many local artists vending at the park: good, handmade artists like Mrs M. Multiple customers told us this. They also told us that in the last few years, the purveyors of cheap imported merchandise have seemed to crowd out the good vendors.
  • Yup.
  • In the artist community, there’s a lot of chatter about how “non-artist vendors will always ruin an art event.” When the likes of solar power companies, LulaRoe & vendors with cheap imported merchandise are allowed into an event, the crowd-sourced wisdom goes, then the quality of the art will always decline. Perhaps that’s what happened in Lompoc. I don’t know – though I will say that their vendors of cheap imported merchandise are hardly the equal of credible multi-level marketing companies like Pampered Chef or Origami Owl.
  • In the end, it doesn’t matter. This was a lost weekend.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board (sigh), anything with a dog on it, a Word Block I didn’t have in stock and both larger and smaller Lazy Susans (sigh, sigh).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M loved her Pork Belly Tacos at the Solvang Brewing Company.
  • Worst Meal: A treat we looked forward to was La Botte in Lompoc, a wonderful Italian restaurant we enjoyed in 2016. We made a reservation for 8p, and arrived to find the wait staff was ‘whelmed. We were barely acknowledged for 10 minutes, and then the busboy (who was funny) became our waiter because the real wait staff was still ‘whelmed. Food was pretty good, but the service was truly insulting.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $394
  • Food cost: $151
  • Travel cost: $789
  • Total sales: $1,249
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): -$85. We lose money for the first time ever.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 59
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other … making medical claims. Did you know soap could cure hair loss? I sure hope the FDA catches wind of these snake oil sellers.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one turner, and a couple of vendors of import, uh, crap.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 24

Trivets: 7

Word Blocks: 3

Hearts: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Small Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Coaster: 1

Soap Deck: 1

Clipboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Palos Verdes Street Fair 2018   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.

There was a time that I was staging promotional events on the road. It was a big idea. I hired a staff in 7 markets and we created over 200 night club music events during a 6 month period. After that project ended, I rolled right into another promotional project that was staging music events in 35 markets. All told, I saw a lot of this country, visited several states for the first time and logged 180 hotel nights in 1 year.

What did I learn? I don’t want to travel for a living. No amount of points or free stuff from Marriott or American Airlines or whatever could compensate me for the tough travel time.

So, here we are, at the glorious end of the 4th Annual Spring Fling. we’ve had some great events – and a couple of clinkers. We’ve gotten wet more than once. The main thing I’ve learned, though, is that doing 10 events in 11 weeks while balancing a real job is not for the faint of heart.

But, we still have one more to go. What’s in front of us?

The Palos Verdes peninsula is a landform between Redondo Beach and Long Beach. The event itself is in Rolling Hills Estates. It’s not easy to get there from here – I have to brave the Friday commute on the 405 again! – and we’ve never been to this event. We booked it kind of blind … it’s a big deal in the community and it’s a pretty nice neighborhood. But do these people need lotions & cutting boards?

New Ideas

  • This is an event “in LA,” but we still opted to get a hotel & avoid the 90 minute commutes to and from the event. It was a good decision.
  • We’re using our pop-up canopies for this Saturday morning set-up, but we are now adding mesh walls to the pop-ups. Made by Flourish who also made the Trimline canopy and its mesh walls, these new walls are sized to fit the pop-ups. Sta-Bars – rigid bars at the bottom of the legs – are added as well. These add to the structural strength of the canopy, stretch the mesh walls, and provide a nice unobtrusive place to put our weights. Importantly, artwork & signage can now hang on the walls at every event.

