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The Board Chronicles: Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival 2017   Leave a comment

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

The event was a big idea, and they didn’t want us. At first.

One of my favorite event producers is Pacific Fine Arts; they do about 20 events including the wonderful California Strawberry Festival. This year, we decided to add their Half Moon Bay event, which has a wonderful reputation for great sales and a fun atmosphere.

And then this juried event rejected us.

We applied as a couple, of course … and that confuses juries. Just about every vendor applies as a single idea, and then we come in with a pair of ideas as a married couple. Skin care products and cutting boards in one booth? Why, it’s just not done! So, we were rejected by the jury. Of course, we’re not applying for one booth, but for two booths, side by side, but we still are a very unique case for the jury to, uh, judge.

I talked to the producer, Dana, about why we were rejected and what might be done. Moving forward, we’re going to apply as two vendors that want side by side booths instead as one vendor, and she thinks that will work better. Good to know. But, after our rejection, Dana did volunteer to put us on a waiting list in case a booth opened up.

And a corner double booth did open up. Perfect. We’re in. We’re going to the 47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival!

New Ideas

  • Event # 2 of 13 in our 4th quarter. And when I say we have miles to go before we sleep….
  • At 347 miles one way, this is the farthest we have ever traveled for an event. High travel cost, and a big time cost, as well. We’re traveling up Friday and coming home on Monday, so we’re doing 3 hotel nights as well.
  • The fire marshal requires a 2A fire extinguisher to be lashed to the front pole of the booth … and it either needs to be stamped “2017” or it needs a current inspection sticker. That meant … another $75 in cost for our 2 booths. My “2016” fire extinguisher just wasn’t good enough. I guess. The event directions said that fire inspectors would shut down non-compliant booths.
  • Our expectations were high for this event, which has our highest booth cost ever.
  • Wait, that’s not a new idea. But you know about high expectations:

Expectations will kill you.

Observations

  • It’s a long drive going to San Francisco. For me, anyway. Road trips can be good for the soul, I’ve found, but doing 6+ hours in a car is not my idea of a good time. However, it’s the only way to get there, so off we go.
  • We were getting gas a bit north of Gilroy, and I inspected the trailer. I found that the electrical cable powering the trailer lights had become disconnected somewhere in the last 250 miles, and the connector was now thrashed. We had no trailer lights. No turning signals. No brake lights. It’s 5:30p on a Friday, and we were nearing twilight as we entered the San Francisco freeways. We had to drive to Half Moon Bay at Oh Dark Thirty tomorrow. Did I mention it’s 5:30p on a Friday? Okay, go.
  • I continued to drive north, and, incredibly, Velda eventually found Midnight Automotive in San Martin, just a few minutes away. She dialed and I talked to Luis, who told us he was open and would fix us right up. We were there 15 minutes later, and he had us back on the road 30 minutes after that. The trailer lights were on, and the electrical cable had a new clamp holding it in place. Better than new.
  • Did we write a 5 star review for Luis? You bet. Life. Saver.
  • Got to the hotel in San Mateo without further incidents. We grabbed a quick dinner at the hotel. We talked to our waiter, Victor, about our challenge of getting breakfast in the morning … and we wondered if the Holiday Inn breakfast buffet that we would be missing might have a bagel or 2 that he could pack for us tonight. Victor was very helpful, and he got a big tip. Then, we returned to the room and settled down for an all-too-short night’s sleep.
  • Because we travel heavy in a trailer, and because this event takes place on a narrow city street (Main Street, naturally), we were directed, with all large vehicles, to come to the event early and have our oversized vehicles off the street by 4:30am. That meant we had to arrive at 3:45am … leave the hotel at 3:15am, and get up to shower at 2:15am. So, that’s exactly what we did.
  • Set-up under starlight was great. Our early arrival was perfect, and the trailer was parked, unhitched, and I was back setting up our Caravan pop-ups so quickly that Mrs M didn’t think I had done my job. I remember looking at the time at 5am and being surprised that we still had stars as we set up the booth, but the booth was set by sunrise.
  • Our out-of-control hobby leads us into such an elegant lifestyle. We had walkers at 7am, as promised, and we were a-vendoring far earlier than the official 10am start.
  • Did we see a fire inspector? No. Did all booths have fire extinguishers? No. Did we do the right thing? Yes.
  • Interesting event. There was a smattering of people in costume. There were more masked people than we’ve ever seen at an event. So, it was a bit halloween-y, but not overly so.
  • With the sun, came the wind.
  • Wind. Blows.
  • We were told that the gusty wind is very unusual for this town, but we were windblown all day Saturday. It continued into Sunday … and we had trouble. When Velda first arrived at the booth Sunday morning, this is what she saw:

Each banner lost a tie. Tarps were blown off the product, and Velda lost the top of her wall due to clamp failure. Thankfully, we had no booth damage. No product damage.

