Archive for the ‘craft fair’ Tag

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

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Visalia HomeExpo 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.

Visalia is another community on the edge of the mountains that many travel to and through while on their way to a getaway in the Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks. Visalia is in an area with a lot of farms & ranches, so there’s agricultural business in addition to the recreation economy. It’s a growing community, and I was convinced that going to their 17th Annual HomeExpo just might be a good idea.

Though I’ve driven through the town, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped there before. Time to see what’s what in Visalia.

New Ideas

  • For the first time, I’m putting up the Trimline frame with the mesh walls but without the canopy top. I need to display the signs … and you will see that, once again, they are my top selling item at this event (though not the highest revenue item, of course).

Observations

  • Home Show Fridays are days for woodworker hobbyists that are retired to come into the booth and tell me what they’ve made.
  • Friday was one of those very rare days when I didn’t sell anything. We’ve done 142 events at this point … and this is the 2nd time I have had a day with zero sales.
  • Think it’ll get any better?
  • Parents: control your children. Please.
    • My coaster display is in the front of the booth at this event, and one little boy touched the coasters & moved them. Coaster sets are displayed with 4 matched coasters in a stand, and that bored little boy moved them around, leaving the stands half filled. Mom said, “don’t touch things,” and kept walking. My display was left messed up. Mom didn’t care.
    • I was engaged with a customer, and didn’t see that another little boy picked up a bread saw. He started poking his Dad in the legs with it. Dad was oblivious, talking to a buddy. It was when little boy started squeezing the blade against the wooden frame of the saw that another customer saw what was happening and took the saw away from the little boy. Dad continued to be oblivious. As I finished with my other customer, the kind customer returned the saw to me, explaining what had happened. The blade had come loose from the screws holding it in place, so the customer didn’t buy that one. They would have; they bought the other 3 that were on display and wanted more.
  • Women: control your purses. Please.
    • 2 women (note I am not calling them ladies) saw my coaster display, still in the front of the booth, and decided it was an ideal place to set their purse while sorting through whatever they were carrying. One of those women then proceeded to knock coasters on the floor when they picked up their purse. She did pick them up … but no acknowledgement, no apology, no responsibility.
  • I sit under a sign that says “Meet The Maker.” 2 different people asked me if I did that on purpose. Uhhhhhh….
  • I’m not exactly loving Visalia at this point.
  • Guys, control your urges. Please.
    • I was engaged with a customer, talking about cutting boards. Another guy interrupted to show me a kitchen counter that his buddy got from a local woodworker that this guy had recommended. He didn’t want to buy anything, he just wanted to show me the great counter that his buddy got. Uh, OK. I turned, and the other customer was now gone.
  • A vendor truth: when a person in your booth wants to show you pictures on their phone, it almost always ends badly.
  • I did get ‘whelmed at 2pm on Saturday, though. Busy, busy. And then … it was over. Not nearly enough, unfortunately, but at least I did sell something.
  • I hung a set of 3 Word Blocks (Live, Laugh, Love) on a mesh wall at this event; it’s the first time I that I have done that. They are now on their way to Italy, I’m told!
  • A Lady walked into the booth.
    • “Here’s the sign you should make, ‘I love you to the liquor store and back!'” I have no response to that.
  • Who knew that my worst neighbor at this event would be Home Depot? They were promoting their home services, and at one point had 4 reps spread across an 8′ booth space (meaning shoulder to shoulder) while they were stepping into the aisle to stop people, saying, “Are you a Home Depot customer?” Stepping into the aisles is against the rules, of course. Oh, and the adjacent storage shed that they were showing had a 42″ wide door that blocked the aisle anytime it was opened. Once opened, it would come to rest in the aisle while they were talking about the interior of the shed. I hate amateurs.
  • A guy walked into the booth.
    • “How much is that sign? I have the perfect place for it.” he asked, pointing to the sign with the $50 sticker on it.
    • “$50,” I replied.
    • “Oh, too rich for me.” And, he turned & left.
  • An old guy shuffled into the booth. He was mobile, but barely. He then talked to me about being a cabinet maker in Mexico City back in the 40s. He liked the work, he said, but when he made a mistake, his boss pulled his ear. He didn’t like that part, he said.
  • Woodworking has changed. Thankfully. No ear pulling in my garage Woodshop.
  • Requests were for flooring (that’s a first), backgammon boards (2x), counter tops (3x) and in-counter boards (2x).
  • Sales were very disappointing at this event … attendance was down. The promoter knew that my sales were poor, so he’s going to make me a deal for a booth at their bigger spring show. That’s a very nice accommodation. It appears I’ll be back in Visalia, come February!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M’s dinners, from the freezer. AirBnB’s are the new normal.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 482
  • Booth cost: $750
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: No one like me. There was a company that would build you a rough stock bar for your backyard; no clue how they did.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:0
  • Returning next year? Doubtful

Boards sold: 16

CNC Signs: 3

Bread Saws: 3

Word Blocks: 3

Trivets: 2

Cribbage Board: 1

Chess Board: 1

Heart: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Sous Chef: 1

The Board Chronicles: Elks Craft 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.

Time to shake it up.

We started at events like this: table top displays in a large room. A charity fundraiser.  Local, local, local.

We still do events like this … but, rarely. We’re traveling to big events more than staying home and doing small & simple events.

We’ve done 3 events at the Elks Club in the past, and Mrs M opted to spend her day off doing their Craft Boutique (and Car Show and Chili Cook-off) this year. This is a low impact event for us … it’s harder to decide what products & display pieces to not take than it is to set up.

Simple can be nice occasionally, y’know?

New Ideas

  • Old ideas seem new when you haven’t done them in a while. A table top event? Sure, why not.
  • I did the heavy lifting, set up my stuff, and then left the Lady to handle it. I returned to the garage woodshop for the rest of the day, making, until it was time to load out.
  • More heavy lifting, you see.

Observations

  • Great to see old friends at an event. Familiar faces are a wonderful thing.
  • Though this event was not as successful for us as 2 of the previous ones, it was still fun to shake the cobwebs off and wave the flag in our home town. We used to do events in Santa Clarita multiple times a month; now we’re down to doing just a few events a year. “Progress,” we call it.
  • Check out the photos, below. I’m going to say Mrs M’s smile says it all.

The Food

  • Best Meal: I had a ham sandwich for lunch, of course. No clue what Mrs M brought for lunch, but I know it was keto. It’s her thing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 64
  • Booth cost: $50 + 2 raffle gifts for 2 tables
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $
  • Total sales: $173
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $88
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too few, unfortunately.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:0
  • Returning next year? Maybe, if it fits on the calendar

Boards sold: 3

1x Cheese Board

1x Coaster

1x Trivet

The Board Chronicles: Ventura Art & Street Painting Festival 2018   Leave a comment

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

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

Well, the harbor, anyway.

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

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

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 13

CNC Signs: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Board: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Faire On The Square 2018   1 comment

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

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

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

And I went far afield.

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

I’m told.

I wonder if they need cutting boards?

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

CNC Sign 18 – 46. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.

CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 41

Trivets: 11

CNC Signs: 6

Word Blocks: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Cutting Board: 2

Coasters: 2

Custom Orders: 2

Hearts: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

5-section Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Serving Piece: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

Serving Tray: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 2018   3 comments

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

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

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

We love Tehachapi.

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

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

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 18x

Trivets: 4

Large Serving Pieces: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 2

Coasters Set: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Clipboard: 1

Custom Order: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Heart: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: 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

%d bloggers like this: