Archive for the ‘festival’ Tag

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

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

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2017   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.

This is our 3rd trek to the mountains of Tehachapi for their Mountain Festival.

How good is this event? Good enough that Mrs M will brave the heat of August to serve the fine people at Mountain Fest. And neither she nor her lotions have melted yet….

This strong community event (that’s still in search of a logo!) is centered at a city park. There’s free entertainment on the stage that’s surrounded by vendors. Other events happen in surrounding areas, from a 5k to a rodeo to a car show … well, you get the idea. This is a fun community event, and it’s been very good to us. In 2015, it was our best event ever, though we’ve broken that record many times since. We did better in 2016, as well.

Tehachapi has been good for us. After a shaky beginning this year, our legacy events are now on a growth streak. Will we continue doing better this year than last?

New Ideas

  • After 5 weeks with no events, everything seems new.
  • For years, this event had the vendors on the streets on 2 sides of the Phillip J Marx Central Park, and had the food vendors on the park grass on the other 2 sides. Due to a food vendor illegally dumping their cooking oil on the grass last year, the positions were reversed, with the food vendors out on the hot asphalt streets, and the merchandise vendors on the cool grass.
  • We are back to using our new Trimline 10×20 canopy, which hasn’t been out to play since Memorial Day. Hope I remember how to put it up!

Observations

  • I did not remember how to put the Trimline up. Definitely took longer to figure out which pole went where. Unfortunately.
  • It’s no fun loading in when the temperature is above 90*. I had to push every cart up hill, and then over soft turf that had been over-watered in anticipation of a high traffic weekend.
  • For the first time ever, clipboards were my # 1 selling item. And for almost the first time ever, Velda said she was wrong and I was right … to make clipboards.
  • A guy in the booth commented, after seeing Mrs M’s offerings, that he could no longer use the phrase “uglier than homemade soap.” Never having heard that phrase, I inquired and found out that he grew up in Florida. Apparently, Floridian soap-makers don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Later, Mrs M was asked if she offers classes. And the answer was no, so there appears to be no hope for Florida.
  • Requests were for card table repair, a walking stick, a job and an RV cabinet. Tehachapi is an eclectic bunch that doesn’t play chess, apparently.
  • In our 3rd year at this event, we definitely felt the power of legacy. Lots of return purchasers for both of us. Foot traffic was high throughout the event … and I believe putting the food vendors on the streets surrounding the park was a good thing for crowd flow.
  • Velda premiered Luscious Lemon Grass soap at the event, and sold more than half of the batch. She also brought out a new batch of Olive Branch soap, and sold more than 3/4 of that batch. She’s got work to do to prepare for our next event!
  • I do love helping people, explaining what makes a good cutting board. I just wish they would come to the booth before we’re trying to load out. Velda & I both lost at least 30 minutes during load out because we were helping late customers. The event closed at 5 … but we were not loaded and on the road until 7:30.
  • We came in with moderate expectations for this event. We knew the crowd, we had good inventory. We were ready.
  • We killed it.
  • We started the year being down in sales at every event we were repeating from 2016. Now, it appears the tide has turned. This is the 3rd repeated event in a row that we’re up in 2017.
  • And thanks to some custom orders from a couple of the volunteers that help to run this event, we were way up. That’s good … Papa needs a new CNC. It’s now on order, and it will fundamentally change what I can do, and how I can to it. The Woodshop is going to be humming this fall. Stay tuned.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Best Western. It was “free.” Thank goodness.

Saturday Lunch: Cheese & Crackers, when we had time. We waited until too late to eat … and then got rushed. You just never know….

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: A burger with friends. The best way to do events!

Sunday Breakfast: Still worth every penny of free.

Sunday Lunch: Did it again, but earlier.

Sunday Snack: A chocolate soft serve ice cream cone from the booth right in front of us. Yum.

Sunday Dinner: A Big Carl from Carl’s Jr in Mojave. Late night sustenance, nothing more.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 183
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $165
  • Travel cost: $459.17
  • Total sales: $3,929
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $3,005
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 112
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M. There was a doTerra rep as well.
  • # woodworking vendors: there was a turner … couple? Co-op? In any event, they were there as well
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:3
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 21

Clipboards: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Small Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

Magic Bottle Openers: 2

Small Surfboards: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

The Board Chronicles: Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair 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.

It was at this event, several years ago, that I first saw an iPad with a Square card reader in action. I remember my jaw dropped. Technology had made a great leap.

This was back before we were vendors; we’d gone to see the booth of our good friend Heather of Heather Hill Clothing. Once we became vendors, we had talked every year about doing this big community Street Fair that promised attendance of 30k, but we were always put off by the temperature … it’s July, and Mrs M’s products don’t do well in the heat.

This year, the event fell on the weekend that Mrs M had to work at her “job,” so we decided that I should do a solo event with just my stuff.