  • I quickly determined we were best off just taking down the banners, so we ran with naked booths on Sunday. We had the back walls up, and the swirling, gusty wind – when it came from the East – was lifting our center canopy legs up 6″.
  • We have 180 pounds of concrete weighing down our double 10×10 canopies, and we needed every pound.
  • The booth was not going anywhere, but holding down the booth legs while hearing the creaking of the metal structure as the wind howled down the driveway between 2 houses that our booth faced … not fun.
  • The crowd, though, took it all in stride. Sunday sales were strong. Saturday had been a bit disappointing … we did well, but we didn’t hit $2k in sales. This would not be a spectacular event.
  • But, it did keep coming.
  • My first sale each day was a cutting board. Love it!
  • Event directions warned that traffic would be horrible. They weren’t kidding. It was gridlock getting out of town on Saturday and Sunday. It took 45 extra minutes on Saturday to get out of town. Sunday was better, but only marginally so.
  • This event is a party. One customer told me she only drinks before noon at the Pumpkin Festival … and in New Orleans. Well, OK, then. Very common to see people walking with a beer, a glass of wine, or a mimosa. People were enjoying their Pumpkin Festival, and they all came to shop, complete with their own shopping bags.
  • Love. That.
  • A customer looked at the cribbage boards, and asked, “Is that an incense holder?” These cribbage boards have 250+ holes in them. How much incense did they want to burn?
  • A pirate walked by the booth, accompanied by his … uh, pirate. I did not talk to them. I’ve learned my lesson.
  • Mrs M went walkabout, leaving me to fend for myself in the booth. A young lady asked if we had a soap that would be good to remove THC resin from her fingers when she was, uh, processing. Couldn’t help her with this first-ever request. I don’t think Mrs M is going to develop a soap line to remove THC resin, either.
  • Requests were for a bigger Hard Maple end grain board (they always sell poorly when I make them!), a larger cheese dome, cribbage boards with pegs (it never ends), and my # 1 request, by far … chess boards.
  • I need more shop time. A. Lot.
  • There are 300 vendors at this event, and everything is handmade. I love the event producers; they do a great job selecting all handmade vendors!
  • Load out was a bit chaotic, as expected. We just did our thing, though, and took everything down before I went to get the trailer. Traffic was a problem just getting back to the booth, but in the end, I locked the loaded trailer at 7:15pm. 2 hours and 15 minutes total for the load out isn’t bad when the trailer is parked blocks away and you’re fighting 300 vendors for space.
  • I sold 18 different sizes/items at this event. The key to my success is variety. Maintaining that variety is the hardest thing I do in the shop.
  • Our high expectations killed us; we were initially disappointed. However, in the end, this was our 6th best event EVER. Our 2nd best first-time event EVER. We did have high costs, though, and we had hoped to do better. This event is not easy to do: a very long day for Saturday with a crazy load-in time, a long commute and traffic issues means this event is not for the faint of heart. But, we hope to come back. We had a good getaway weekend, and, in this case, that’s the most important thing.
  • We went away. Way away. We cleared our heads. All good.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels in the go boxes from the Holiday Inn. And energy bars. It was a long time until lunch when you start at 2:15am.

Saturday Lunch: Tamales from one of the community groups that sell food here as a fund raiser. This is totally a community event. Love it.

Saturday Snack: Mrs M had more coffee. This was a long day.

Saturday Dinner: Velda used the google machine, and found Sole in San Mateo. Reviews were great, and we wanted a good meal after our very, very long day. Unfortunately, this was a tiny restaurant that told us we would have to wait 20 minutes. And then they told us that again. The food, though, was spectacular, with the best gnocchi that Mrs M has had. The sun-dried tomato appetizer/bread dip was amazing as well.

