Archive for the ‘craft fair’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Claremont Village Venture 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.

Yes, you know I’m behind … but you also know I’m catching up. This event always happens on the last Saturday in October, and it’s been a rare very good one day event in the past. From Claremont:

I really liked this event in 2016. I absolutely loved it in 2017, where it was my best solo event ever.

Until I upped my game in 2018, that is.

The event is a bit quirky. It has an odd name. The merchant association that produces the event only allows you to buy one space per seller’s permit … so Mrs M hasn’t done this event. That’s OK, it was very good for me last year. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Same old, same old. I’ve had the same booth every year.

Observations

  • This is a rare event where the marching band leads the kid’s costume parade. What’s not to like?
  • A couple came into the booth … and they shall be known as the Bickersons. She came right up to me and said that she would buy a cutting board if he would shut up about it. He responded that her cutting board was awful. After a bit more back and forth, they settled on their selection. As they walked away, we were chatting about relationships, and I asked, “How long?” Her reply: “Long enough.”
  • The worst part about solo events is the boredom. I had 15x transactions spread over 8 hours … and not nearly enough quality conversations to cover the time. With Mrs M, we have many more transactions … more conversations, more action.
  • I hate the boredom.
  • Two couples entered into the booth within about 30 minutes of each other. Both saw my steak sign:

CNC Sign 18 – 29 Steak. Hard Maple. 9″ x 12″.

Both couples announced that they had an adult child that was a vegetarian. Both couples took a picture of my sign and sent it to their wayward child. I provide parenting assistance, no charge. Apparently. Not sure what the wayward children will think of their idiot parents. Well, maybe I do know.

  • Parenting experience does allow me to accurately predict what the kids will do, after all.
  • Sales were way, way down from the prior year.  In fact, they were just under HALF of what they were last year. No clue what happened … but I’m out.
  • Requests were for clipboards (no room in the Jeep!), 2x in-counter boards (send me the dimensions!) and 2x Magic Bottle Openers (I’m out!).

The Food

  • Best Meal: My booth is in front of a deli, so I have a bagel sandwich every year. Delish.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 122
  • Booth cost: $215
  • Food cost: $12
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $960
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • # transactions: 15
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? doubtful

Boards sold: 25

Cheese Boards: 6x

Trivets: 6x

Coasters: 5x

Hearts: 3x

CNC Signs: 2x

Large Serving Pieces: 2x

Bear: 1x

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Sherman Oaks 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.

I’m gaining on my back log of blog posts, honest. I keep whittling away … and SWEAR I will not do an event while not having published the previous year’s blog (and I’m close to that!). In any event, from Sherman Oaks:

This is a main street event for a relatively affluent community in the San Fernando Valley. I’ve tried to find more events in the Valley, this is one … and it’s one day event.

Oh well. It fits on the calendar. Let’s give it a whirl.

New Ideas

  • One day event, with a Jeep load in. Going old school for this one.

Observations

  • Definitely found getting into the event a challenge. There were volunteers, but I was there on time and the line was, uh, not quite formed yet. Once I got by the guy with the clipboard, the street was wide open. Only a few booths had started setting up. Time to find my place in the world.
  • Lots of amateurs here. First timers, even. Not. Good.
  • A question that I’ve never been asked before: “What’s a Foodie?”
  • Uh … read the sign.
  • I want to make spoons. I need to make spoons.
  • This event had more than its fair share of shade stealers. It was a hot October day, I get it … but my shade is provided for my customers. Please.
  • Worse than a shade stealer was the table swipe by a Mom’s Purse … knocking a board onto the ground. Mom didn’t notice.
  • With only the room in the Jeep, inventory was necessarily limited. But I was still frustrated when I was asked for a chess board and a cribbage board. They were at home.
  • I believe I need to have standards, and here it is: I don’t want to set up for less than $1,000 in sales. This event did less than half of that … so there you go.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 60
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $15
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $483
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Sunday alarm: 5a
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards: 14

  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Heart: 3
  • Individual Coasters: 4
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Sign: 1
  • Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Museum of Natural History Holiday Boutique 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.