Yes, “we” decided that “I” should work. Did I mention that the Saturday of the event was on my birthday? I wrote about that, in It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles.

This will be my 2nd solo event of the year, and it seems like my expectations for solo events are almost never met. Time will tell….

 New Ideas

  • This is the first solo event that I took the trailer to … so I had the full setup with the roll-off cabinets. You know our slogan: go big, or stay home.

Observations

  • So disappointing when I arrived and the guy with the clipboard (a youth volunteer) could do no more than confirm my booth number. No map for me to take. No clear direction on how to get to my booth! “It’s just over there” was all of the information I got.
  • Booth numbers were not clearly marked on the curb when I got there. This event has been happening 50+ years, but they didn’t seem to have their act together. No clear paths for people to get in and out for loading and unloading. Very disorganized when compared to last week’s 4th of July event that had the same basic setup!
  • I need more Goncalo. The board I have on display is so striking! It didn’t sell, but it did inspire a special order and many comments.
  • The booth was located on one end of the event, so I got a lot of people that had just arrived and didn’t want to carry/commit, so I heard a lot of “See you on the way back.”
  • The event is 5 blocks long, with a beer garden/concert stage on each end. Food & carnival rides are in the middle. It’s really laid out so the booths get seen, which I appreciate.
  • At this event, many of the “See you on the way backs” actually did come back. Always nice when that happens.
  • I was greeted on Sunday with bags of trash behind the booth, next to the trash can. Nice of the near-neighbor caramel corn/lemonade vendor to leave their trash for me.

  • A guy was looking at my boards while his wife was next door buying a hat. She got the hat … but wouldn’t let him buy a board (sigh).
  • Good crowd here, and they did walk the booths. No complaints about the attendance; just wish I would have sold more stuff.
  • My main problem at this event was boredom. When I’m alone – so alone – and I go an hour + without a transaction, I start wondering why I’m there. Over 25% of total sales happened in the final hour of this 14 hour event, so I spent 13 hours staring at the crowds wondering what was wrong. Hard to overcome all of that contemplation.
  • I get so many compliments on my beer bottles … and so many people wonder about why the bottles are empty. And then they see the MBO demo. And they smile.

  • Several repeat customers came through and gave me kudos for what I do, which is very uplifting. One guy came in to buy his 4th board from me. He doesn’t use the first 3, he said, but he enjoys looking at them. He may use #4. He said.
  • Requests were for hot plate trivets, a Cribbage set (x2!), coasters (x2!), a cutting board stand (x2!) … and a chess board (x2!). I am committed to having all of those things available by September’s events.
  • Did I make my low goal for this event? Nope … but I was close.
  • Maybe my whole solo event strategy is wrong. Something else to contemplate….

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s deluxe ham sandwich.

Saturday Snack: A giant chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday Dinner: Lasagna at Bella Cucina. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, from Jimmy Deans.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s. It was easy … and the Dodgers scored 5 yesterday so it was cheap!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $250
  • Food cost: $129
  • Travel cost: $136
  • Total sales: $960
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $445
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 17x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers, AKA Surfboards: 2

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese Boards: 1

Bread Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 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.

Happy Independence Day!

We’ve “celebrated” for the last 2 years by going a-vendoring at Ventura’s 4th of July Street Fair, held each year on Main Street just down the hill from city hall. This is a very well attended one-day event. It’s a party. It’s a Street Fair.

And you know how much I love going to the Street Fair.

We’ve had consistently good results at this event over the last couple of years (you can read those blog posts – 2015 and 2016). However, this is a one day event with a good deal of stress put on the vendors to Get. Out. after the event is over. Event volunteers are also stressed: they allow vendors to set up for 6 hours, but tear down must happen in 90 minutes or there’ll be hell to pay.

Apparently.

I’ve written about this in previous years. The event goal is to close the event at 5pm and re-open the street to vehicular traffic at 6:45pm. At 5pm, every year, the street is still filled with customers and the vendors are given Hobson’s choice of doing tear down NOW, or doing what they came to do.

Why don’t they keep the event open until 6pm, and then open the street at 9? No clue. I guess a $385 booth fee only gets you so much….

No matter; we’re in. Time to see what Ventura’s 42nd annual 4th of July Street Fair has in store for us.