Sunday Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn. And an Indian stole my toast.

Sunday Lunch: Clam chowder bread bowls from another community group. A worse choice, unfortunately. It was clammy, but not chowdery enough.

Sunday Snack: Pumpkin Pie, with whipped cream.

Sunday Dinner: A late night burger after load out, back at the Holiday Inn.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 855
  • Booth cost: $1,065
  • Food cost: $332
  • Travel cost: $711
  • Total sales: $3,698
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 2:15am (yes, 2:15am)
  • Sunday alarm: 6am
  • # transactions: 142
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 7. Lots of competition for Mrs M … which may have been one reason the jury rejected us, honestly. There were 6 soapers. All had different stuff, but how much soap can one town buy?
  • # woodworking vendors: 5. There were 2 direct competitors. I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself, though I have seen one of them before at Southern California events. The other guy seemed to be a newbie with limited inventory, but had some interesting stuff.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:2
  • Returning next year? hopefully

Boards sold: 33

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Pig Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Trivets: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Serving Tray: 1 (I’m now out)

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Letter Clipboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1 (I’m now out)

Soap Deck: 1

Bread Board: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1 (I’m now out)

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2017   Leave a comment

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

Time to get serious. The holidays are upon us.

Yes. Upon us.

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

What’s not to like?

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Snack: Nope.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 33

MBOs: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Trivets: 5

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susans: 3

Serving Trays: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Bread Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Legal Clipboard: 1

New: Serving Trays   Leave a comment

The last time I made a serving tray, I failed. That was almost 50 years ago, of course. You can read that story here: “I Made One Just Like That In School.”

After reading that other woodworkers had found a measure of success by making serving trays, I resolved to take another shot at making one that would be of use in a happy home.

After all, my first attempt did not find success. Though it was made to be of use, it was never found to have sufficient utility for the women in my life.

No hard feelings. Honest.

So, challenge accepted. I have resolved to make useful serving trays. I have determined that such a tray should be 12″ x 18″. And, I have determined that these trays should have metal handles and non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws.

Let’s see if anyone agrees with me. I’ve started humbly, with only 3 trays produced in the first batch. I will tell you, however, that I’ve bought a couple of dozen handles. I hope somebody thinks these are worthy!

Serving Tray 17 – 01. Purpleheart, Canarywood, Pau Ferro & Jatoba. 12″ x 18″ x 3/4″.

Serving Tray 17 – 02. Black Walnut, White Oak & Honey Locust. 12″ x 18″.

Serving Tray 17 – 03. Black Walnut, Hard Maple, Jatoba & Bubinga. 12″ x 18″ x 3/4″.

New: Trivets   3 comments

It’s not an uncommon question when I am at an event: “Can I use this board as a trivet?”

The quick answer is you could, but you probably would not want to. Wood can scorch, and a solid board has no way to dissipate heat. I fear putting really hot stuff on a cheese board or cutting board will eventually cause the glue to fail. The board will crack.

Then I saw the work of my pal Betsy, who makes and sells boards in the Houston area. She makes trivets similar to these using templates that she’s developed … but I thought there should be an easier way.

I pushed the button.

After spending some time in my CNC design software (I use Aspire), I finalized this design. I glued up 4 different wood designs … and I now have trivets!

These are just in time for this weekend’s big event, the California Avocado Festival. If you’re out and about this weekend and find yourself in Carpinteria, please come see us. If you can tear yourself away from staring at the World’s Largest Vat Of Guacamole, you’ll find us in the handmade section, of course.

Trivet 17 – 04. Cherry. 8-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ x 3/4″.

Trivet 17 – 01. White Oak. 8-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ x 3/4″.

Trivet 17 – 02. Hard Maple & Black Walnut. 8-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ x 3/4″.

Trivet 17 – 03. Hard Maple. 9″ x 9″ x 3/4″.

“I Made One Just Like That In School.”   1 comment

I hear the comment at almost every event:

“I made a board just like these when I was in High School!”

Every time I hear it, I just smile. And every time I hear it, I say it in my head:

“Respectfully, no you didn’t.”