In the continuing saga of how far behind am I, here’s one part of that. So, from Carpinteria:

We have done this event 3 times … and had a no call no show one year due to weather. It was going to rain, 100% … and I just didn’t have it in me. But, I digress.

This event is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It’s sponsored by Carpinteria’s Museum of Natural History, which sponsors a monthly swap meet on its grounds. In November, though, it transforms into a handmade event.

Sort of.

But, we like Carpinteria. The weather can be outstanding … as it was for us in 2014 and 2015. I tried something else in 2017 … and decided to go back in 2018. Mistake?

New Ideas

  • We have a double booth, but we’re committed to not taking the trailer. The booth location in the back of the museum is just not workable for a trailer. Since we can’t get a street/front booth space, we’re driving separately.
  • I don’t like doing single day events, so this is a rare one for us. Thank goodness. Drive 70 miles, set up, do the event, load out, drive home. A full day of fun.

Observations

  • We felt the legacy of being at this event almost immediately. It’s good for people to remember you. It’s even better when they buy again.
  • A Lady asked me, “Are you the one with the sense of humor?”
  • Uh…. Sure. That’s me. Funny guy.
  • There were an incredible 6 woodworkers at this small neighborhood event. One guy was selling small cutting boards for $10. Uh huh.
  • At the end of the day, it wasn’t much of a buying crowd. Competitive pricing was brutal (even if the quality of work wasn’t). Other vendors also had a tough day at this event in 2018.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 280
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $8
  • Total sales: $412
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: a few
  • Saturday alarm: 4a
  • # transactions: 21
  • # soap & lotion vendors: a few
  • # woodworking vendors: more than a few
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: nope
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards sold: 2

Small Boards: 2

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 2019   3 comments

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

This mountain community, about 90 minutes north of us, has an annual festival that we have been a part of for the past 4 years. It’s local. It’s a shopping event. It’s handmade. We love this event.

Feel the love read my Board Chronicles from 2018, 2017 and 2016. Oh, and the 2015 version is here, though the date is not in the title. (I was so young then.)

New Ideas

  • We decided to upgrade our booth, and bought a triple booth: 2 for me, and the same 1 for her. I can only display all of what I do in a double booth, so this is now the 5th event that we do regularly with a triple booth. Here, we’re in an “L” shape, just like at the KHTS Home & Garden Show.
  • The Granddaughters decided to have a dance recital on the Saturday of this event, so the Grandmother drove down to Lancaster to do what she does. This left the Grandfather working a triple booth. I was a lonely, lonely man.
  • But! It’s good to have friends. Jan & Barry have the adjacent booth, and they both pitched in to help me survive the onslot of legacy customers that need Mrs M’s stuff. And, mine too, thankfully.

Observations

  • Set up in the heat on Friday afternoon was not fun. At all. But … it’s a triple booth. Whachagonnado? We got it done.
  • Mrs M drove me to the event on Saturday, and then left when set up was all tidied up. No worries. I got this. Who needs Mrs M?
  • I went walkabout shortly before the official opening at 10a … when I returned to the booth, my neighbor who was selling several crafty wooden items (including pallet wood MBOs for $10!) was in my booth with her cellphone out taking pictures of my work. I normally don’t care, but that brazen display of idea thievery was not welcome.
  • And then she asked me where I bought my wood. I was kinder than she deserved, IMHO.
  • A vendor liked my stuff. How much for that board? $225. Vendor rate? Uh, $225. He was not pleasant: he offered me $100 cash (LOL). My day was not starting well.
  • I said no, y’know?
  • A cute little girl walked up to me and handed me a $20 bill. (thank you?) THEN I noticed she had a little owl in her other hand; she was buying some ZooSoapia. That’s when I knew why she handed me money. OK, I’m back now.
  • A young lady, 20 something, asked it we took Venmo. I said yes, but I am not very familiar. She then proceeded to take me to school on Venmo. I felt like Miss M was in the booth.
  • An older lady introduced herself to me: her name was Veda. Too bad she missed meeting Velda.
  • To complete my notable female interactions in the absence of Mrs M, another lady asked if I made the cheese slicers. When I said yes, she asked if they were related to the slicers sold by the vendor in the downtown park by the train station? Ummmm. No. I make these. The lady had some difficulty understanding that I make my stuff, and if other people have similar stuff … I didn’t make those. And they didn’t make mine, for that matter. Still not sure if she understood after I explained 3 times that I make everything in the booth!
  • We went to the event expecting sales to be down from prior year … because last year was quite good, as we remembered. Funny thing: sales weren’t nearly as good as we thought. And we thought we were down, but we were actually up a bit. We were confused the whole weekend about sales because I had not taken the time to check history, and our memories were not accurate.
  • Expectations will kill you.