Observations

  • This is event # 10 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Quoth Hamm in Beckett’s Endgame, “Finished. It’s finished.”
  • The Fling’s over, and I get a week off from events. Thank goodness.
  • This is not a cheap event for a spur of the moment kind of booking. Our double booth cost $700, plus a city business license of $39. I sure hope these people want some handmade soap….
  • We arrived Saturday morning to find a stainless wash station & big water tank in the middle of our booth. “Oh, that was for last night,” the volunteer told us. What in the world were they doing last night?
  • After I helped move the leftover infrastructure, we set up … right next to the entrance to the carnival. We were on the midway next to a carney thrill ride. We were in ‘tween central, and just downhill from the Domino’s Pizza trailer and its diesel generator. Pop music was booming all day. A perfect location … for what, exactly? Not selling soap. Not talking to customers in a relaxed setting. Not for Mrs M’s sanity.
  • Set up took a long time today … 4 hours later, we still weren’t done. Having to move the trailer to one location and then park the Jeep a block farther away didn’t help. Not an auspicious beginning.
  • The head of the Chamber of Commerce visited us first thing to verify we had a Rolling Hills Estates business license! Apparently, the city had threatened the COC if they didn’t police their vendors. The city didn’t have the staff for enforcement … so the Chamber of Commerce was responsible? Very odd.
  • A lady walked into the booth. “Excuse me, do you have a petting zoo?”
  • Uh….
  • Something I never expected to hear from Mrs M: “I guess you get used to the screaming after a while.”
  • I have 2 carved plaques right up front, and a nice moment was when a Mom was reading the sentiment on “In This House” to her brood and using it as a teaching moment. Very cute.
  • Dad asked the price … no sale, unfortunately. But I was entertained.
  • This event has a lot going on in a very compact space. It’s all parking lots and roadways, but they cram in a carnival, a concert stage, a beer garden, an “International Food Court” (AKA Fair Food) and 150 vendor spaces. Activities, drinking, music, people … but this year, there wasn’t much shopping. An excessive number of vendors were first-timers, too, and that’s never a good sign. If vendors don’t come back, there must be a reason.
  • A couple was in the booth shopping in Mrs M’s, uh, department, and the discussion turned to beard oil. Before long, I had the lady – and the guy – fondling my beard to see if it was soft. I was objectified while minding my own business. In my booth. That I paid for.
  • The things I must do to support Mrs M’s totally out-of-control hobby.
  • Saturday ended with an underwhelming number. We were OK … but not impressed.
  • And the screaming. Oh, the screaming.
  • A lady admired the product shots hanging on the wall. “Do you have this piece?” she asked. No, I’m out of that one. “How about this piece?” No, I’m out of that one, too.
  • Great. Now I have to manage my cutting board inventory because of the photography.
  • A guy walked into the booth. “I think you’re the guy my wife told me about.”
  • Uh….
  • A shade stealer (you know, a person more interested in the shade of your canopy then the products it shelters) came into the booth and started talking to me, then switched to Mrs M. He was a former biochem major, and they talked soap. It was a highlight of Mrs M’s day, actually. Later, his wife & 2 daughters showed up and they bought some stuff. Not all shade stealers are bad … you just never know who you need to be nice to … sometimes you just want to say “get out of my booth.” But, it’s better to be polite, every time. In my experience.
  • The weekend moved Oh. So. Slowly. Was it the screaming? Was it the engine fumes? Was it the long hours? Was it that most people were not there to shop? I don’t know. The final tally was really OK, but we certainly didn’t have fun at this Street Fair. Unfortunately.
  • Requests were for Cribbage boards (2x) (sigh), Chess pieces (2x) (sigh), a Pegs & Jokers board, larger Lazy Susans, lighter cutting boards and more photographs to be on sale.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday dinner was at Gaetano’s Restaurant in Torrance. It was simply fabulous. Mrs M had found the place on Yelp … “I knew we were coming to the right place when one of the reviews said they use too much garlic.” She had the seafood special; I had the Marsala (naturally). We even had the bruschetta and a dessert. Exquisite. The best event of the weekend, by a country mile.
  • Honorable Mention: Sunday breakfast was at the Pinwheel Cafe & Bakery. Again, fabulous. French sourdough to die for.
  • Worst Meal: Friday dinner was at a horrible iteration of Mimi’s in Torrance. The only good thing was that parking the trailer was easy. Maybe that shouldn’t be how we choose our restaurants.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 164
  • Booth cost: $739
  • Food cost: $275
  • Travel cost: $283
  • Total sales: $2,202
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $905
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 77
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was a booth that had mainly bath bombs, but no one else.
  • # woodworking vendors: There were a couple of buy & sell guys (imported crap). One turner might have been a real woodworker instead of an importer, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Not sure. Certainly no other cutting board makers.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 28:2
  • Returning next year? As a solo act, maybe. Mrs M won’t touch this event again.