I submit this analysis based on my own humble story: I made a board in “Industrial Arts” in junior high. Ironically, I decided to make a serving tray instead of a cutting board. This is that story.

I only remember 2 things about that IA class:

  1. I was given a block of pine that the teacher, Mr Price, had given a wavy top cut on the band saw. My task was to make the edge dead flat using a hand plane. I failed.
  2. I made a serving tray out of the wood provided, which I recall was “Ulner.” There is no such wood.

So you can see, I was not a successful woodworker at 13. I did, however, make a serving tray out of IDKWII, pronounced “i duh KWEE.” Though the wood may have been Alder, all I know at this point is I Don’t Know What It Is.

I do know that my mother seldom never used the tray, and then she passed it on to Velda …

… who never uses it. The tray is currently living in our coat closet, buried in stored books and houseware items we can’t wait to give away.

So, again, I was not a successful woodworker at 13. No one has ever looked at the serving tray and said, “This is too pretty to use.” No one has ever looked at my serving tray and said, “This is beautiful.” No one has ever looked at my serving tray and said, “How much is that?”

Those are comments I hear at every show when people see the things I’ve made this year. But the thing I made almost 50 years ago? Not so much.

Now, I know my mother loves that tray, just as every mother loves to tell me the story about what their son or daughter made them in woodshop. I always ask: most mothers never use the wooden cutting boards or serving pieces that they were given by their children. They treasure them. They don’t use them.

As my faithful readers know, however, I strive to make things to be of use.

That’s not to say the first & unused wooden object I made, the serving tray, is without value (to me). That’s not to say the tray is not a good tray (I think). After all, it worked just fine the 3 times it’s been used in the last 48 years.

So, here’s the tray that’s nearly half a century old … that did not launch a woodworking career.

Sorry, Mr Price. This one just didn’t work.

Serving Tray, made circa 1969. Wood is IDKWII. Yes, those are the ugliest handles known to mankind. The nice cherry tone surface has survived, pretty much, though the varnish has some age. One corner’s a bit bunged up. 14″ x 18″ x 3/4″. Felt bottom cover.

That’s No Garage, That’s My Shop   5 comments

Here’s the picnic table in its original wood stain, circa 1987.

It was about 15 years ago that I built my own workbench: a rite of passage for any woodworker.

After making my first project in Junior High, and then working my way through college building in the Mizzou scene shop, I was very much a DIYer throughout our early family years. After making bookcases out of plywood to hold our album collection in our first apartment, I continued to make things for our home. In our first house, it was about outdoor living: a wooden fence. A patio cover. The picnic table that I made is still with us, 32 years later.

The Easton Press collectible books are pretty. They read well, too.

In our second home, I really got busy. Space saver closets. A breakfast nook. More patio furniture. End tables. Loft beds for the boys. An entertainment center. A desk.

I’m sitting at that desk to write this post. It’s been my official office since I stopped my daily commuting on the LA Freeways in 2009.

It wasn’t until I decided to make a Christmas gift for my mother, though, that things began to get dicey.

Yes. I blame my mother.

Mom, you see, has this obsession with snowmen. I decided I would make her a snowman routed bowl, and that prompted a whole slew of other bowls in different shapes and sizes. I chronicled that process in one of my early blog posts, Making A Snowman.

Once I had made a couple of dozen bowls (!), I commented to who would become the elder Mrs M that the same technique for making bowls is how you would make cutting boards.

Major mistake, that. Life altering, even.

She immediately said, “Make me a cutting board.”

OK, so I made 5 in that first batch, and gave 4 of them away that Christmas. Velda’s board got another one of those early blog posts, which you can read, here. The picture is not very good, though; here’s a better picture from when I restored her board a couple of years later:

Velda’s Cutting Board. Goncalo Alves (Tigerwood), Black Walnut, Honey Locust, Jatoba & Cherry. Edge grain, and 2 years old as shown. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/4″.

From there, it was just a hop & a skip to what has become Mr M’s Woodshop. Our 2 car garage hasn’t seen a car in more than a decade. It’s become the center of my seriously out of control hobby … with about 450 square feet of dedicated space.