The Food

  • Best Meal: As Julia Child said, “People who love food are always the best people.” Dinner with friends are the best!
  • Honorable Mention: Big Papa’s Steakhouse was a total surprise. It’s a big bar … but the restaurant side was quiet and the food was really quite good.
  • Worst Meal: The free breakfast at the Best Western won’t win any awards. I keep thinking that….

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 286
  • Booth cost: $540
  • Food cost: $105
  • Travel cost: $210
  • Total sales: $2,202
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:50a
  • Sunday alarm: 7a
  • # transactions: I have no clue; counting was impossible as a solo act … with help
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: there are a couple of others, but they don’t do what I do
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: no end grain sales
  • Returning next year? absolutely. We’ll need to think about 2 v 3 booths, though

Boards sold: 18

  • Cheese Board: 4
  • Cheese Slicer: 4
  • CNC Sign: 3
  • Cutting Board: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Board: 2
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • 5 Section Server: 1
  • Bread Saw: 1

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Arts & Crafts Festival 2019   Leave a comment

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

I like to do out-of-town events with Mrs M. We call them getaway weekends. The fact that we’re working, up at 6a, sweating … well, sure. That, too.

These work best when Mrs M gets time off from work to go with me. This year, 2nd year in a row, we put the Labor Day event in Prescott AZ on the calendar, and for the 2nd year in a row, Mrs M discovered other priorities.

So, I’ve got a 6, er, 8 hour drive and dinners alone. I’m a lonely, lonely man … but, hopefully, having a great event in my favorite little town in Arizona. After all, when their night life section is named Whiskey Row, I should want to be there, right?

I’m in.

New Ideas

  • This is my 3rd trip to Prescott in 12 months, so I thought I knew the way. I just followed my GPS to Barstow, then I-40, then … well, then the GPS decided I needed to go the long, long way up the National Forest road on the far side of Prescott. I spent an extra hour in the desert. My GPS sucks.
  • I need a new GPS. Or a car. That’s it. I need a new car. With a GPS.

Observations

  • Finally got to my AirBnB after dark, and all was well … but on day 2, after set up, I torched the microwave. It thermaled out – twice – and my dinner was a bagel and a banana.
  • My hostess had a new microwave in place the next morning. And, I did not starve. Big bonus points to the hostess.
  • One of the quirks of this event is that you can’t begin set up until after the judges leave the courthouse. On this holiday Friday, there was a trial in session, so no one left early … and then there was a wedding to follow. Set up did not begin until after 6p.
  • Connected with a person at event check-in to help me with set up. Day labor at it’s finest … and with his help, I got the Trimline up before dark.
  • Saturday morning, I arrived shortly after 6a and began hanging signs. I was largely set up by 9am, but didn’t finish until 9:15. I left the banner down for the day; I just didn’t have time.
  • My neighbor to the right was a direct competitor. He had 36x cheese slicers on display (!) along with large charcuterie boards with metal handles (that I would call serving trays). He had a beer flight, a wine flight, some digital clocks, some hairpin leg tables … nice looking stuff. But, a direct competitor was next door. No one really wants that, right?
  • A couple walked into the booth … and the Lady looked at my 4-player cribbage boards, and said to her significant other, “Your father couldn’t cheat on this board!” (Apparently, they were used to playing on a small board that you had to take laps around the course, and the father always took a short cut somehow.) I nodded knowingly. They left. No sale.
  • A man walks into the booth. He holds his phone up to this sign:
CNC Sign 19 – 715 The Answer

The man says, “I have something for Daddy.” The phone laughed out loud.

