Archive for the ‘Cutting board’ Tag

One Size Does Not Fit All   Leave a comment

One of my key discoveries since I started down the path of becoming a serious woodworker hobbyist is that people like a lot of different things.

I started using 7 woods, and thought I had a nice variety.

I was wrong.

Now I use over 20, and still get requests for woods I don’t use (and if you can find olive wood for me, I’ll be happy to use it!).

The size of cutting boards is another thing that has surprised me. Some people want a sandwich-sized cutting board, and that’s all they need. For some, that’s because it’s in their small kitchen in an RV (who knew?). For others, they simply don’t want a board bigger or heavier than my smallest cheese boards.

That’s why I make sure every board in the shop is made to be a good cutting board. I may think a board is a cheese board … but I may be wrong. If it’s intended use is to be cutting, then that has to be OK.

Here are the latest cheese boards, small boards and cutting boards to make it across the finish line. That’s what I call them, anyway. You get to call them what you want!

Ugly Enough To Use   Leave a comment

One of my favorite stories from making cutting boards happened 2 years ago at the California Poppy Festival. This weekend, you’ll find me there, again, along with Mrs M.

But back to the story.

I call them Sous Chef boards: small handled cutting boards, made to be mobile. Give one to you assistant, and have them chop an onion, or whatever, and then bring the chopping to you so you can add to whatever you’re doing. I make 2 sizes, and they were on prominent display at our first Poppy Festival.

A guy came into the booth, liked them, and bought one as a present for his wife. All good. I love being a part of a happy home.

The guy came back in the afternoon, saying he’d been sent back to buy another sous chef board. His wife loved the first one … but it was too pretty to use, and it was going to be hung on the wall. He’d been sent back to buy a second board that was ugly enough to use.

Whether you think these are too pretty or just ugly enough, here’s the latest from the garage woodshop.

 

Round = Spinning   Leave a comment

I sit right by the Lazy Susans in the booth layout I’m using these days, and I’ve gotten used to the look in the eyes of customers on the prowl as they stalk them.

They’ll walk into the booth, soak in the mise en scène, and spy the Susans.

“Are those Lazy Susans?” they ask.

I don’t say a word. I just give the top one a spin. Words are not necessary.

One thing I’ve learned is that any round board is assumed to be a Lazy Susan. I did round cutting boards for a time, but I got tired of explaining that my 1-1/2″ thick round, slope-sided cutting board was not a Lazy Susan.

So, I stopped making them. If having a round board that does not spin is confusing, then I won’t have them.

Confusion is not my goal. The marketplace has spoken, and I listened.

Since I started making Lazy Susans – at the request of a client! – they have been one of my more consistent sellers. I like to make them in batches, but I had let my inventory dwindle so this latest batch is overdue. As always, I celebrated with some very unique color and grain patterns. Please, enjoy!

The 250th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

I’ve been working on this board for 2 years.

In my head, anyway.

As my faithful readers know, I’ve been wrestling with building inventory for a very long time, and I’ve been up & down & up & down from the line in the sawdust that I’ve drawn at the 200th cutting board.

Today, I’ve reached a new milestone, as this colorific cutting board is my 250th piece in inventory.

The pictorial below shows the board in all of the stages of production, which did actually take me a couple of months. In the beginning the original boards were picked & processed, and then glued together. That “blank” then got smoothed, sliced, and then re-glued into the final configuration for the cutting board. More smoothing and then final shaping on the table saw and router table followed. Even more sanding came next, and then the board was ready for oiling and waxing. Non-skid rubber feet were then installed with stainless steel screws, and the board was finished. Final step: photography!

Join us this weekend at the California Poppy Festival to see the board in person. Plus, you’ll get to see the beginning of our annual Spring Fling!

The Board Chronicles: Champagne On Main 2017   Leave a comment

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

Mrs M has this theory that events featuring alcohol should be good for me. Alcohol. Magic Bottle Openers. Cheese Boards. What’s not to like?

