Archive for the ‘festival’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: California Poppy 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.

We had a good event two years ago when we did the California Poppy Festival 2015 … it was actually our first-ever event where we did a double booth.

It was our 30th event all-time … and set a record as our Best. Event. Ever.

That record held for 4 months. Today, 2 years later, those sales from 2015 were below our average event in 2016. Still, though, we had very good sales at this event in 2015. But oh, my, that wind. After a weekend “out in it,” it felt like we had been camping. We were covered in grime – just like the product was. There was a definite downside to doing this event, no matter what the sales were.

But there’s a big upside as well: we stay with the Granddaughters when we go a-vendoring in the Antelope Valley.

Given our history & the side benefits, who wouldn’t want to go to the California Poppy Festival?

New Ideas

  • At long last, the new Lip Balm dispenser premiered at this event. It’s only a year late.
  • At long last, the ZooSoapia display premiered at this event. It’s only 5 months late.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Spring Fling has begun: 7 (hopefully) big events in 7 consecutive weeks. This is event # 1.
  • This event always gives me fits with their requirement for a certificate of insurance. In 2015, they had very specific language that they required, and then changed. They rejected my COIs, and I redid them after receiving conflicting instructions. Very frustrating. This year they had a clear clause in the contract with instructions for the COI to name as additionally insured:

“City of Lancaster, its elected officials, officers, employees and volunteers are included as additional covered parties, but only insofar as the operations under this contract are concerned”. The name and date(s) of the event must also be included on the certificate.

I did precisely that … and got a call that my COI was unacceptable. I asked for specific instructions, as I had followed the contract, and they sent me the same instructions. I decided to play their game. I submitted the same COI to them a 2nd time.

  • It was approved.
  • Friday set-up, and they handed me a manila envelope with my receipt, 4 vendor name tags, and one parking pass at check-in. When I commented that I needed 2 parking passes for my double booth, the reply was, “Did you put that on your application?” I did not remember, of course … and after the event, I found there was no place to put such a comment on the application (since I wasn’t applying for overnight parking). Luckily, our good friend Jan had an extra, so it all worked out.
  • This is a big city-sponsored event in a big city park. There are 210 “arts & crafts” booth spaces & probably more “commercial” booths for area businesses, charities & such. There’s a carnival. Farmer’s market. Kid attractions. Performances by local dance groups. A car show. Lots of fair food. A beer garden (which must have made a lot of money, given the number of beer cups I saw walking by the booth). The city website boasts 55 acres of activities; there’s a lot going on here.
  • First question of the day: as I was walking back from parking my car, a vendor stopped in their truck and asked me, “where is the vendor parking?” I told her, “Just drive 50 feet forward to where that sign says ‘Parking,’ and you are there.” 50′. Jeez.
  • One of my pet peeves at big events is a vendor selling the wooden boxes, ships, tanks & military logos that are imported from China. The work is not that good, but the prices are really cheap. It’s woodworking, but not anything that I enjoy seeing. There were 2 vendors with these products, and one of them was our backdoor neighbor. (sigh)
  • Across the aisle from us was a quadruple booth for LuLaRoe. That must be a thing. And, of course, the Mrs M’s went shopping.
  • Saturday was hot, but not as hot as projected. With a gentle breeze, it was a great day in the park. Except for the buyers staying home. Some vendors had good days, some didn’t. We didn’t.
  • For some reason, the city didn’t put trash containers out anywhere but near the food booths & bathrooms. If you were walking through the vendor area and finished your food or drink … there was nowhere to put your trash. And that doesn’t end well for the vendor area, let me assure you.
  • I got to go walk about Sunday morning before the crowd arrived, and was disappointed to see that handmade goods were such a small part of this event. The vast majority of booths were for cheap imports. There were some of the normal buy & sell vendors, but even they were not well represented, I felt. Perhaps 25% of the booths were for handmade goods (and I’m probably being kind with that estimate). Given our poor Saturday, I was not in a wonderful mood … but this event seemed to be more swap meet than craft fair. The city of Lancaster, though, bills the vendor area as the “arts & crafts section.”
  • Some gentlemen from another culture visited the booth, and they enthusiastically commented that my boards were tight. They were dope. I believe they liked them, but it was hard to tell. They didn’t buy anything.
  • Huge attendance at this event, though I’m told Saturday was down 9,000 from prior year. I don’t know the actual attendance number, but it’s very big. I can’t complain about the attendance, I just wish there were more buyers in the crowd. But that’s me; I know other vendors were happy.
  • Sunday, we remembered why this event was so hard 2 years ago.
  • Wind. Blows.
  • There is nothing good about a constant wind with 25 MPH gusts that rocks the portable, pop-up shade structure that is our booth. I’ve got about 150 pounds of weight holding down our shade structure, so it’s really not going to go anywhere … but under the canopy, almost everything can blow over if the wind catches it wrong.
  • Big wind is pretty normal in Lancaster, but it is not fun as a vendor. Packing the booth was a real challenge – everything wanted to blow away while being packed. Containers, lids, packing materials … and don’t get me started on taking down the canopies while keeping them from blowing away. The load-out was over 2 hours because of the wind.
  • Requests were for gun grips, a cribbage board, clipboards (which, sadly, I left at home), a board to cut beef jerky with – a first!, a backgammon board and the # 1 request of the weekend … I just can’t type the words.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & cracker plate was a tasty alternative to fair food.