Boards sold: 30

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Trivets: 5

Coasters: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Small Boards: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Carved Signs: 2

Clipboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Montrose Arts & Craft Festival 2018   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.

How do people measure success?

My experience is that success is often a product of your own state of mind. If you thing that “X” is being a success, and you do “X,” then you think you are a success. In your mind. If you only do “X-1,” though, then you may feel that you failed.

It’s about what you think.

We had been highly recommended to do the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival for 2 years before we finally got there. We’ve done the event twice now (2016, 2017), and it has proved to be a consistent event that’s slightly better than average for us.

Slightly better than average. That sounds marginal, doesn’t it? Who wants something “slightly” better than average?

However, average events are a good thing … it’s the below average events you want to avoid. This event has averaged over $2,100 in sales for us for the last 2 years, so we should be happy with that.

*Should be.*

Getting ready for the event this week, it was hard to work up much enthusiasm. I felt like I knew what we were doing, and it would be average. Hard to get excited about that, I found.

Success, you see, is all about what’s in your head. Could I fix that and enjoy Montrose?

New Ideas

  • This year’s event had rather temperate weather forecast, with Saturday in the 70s and Sunday in the mid-80s. That’s a refreshing change from the last 2 years which were both in the 90s – and 2 years ago visited triple digits. In spite of that, both years delivered … uh … slightly above average sales. Maybe we have an upside this year.

Observations

  • This is event # 9 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Drove right to the booth, and unloaded the trailer by 6:45a. The event starts at 10a, but you have walkers long before that, of course. We were ready.
  • Mrs M had a good day on Saturday. Consistent sales – much more than me. It’s a good thing someone had a good day … and the sales kept going. I finally had a multiple board purchase in the final hour (of course) that made my numbers more respectable. We ended up with our best 1 day total at this event in 3 years of experience.
  • “Slightly above average.” Humans plan, God laughs.
  • Due to the odd curation of this event, my booth is right across the street – perhaps 25′ away – from another woodworker that does similar pieces in a different style. We each have unique products, but we have many similar ones. He sent people to me for larger Lazy Susans; I sent people to him for smaller coasters. I don’t think either of us contributed sales to the other, but we are very collegial and friendly. Good people, but it’s still odd to be neighbors. Both of our customers commented on that odd placement all weekend long.
  • As they do each year.
  • We both like our locations, though – he’s at the end of a block in a highly visible “middle of the street” kind of location, and we’re under a giant tree that keeps our booth 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding booths. I’m also on a corner, next to a walkway that’s the best access to the neighborhood ice cream store. Win, win.
  • I am concerned about this event. It’s a nice community get together, but promotes itself as all handmade. There seems to be fewer handmade vendors each year. My neighbor sold clothing (the rack next to my booth had a sign: “Sale! Everything Under $10.”  There was also a dump bin selling flip flops. Handmade? Not so much.
  • A legacy customer from 2 years ago came by to pick up a board care kit. Back in the day, I made an end grain Bloodwood board they purchased, and they LOVE it. Those conversations are the best! Paradoxically, they only cut vegetables on their Bloodwood board, but they are adults. They get to choose.

Cutting Board 16 – End 004. A spectacular board in daylight when the wood flouresces. Jarrah & Bloodwood. End grain. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″.

  • Sunday started slow, but did pick up right at the end, of course. Today it was 2 multiple board purchases at the end of the day, so my numbers ended OK. Mrs M had a good day, as well, with lots of legacy customers talking about how they came to the event just to find her. Sunday ended not better than Saturday, but we were both happy with the weekend in the end.
  • We were up 15% from prior year, with our best results ever for this event. So, our slightly above average event became … a little better.
  • Requests were for a tofu press, a backgammon board, a gravity-based locking towel holder, a stove-top board and … wait for it … chess pieces (on order).
  • We were packed & I was in the Jeep in 1 hour 49 minutes. It’s been a while since we were that quick; the Spring Fling has made us get better at what we do. I think. After all, what’s the alternative?
  • I sold 11 different items at this event, and 6 of those items were touched by the CNC. I’m going to call that a win for technology.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Dinner at the Grand Panda after a surprisingly good Saturday. This is the best Chinese restaurant in Santa Clarita, IMHO.
  • Worst Meal: We wanted a breakfast burrito from Jimmy Dean’s Sunday morning, but, alas, they don’t open until 7:30a and we had to be on the road. We had to settle, and it was disappointing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 138
  • Booth cost: $650
  • Food cost: $118
  • Travel cost: $72
  • Total sales: $2,589
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,749
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:00a
  • # transactions: 104
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 4
  • # woodworking vendors: 4 cutting board makers sellers, including 3 makers, I believe. Many other sellers of wood products.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:  24:2
  • Returning next year? Almost certainly. We like above average events.