New Ideas

  • This is the only one day event that we will do as a double booth this year. I’m going to do a couple of one day events solo, but this is the only “full set up” one day event we’re doing in 2017. I promise.
  • After a month off from events, including a week-long excursion to the midwest to see family, it feels like we’ve totally lost our vendor rhythm. I forgot to bring our weights for the canopy. We were unweighted.
  • Yes, we were those people.
  • Mrs M provided holiday decor to liven up the booth. We had red, white & blue accents, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Observations

  • This city-sponsored event requires a city of Ventura business license, and applications are not processed until that license is in hand, which takes some time. I also made an error on the application – claiming a $25 booth fee discount as a resident of the city. Ooops. We got the paperwork straightened out in April … I had asked for the same booth position in the 400 block, but they gave me a new booth at the end of the 500 block. We were in 501/503, which was right by the information booth and shuttle stop. It was an upgrade. I think.
  • Last year, we left before 5am and had the booth set up by 8:30a. This year, we left about 45 minutes later … and set up was finished much later. We didn’t bring our “A” game to set up, I’m afraid.
  • Booths are set up in the middle of Main Street. Vendors are assigned side streets to enter from, and then it’s one-way traffic to get to your booth, park at the curb (blocking other vendors from driving through), unload your gear, and then find a parking space. The rules are very clear: unload, drive away & park, then set up.
  • The vendor blocking the street when we drove in at 6:30a was not doing it that way. Her booth was set up. Her display pieces were set up. Table cloths were on the tables. Her inventory was organized in front of those tables. And she was still unloading, blocking traffic.
  • Event organizers began to counsel her on what they required of her (which, apparently, had not been done until I pointed out the problem). I soon had an uncharacteristic and direct conversation with the lady about my expectations as well. After about a 5 minute delay, she moved her van.
  • I did not make a friend.
  • We had our trailer unloaded in perhaps 10 minutes, and then I drove away to park. By the time I got back, our vendor friend Craig had helped Velda set up the pop-ups, and the booth was already taking shape.
  • The official 10a start of this event is meaningless. We had walkers at 8:30a, and a full street of customers at 9a. It felt like a very big day was coming.
  • Saw several customers at the event, and really felt the power of doing events for several years and growing the brand over time. It’s good to have people tell you how much they love your stuff after they’ve used it for a year or two. Mrs M heard it; I heard it. This is fabulous.
  • Two women walked into the booth:
    • Lady 1: My sister loves her cutting board I bought from you.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I bought my sister a clipboard from you, and she loves it.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I only have one sister, though, so I don’t need another.
    • Me: I understand what it’s like to have one sister. I have one, and I wouldn’t want another.
    • Lady 1: He’s funny!
  • We were ‘whelmed at 11a. Totally lost control. One lady bought a board from Velda: I never talked to the lady, and I never saw which board she bought. I missed the whole transaction, talking to other customers.
  • Several customers bought boards without talking to me at this event. That’s very unusual … but speaks to the quality of the work itself. I hope.
  • Who wants to talk to the sales guy, anyway?
  • I disappointed one loyal prospect who returned to the booth … and was again disappointed that the long-promised cribbage boards had still not made it out of the shop. I promised him I would have a selection for him at an event in September.
  • What have I done?
  • We stayed busy all day. The traffic seemed much greater this year, and there were no long pauses between conversations. I never got a minute to go walk about. After set up, I saw a total of 6 booths: our neighbors. That’s it.
  • Requests were for a breakfast tray, an in-counter board, an in-sink board for an RV and salad tongs.
  • The rules are clear: stop selling at 5pm. Pack everything. Go get your car, and load out. Be off the street for the road opening at 6:45p. And, we had volunteers encouraging us to begin tear down early (and therefore stop selling!) so we could drive our cars onto the street at 5pm to load out.
  • Why is it that civic-sponsored events always have misinformation and always have stress for volunteers and vendors, alike? Why is it that almost every downtown event has event organizers freaking out about opening the road back up to traffic … and it’s never done safely?
  • There were cars on the street at 5p. And pedestrians. And baby strollers. It was, unfortunately, crazy time as we packed up our stuff. We were efficient, though. We started taking down our 4th of July decorations at 4:40p, and began serious packing – as required – at 5p. When everything was packed except for the pop-ups, I talked to the traffic director about bringing in the trailer, and he told me where he wanted me to park. Communication is a wonderful thing. We were in the Jeep, driving home, at 6:20p.
  • Finally got to the numbers after dinner. Found a couple of errors, of course, from when we were ‘whelmed. Luckily, cash doesn’t lie:

Best. Single. Day. Event. Ever.

The Food

July 4 Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

July 4 Lunch: The world’s worst Polish hotdog. Fair food is for the birds.

July 4 Snack: Our neighbor makes amazing caramel apples, and she sampled them all day. The paying customers got the good slices; we got the cores. Fabulous!

July 4 Dinner: Being Independence Day & all, we wanted to eat American. After determining that all of the Mexican restaurants were closed, we ate at Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant. Yes, I ate tolerated sushi, and really enjoyed the shrimp tempura and BBQ beef.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 104
  • Booth cost: $385
  • Food cost: $24
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $2,592
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,129
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Tuesday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 20:3
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 23

Cutting Boards: 5

Magic Bottle Openers: 5

Small Boards: 3

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Large Surfboard: 2

Cheeseboards: 2

Bread Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Legal-sized Clipboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Montrose Arts & Crafts 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.