This event happens on Main Street in Ventura – a beach town an hour to the west. It’s the same location as the July 4th event we’ve enjoyed the past 2 years, so this seems like it could be a good choice for us.

Except it’s a one day event. We don’t like those.

Except it’s a day when Mrs M has to work at her “job.” So I’m solo .. and my solo events tend to be under-achievers.

Time to see what I can do solo on Main Street. No lotions today; it’ll just be my stuff & me.

New Ideas

  • This will be my first solo event using just my Jeep to carry product since last November’s Affair of the Arts in Culver City. After that event, I vowed to go big or stay home. That vow lasted 5 months, apparently.
  • No trailer = limited cargo space. I have to leave a lot of product at home.
  • Rain was forecast for Friday about midnight, so I didn’t load my trailer hitch Friday evening. That way, the canopy would not get soaked. Hopefully.

Observations

  • The rain was gone by 6am, so my delayed packing strategy worked. I was still on the road before 7.
  • When I arrived at the event at 8am, the queue of vendor cars was 10+ long waiting to get onto Main Street.
  • As I got to my booth space a few minutes later, it started to mist. Not a lot of moisture, but it was wet.
  • Great.
  • Luckily, the rain subsided within a few minutes. My boards didn’t get wet at all. I took a risk & didn’t even put up my side walls. The forecast for the day actually came true, and we had blue skies by 10am. Thank goodness!
  • Limited cargo space meant I left stuff at home. Unfortunately, I left the surfboards at home. My mistake.
  • Oh, and I left the Wine Bottle Holders at home, too. Same container. My goodness, what was I thinking???
  • Knowing how the 4th of July event works, I came to this event early to be ready for walkers on Main Street before this event officially began. I was set up by 9:30 … and had people in the booth almost immediately. The event officially started at 11am, but that time was meaningless.
  • At 10am, I had a person engaged with the largest cutting board on the table. She lifted it (no small feat), talked about it … and put it back. That’s an auspicious beginning, however.
  • No serious conversations about big cutting boards happened for the rest of the day. (sigh)
  • This is another event that gave vendors no information about the event layout, times, etc. When did the sampling of alcohol begin? No clue. Where were the restrooms? No clue. What vendors were there? When did the event end? How would I know? They didn’t even give me my booth number until after I arrived, which I always think is bad form.
  • Come to find out, the alcohol sampling happened in the store fronts on Main Street. Those shop owners made space for a sampling station and put signage on their door … and drunk people came into their shops throughout the event. If there was sampling in the, uh, temporary vendor area, I didn’t see it.
  • We had blue skies, but we had a breezy spring day. Gusts to 20 mph, I was told. Lots of wind. I didn’t see a canopy take flight, but it definitely could have happened. Most vendors aren’t that serious about using weights, and that’s a dangerous problem, IMHO.
  • Vendors started exiting in the 3 o’clock hour. One veteran vendor told me she’d done this event for years, but this year’s sales were about 1/3 of her normal. Every vendor I talked to was unhappy.
  • My best hour, with 45% of total sales, was the 5 o’clock hour.
  • Happy Hour.
  • When my MBO demo is met with cheers as the magic is revealed, you know it’s Happy Hour. # 1 seller on this day: Magic Bottle Openers.
  • One request was from a Lady asking if I had a bigger heart. There’s just no way to respond to that question seriously. Other requests were for a cribbage board … and that other game board that people ask about. Yes, it was my # 1 request. Again. As always.
  • I need more shop time.
  • A side note: an interesting article that ran this week describes how the city of Ventura is significantly increasing the cost of events held on city property due to liability concerns. Unprecedented cost increases are resulting in producers moving events (and not just vendor events!) out of Ventura, it seems. The producer of this event (who also does the more popular Winter Wine Walk) indicated that alternatives are being researched, so this event may not be here next year. If you ever do events in Ventura, you should read the article, here.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A ham sandwich from home – the same lunch I have at home 19 days out of 20.

Saturday Snack: A $3 chocolate cookie, and that was well worth it.