Boards sold: 26

Coaster: 10

CNC Plaques: 3

Hearts: 2

Medium Surfboards: 2

Small Board: 2

Cheese Board: 2

Trivet: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Clipboard: 1

Wine Bottle Coaster: 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

 

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair 2018   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.

I know this event is quirky.

Simi Valley is a bedroom community that’s very similar to Santa Clarita, and we’ve done their Street Fair twice before (2015, 2016).

You know how much I like going to the Street Fair.

But, this event is unusual. It’s put on by the Chamber of Commerce, and they have a “required” pre-meeting for vendors. That’s where you can get your booth number confirmed, and talk about how the event is set-up with the organizers. Since I’ve done 100+ events in multiple cities and now 2 states … I’m not enthusiastic about driving to their office to hear about their event. Or be reminded to wear comfortable shoes.

Write a good info packet and I’m ready to go. Every time.

Another quirk is they don’t let people drive onto the street to set up: they make you cart everything in for some reason that’s never been clear to me. In previous years, there was enough room on the street. This year’s street is tighter, but it’s still an unusual situation to require 100% of things to be carted in, as they have in years past.

We didn’t do this event last year as it is only a 1-day event, and there was a better 2-day event available. This year, though, the Sunday of the weekend was not only Mother’s Day, it was also our 40th wedding anniversary. We agreed to take the day off so we could celebrate … so this Saturday event fit the calendar perfectly.

Which is always important to me. So, it’s off to Simi….

New Ideas

  • The new location meant going to the mandatory meeting was a good idea, I thought, and I learned that I either had to cart everything in at 6:30am, hire their UTV/wagon driver to cart things in for me or I could drive onto the street with the trailer at 5am to unload right by the booth. That’s a no brainer for me. I don’t need to sleep.
  • This year I was told that the city required a business license from me if I was to sell at the event, which I learned at the vendor meeting. What I didn’t learn is that the city didn’t have a working website to do this on, so I had to drive back to Simi a second time in order to complete the paperwork and pay the most expensive fee yet for a city’s one-day business license: $57.
  • Mrs M opted out so she could stay home and prepare for MrsMowry’s 30th birthday (a good choice, that), so I got a double booth all to myself.

