Archive for the ‘end grain’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival Sacramento 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I’ve been working on catching up.

Today, I have! Here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles. And, stay tuned, there are big plans for 2020!

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Harvest Festivals are very big events in our region. There are 9 of them in a year, spread between northern & southern California (and 1 in Las Vegas). This highly successful series of events features handmade goods only (well, almost), and are scheduled in the key 4th quarter.

The costs are high, but the rewards can be very high as well. After initially planning to do several HFs this year, I eventually settled on doing just one, as all of the others had a conflict of some sort. Plus, I was pretty busy …

I did 2 Harvest Festivals in 2018. However, both were impacted by the Camp Fire, so they probably weren’t a perfect indicator of what I can do at a Harvest Festival. Still, the Sacramento event was very, very good for me in 2018.

Time to see if I can up my game a bit more with my almost “complete” product line, as I now define it!

New Ideas

  • My set-up is much like last year, with a double booth utilizing mesh walls hung from the Trimline frame without the canopy. No Mrs M: Harvest Festivals are 100% me.
  • New products this year include Cheese Slicers, Garlic Dipping Boards and Cracker Things.
  • Last year, the guidance for how to sell at this event from the promoter got me to thinking, and I tried – but failed – to produce engraved price signage for all products. This year, that is complete, with price signage for everything from Carnivore Boards to Bread Saws to Cribbage Boards. Look at the booth shots, below, and you’ll see the little wooden signs on every table I have.
  • Some larger display pieces now have signs integrated, such as the pieces for Surfboards and Large Serving Pieces. My signage is now better.

Observations

  • Big ideas require a time commitment. Set up is on Thursday, the event is Friday – Sunday (with tear down), and then I drive home on Monday. That’s 5 hotel nights, Wednesday – Monday. Some scrimp on the hotel cost by driving Sunday night after working a full day, or arriving later on set up day, but that’s not how I roll. Go big or stay home, if you will.
  • Several products are missing this year: Magic Bottle Openers, Serving Trays, Sous Chef boards and California Bears. Not having California Bears while in the state capitol … is a bad plan. I’ve been out of MBOs all year, and they used to be my #1 seller. Another bad plan.
  • I need more time in the shop.
  • Sold a charcuterie board to a guy that wants to mount a watchmaker’s lathe on it and hang it on the wall as a display piece. Well, OK, then.
  • Friday started hot and stayed hot. Lots of traffic on this work day in November. Sales were over $2,500 on this day, and that’s rare air for me. Rumor was that Friday attendance (you have to pay to get into a HF) set a new record.
  • Saturday got better, as you would expect. I got ‘whelmed several times. When people are 3 deep with product in their hands, waiting on me to wrap and do the transaction … life is good.
  • Sold 2 Foodie denition signs to one person. Don’t know them … but I bet they eat well.
CNC Sign 19 – 732 Foodie
  • Put up the unique In This House sign I made from Red Oak and Sapele, and it sold very quickly once it was out of the container. Hmmmmm.
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House
  • There was a lot more traffic on this day, but there were a lot of requests for discounts, too. I don’t get offended when people ask for a discount … but I don’t change my prices, either. It wouldn’t be fair to all of the people that pay the published price. Shows like this are not swap meets; people may expect to haggle, but I will not oblige them. My prices don’t change.
  • Cracker Things are the odd thing I’ve added this year, and they continue to surprise me with how popular they are. I hear the words over and over: CTs are “cute” and “clever.” I’ll take that for the win.
  • Now I have to come up with another cute & clever idea for 2020. No pressure.
  • Sunday sales fell precipitously, but this event delivered in a serious way. For the first time ever, I sold 100 pieces at a single event.
  • 100 pieces. I bring about 300 pieces to most events … so that means I sold about 30% of my total inventory in Sacramento.
  • Oh, and our biggest event of the year for each of the last 5 years is in 2 weeks! I have a LOT of product to make in that time.
  • But, that pressure was for another day. As I added up the results, there was a smile on my face. A big smile.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • And, as I write this in 2020, I know one more thing:

Best. Event. In. 2019.

  • I certainly plan to do more Harvest Festivals in 2020!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope. Given the other costs I had for this event, I did my best to stay in the hotel room and eat frozen food from the microwave.
  • Best Meal: After finding how bad traffic was to get to the grocery store from my hotel, though, I definitely tried Uber Eats delivery. It was easy. It had a convenience cost, but it was worth it. After a full day of fun in my booth, I was tired!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 754
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $508
  • Total sales: $6,019
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several. This is a very competitive marketplace. Very competitive.
  • # woodworking vendors: See the above comment. Lots of woodworkers are here.
  • Returning next year? Absolutely, and I intend to be cute and clever, too.