  • Sometimes, I have no idea what’s going on in the booth.
  • Hot on Saturday … 95*. The canopy in direct sun is hotter, and I didn’t get any shade and little breeze until after 3p.
  • Saturday sales were 100% card. No cash.
  • I got cash on Sunday, but the transactions were very card heavy … because this is a touristy crowd, I believe.
  • Saw the promoter on Sunday … and she immediately apologized for putting 2 woodworkers side-by-side. I really wasn’t upset, but it was nice that she noticed the error.
  • I don’t have PTSD. I’m not freaked out about being in public at an event … but I heard 3 loud bangs followed immediately by a siren … and it took the lizard brain a few seconds to figure out that the loud bangs sounded like an empty trailer hitting bumps. Metallic bangs. Not gun fire.
  • This is something I never used to think about. Ever.
  • Sunday was kind of slow. My neighbor the blacksmith/potter/fountain maker said it was slow for him as well.
  • Then, a mother and her adult daughter walked into my booth and each bought 4x pieces. My Sunday was no longer slow.
  • I had my first ever payment via Samsung Pay today. Easy: he activated the app on his smartphone, waved it at my reader … and it was approved in about 5 seconds. No signature required.
  • My retail consultant dropped by and told me that she can’t wait for me to get a proper cash/wrap and stop showing my underwear. Apparently, this is how retailers talk to each other.
  • I was settling down, writing this blog and have a relaxing evening when I heard the wind blow up. I opened the door, and there’s an unexpected storm out. Wind. A bit of rain. So, a picture:
Find your rainbows wherever you can!
  • I poured some Elijah Craig, and started to write. Then, the phone rang, and it was my buddy Delinda. Trouble at the site: storm. Microburst. Canopies down. Destruction. Time to return to the courthouse … and find this:

It’s not easy when one decides to go a-vendoring.
  • NOT MY BOOTH. Thank goodness. I counted about 12 canopies down, mainly on the north and east side of the courthouse square. I was on the southwest corner, so I was OK. At least I was at 7:30p, when I folded up my umbrella and headed for my AirBnB.
  • My alarm for the final day, Labor Day Monday, just got earlier.
  • I woke at 5:30a to a serene sunrise. Blue skies. The weather forecast says isolated thunderstorms; a 30% chance of rain. We shall see.
  • The official count was 30 canopies destroyed. 43 vendors packed and left due to loss of product, canopy, etc. This was a major storm event.
  • Labor Day Monday started slow and never really improved. But, I did better this year than last year, in spite of the wet on Sunday … and continuing rain Monday afternoon.
  • I did have a guy come back to the booth on Monday, bringing his Marbles board that he wanted me to duplicate … and he brought a friend that would buy it if I did! We had a fun conversation, at least. Not sure I’m going to make this game board, but I’ll think about it … next year.
  • Final “customer” of the day: “Would you make a deal on a sign at the end of the day?” I asked what she had in mind … she wanted this sign:
CNC Sign 18 – 58. Hard Maple. 9″ x 12″.
  • She wanted to buy the sign for $30, a 1/3 discount. I said no, and pointed her to the $30 signs that I did have for sale … and she didn’t care. I was good with her leaving the booth with empty hands.
  • Requests were for a game called Marbles (?), an Aggravation game (I am so slow), a Magic Bottle Opener in a different color (as I only have 1 on display) and a Lazy Susan (I’m still out! I need shop time!!!).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M’s spaghetti, naturellement.
  • Honorable Mention: I went out to dinner after load out with our good (former) vendor friends, Barry & Wendi. Fabulous burger at Bill’s Grill … and better company. That was a treat.
  • Worst Meal: Dinner with a broken microwave, a bagel and a banana. Was there any doubt?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 960
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $18
  • Travel cost: $550
  • Total sales: $2,656
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • Monday alarm: 6:00a
  • # transactions: 27
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I saw 3; there may have been more on the backside of the courthouse.
  • # woodworking vendors: My neighbor, of course, and another guy that makes iPhone acoustic wooden amplifiers that are kind of cool.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 34:1
  • Returning next year? Yes … in a shady spot, I hope.