The problem? The shop is bulging at the seams. I’m working in a mess right now. The main culprit, I’ve decided, are the piles & piles of end cuts and off cuts that I’ve collected and refuse to throw away. Hardwood doesn’t come in nice even-sized boards, unfortunately. Some are 8′ long. Some are 9′. Or 10′ … or any length up to 16′. The widths are similarly variable, from 4″ up to, in rare cases, 14″. When I do what I do, I inevitably have the odd bits & pieces left over, and those are the hardest parts to use. They require TLC. They require special sizes. They require individual glue-ups; there’s no efficiency here.

So, those cut offs keep waiting for the next open slot on the calendar to get cleaned up … and I keep filling those slots with special projects.

Like the 2 I’m working on this week.

Oh, and did I mention I’ve got a new tool coming? That tool is the solution to some of these cut-offs, thankfully, so I want to save those cut-offs until I have time to process then with the new tool.

It’s about time. It’s about space.

And I hope my result is better than that of the obscure 1967 TV series from the creator of “Gilligan’s Island” with that lyric for an opening theme.

So, in all of its glory, here is the over-used chaos I call my garage workshop, before its transformation with the mandatory cleaning and new tool placement that will be the solution to my problem.

I hope.

 

The Board Chronicles: Goleta Lemon Festival 2017   Leave a comment

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

The Goleta Lemon Festival is a comfortable, small community event with something for everyone.

There are rides & bounce houses for the kids ($30 wrist band for unlimited access). Free music for everyone on the big stage. Lemon-flavored beer. And, of course, this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event has booths for local businesses and vendors. It’s not a huge event: there were perhaps 40 or 50 total booths. The atmosphere, though, is great. Temperatures are mild. What’s not to like?

Goleta is a coastal community in Santa Barbara county. One challenge is that Goleta is 90 minutes from home, and the hotel costs are significant. It’s hard to find a mid-priced motel under $250. Our hotel costs were higher than our event fees for this event, which is startling.

We felt so good about this event 2 years ago, when we last did it.

Well, perhaps I should say Mrs M felt good about it: she outsold me. That’s a relatively unusual thing, and she celebrates that victory to this day. It was her first $1,000 event – her best event EVER. She’s had bigger events since, of course, but she was anxious to return to the Lemon Festival.

When we last did the event, it was before Mrs M’s purpose-built display. It was before soap. Way before ZooSoapia. It was even before Magic Bottle Openers, so we both felt that we had upsides when we returned this year.

Expectations.

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had to work this weekend at her “job,” so we booked this event with the knowledge that I would be solo. We ended up with Mrs M driving up to help me set up Friday afternoon, which was a help. Then, Little Girl drove up to help me sell on Saturday. Sunday, I was solo: me alone in a 10×20 booth. The event on Sunday was 10 – 5, and then I had to tear down and load out. Alone.

Observations

  • I was a lonely, lonely man.
  • But that was on Sunday. Saturday was a different experience.
  • The first entertainment act was a local vocal school, and it started – the event started – with a young Annie wannabe that was definitely not ready for prime time. Humble beginnings, indeed.
  • Act #2 was Ukulele Jim. I observed that anyone with an instrument in their name was clearly serious about their craft. Our booth neighbor asked how many hours of practice had to happen before you could put your instrument in your name. 5,000 hours? More?
  • It was suggested to me that I make deviled egg platters. Challenge accepted.
  • It was suggested to me that I make cutting boards colored like a dive flag. I see the interest … maybe.
  • Sold my first mother/daughter matched set of boards. They both liked the same board on the table, and I just happened to have its mate under the table.
  • Requests were for a heart-shaped board (sigh), chess boards (sigh), small boards with juice grooves (sigh) and small boards with holes for hanging (sigh). I need more time. Other requests were for a board with a crumb catcher (common in Europe, they said) and a cutting board only 1/4″ thick.
  • One of the challenges of working an event solo is dealing with personal needs. How do you get food? Once you have it, how do you get time to eat, without a mouth full when a customer asks a question?
  • And, yes, there are bathroom challenges. I finally bribed a customer with a bar of soap so she would watch my booth for 3 minutes while I sought relief.
  • In the end, my sales were down from my anemic 2015. Mrs M’s sales were up a tad, so she had another $1,000 weekend … which, at this point, is just no big deal. This was a disappointing event for us with below average sales and high travel costs.
  • No cutting boards sold this weekend. No sale over $100. That’s unusual.
  • We ate $79 in singles at this event. That’s unprecedented, and speaks to the number of small transactions that were for Mrs M’s products. Good thing we travel with $100 in singles!
  • Load out was OK, but it does take longer when we put up our FULL display and there’s only me to tear it down. I took the canopies down just after twilight … it was 7:35p. I was loaded at about 8, so it was a 3 hour load out. The drive home was about 90 minutes, and with my stop to pick up dinner, I was home at 9:45p.
  • High living.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” plastic omelettes at the Best Western means I followed Mrs M’s standing recommendation and made faux Bacon McMuffins with salsa. You get what you pay for here.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla, which was very good … even for fair food.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: The best Yelp-rated pizza place in Goleta delivered. Woodstock pizza was good … but I won’t recommend their whole wheat crust.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” frittatas weren’t plastic, but they were tasteless. Faux Sausage McMuffins this time. Yuck.