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers at home. Easy, quick.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 100
  • Booth cost: $275
  • Food cost: $11
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $670
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $384
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 10, over 9 hours. Luckily, there was enough activity (just not sales activity!) so I wasn’t bored after about noon.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I saw a bath bomb vendor & a buy & sell lotion vendor on my walkabout 90 minutes before the opening. There may have been others.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a turner and 3 people doing wine barrel constructions of various sorts. The lady making American Flags was doing interesting work, in my opinion.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably not.

Boards sold: 11

MBOs: 6x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Small Boards: 1x

Cheese Boards: 1x

Hearts: 1x

 

The Board Chronicles: AV Home Show 2017   Leave a comment

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

Going into this event, I knew 2 things:

  1. I love local.
  2. Mrs M hates Home & Garden shows.

She’s got a bad taste in her mouth after a frustrating Home & Garden experience last year – she even passed up a trip to Fresno a couple of weeks ago to do that Home & Garden Show. The Fresno H&G turned out to be a good show for me … not to mention a bachelor weekend in Fresno. Apparently, Mrs M endorses that.

With the AV Home Show, however, she gets to spend the weekend with the Granddaughters. That’s a winner, regardless of the event results. She’s in.

This is the 29th Annual AV Home Show in Lancaster. Will it meet Mrs M’s expectations, or mine?

New Ideas

  • The show talked about an open presentation in their vendor materials – nothing above 36″ in the front 5′ of the booth. That’s common in pipe & drape environments, but not so much in open craft fair environments. I opted to not use our canopies, so we went with our 6 tables at the event & no sides or backdrop. No signage, either. The booth felt naked.
  • The only way the canopies would have worked would be to either take off their tops and just leave the bones … or use the canopies as is and use our lights to better display our stuff. The neon-like lights in our building were pretty garish. The light was very blue, which washed out a lot of color in the boards. However, I decided it wasn’t worth it to put our lights up.
  • Note to self: negative thoughts are a bad thing.
  • Come to find out, this was the 29th Annual AV Home Show … but the first time that they’ve added a craft fair to the event. That was a surprise. First time events are seldom great. Unfortunately.

Observations

  • The craft fair building was located perhaps 100 yards from the two main buildings that housed the Home Show. There were a few outdoor exhibits to walk by while you were going to the craft fair … but not many. And since there was limited signage that announced the craft fair and pointed the way, some people came to the Home Show & had no idea that we were there (which I confirmed by talking to actual attendees). There were 2 or 3 portable signs, but if you missed those … you missed it.
  • I knew this event was going off the rails when our craft fair had booths for Damsel in Defense, LuLaRoe and a few vendors offering unbranded imported merchandise. Though most of the vendors were showing handmade goods, more than a few were not. I really don’t like it when I have to sign a 15 page contract, provide insurance and jump through multiple hoops to be a part of a “craft fair” … and I’m not.
  • Friday was a waste of my time. Only 5 hours for the event, but sales were a puny $131.
  • Saturday was worse.
  • This was our 2nd event with a major pet adoption presence near us, and it was again an irritant. One common rule for all events is that you’re not allowed to solicit outside of your booth: you can’t wander the aisles harassing customers. The volunteers showcasing the dogs weren’t harassing customers … but the dogs were. Volunteers actually sat in the aisles holding dogs. Aisles were clogged. Since the dog cages were located right next to the entrance (mistake!), the entrances were clogged as the dogs were taken on walks.
  • The first vendor to leave early & load out on Sunday was in the booth directly adjacent to the pet adoption chaos.
  • I like dogs. I support pet adoptions. I have always had pets. But when pet adoptions from an organization that doesn’t pay for their space interfere with the “craft fair” that I’ve paid money to be a part of, I get a bit less enthusiastic. And, for the record, a “craft fair” has nothing to do with pet adoptions. Just sayin’.
  • 50% of the vendors broke the 4th wall of their booths and extended their displays into the aisle. Most of these infractions were minor, but it bugs me when vendors don’t follow the rules that are there for the common good. Some just think they’re more special than that … about 50% at this event, come to find out. When people take unfair advantage of the public space, I’m irked.
  • Not to mention when event producers don’t enforce their own rules.
  • Breakdown could not begin before the event closing at 5pm Sunday, per the rules. The cages & such for the animals, though, were broken down beginning at 3pm Sunday – with a truck parked right beside the entrance for their gear. This was a very visible sign that the event was over, and traffic fell precipitously and predictably at that point.
  • The event was OOTW.