Boards sold: 35

  • Special Order: 5
  • CNC Sign: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Cheese Slicer: 4
  • Bread Saw: 4
  • Cutting Board: 3
  • Large Serving Piece: 3
  • Cheese Board: 2
  • Trivets: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Chess Set: 1
  • Heart: 1

The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Spring 2019   Leave a comment

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

Behind. Yes, I’m behind. I’m working on it. So, from Paso Robles:

We love Paso Robles. It’s a great getaway destination, especially for wine drinkers (which I am not). Also great for olive oil lovers (check). There’s an event there in a lovely downtown park, all handmade … and it fits on the calendar.

You know it: I’m in.

New Ideas

  • First event in Paso, and it’s just for me. We booked the AirBnB, and Mrs M even agreed to accompany me as my designated wrapper.

Observations

  • This is a well juried handmade event. There were a couple of vendors I might quibble with the definition of “handmade,” but over all, this is a good one. Love Paso, too … lots of tourists. Lots of locals. Here to shop.
  • My people.
  • So much CNC & plasma cutter work being done these days. Everybody’s getting into the act. You better bring your “A” game.
  • Had a stalker show up who recognized my booth at first glance when he saw my trivets! Great chatting with him.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch. Oh my goodness. The Hatch. If you haven’t been, you must. 100%. You. Must. Meatloaf for the entree. Maitake mushroom appetizer. You can thank me later.
  • Honorable Mention: We rarely are social when we are working at an event, but we did accept an invitation to dinner from my stalker, and we had a fabulous time with his wife & family. Lovely. Oh, and I got to tour his shop. Bonus points!
  • Worst Meal: Given the above meals, we had a nice culinary glow all weekend. No losers here.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 382
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: We ate at The Hatch. I’m not counting the cost of that lovely meal.
  • Travel cost: $550
  • Total sales: $1,050
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): Loser, but the food was good.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: 9
  • # woodworking vendors: there were several. 1 was a direct competitor, but several had competitive products.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe. This certainly wasn’t a barn burner, but I did have a good follow up order … and I’m going back in October for the “better” fall event. We shall see.

Boards sold: 9

Cutting Board: 3

Coaster Set: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Cheese Slicer: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Clipboard: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: VHS Choir Holiday Boutique 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.

Yes, I’m behind. So, so behind. I’m working on it, though, and that’s why I’m publishing these event reviews from months ago. Hope you agree that they’re still worth it.

The Valencia High Choir sponsors an annual Holiday Boutique as a fundraiser for their award winning choir.

The choir sings Christmas carols during the event. In costume.

What’s not to love?

New Ideas

  • Nope. We’ve been here, done this … and we love it. One of our favorite events.

Observations

  • Set up is always easy, with choir kids there to do the heavy lifting. Love. This.
  • This event is unique: Friday sales during the school day, so faculty, staff & students have easy access to the boutique. Saturday hours are provided for the general public. Some vendors complain about the Friday hours, but the event works for us.
  • We missed our other favorite high school fundraiser (Saugus High’s Boutique Fantastique) in 2018 due to a death in the family. Luckily, many of our legacy customers that missed us in November found us at this December event … so we had record sales.
  • It’s good to have a back-up.
  • I love hometown events.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We ate at home. Always the best.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 18
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: nope
  • Travel cost: nope
  • Total sales: $1,837
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other soaper, and a lotion vendor as well. But nobody does handmade like Mrs M. IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 13

Special Orders: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Cheese Board: 1

CNC Signs: 3

Trivets: 2

 

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Frontier Days 2019   Leave a comment

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

My first trip to Prescott, AZ was for the Faire on the Square event last Labor Day. Nice community … and when I heard that they had a big event in July, I was interested.

Prescott is at altitude, so it’s cooler than most of Arizona. It’s a getaway destination and a retirement community for many. Events there have the ability to appeal to tourists as well as locals. Add in a big attraction, and there’s a real opportunity. I hope.

The World’s Oldest Rodeo? It started in 1888, and has happened every year since! Sounds like a it could be a good one for me. I was tired of our traditional July 4th one day event in Ventura that was good … but not great. And, I hate one day events with our big set-up and tear down. Frontier Days, on the other hand, is a 7 day event. Time to try something new, I think.