45,000 people come to the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival.

They say.

Last year may not have been a good representation, though, with temperatures soaring over 100*. We still had an OK outing, though (read about our 2016 event, here). And this year, the forecast is better, with the high on both days projected at 83. In addition, we have the coolest booth on the street, with a giant shade tree.

Maybe our patrons will linger in the coolness that is our booth.

Last year, this was one of our most expensive events ever. This year, that’s no longer the case. The vendor fees aren’t cheap ($650 for a double booth with an open aisle on one side), but we’ve definitely paid more. We’ve also had much better sales at other events. This year, we’re hoping to do better than last year – and if we do, it’ll be the first event this year at which we’ve done better than in 2016.

It’s the end of the Spring Fling … think we can gather some momentum and have a very nice event?

New Ideas

  • Back to our pop-up canopies this week; the early Saturday morning set-up has dissuaded us from doing the 10×20 Trimline canopy. It adds 30+ minutes to both the set up and the take down. It’s worth it … but when time is of the essence, we need to use the pop-ups.
  • I don’t like leaving the trailer parked on public streets, and this event does not provide any off-street parking. At all. So, I drove the empty trailer home Saturday night and then back to the event Sunday morning. Velda especially loves the rattling & bouncing of the empty trailer.

Observations

  • Spring Fling event # 7 of 7.
  • 7 events, 7 weeks.
  • Done.
  • Just like last year, I’m across the aisle – about 10′ away – from a direct competitor. Exotic Chopping Blocks is the company name, and the woodworker is Glenn. His style is very different from mine, though we do make some similar boards (cheese boards, especially). We’re really OK being in close proximity – we both like our current booth locations, so we’re not moving. Not ideal, but we’re both OK. We enjoy the camaraderie, for sure.
  • We both get comments, though: “Don’t you hate being right by that guy?” “Are you in business together?”
  • This event is in downtown Montrose, and there’s a lot of early/late walkthru traffic with people going to get a coffee, going out to eat, or going to the farmer’s market. That business outside of the published hours of the event is significant … I sold the last chess board before we “opened” at 10am Saturday.
  • Why do people touch a board, and then do a double tap on the surface with a finger? Are they verifying that the wood is an unyielding surface to a fingertip? I’ve seen so many people do this; it’s an odd human habit.
  • A mother and daughter were having fun looking at boards, choosing which big board they wanted. Eventually, the daughter said, “we’ll do this next year.” The healthy-looking mother said, “I might be dead next year.” The daughter walked away. The mom did return to the booth later, but didn’t buy. No clue what that human drama meant!
  • Saturday was down 20% from prior year. Not looking good….
  • Overheard: “I pocket dialed you? I don’t know how to do that. I’ve heard about it, but I don’t know how to do it.”
  • Standing in the booth, we heard a pop and then a loud “SSSSSS.” We looked at each other … what was that? Someone passing by the booth told us: a branch had broken off the tree, landed on the canopy above our heads, and then slid down the canopy roof into the gutter between the canopy where it stopped. Odd sound for a random occurrence!
  • Sunday picked up, thankfully, but still was short of last year’s “heat impacted” results. Is this just not that good of an event?
  • Tear down was at 5pm, and we started promptly.
  • A mom & 2 teenagers wandered by at 5:25pm:
    • She said: “I really like this board.”
    • Son said: “You should get it.”
    • I said: “I like your kids.”
    • She said: “Do you have anything in Walnut?”
    • I said: “I do. Here’s a Cheese & Cracker Server in pure Black Walnut.”
    • Daughter said: “You should get it.”
    • I said: “I really like your kids.”
    • Everyone smiled.
  • She bought the Black Walnut Cheese & Cracker Server, plus a couple of soaps for the kids. That $92 walk-up transaction with a lady that had no idea the event was happening, over 30 minutes after the event “closed,” put us over the top. For the first time this year at a repeated event, we beat last year’s number! But, even better, by an eyelash ….

Best. Spring. Fling. Ever.

  • Requests were for a fleur de lis-shaped board, a board with plastic cutting board inserts, a cheese & cracker server with a larger glass dome, a board for cutting turkey (massive juice groove), a board with a meat hook to easily flip meat over (huh?), a big lazy Susan/compartmentalized serving piece and another request for a board with an over-sized juice groove. Oh, and the # 1 requested item? Yup. Chess boards.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 23. I’m moving JITB off of my approved list for breakfast.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & cracker plate, with a fruity assist from our friend, Jan.

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: A chicken burrito at Margaritas, still our go to for Mexican food in SCV

Sunday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Sunday Lunch: Soupy pizza from the joint down the street … easy, but very disappointing.