One. Of. The. Worst.

  • Requests were for a board with metal handles, a banana holder, a paper plate holder, really big juice grooves, and, to complete my bad weekend, the # 1 request was for … chess boards.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagel & cream cheese. Toasted, of course.

Saturday Lunch: A hot dog & fries. The only reasonable choice, it seems. Oh, and the cheapest one, as well.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: No motivation = no good food.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

Sunday Dinner: Brisket at the Southern Smoke BBQ & Brew in Newhall. This is a delightful place.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 116
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $151
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $473
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $122
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were at least 5 vendors offering soap; a couple offering lotion. None had the complete presentation & varied group of products offered by Mrs M, IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a turner and a scroll saw artist. Several wooden sign makers, of course. And me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:1
  • Returning next year? No. Hell no.

Boards sold: 4

Small Boards: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Big Ones   1 comment

I love making big cutting boards.

I make them for 2 reasons:

  1. They are really good – essential – kitchen tools. They are made to be of use.
  2. I find pretty when I make them

Like all good things, they do not come quickly nor cheaply. When I’m making then out of quality hardwoods (which is always), then my costs are significant. I have to go through a lot of wood to choose the pieces that belong in these cutting boards. Not every board makes the grade.

Some of these boards required over 30 minutes just in the sanding & smoothing process. That’s a lot of sandpaper, at 60 cents a sheet, yaknowhatImean?

Another interesting aspect of these large cutting boards is that I don’t make them in large quantities. I only keep a few on hand, and then make more as the need arises. At our last event, I sold 3 large cutting boards (very unusual!), so it was good that I had this batch in the shop and very close to the finish line. However, of these 4 boards, 1 is already sold … so I’m really just keeping my inventory even.

I have to make more large cutting boards in the near future to get ready for our Spring Fling.

Another odd thing is that I show large cutting boards at every event, but I often sell more custom pieces than I sell the actual large cutting boards on display. The first large Hickory board that I put on display sold 4 other boards before it finally sold itself. And, no, none of these boards are Hickory. That’s on my never ending to do list.

On that board that is already sold (the 4th one shown), please note the very unusual grain pattern on the Black Walnut. I take what the wood gives me, and in this case I had a large plank that allowed me to make a very unusual sweeping curve, book matched, across the face of the board. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that, and I’m quite happy with that board. It will soon be winging its way to Florida.

These boards are intended to be generational purchases. With minimal care, they will last for decades. They are made from very good hardwood, both domestic and international. All have routed handholds and non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws. All of these boards also have juice grooves. Here are the 4 all-new designs that made it out of the shop today:

Cutting Board 17 – 424. Bubinga, Cherry, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 17″ x 21-1/2″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 425. Cherry, Jatoba, Canarywood & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 423. Cherry, Hard Maple & Purpleheart. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 21-1/2″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 422. Black Walnut & Cherry. End Grain, Juice Groove. 18″ x 20″ x 1-1/2″. Commissioned Piece.

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom Festival 2017   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..

Anticipation was building. We were very excited to be a part of the 68th Annual Almond Blossom Festival in Quartz Hill. This would be our 3rd appearance at this event in the last 3 years.

You know I love local. Quartz Hill is a community in the Antelope Valley, about 45 minutes north of us.

When we do this event, we stay with our two granddaughters, so this event has about the best side benefits I can imagine.

In 2015, we had a 10×10 booth and sales of $1,291. Last year, it rained. Nothing to be done about that, and sales dropped to $879, in spite of our 10×20 booth and expanded product selection. This year, we have Mrs M’s purpose-built display. My inventory isn’t perfect (no chess boards!), but I have as good an array as I’ve ever had. We’re ready for Quartz Hill.