New Ideas

  • When I go a-vendoring these days, I frequently state that “This is not my first rodeo.” But …
  • I’ve never had a long-term show before; the longest previously were a couple of long weekend shows. 7 days in one place, with no tear downs in the middle? Sweet.
  • Dirty & dusty. Everything was dirty and dusty. I cleaned daily, and it was a losing cause. I watered the ground to minimize dust in the booth, and that may have helped … but not much.

Observations

  • This is a casual community affair. The organizer, Suzy, has been there and done that. Many of the vendors know each other and have done this event before. I’m the tenderfoot.
  • Suzy greeted me by name as I stepped out of the Jeep … she knew who I had to be. Set up was a breeze. We’re upwind from the livestock, so there is that.
  • As Dad used to say, “Smells like money.”
  • Did not love that my neighbor on one side turned his 12×20 booth into something like 18×24 … totally trampling on my aisle, and sticking 5′ forward from my space. 2 vendors were sharing the space, and I was not impressed.
  • On the other side, it was the Dodge Ram 5th wheel … and a truck was parked in my 5′ aisle on that side … that I paid for. Honestly, I don’t think either incursion affected my sales, but I was not pleased.
  • Rules mean so little to vendors. And how they treat other vendors … I’m not normal, I know that. I’m too polite at events, I think. But in the end, I have to live with me.
  • First person in the booth bought a cutting board. This might work.
  • Second person in the booth really liked my Shakespeare sign. This might work. No sale though.
  • You wouldn’t hear this in LA. Overheard from a 40-something lady: “I don’t think I’ve been in a truck that small before.”
  • I found that me saying that I’ll be back in town for the Labor day event, Faire on the Square … works. I love appointment selling.
  • Live country, bluegrass or even alt country next to my booth every day for 2 hours. This is a good thing.
  • There’s an open bar throughout the event. I could grow to like events like this.
  • Great conversation with a 91-year old woodworker, still active and still making. He loved my work, and I loved hearing about what he did.
  • I think I’m getting truck envy. So, so many pretty Dodge trucks here …
    Dodge Ram is a big sponsor of rodeo.
  • I had a guy ask me about using lemon on a chopping block, and I explained it was an old butcher’s trick. Come to find out, he was an old butcher.
  • He was not the first person at this event that told me I knew what I was talking about. Me, I just wish knowledge paid better.
  • This is one of my most commented on signs:
  • One of the observers looked at me and said, “Your sign is broken. The answer is whiskey, not beer.”
  • Well, OK, then.
  • An advantage of this long term event is that my wounds are healing. One of my most irritating minor injuries of late was a paper cut (!) from a cardboard edge. The cut happened when I picked up a sheet of plywood to move it into the shop and partially grabbed the protective cardboard … that sliced the pad of my index finger. Very happy that wound has now healed with my time away from the shop.
  • Requests were for an Arizona-shaped cutting board (multiple requests, actually, and it’s on my list … my long list), a game board for a marble game I’ve never heard of (sounded like a variation of Wahoo, which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a Chinese checkers board (which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a tray with sides (hmmmm), rolling pins (nope) and plates (maybe … someday).
  • Sunday began with a bus parking behind my booth … with the diesel motor running. It was really harshing my mellow. I called Suzy, and she got it shut down.
  • Love working with a professional.
  • I also had a long conversation about how to treat the wood from a treasured marquetry piece (I believe it was actually intarsia) that the artist left untreated. The owners were properly concerned about how to finish the wood now that they had moved to this very, very dry climate, and I helped them as best I could. They loved the information, thanked me … and walked away. It’s always nice when my free information results in a mercy sale, but ’twas not to be this time.
  • In the end, this event didn’t work for me. Loved the long term set up. Loved the vibe. Didn’t love the lack of sales. At all.
  • Final sale: family of 5 came into the booth. Young mother had 3 small boys, which I commented on. We shared a smile. She wanted to buy a sign for her mother-in-law, but her husband had the money. She returned … and he had given her $5 less than the price. She commented on how much they spent on lemonade and popcorn, and I bet there was no negotiation on those prices. But on the sign for HIS MOTHER, the young man thought negotiation was in order.
  • A fitting end to a frustrating event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda’s spaghetti. Naturally. Leftovers were packaged for me, and I brought them from home in a cooler. Velda stayed at home.
  • Honorable Mention: Velda’s meatloaf. See above.
  • Worst Meal: My first night here, I ended up at a conveniently located Mexican restaurant in Cottonwood, AZ. It was next to the motel. Both were mistakes. Big mistakes.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 1,059
  • Booth cost: $975
  • Food cost: most meals were from home
  • Travel cost: I don’t want to think about this.
  • Total sales: $1,407
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): I lost money on this one. It wasn’t even close.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • # transactions: bored. bored. bored.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none, but there was someone selling natural infusions, I think. Sort of like essential oils … but not. Odd.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Signs: 7
  • Cheese Slicer: 2
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Trivet: 1
  • Custom Orders: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado 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.