Sunday Snack: Paradis ice cream. Yum. There’s another reason why we like this booth location!

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Parm at the best Italian restaurant in the SCV: Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 140
  • Booth cost: $650
  • Food cost: $227
  • Travel cost: $73
  • Total sales: $2,150
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $ 1,127
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 35+
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, though none had the range of products that Mrs M offers. Together, though, there were many competitors
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, including 1 cutting board maker … and, I believe, 1 cutting board importer at this “exclusively” handmade event
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:0
  • Returning next year? Probably.

Boards sold: 20

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Lazy Susans: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Chess Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Arroyo Grande Strawberry 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.

Just last week, we went to the California Strawberry Festival … this week, we’re moving up the coast & going to perhaps an even bigger celebration of my favorite fruit.

The timing seems right for this event. After all, I spent many Memorial Day weekends when we lived on the farm, helping the family harvest our strawberries from Grandma Mowry’s incredibly large strawberry patch from hell.

But, oh, those strawberries.

There were 6 of us working the patch for hours to do one picking (and I’m certain I did the least of all), and 2 pickings over the holiday weekend were normal.

I did learn an important lesson picking those strawberries all those years ago: Never look back. Because, if I did, I always saw strawberries that were hidden from me when I looked at the vines from a different perspective. So, never look back … unless you want to see what a bad picker you really are.

Flash forward, uh, 50 years, and let’s see what the pickings are like in Arroyo Grande at their 34th Annual Strawberry Festival.

New Ideas

  • We’re situated at the end of the T-shaped vendor area. We’re told we’re near a fire lane so we can’t use our awning for this event. That means our big banners go inside the canopy against the mesh walls … hardly ideal, but the first time we’ve done our signage like that.
  • Our booth was on a sidewalk, which means you had to step up onto the curb to enter the booth. That meant we were not handicap accessible, and that was an issue for two customers in wheelchairs. Luckily, they both had attendants that assisted them (in both cases, before I could get there to assist). First time we’ve ever had this as an issue.
  • This is a big event with 400 vendors. The wacky thing is that the majority of those vendors are located on Branch Street (and I do mean ON Branch Street), and all of those booths must tear down each night so the street can be open, 6p – 6a. Tear downs had to be accomplished in 1 hour, and the motorcycle cops were not shy about telling you how much time you had left to strike your gear … in 5 minute increments. Many booths are on Bridge Street, and a few are on sidewalks (like us) … those booths can stay up overnight. Thank goodness.
  • This is a buy & sell vendor event. If you need cellphone accessories, or a back pillow, or a EuroWhip (whatever that is), these vendors had you covered. For the first time this year, the organizers put together a handmade section and put us there. Thank goodness.

Observations

  • Yes, I’m just about all flung out. This is our 6th event in 6 weeks. After this event, next weekend will complete our 3rd Spring Fling.
  • Arroyo Grande is a 3 hour drive up the coast from us. We took days off and took advantage of the holiday weekend so that we could enjoy the trip. A few years ago we always went camping in the Sequoias on this weekend; will this be our new Memorial Day tradition?
  • Before the event got going, I had a volunteer in my booth telling me they had 1s & 5s they could sell us if we ran short on change. Great … but vendors traditionally do that???
  • We do not.
  • Mrs M successfully added shelf tags to her display with pricing. First time! Her conclusion: when prices were well displayed, people made their selection and handed her money. Putting prices up cut down on customer confusion. Go figure.
  • We are getting better at what we do, at every event!
  • A stranger walked into the booth, told us that we had a really nice display, and walked out. Didn’t buy anything. That’s really OK … if random passers-by are so struck by our display that they have to tell us “good job,” then we’re doing it right.
  • Heard it before: “You’re not Mrs M.” At almost every event, some old wise guy (OWG) looks at the tag on all of my boards, looks at me and says, “You’re not Mrs M.” The OWG then gets to hear my explanation that Mrs M is standing over there, the company started with her and our daughter-in-law, and, finally, that Mr M’s Woodshop is officially a subsidiary of Mrs M’s Handmade. Not sure why the OWGs want to point out that I’m not woman enough to be a Mrs, but, uh, I’m not.
  • A guy saw my Magic Bottle Openers, and saw my demo of the MBO. His comment, “Why can’t my kids ever get me something like this? I have more socks than I’ll ever need.”
  • I could not help him. Unless his kids are reading this….
  • This event promises attendance of 150,000. That is a fantasy, in my estimation. I don’t have a good way to estimate total event attendance based on me being anchored to our booth for the majority of the event, but I believe the number that passed by our booth was a small fraction of the projected attendance. 20,000? I believe that. 50,000? Perhaps. 150,000? Not buying it … nor were our sales commensurate with that kind of exposure. In my opinion.
  • Requests were for a small charcuterie board for two, a wine bottle opener, wine bottle stoppers, a pillbox, a smaller cutting board with a juice groove (2x), a cribbage board, and notepad clipboards (2x).