New Ideas

  • Mrs M’s soap will be at this event for the first time – hardly a new idea, really, but it should help us increase sales this year.

Observations

  • Every year, there is confusion with load-in and booth placement. This year, I was on an end … then I wasn’t. There was plenty of room in the park, though (fewer vendors this year, for some reason), so it was a non-issue. There was plenty of room, and the atmosphere was very casual during set-up. Very casual.
  • This is a community event in a county park. Local dance studios perform. Local bands perform. It’s all sponsored by the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce, so local businesses have booths, too. It’s all about the community.
  • When the Quartz Hill queens & princesses came around handing out candy to the vendors as a thank you for supporting Quartz Hill, I was amazed. Can’t remember the last time a pre-teen gave me candy.
  • And, of course, it’s cute when a little girl strolls through a park & gives me candy. Me strolling through a park & giving a little girl candy … not so much.
  • Wine Bottle Holders were prominently displayed for the 2nd time, and for the 2nd time I had a senior citizen ask me if they are door stops.
  • They are not.
  • An artist’s work is so seldom understood.
  • The fire marshal closed the vendor section early on Saturday, the last day of standard time. It was scheduled to be open until 7pm (which was way too late). As darkness descended, the fire marshal said to close the vendor area at 6:15pm so no one would be hurt in the darkness.
  • Huh?
  • Every vendor was complaining about the low traffic this year. The weather was glorious: over 80* each day. This was our first weekend this year with great SoCal weather, in fact … maybe the weather was too good? In any event, there were slow sales for everyone, it seemed.
  • There is live music playing throughout the event, and 2 bands were noteworthy. Big Coyote sounded great this year, and happens to include one of our next door neighbor musicians as a guitarist & vocalist. Also sounding great was The Fulcos, a family act based in the AV. Both bands had excellent presentations, and even this critic enjoyed them. Good thing, as there wasn’t enough traffic to hold my attention.
  • Requests from this event were for a kitchen island top (2x), a hope chest and, once again as the # 1 request … chess boards (of course).
  • This is our 2nd event in a row where Sunday sales exceeded Saturday sales. No complaints … but has the world gone crazy?
  • In the end, sales were a disappointment. We did not equal our 2015 sales – where we had much less product, and only a 10×10 booth. Our booth expenses have more than doubled, and sales did not increase. Perhaps we have saturated this event, and should give it a break next year? There aren’t that many good March events, however, and none allow us to spend time with the granddaughters except for this one. Much to think about before we schedule 2018.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, brought from home.

Saturday Lunch: “Half a Polish,” he said. Of course, I’m not half Polish … I’m not half anything. I’m a mutt. “English, Irish, German, Dutch….”

Saturday Snack: A Twisted Spud. They look better than they taste, every time. Maybe I’ll learn someday.

Saturday Dinner: “Deconstructed cabbage rolls,” she said. Well, OK then. Tasted great.

Sunday Breakfast: See above.

Sunday Lunch: See above. I’m consistent.

Sunday Snack: Nope. I learn, too.

Sunday Dinner: A carnitas burrito from the local Mexican restaurant, La Cocina. And guacamole. And a Cadillac Margarita.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 226
  • Booth cost: $255
  • Food cost: $81
  • Travel cost: $121
  • Total sales: $1,264
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $807
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several, including 3 visits from 3 different people explaining to us the load-out procedure. I thought that was overkill. Been there, done that, and didn’t learn a thing.
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15am
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 70
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Incredibly, just Mrs M. Maybe the soap fad is over?
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me. No fad here.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe.

Boards sold: 11

Small Boards: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cheese Boards: 2

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Boards, Large & Small   Leave a comment

People use all sizes of cutting boards … which is something I had to learn.