Boards sold: 100

  • Cheese Boards: 11
  • Trivets: 19
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Signs: 11
  • Cribbage Boards: 5
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Cheese Slicers: 9
  • Lazy Susans: 6
  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Bread Saws: 3
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Hearts: 2
  • Cracker Things: 15
  • Surfboards: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I am ALMOST caught up. After this post … one more to go.

Thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Ridgecrest, CA. Santa’s Art Shop. Year 6.

For each of the last 5 years, this event was our biggest event of the year.

For each of the last 5 years, we set a sales record at this event.

Every year: Best. Event. Ever.

Every year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was time for year 6, 12/7 & 8/2019.

No pressure.

New Ideas

  • Nope, this was not new territory. After 5 years, we knew what we were doing. I did have several new products: Cheese Slicers. Cracker Things. Garlic Dipping Boards. But, we had legacy clients and they knew where to find us at Santa’s Art Shop.

Observations

  • This event began with me freaking out.
  • Thank GOODNESS I have friends.
  • A good friend.
  • You’ve heard the story of my Garlic Dipping Boards: how I collaborate with Nicole, who makes my Great Garlic Graters. We told Nicole about this event, and she decided that she wanted to play.
  • She told the promoter that she wanted to be next to Mrs M’s Handmade. The promoter – who was new this year – told Nicole that we weren’t signed up.
  • It was Black Friday, November 29. The promoter told our friend that we weren’t signed up FOR OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF EVERY YEAR.
  • EVERY. YEAR.
  • OK, go.
  • Freaking out.
  • Me.
  • What happened? I have no idea. How did the promoter not have our application? No idea.
  • No.
  • Idea.
  • Managing Mrs M’s Handmade – and Mr M’s Woodshop – is a big job. To keep track of the details, I keep a spreadsheet of every event on our radar.
  • Every event.
  • I have promoter contact information. Websites. Costs. Descriptions. Comments. Dates. And, I keep track of whether or not we’ve approved the event for this year’s calendar (Mrs M and I), if the application is in, and if we’ve received approval.
  • The spreadsheet said that the application was in.
  • Honest.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter didn’t have the application, and the NEW PROMOTER THIS YEAR did not reach out to us to ask why we were missing after 5 years of faithful vending.
  • What did happen, though, was that my friend Nicole’s application said she wanted to be next to our booth (bless her), so the promoter called Nicole … and told her we were not on the list.
  • Nicole did not accept that. Oh YES we were coming. YES we were a part of the event. And, YES, she wanted to be next to our booth.
  • Bless her.
  • And, in the end, it worked out just fine. I called the promoter at Nicole’s direction, the promoter accepted that we could be a part of the event if I would just submit (re-submit?) the application, and get the check in the mail.
  • Today.
  • I did. That day.
  • Now, in 20/20 hindsight … I don’t know what happened. Normally, I keep a copy of EVERY APPLICATION on file so I know what I’ve provided to each promoter. Every application. However, I know that when this application was due, my life was out of control and I remember not keeping a copy of a couple of applications. This one? No clue.
  • But, the spreadsheet said the application was in.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter gets a vote, too, and she said she never got it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Must be, right? But every event is different, and we do 25+ events every year. Some will talk to you, some don’t, some will NOT talk to you … and I’ve gotten into the habit of submitting my application and forgetting about it.
  • My mistake.
  • Thankfully, our 3 booths were still available (!), and we slid right back into that opening. After Thanksgiving. For an event on the first weekend in December.
  • Thank you, Nicole. Couldn’t have done it without you, obviously.
  • And, yes, paid for dinner at Mon Reve. It was wonderful, too.
  • This event is now about legacy, and we have many fans in Ridgecrest after 5 years. Thank goodness.
  • One customer did observe the sign above my head as I sat in the booth (“Meet The Maker”) and asked if I was the maker. Uh, yes. They wanted to make sure, as I might have been sitting in the wrong chair.
  • Uh, OK. Me = Maker. Be calm.
  • We were way, way down on Saturday. Almost 40% down. Was it the new promoter? No, I think not … perhaps it was the major earthquake that Ridgecrest had in 2019. People had to fix their homes, perhaps? In any event, we were down on Saturday. Way down.
  • This event finally – finally! – fixed it’s #1 problem. There was WiFi, which meant that PayPal transactions could be done in the metal building without me having to go outside to find a cell signal. It would have been great to get a heads up about this, but oh well. We had WiFi, and that made transactions SO much easier.
  • I have fans in Ridgecrest that buy something from me every year. That is so sweet, and so unexpected. Every time.
  • I have to work very hard to earn those accolades. Every time.
  • But, alas, we were down on Saturday. We were down on Sunday.
  • The streak is broken. This was not the best event of the year. This was not our best event ever. It was good, certainly, but not even in the Top 5 all time.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mon Reve, a ridiculously good French restaurant on the edge of the Mojave desert.
  • Honorable Mention: Olvera’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is a good value for good food.
  • Honorable Mention 2: Kristi’s, a local “diner” that serves comfort food, every day. We had lunch on Friday and dinner on Sunday here; definitely good decisions.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for our lunches was easy; we didn’t pack food for this trip. But to call the vendors at these events fair … well, that’s what they are. IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 270
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $315
  • Travel cost: $368
  • Total sales: $4,439
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, as always
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, as always
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably. But, perhaps we should give it a rest….