The Golden Strawberry

I blame Velda. Of course.

Velda took this nicely composed picture of me with the Golden Strawberry, and posted it to the event’s Facebook page as well as on Instagram. I posted it on Facebook – made it my profile picture – and our friend, the Happy Texan, captioned it with “And the Golden Strawberry award goes to … Henry Mowry!”

It was a great caption, but it was not true. The ‘net was not to be denied, however, and the congratulations and likes of the photo began flowing in while we were at the event. We were busy vendoring … but the internet was blowing up with well wishes from friends who thought it was great that someone had finally given me inedible fruit.

In reality, the event had decided to create some social media. The organizers got a golden strawberry and asked their fans to take a selfie with it, post it to the event’s Facebook page … and whoever got the most likes would get a free t-shirt. We saw selfies being taken throughout the day. I pointed out to Mrs M that her submission was not a selfie … but she was not to be denied, either.

And I didn’t get the t-shirt. All of my likes & congrats were on my page, not the event’s page.

Velda blames me.

Of course.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Something from Burger King. It was on the way.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken on a stick. It was the daily special, I was told.

Saturday Snack: Strawberry Parfait … not as good as last week’s shortcake, and more expensive @ $7 each.

Saturday Dinner: We ordered BBQ for in-room delivery. This was not a wise decision, but it was easy.

Sunday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express biscuits & gravy. Yum.

Sunday Lunch: I asked for a hot dog, but got a Navajo Taco. Communication is the hardest thing we humans do.

Sunday Snack: Nope. Too busy.

Sunday Dinner: We walked to the Rooster Creek Tavern for the nicest meal of the trip.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 332
  • Booth cost: $800
  • Food cost: $198
  • Travel cost: $729
  • Total sales: $2,374
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $474
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 88
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were a few. One soapmaker was in our immediate area. There was at least one corporate type selling lotions; one company with organic in their name was making illegal medical claims for their products. The usual, in other words.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, including one direct competitor offering cutting boards & Lazy Susans.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 27

Magic Bottle Openers: 7

Custom Orders: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Bread Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Chess Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry 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.

“Do you do a lot of food events?” we were asked. The answer is no (though we’re scheduled for 4 food-based events this year!).

This year, we’re doing 2 strawberry festivals, an avocado festival and a lemon festival. We very much regret that we’re not doing Gilroy’s Garlic Festival … but that’s a story for another day.

Oxnard is about an hour west of us, and it hosts the California Strawberry Festival to celebrate my favorite fruit. This is the 31st annual event, and the organizers proudly trumpet that this Festival has raised over $5,000,000 for local charities during this event’s run.

Did I mention they sell Strawberry ale?

Did I mention they sell strawberry shortcake, strawberry parfait and chocolate-covered strawberries? You bet we love this event!