Their slogan is “Peace, Love & Guacamole.” Who can’t get behind that?

This was our 3rd trek to Carpinteria to enjoy the California Avocado Festival. It’s been a good event for us; you can read about previous successes in 2016 and 2017.

Though we have enjoyed this event, it is not without its challenges. The event is expensive, for one: a 10×10 is $450 (corner is $550). Plus, they take a $100 cleaning deposit to ensure you leave the asphalt in the middle of the street as clean as you found it.

Seriously.

Finding an affordable hotel in Santa Barbara County is also a challenge. This year, we’re opting for an AirBnB which is still pricey, but when you are a bit north of an hour from home, it’s difficult to drive home after a hard day of vendoring.

Mrs M got her avocado soap made, and my inventory is in pretty good shape these days. Let’s see what is in store for us in Carpinteria.

New Ideas

  • After being off for 7 weeks, Mrs M had nearly forgotten how to go a-vendoring. We both took too long to set up … it was almost 4 hours. Not. Good.
  • Cribbage boards are not completely finished, but I have a dozen to take to the event. This will be the first time I’ve shown the options with, uh, options.

Observations

  • Getting to our AirBnB proved to be an adventure. We followed my old, portable GPS which led us to a washed out bridge on a twisty overgrown mountain road. Good times. I then *read the directions* from our hostess, got back on the freeway and drove to our home for the weekend without further incident. Thank goodness.
  • I know inventory is expanding. I have 6 containers of signs. 2 containers of cribbage boards. 3 containers of cheese boards, and I have no idea how many cutting boards. No wonder setup takes 4 hours.
  • The sign making business is a competitive one, and I note that a lot of people are taking pictures of my signs … many without asking permission. Some artists put up “No Pictures, Please” signs. Some just say “No Pictures!” I think the signs are ineffective (I have signs displayed on an outer wall … am i supposed to get up and police people throughout the day?), but I wonder if I should do that. My signs are popular; should I let people copy what I do without even asking for my permission?
  • So far, my answer is to follow Elsa’s advice: “Let it go.”
  • Carpinteria is 66 miles away … and this event is a good getaway from Santa Clarita, apparently. At one point, someone asked where I lived in Santa Clarita, and 3 groups in my booth at the same time were all from Santa Clarita … and didn’t know each other!
  • Best moment of the day was when a very young lady solemnly passed her ZooSoapia turtle to me so that we could wrap it up for her. She was very focused on not hurting her turtle. Total cuteness, in the booth.
  • At the end of the event, I did ask our event representative what the official policy was on “handmade” in our handmade section. He called over some other guy on the 2-way, and the other guy said everything should be 100% handmade.
  • Uh, no.
  • I think a good clue is that my neighbor for the last 3 years brought merchandise in a box labeled “Made in China.” That’s a clue, right?
  • Both load in and load out were extremely tight. A double row of booths is in the center of the street, and a row of parked cars and a driving lane is on each side. Very tight. During load out, a vendor driving a U-Haul van hit our canopy with her mirror.
  • She got to meet Frenzied Velda. As Geena Davis said in The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
  • After Frenzied Velda came out, the organizer apologized to us several times.
  • This event has been very good for us … but in our 3rd year, we were down from our 2nd year … which was down from our fantastic 1st year. It’s still a good event, but it’s also a very high cost event. There are alternatives that we must consider for 2019.
  • Requests were for custom signs (at least 6x!), a kitchen counter and a Go board. Time will tell if any actual orders follow, which will affect how we look at this event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Breakfast at Esau’s, which is half a block from our booth. It’s an annual treat.
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner at Clementine’s, another annual treat … with blackberry pie to go.
  • Worst Meal: A getaway chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr after teardown. The fries weren’t edible … and I didn’t want to eat, really. I wanted to go home. But, ya gotta eat, y’know?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 175
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $181
  • Travel cost: $423
  • Total sales: $3,047
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,453
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:45a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 115
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 5
  • # woodworking vendors: There were several; one does work similar to mine
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 27