Boards sold: 50

  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Lazy Susans: 3
  • Trivets: 5
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Bread Saws: 5
  • Card Box: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: Bishop Mule 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

I like this event.

Bishop Mule Days is the world’s largest gathering of all things mule. I would think Missouri might host such an event, but that honor has come her. Bishop is a lovely mountain community, near Mt Whitney (on every serious hiker’s bucket list, as the tallest mountain in the lower 48 at 14,505′).

These event is on Memorial Day weekend, and takes place in a bucolic park. It’s got a stream running through it. It’s got a duck pond. The park’s in the middle of the downtown area, and that means the parade with all of those mule teams go right by on Saturday. Tourists drive by all weekend, so the crowd is a mix of tourists, hikers, locals, and the mule people. It’s a great, diverse mix, and I’m happy to return for my 2nd year.

It’s a rare 4 day event: set up on Thursday, and then you’re open for business Friday – Monday. It’s the mountains, so there’s often a passing shower or two, but since this is a community that has a significant commitment to outdoor recreation, the weather isn’t that big of a factor. Thank goodness.

New Ideas

  • I convinced Mrs M to come with me this year, and we upgraded the booth to a triple. Just like last week at the California Strawberry Festival, I got the Trimline and she got one of the pop-ups.

Observations

  • We I found a great AirBnB last year. A young couple converted their oversized garage into a “Granny Suite,” with all of the amenities, including a washer & dryer. The couple created the Suite to raise money for their daughter to go to college; it’s my pleasure to contribute to Chelsea’s fund each year … she is just out of preschool now!
  • The advantage of the AirBnB – beyond to Chelsea – is that it allows us to bring food from home. Rather than going out to eat, we go back to our rental, heat left overs or whatever, and relax. It really does save a lot of money and is easier, to boot. AirBnB’s don’t work in every community that we go to, but when it works it can be very, very good.
  • This event is hosted by the Inyo Council for the Arts; they promote all arts and art education in Inyo County. That’s a wonderful thing, and I’m happy to support their efforts as well.
  • Even though I convinced Mrs M to join me this year, she wasn’t able to get Thursday off from work, so she had to drive separately, arriving late Thursday evening. Did she do that just so she didn’t have to help me put up the booths? That’s not the way she tells the story.
  • This is a long 4 day event, but there’s enough traffic from each of the different audiences to justify the time. Friday is a bit slow, but there is still substantial traffic on this holiday Friday. Saturday is when the parade goes by the park, so traffic is very high. Sunday is the biggest day of most 3-day holiday weekends, and you really don’t feel the slow traffic until the few hours that the booths are open on Monday.
  • The load in and out are a bit challenging, as everything has to be carted from the trailer, through the parking lot onto the sidewalk, across the creek and wooden bridge, and then across the grass to the booth. It’s all very doable, but it is a 60 yard haul.
  • I was happy to hire a couple of local guys to help me do the load out on Monday. They helped me get home about 2 hours quicker after the long holiday drive.
  • I left my deposit for 2020 with the promoter on the last day of the event. This event was good – in fact, it ended up being our #2 event of the year.
  • I like mules.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 846
  • Booth cost: $870
  • Food cost: $127
  • Travel cost: $500
  • Total sales: $4,899
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # transactions: We were consistently busy every day at one time or another!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: several, but only one did similar work to me
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 47

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Avocados everywhere. Sounds like a good idea, yes?

We’ve done the California Avocado Festival 3 times previously. You can read about 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This event has had some landmark results for us. In 2016, it was at the time our most expensive event ever, and resulted in our most transactions ever.