New Ideas

  • I was selected to appear on KTLA Channel 5’s morning news show to represent. Friday’s alarm was at 3:15am.
  • This is the first time that I set up our new 10×20 canopy solo … and I did it after the TV appearance. True celebrity is elusive.
  • Even though this is our 3rd annual entry into this event, it’s the first time that the elder Mrs M (she hates it when I write that) got to work the event, on Saturday.
  • On Sunday, the younger Mrs M worked this event, which is the first event that she’s gone a-vendoring in over a year. Important side note: Camdyn, Granddaughter # 2, turned 1 last month.
  • Our juggling reached a new level of chaos with an extremely important, simultaneous event: MrsMowry got her MA in Secondary English Education from Cal State Northridge this weekend … so we had to do things a bit differently. For the first time ever, a non-Mowry helped us work the booth during the 2 hours that I was absent due to the 8am Sunday (!) Commencement ceremony.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Annual Spring Fling is purring right along, and it’s time for the big events. This is event # 5 of 7.
  • Nap needed. Definitely.
  • At the TV shoot Friday morning, the PR person’s husband fell in love with the pig I had on display, so he bought it on the spot.
  • I’m out of the pig business. All my pigs have found new homes.
  • Love this event! Troy & Dana, the promoters, do a great and professional job. One huge perk: they keep private bathrooms (well, bathrooms may be overselling here) just for their 174 vendors. Much appreciated!
  • “I saw you on TV!” I heard it several times, both days. Attributable sales = $0.
  • The cutest little girl had Mom buy her a duck from ZooSoapia. That little slip of a girl approached Mrs M and solemnly announced, “I promise not to break it.”
  • Well done, Mom, well done.
  • A guy announced “It smells better in this booth than anywhere here!”
  • Our new motto: We Don’t Stink.
  • A 30-something got all excited about my small sous chef boards on display … until I explained, no, they were not pizza stones, and no, you couldn’t put them in the oven to hold the pizza as you warmed it. She genuinely thought it would be good to bake pizza on wood – in an oven with high temperatures.
  • One guy walked into the booth and got upset I wouldn’t embrace his use of pure tung oil to finish cutting boards. Other than potentially hurting people with nut allergies and the possibility that this oil imported from China can eventually turn rancid in the board … great idea. In my (sarcastic) opinion.
  • Sunday we needed help to run the booth, since Velda & I were attending MrsMowry’s commencement. Pam Leighton and her daughter Chelsea wanted to go to the festival (attending this festival several years ago, Chelsea was discovered & began a modeling career!). A BIG THANK YOU for Pam & Chelsea for the assist. We could not have done it without you! When Pam goes a-vendoring, she sells sterling silver jewelry & scarves as Dazzle Me Designs. See some of her stuff, and her upcoming events, here.
  • A lady walked into the booth, and got all excited that I was willing to make her a pig cutting board. She then bounced out of the booth to talk to her husband:
    • She said, “I got a pig cutting board!”
    • From the side of his mouth, he said, “Figures.”
  • I’m back in the pig business. It was demanded of me. I anticipate a substantial celebration among Petunia’s pals … I predict a big litter.
  • By the way, this sale was accomplished using my smartphone. I showed the lady a picture of pigs gone by, and she bought one, sight unseen, from the next litter.
  • Note to self: deduct the smartphone.
  • A lady was discussing a special order with me when my engraver, Teri Diamond of Lavene & Company, walked into the booth. Fun to introduce her to a client!
  • The new canopy definitely got noticed at the event. 2 vendors talked to me about buying one. I blogged about our purchase, here.
  • My inventory is shrinking … and that’s  a good thing? I’m below 200 pieces again. I’m out of notepad clipboards, letter clipboards, blanks for engraved boards, pigs, bears, hearts, pizza servers and large sous chef boards. I need shop time … which I don’t get any, in any meaningful way, until July.
  • Sunday was a full day of fun. Up early to go to Commencement, then on to work the event that lasted until 6:30pm. We began taking it all down then, but the younger Mrs M had never packed product with this new display. She’d never touched ZooSoapia before. For my part, the new canopy had to be taken down; it’s my 3rd time doing that … and we were down at 8:30pm. Then, I had to go get the Jeep, go to the trailer storage area, hook up, return to the event area, and commence loading. That took another hour or so. I got home shortly after 11pm.
  • Requests were for cutting board stands (The elder Mrs M applauded. Again.), a reading stand (nope), e-cig holders (double nope), a backgammon board (still nope), a knife to go with the cutting boards, a travel-sized chess board (now I’m expected to have different kinds of chess boards???), and a Lazy Susan made from Black Walnut (patience!).
  • Chess board sales = $0.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & crackers = no waiting in the famously long food lines at the event (which were not so bad this year. Perhaps they brought in more food vendors? That is good!)

Saturday Snack: Strawberry Ale, before 12noon. We didn’t buy it soon enough.

Saturday Dinner: Marston’s Linguine with chicken … for when you don’t want to count the calories in its creamy goodness.

Sunday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Sunday Lunch: The younger Mrs M brought me a PBJ from home. Bless her.

Sunday Snack: Strawberry shortcake. It was perfect.

Sunday Dinner: .3 miles north of the event, I stopped the newly loaded trailer, got gas at the Arco & dinner from the adjacent Jack in the Box. Back on the road, munching as I went … at 10pm.

The Facts

  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival (2015)
  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016
  • Total miles driven: 496
  • Booth cost: $765
  • Food cost: $59
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $3,617
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,793
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 151 … tied for our record number of transactions in a 2-day event, and exactly the same number of transactions done at this event last year!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others; both had been bitten by the “all natural” kind of presentation, it seemed.
  • # woodworking vendors: several, including one direct competitor. There was also a cutting board maker selling relatively inexpensive, shaped plastic boards.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:3
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 28

MBOs: 6

Small Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Clipboard: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Rotary Art 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.

This is about being comfortable in your own skin.

Last year, this event was our first “art show,” and I was nervous about whether or not we belonged.

We did.

This year, we were oh, so prepared for this good event. After debuting her new display and her handmade soap at this event one year ago, Mrs M made new soap just for this event.

It’s always dangerous to have expectations for an event, as you know, but we were definitely expecting to repeat last year’s success in 2017.

We’ve had 3 straight events with poor weather – high winds and rain – so we were ready for a non-stressful event. The forecast for this weekend was for blue skies and temps in the 70s.

Sounds just about perfect for a SoCal weekend, don’t you think?