I now stock as many sizes as possible at each event. In my lexicon, cutting boards are:

  • At least 12″ x 12″ x 7/8″
  • Made with suitable hardwoods: “hard maple or its equivalent,” as the FDA regulations for commercial applications say. That’s the same regulation that most states copy into their regulations for commercial kitchens. Every cutting board that I make fulfills those requirements.
  • Either edge grain or end grain
  • Almost every cutting board has non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws. I do make some 2-sided boards that don’t have feet, but those are generally smaller than my “cutting board minimum size,” above.
  • Almost every cutting board has routed handholds for easy handling of the board. There are some exceptions, but those are generally special orders.

One of my challenges is to create an event display with enough cutting boards to show the breadth of my work, while still making it pretty. I struggle with those two conflicting goals … and there’s a new display and all new look for the booth just around the corner.

Meanwhile, here are the latest 7 boards to make it out of the shop.

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2017   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.

fresno-home-garden-showVacation’s over. Time to get to work.

I’ve enjoyed 75 glorious days since my last event … but now it’s time for some vendoring.

The Fresno Home & Garden Show (“the 3rd largest in California!”) boasts 30,000 in attendance over its three days. The private producers have 3 shows each year at the Fresno fairgrounds, and this is the largest. The show isn’t inexpensive … and Mrs M has a bad taste in her mouth with central valley Home & Garden shows after only selling $150 at the Bakersfield H&G we did last year. So, she opted out as I opted in.

After all, it fit our calendar.

Time to shake off the cobwebs.

New Ideas

  • It’s not a new idea for me to solo with just my booth, but it is new for me to drive the trailer to the event to carry just me & my stuff. I’m giving more meaning to the phrase “Go big or go home.”
  • One of the vendor comments offered as testimonial on the producer’s website described the area as “a little rough.” This is the first venue we’ve had an event in that’s surrounded by concertina wire. The Fresno fairgrounds are located near the old downtown area, and the surrounding blocks are not picture postcard pretty. The fairgrounds are in good shape, however.
  • Wine bottle holders made their debut at this event. Finally.