Unfortunately, sales were down in 2017 … and then down again in 2018. It’s hard to feel good about that.

Time to see what’s what with the 33rd Annual California Avocado Festival.

New Ideas

  • We’re doing just what we did each of the last 3 years: a 10×20 booth, shared. Mrs M always does avocado soap, and I do a (somewhat) limited display in my 10×10 space. So, nothing new here. Just get it done.

Observations

  • This is a Saturday morning setup, unfortunately, so we arrived at about 6am to get going. We drove the trailer into the booth area … and couldn’t find our booth. After 3 years in one location, we had been moved. But, I thought we had the same booth number … ?
  • We were on the opposite side of the street, nearer to the end of the event. Nothing to do but to get to it, since we have less than 3 hours to get the booth up before we have walkers in the area. We started setting up our 2 pop-up canopies, and we began hearing neighboring vendor complaints almost immediately. No one was happy. Everyone was moved.
  • The organizer? We didn’t see her – in her first year in charge of this area – until perhaps 6:45am. This is well after the official beginning of set-up. We were way into our hard goods by that point; nothing was going to move easily.
  • Come to find out, the entire booth area had been chalked on the asphalt … backwards. Upside down. We should have been in the same location, but the guy with the chalk did everything wrong. Everything.
  • So, that began a period of chaos where some vendors went to their original spot, some (like us) stayed where their canopies were, and the organizer was there to smooth the ruffled feathers of those that were angry about losing their space, being moved, upset that they couldn’t have the space that was now marked out for them … you name it, people complained about it. I just tried to keep my head down. It was a total, total mess.
  • Finally, the crowd arrived and things got better. At least I didn’t hear any more moaning and complaining.
  • The great part of this event is that we have many fans that find us. A lot of people drive to this event from all over Southern California (attendance for the 3 day event is estimated at 100,000) … so we see a lot of familiar faces. We also meet a lot of Santa Claritans that come to these event that we’ve never met before. It’s all good. Legacy is a wonderful thing. A hometown crowd is a wonderful thing, even if you’re 90 minutes from home.
  • Long, amusing conversation between 2 customers. One of them made a comment about the 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, and the other said they actually were related to Kevin Bacon. That created an uproar – what are the odds? – until the 2nd customer admitted that their cousin was Kevin Bacon, just not THE Kevin Bacon. A good time was had by all.
  • I had a critical eye on the results of this event. It’s not a cheap one, and our sales had been down in 2017 … and then again in 2018. In total we were down over 20%, and I wasn’t happy.
  • Last year, we arrived for our early set up, but the street access was blocked by cement barricades that had to be moved by a fork lift. Come to find out, the city worker that was responsible for that job had overslept. So, this year … different problem, but another problem. It seems this event has trouble getting the details handled.
  • Happily, our sales were up almost 10%, but we’re still substantially down from our first year. Add that sales decline to the 2 years in a row with major infrastructure mistakes that affected me directly, and I’m out. I have another event in mind for next year.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We love a traditional steakhouse in Carpinteria, so we went to Clementine’s Friday evening. They include dessert with every meal, so I got Blackberry Pie with homemade whipped cream. Yum.
  • Honorable Mention: Saturday evening, we were tired. We weren’t creative. So, we went back to Clementine’s.
  • 2nd Honorable Mention: Sunday breakfast, by tradition, is at Esau’s. It’s on the same block as our booth (either location!), and they have a great breakfast. I’ll miss both of these restaurants next year.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 138
  • Booth cost: $1,046
  • Food cost: $331
  • Travel cost: $282
  • Total sales: $3,334
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 102
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several
  • # woodworking vendors: Several
  • Returning next year? Nope

Boards sold: 26

  • Signs: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Bread Saw: 1
  • Trivets: 2
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Serving Piece: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Cheese Slicers: 4
  • Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

We’ve done this event every which way, and it’s always run hot … or cold.

In 2015, I did it solo in a 10×10 showing both Mrs M’s and my stuff. This was when we were just over a year old and didn’t know what we were doing, but I rocked this event. It was chaos. It was wildly successful. At the time, it was our Best. Day. Ever.

In 2016, we shared a double booth … and it was awful. Mrs M vowed she would not return.

We took 2017 off, but I was up for another run in 2018. I did it solo, and committed even though the event moved locations. I did a double booth, and, again, it was a big success. Sales were $1,735, which is really very good for a one day event.

I had similar expectations for this year … and as you know, expectations will kill you.

New Ideas

  • Nothing new here! I was committed to having a good day. I arrived early, got set up … and made sure my gear was not getting hit by the sprinklers that were on in the planter that was right behind my booth. Seems like the Chamber of Commerce missed that one.