Sunday Lunch: Since I was anchored to the booth, I brought Lunchables & Pepperidge Farm cookies from the grocery store. I did not suffer.

Sunday Snack: Did I mention the Pepperidge Farm cookies?

Sunday Dinner: McDonald’s # 1, eaten on the road. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 382
  • Booth cost: $450
  • Food cost: $143
  • Travel cost: $685
  • Total sales: $1,745
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $467
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 103
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was a lemon-themed local roller ball team of makers that wore very nice lemon print dresses; they owned local & lemon.
  • # woodworking vendors: there was a toy maker
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 13:1
  • Returning next year? doubt it

Boards sold: 14

Cheese Boards: 4

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Small Boards: 2

Letter Clipboard: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard:  1

Custom Order: 1

Special Orders Caught Up!   1 comment

I have this love/hate relationship with special orders.

I love being a part of weddings. Making a handmade wedding gift for a client is truly fulfilling in a unique way. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of some couple’s oh-so-special day?

On the other hand, I hate the time pressure that’s inevitable with special orders. Even if people don’t specify an impossible deadline, I always have a date in mind that I tell them the board should be done by …

And it’s always too soon.

Well, it seems that way, in any event.

The reality of my situation is that I have so much to do, there’s never time to not be doing.

It’s a wonderful problem to have!

So, with these special orders, I’m about as caught up as I ever am. Still in the shop are 2 more that just need feet attached to be done. There are 4 more awaiting construction, one restoration to finish … and then there are the 2 big corporate orders to complete in October. And don’t forget, 2 of our biggest events of the year are in October.

So, yes, I’ve got more to do … even as I celebrate some of what I’ve done.

Big, Small & Cheesy   Leave a comment

Yes, these are cutting boards. Or they can be.

Yes, these are serving pieces. Or they can be.

The big boards are great cutting boards, or course … the Hickory board is particularly fetching, I think. Great cutting board. The dark, squarish board with Pau Ferro didn’t photograph well, but it’s subtlety is not lost in direct light.

And then there are the smaller boards that I call cheese boards. They all can be cutting boards, though they are small if you intend to do more than slice a tomato or cut a lemon. For some, they are perfect for cutting boards. I’m told.

So, adults get to choose in my booth. I will tell them what I call a piece … and then they tell me what they call them.

That’s the thing about being an adult. You get a vote.

The 200th Cutting Board, Again   1 comment

Back again.

It’s simply lovely to have a bit of shop time that lets me catch up. Inventory is once again over 200 pieces, if only for a short while. A bit of creativity can get sparked when I have shop time, thank goodness. And that’s when things can get pretty.

This board was a special order. I was tasked to make an in-counter replacement board, and it needed a splash of Bird’s Eye Maple in a field of brown. It was going to match another piece in its new home, I was told, and the board needed to be just right.

So, OK! I first had to find that perfect piece of Bird’s Eye, and then I had to design a board around it. I take what the wood gives me. And in this case, I’m happy to get this board to an owner who appreciates the uniqueness of the wood.

This is the front:

 

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Black Walnut, Padauk and Bird’s Eye Maple. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. Commissioned piece.

And this is the back:

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Detail of the back of the board, including my logo in the lower right corner.

 

When she picked it up, the new owner of the board said that it will never be cut on. With wood this pretty, I entirely support that decision!

More

The 250th Cutting Board (4/18/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

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