New Ideas

  • We have a new canopy! We have a 10×20 Trimline from Flourish (read the blog about that, here). Yes, it’s more difficult to set up than a pop-up. Yes, it’s much better. Our booth is sooo much more open & airier now.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Annual Spring Fling is getting going now: this is event # 4 of 7. We are over the hump.
  • While we were setting up on Friday, a pair of ladies stopped by to confirm that I was Henry. Uh … yes? They went on to explain that I met them 2 years ago at an event, invited them to read The Board Chronicles, and that this was the first event they’ve come to on my recommendation.
  • Wow! Hope they do well.
  • And they did!
  • A guy wanted to buy a lip balm, and handed me $8. I confirmed that he only wanted one lip balm for $3, and he said, “Oh. I thought they were $8. I figured they were handmade, so that was the price ….”
  • Prices gotta go up.
  • Saturday started strong with some lotion sales before 10a, but then settled down and was oh. so. slow. Still an OK day, but wasn’t this a good event for us last year?
  • Yes it was … and Saturday was only 29% of our sales last year, I learned when I got home. I should come with more knowledge to end any premature freaking out on Saturdays.
  • Our friend Linda sells handmade, inexpensive jewelry … and her booth was JAMMED all day long. Saturday was definitely good for her!
  • I never restocked my business cards on Saturday. What is happening???
  • Would it change your opinion to know that this dog’s mistress was wearing the same shirt?

  • After several days of vendoring where we generated all kinds of bills, on Saturday normalcy returned. We generated 5s & 20s … and ate 1s and 10s. All was well with the world
  • When we generate 1s, I take that as a bad thing. The goal is to exchange my 1s for our customers’ 20s, 50s & 100s. Please.
  • Saturday was our 39th wedding anniversary. Mrs M enjoyed showing off the wedding board display piece as proof that we were married 39 years ago. Perhaps we’ll need to choose a different celebration for next year’s anniversary, since it has a zero in it.
  • Yes, that anniversary will be on the Sunday of this event next year, which is also Mother’s Day. No, I’m not certain that we should spend that auspicious day a-vendoring. But, then again….
  • Simple banners work! One customer said they saw our banner from the road, and that made them stop and come to the event.
  • This event is always good for celebrity sightings. In my booth: Neil Flynn, AKA Mike Heck on The Middle. He contemplated the balancing act that is a Wine Bottle Holder, and then set off in pursuit of his actual family.
  • The most interesting conversation of the day was from a guy that enjoyed my work, and shared how he wants to take tree hugging to a whole new level. Trees sing, apparently.
  • Best hour of the weekend: the final hour. We sold 21% of our total in those final 60 minutes. Go figure.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board, a utility cart top, routed cracker bowls, a sink cover, a Tak gameboard and a bread board with a crumb catcher.
  • Chess board sales: $0.
  • Load out got a bit emotional for some, as vendors wrestled with the event’s very common rule: don’t bring your vehicle in for loading until you are 100% packed. Some vendors flout this rule, of course, and park their vehicles while they are packing up. By the time we were packed up, I only had to wait a few minutes to get a parking spot. It would have been better if those that had slipped through the cordon of Rotarians to park & abandon their vehicles would have been caught and rejected, but that didn’t happen. I only wish that those that flout the rules won’t be here next year.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Just like last year … hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch:

We got several compliments on how good this looked. I don’t think it sold any cheese boards, though….

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: The 2nd best Chicken Marsala in town, at Bella Cucina. Mrs M doesn’t always cook on our anniversary … she, of course, makes the best Marsala. Did you have any doubt?

Sunday Breakfast: The 2nd best breakfast burrito in town, from Jimmy Deans.

Sunday Lunch: A cheeseburger & chips from Troop 210, Burbank, who have been catering this event as a fundraiser for years

Sunday Snack: Nope

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s, though Mrs M proved incapable of ordering a pizza correctly at 9pm on a Sunday event day. She ordered it to be delivered to the Papa John’s store, which even the store thought to be strange.

The Facts

  • Rotary Art Show 2016
  • Total miles driven: 184
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $71
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,857
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,486
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 69
  • # soap & lotion vendors: two others, both of which did hot process instead of Mrs M’s cold process, apparently. Nothing wrong with that, of course, if you’re going to limit yourself. Hmmm. I must be getting snooty.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. One guy that’s well known to me from a few previous events we’ve shared does what I do, but uses many, many more kinds of woods and does a lot of what I would call chaos boards in all different sizes & applications. Coasters, boxes for decks of cards, sushi servers … he’s got a lot of good looking stuff. There were also 3 or 4 other woodworkers making stuff from pallets, making collapsible baskets (which are unusual), and more.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14: 1
  • Returning next year? Not sure. Is this the way we want to celebrate our anniversary?

Boards sold: 15

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Custom Order: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

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