Observations

  • This is event # 6 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling. Miles to go before we sleep.
  • As I drove to the event in the dark, it was misting. That turned into a heavy mist. That turned in to, “Oh, hell no, it’s not going to rain, is it?”
  • It didn’t, but it did get a little wet once during the event. No big thing, but it was a cloudy, cool day. Perfect for a Spring Fling event.
  • Plenty of volunteers – at 5 in the morning – to help me unload. A volunteer assured me they would be there to help me load as well … and they were. This event gets an A+ for having volunteers to help. The volunteers I had, though – adults and teenagers – knew nothing about event spaces, but were good to move the heavy stuff.
  • The event gets a D for how they marked booth spaces – chalk numbers faintly written on the top of the curbs. In the dark, you had to turn on a flashlight and be right on top of the numbers before they were legible. There were no marks for the boundaries of the booth: not left/right, nor front/back. I was the first in my area, so I placed my canopies centered on the booth #s. I moved a foot or so out of the gutter (nothing good comes from being in the gutter), which put the front of my booth up to the dividing line between lanes on the street. Looked good to me. No one ever commented, so I must have been OK. It wasn’t until 3 hours later that I noticed some random lines on the street that might have been booth space dividing lines, placed out of the gutter on the solid white line marking the edge of the driving lane and beginning of the gutter. Don’t know what those lines were.
  • The big issue about no front border for the booths became an issue later, unfortunately.
  • With a 5am unload, I had plenty of time to set up my double booth. Who needs Mrs M anyway?
  • I worked straight through, got set up, and did have time to sit down and have my breakfast (bagels/cream cheese from home). While I was eating, a guy walked into my booth and went straight to my chess set. “It’s $140 for the set? I want it. But I only have $4. Here, you take the money until I can get to the bank. I’ll be right back.” So, I put the chess set on lay away for $4.
  • This first sale was long before the event started at 9am. A good beginning, this.
  • Early in the day, a guy came to the booth and said he wanted to buy a cutting board. That had one of my boards, he said, but it was lost when their house burned to the ground. He wanted to get a new board, and he would bring his wife by later, he said. He did, and that was my first $200 sale of the day.
  • Not long after they left, another couple was standing by the board I had just put on display, replacing the one just purchased. I did my standard greeting, “Let me know if I can answer any questions,” I said. “Can we buy a cutting board?” he said. That’s what we in the professional sales business call a “buying signal.”
  • I launched into my standard spiel. Size. Color. I then asked, “What size are you thinking of?” He said, “Can we buy this board?” That’s what we in the professional sales business call a “shut up and take their money signal.” So, I did. In about 10 minutes, I had two different $200 sales.
  • Good, this is.
  • I was busy all day. Business wasn’t over the top, but I was on my feet, talking, working. All good. Busy is good.
  • You can’t choose your neighbors, though. Mine were annoying. And, the promoters get an F on controlling vendors.
  • On the left, I had a professional politician with an army of volunteers soliciting votes & handing out balloons. He was running for Supervisor, and he had a brigade (their word) of volunteers in front of the booth all day long. When they moved to in front of my booth, I complained, and they pretty much kept to the front of their booth – not IN their booth, but IN FRONT of their booth. They were 100% working the crowd in the center aisle. They never, ever let someone go by without stopping them. They typically had 5 volunteers in front of their booth and 3 volunteers inside of their booth – plus the candidate. No way should they have been allowed to only buy a 10×10 booth.

The balloons were given out by members of the politician’s horde … they never stood in the booth, as the rules said they should.

  • I actually heard one of the organizers of the effort say, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” When that is the philosophy of management, what they’re really saying is “the other vendors are too stupid to do what we’re doing, and the organizers don’t care if we take advantage.”
  • I. Hate. That.
  • On my right, I had a professional buy/sell vendor with leather purses & such. He set his canopy up 1′ in front of mine, and then did a waterfall display off of his grid wall that was 1′ in front of his canopy. The result: he had a 2′ corner jutting out in front of my booth. He also had tables set up back to the gutter and boxes on the planter behind, so he had about a 16′ deep booth going.

The 2′ corner in front of my booth. I actually had one lady come into my booth wanting to buy a purse.

  • The net result of all of this was that customers were directed by my neighbors to walk away from my booth. I did push back against the politician’s minions when they were standing IN FRONT OF MY BOOTH, but, overall, I was confident that my 20′ of frontage (which neither of my neighbors had) got me the attention that I had paid for. Had I had only 10′ of frontage – if Mrs M would have been there – then we would have had trouble. I would have become “that guy.” I would have insisted the organizers step in.
  • Oh, and that $57 business license I had to buy? No one ever checked. I’m going to bet my buy/sell neighbor didn’t have it. Following rules may be frustrating at times, but I have to live with me.
  • The final hour came, and my sales picked up. Once again, the final hour of the event was very, very good to me.
  • Requests were for a 6″ Lazy Susan (it was an archery thing, I was told), more chess sets (AARRGGHH!!), a horsey wall hanging, skateboard decks (x2), something in a golf theme and an actual pastry board with side walls and bread hooks.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Birthday cake with MrsMowry, as she celebrated her 6th 5th birthday. Of course!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 218
  • Booth cost: $350 + $57
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $113
  • Total sales: $1,735
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,215
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 3:50am
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:2
  • Returning next year? Probably not

Boards sold: 24

4x Trivets

3x Magic Bottle Openers

3x Cutting Boards

2x Medium Surfboards

2x Lazy Susans

2x Custom Orders

1x Chess Set

1x CNC Wall Plaque

1x Cheese Board

1x Serving Tray

1x Heart

1x Word Block

1x Small Board

1x Pig

 

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