Observations

  • Another suggested sign, another thing I’ll never, ever make:
    • I’m fat, but I identify with skinny. I’m Trans-slender.
  • The day had very nice weather: perhaps too nice. I had shade stealers all day, which I don’t mind too much. Well, I do mind when no one is buying, and on this day, not enough were buying.
  • Given the paucity of sales, I’m not returning to this event. It’s well known that I hate one day events anyway – it’s just too much work for me to set up and tear down – solo – in one day.
  • Sales didn’t hit my magic number of $1,000, either. In this case, at least there were no travel costs other than a tank of gas … but I’m out.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 74
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $0
  • Total sales: $929
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 13
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Returning next year? No

Boards sold: 13

  • Cheese Slicers: 2
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1
  • Small Board: 2
  • Sign: 1
  • Serving Piece: 1
  • Cribbage Board: 3
  • Cheees Board: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Trivets: 2

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival San Mateo 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.

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A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

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In California, the “professional” vendors that do handmade goods exhibit at the Harvest Festivals. There are 8 or 9 of them (depending on the year), with one in Las Vegas, and then the remainder split about evenly between northern and southern California.

Everyone says it: the Harvest Festivals are great. But be ready: you sell a lot of stuff. Biggest events of the year. Be ready.

I was ready.

In our 5th year of vending, I committed to 2 of the Harvest Festivals: San Mateo and Sacramento. Neither are close to us, of course, but they fit on the calendar.

I was ready.

Then, we had the Camp Fire: the deadliest, most destructive wild fire in California history.

Paradise got most of the press on how bad things were, and Paradise is 200 miles from San Mateo. I thought we’d be OK … not knowing the wind patterns in the bay area took the smoke right to my destination. While we were having our event, there were warnings to stay indoors.

That’s no way to have a good event that requires patrons to drive at least some distance to come to the event, y’know?

New Ideas

  • Harvest Festivals require Thursday set ups, and the events run Friday – Sunday. I drove up Wednesday for an early Thursday set up. I stayed in the least expensive motel I could find in or near San Mateo … and you can use your imagination. I can assure you while in my room I was doing my best to NOT imagine what was around me.
  • This is the most expensive event I have ever done: $1,490 for my double booth.
  • Bright yellow signs were available to me: NEW VENDOR. I appreciated that.
  • The event has prominent entertainment: there’s a Santa on stilts. There are cowboys riding horses … well, there are guys in cowboy costumes walking around with a horse costume around their waist like they are “riding.” Definitely a lot to see here.

Observations

  • This is a professional operation. 200+ vendors. Some pay for cartage to have their display pieces and inventory delivered to the aisle in front of their booth, event to event. Some are newbies like me … but the bar is very high here.
  • Some of the requirements for these events:
    • no handwritten signs
    • cover all metal poles
    • all handmade
    • focused booth lighting is required: they turn down the general illumination in the hall
  • One of the veterans introduced himself to me … and said, “you know the new guy brings coffee, right?” The promoter provides the coffee, incidentally!
  • A neighbor said she’d been vending her whole life … “my Mom was selling tie dye shirts at Dead shows.” Welcome to San Francisco.
  • Heard from a young Miss walking by: “Who’s Julia Child?” That’s not my audience!
  • I had requests for spatulas, collapsible wooden baskets (I HATE those imports, and they all are!), a checkerboard cutting board (no thanks), more boards with “crumb catchers,” small Lazy Susans, bowl-shaped Lazy Susans, tea towel holders, round cutting boards … lots of requests from a crowd that didn’t buy that much!
  • In the end, this event was destroyed by the fire. Attendance was down, I was told. This was never one of the larger Harvest Festivals, but with the fire, the event was just devastated.
  • Final analysis: with the high booth fee, high hotel and travel costs … I actually lost money doing this event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope. I went out; fast food & burgers.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 727
  • Booth cost: $1,490
  • Food cost: $128
  • Travel cost: $780
  • Total sales:  $2,708
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: not enough, but I did stay busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. Not many have it going on like Mrs M does with her cold process soap, but pricing was *very* competitive
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, doing all manner of work. The craft is well represented.
  • Returning next year? No … regardless of the fire, I lost money. I won’t return quickly.

Boards sold: 41

  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Large Serving Piece: 5
  • Trivet: 1
  • Serving Tray: 1
  • Signs: 12
  • Custom Orders: 2
  • Clipboards: 2
  • Coasters: 2
  • Bread Saw: 1
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 2