Signs: 11x

Cribbage Boards: 4x

Cutting Boards: 3x

Cheese Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Serving Piece: 2x

Coasters: 2x

Small Board: 1x

 

The Board Chronicles: Santa Barbara Home & Garden Expo 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.

Santa Barbara artists have a virtual monopoly on events in their city. Most events require you to be a county resident to be a vendor. When the opportunity came up to represent at an event in Santa Barbara, I was very interested.

This promoter does 3 home & garden shows in Santa Barbara (and one in Santa Maria) every year. It fit on the calendar.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about in Santa Barbara.

New Ideas

  • Same setup as last week in Visalia. I didn’t even unload the trailer.
  • I had a corner location with a wall that extended forward to the door … and the promoter invited me to fill the space. I was happy to oblige with an extra table that I dedicated to a cutting board display. I sold 3 boards off of that “feature” table.

Observations

  • Got to the venue for setup, and found they had me in a single booth. I asked the promoter if that was a mistake, and she put me in a double. After researching everything following the event, I believe the mistake was mine, but she had the space, so it all worked out.
  • But … I was right by the exit. I an superstitious about being by the door, but whachagonnado?
  • This is a relatively small event, with about 70 vendors. All were indoors. Some traditional home show businesses (AC repair, window replacement, bath remodel, etc). Some buy & sell, from Scentsy to import crap. A few artists. And me.
  • The first buy & sell vendor left at 1:30p on Saturday, after only 3-1/2 hours. I mean, it was slow, but, wow.
  • I didn’t sell anything until 3p on Saturday. In the next 2 hours, I sold 15 pieces, including 5 cutting boards. Patience is a virtue.
  • A self-professed turner came into the booth, talked about her passion for the hobby … and bought 2 cutting boards. Loved that!
  • As at most shows, I was asked if I was local. I generally responded that I was “local-ish,” from 2 hours away. 2 of the questioners talked about how they wish there were local artists here.
  • What is it with the insular approach to art vendors in Santa Barbara? That’s a mystery to me.
  • Sunday started slow … and stopped. Not. Good.
  • This weekend, I could have done the nearby Goleta Lemon Festival, which we’ve done a couple of times previously. That event has not proven very profitable, so I though I’d try something new. This event … was a bit worse.
  • Requests were for an elephant board, surfboards (I’ve been out for months now), in-counter boards, and a few custom boards “with details to follow.” We’ll see; good follow up orders could make this event more interesting for next year. Without them ….

The Food

  • Best Meal: Woodstock Pizza, Henry’s MOS. Best pizza I’ve had in some time.
  • Honorable Mention: Hello, Old Friend
  • Worst Meal: Chicken & Fries from the diner @ the Showground. The fries were not edible.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 176
  • Booth cost: $500
  • Food cost: $96
  • Travel cost: $315
  • Total sales: $1,365
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $454
  • # 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: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one; she had a big bath bomb display
  • # woodworking vendors: one of the artists there did woodburning, but not woodworking, really. She just decoratively burned pieces of wood.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 15:4. Amazing.
  • Returning next year? Doubtful.

Boards sold: 19

6x Cutting Boards

6x Trivets

2x Word Blocks

2x CNC Signs

1x Cheese Board

1x 5 Section Server

1x Custom Order

 

 

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