Observations

  • Drove in to the fairgrounds, in search of the unfortunately named “More Exhibits” building that I was assigned to. The map actually called my building “More Exhibits.” Here’s the problem: every building on the fairgrounds had a big banner on it: “More Exhibits.” Luckily, my More Exhibits was the 2nd More Exhibits building I tried.
  • My booth was between the Tupperware ladies and a fence builder. Problem was the fence builder had put up a 5′ spite fence blocking the view of my booth which was against the rules (vendors are limited to 3′ obstructions in the front half of their booths, which is standard for pipe & drape environments like this one). I complained … and the builder moved the fence. Wow. Rules enforced by the producer. Maybe there’s hope here.
  • “Park at the lot on the corner of Maple & Butler,” I was told. Free for vendors. I drove there … and on the 4 corner lots there were 2 fair or city developments with fencing, a park with fencing, and a liquor store. No parking lot entrance near the intersection, except for the liquor store. No signage for the fair, for parking, or for vendors. NO signage. Come to find out, the “park” was a grass lot behind a fence, and that was the parking lot. Not the other corners with asphalt. But since I couldn’t find any cars, nor an open entrance anyway….
  • Forgotten, Day 1: Left my Bubba Keg in the Jeep, so I had to survive over 10 hours without a Bubba filled with Diet Coke within 5′ of my hand. The horrors of vending.
  • We use Paypal, which pushed a mandatory software update the weekend prior to the event. I dutifully installed it. All was well until I tried to use the app for our first transaction, and the keyboard was screwy. Push 4, and it said 4. Push 5, and it said 8. Push 7, and it said 1. The numbers were randomly generated, it seemed, and I could not figure out how to get it to work. Luckily that first customer had cash … and then I found that the software update had changed my default to include sale tax in the transaction, so every time I pushed a number, the app added 8.5%. Automatically.
  • Shut that off.
  • I hear it all of the time: customers come into the booth, like my stuff, and promise to come back later. Generally, those people get lost on the way to their car, or something. All I know is they usually don’t come back. Friday, the majority of those people did come back. Friday had surprisingly good results, and I was off to a great start.
  • Forgotten, Day 2: Discovered I had left my cooler at the venue the night before, so I had to deal with getting ice & soda to the venue without a cooler. Not as bad as being without my Bubba, but still. Also forgotten was the Paypal e-chip reader, left at the hotel on Saturday. Why am I forgetting things???
  • Expectations can kill you. Saturday was totally underwhelming – barely better than Friday, in fact. My expectation for Friday was almost no sales, and I did 5 transactions, including a big board. All good! Saturday, I did 9 transactions, but they were all small. And it was forecast to rain on Sunday … hope wasn’t fleeting; it fled. Saturday had huge traffic … and few buyers in my booth. Other vendors had very good days with the traffic surge.
  • Overheard: “I can not WAIT to get tickets to go see Neil Young … I mean Neil Diamond.” I understood her excitement, since one Neil is so much like the other.
  • This event was open for 25 hours. During that time, I had a total of 20 transactions. When Mrs M is there, we have a lot more transactions … but don’t think that more transactions always result in more profits. A big difference, though, is that I have to deal with boredom. I had hours go by with few quality conversations and no transactions, and that’s just not fun.
  • During the slow times, I wasn’t even happy talking to DIYers and the ever-present shop teacher that trolled my booth to tell me of their accomplishments. Normally, those are very pleasant conversations, but here I could not avoid my frustrations that the event was not fulfilling my high expectations.
  • Although, I did note on Saturday that it was great to hear my skills lauded by other woodworkers. Translation: I’m better at hiding my mistakes than they are.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Requests: a lamb-shaped cutting board (that’s new), business card holders, a pepper mill, rolling pin (2x – but I am NOT a turner!), decorative mason jar lid covers (You know you’re in an agricultural area when….), a cutting board with a built-in drawer, a pizza peel, a cutting board with bowls built in to collect your work, a 4’x6′ island, a cribbage board, a custom gunstock, and my # 1 request was (wait for it) … chess boards.
  • Saturday was slow, but Sunday was my best day. In the rain. No other vendor I talked to did better on Sunday, but Sunday saw 2 of 3 large cutting boards sell. Sunday grew beyond expectations, and was 40% of my sales.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Every event has the same rule: no breaking down of your booth until the event closes. In this case, that was 6pm Sunday. The event started breaking down their gear at about 4pm. When vendors followed immediately, the producers did not stop them (though my neighbor was told not to break down by a temp employee).
  • When a producer doesn’t follow their own rules, then there are no rules.
  • Strike at 6, packed by 7, loaded & on the road at 7:47pm. Only 186 miles to home….

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Best Western Village Inn free breakfast. All good with biscuits & gravy.

Friday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews. No fair food.

Friday Snack: See above.

Friday Dinner: My MOS (Mushroom, Onion, Sausage) from Mama Mia Pizza. Definitely a good pizza, just as Yelp predicted.

Saturday Breakfast: Back to the Village Inn for a disappointing choice between “cheese” omelets and pre-cooked egg slabs (they tried to look like a fried egg, but, yuck).

Saturday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews and a banana. And Oreos. No fair food.

Saturday Snack: See above.

Saturday Dinner: I was desperate enough to drive to Olive Garden (!), but they had a line out the door. I ended up at Carrow’s, where I was not the youngest person there, but every single table had an older person at it than was sitting at my table. I felt young.

Sunday Breakfast: Back to biscuits & gravy. Thank goodness.

Sunday Lunch: Same as Saturday, but no Oreos. No fair food … but I would have had a cinnamon roll if someone would have been there to cover the booth while I stood in line.

Sunday Snack: See above.

Sunday Dinner: McDonald’s # 1 on the road. No time to eat; I had to drive.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 428
  • Booth cost: $450
  • # of people I met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Two: one when they showed me a potential leak in the roof above my booth, and one when they dropped off a solicitation for their next 2 shows. Pass.
  • Total sales: $1,940
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: I seemed to be the only cutting board maker; there were 4 guys there showing furniture & such made from wine barrels. Four!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:4
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 22

Magic Bottle Openers: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Pizza Server: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Small Board: 1

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