Saturday Snack: A soft serve ice cream that really put the soft into soft serve.

Saturday Dinner: BLTs with Christopher & the girls. Excellent.

Sunday Breakfast: A burrito from Primo Burgers. Excellent … though it would have been nice had their parking lot been large enough for the trailer. Or even had a way to escape that didn’t involve backing up.

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & crackers, of course!

Sunday Snack: Nope.

Sunday Dinner: In ‘N Out. It’s what eating at 9:30pm on a Sunday is all about.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 257
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $46
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,722
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,306
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer:
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative:
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 78
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were at least 5 soapers other than Mrs M. None had as complete a skin care line, but that’s a lot of handmade soap in one place, I believe.
  • # woodworking vendors: There were a few. A toy maker, a carver & small box maker that I spoke with. There was a professional redwood sign maker with a trailer custom rigged for him to route your sign on the spot. And me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:4
  • Returning next year? I hope not.

Boards sold: 13

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Cutting Board: 3

Small Boards: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Champagne On Main 2017   Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

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

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

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers at home. Easy, quick.

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 11

MBOs: 6x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Small Boards: 1x

Cheese Boards: 1x

Hearts: 1x

 

The Board Chronicles: AV Home Show 2017   Leave a comment

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

Going into this event, I knew 2 things:

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

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

One. Of. The. Worst.

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

The Food

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

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

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: No motivation = no good food.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 4

Small Boards: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom Festival 2017   1 comment

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

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

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

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

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

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

Sunday Breakfast: See above.

Sunday Lunch: See above. I’m consistent.

Sunday Snack: Nope. I learn, too.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 11

Small Boards: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cheese Boards: 2

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2017   1 comment

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

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

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

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

After all, it fit our calendar.

Time to shake off the cobwebs.

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

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

The Food

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

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

Friday Snack: See above.

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

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

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

Saturday Snack: See above.

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

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

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

Sunday Snack: See above.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 22

Magic Bottle Openers: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Pizza Server: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Valencia Summit Holiday Craft Boutique   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.

Summit Holiday BoutiqueThis will be our second year doing this event, which is staged at the clubhouse of a local homeowner’s association. 100% of vendor fees go to a charity supporting the homeless in our area. The producer is a vendor friend that does this event as a labor of love, and we are happy to support her.

It’s local. It’s for a good cause.

Did I mention it’s local? You bet we’re in.

Here’s what happened at this event last year, when it had an unusual split weekend schedule, with one day in November and one in December. The 2016 iteration of the event will be on a single weekend, which saves a set-up and is much easier to negotiate on the calendar … but we still had to double book to do the event.

It’s the final event of our 2016. I love it before it starts.

New Ideas

  • This event was double booked with the Valencia High Choir Holiday Boutique, so Mrs M covered this one on Saturday while I was enjoying the choir sing a jazzed-up suite of Christmas carols. On Sunday, I worked on some commissions Sunday morning while she covered the early part of day 2; I joined her for the afternoon & load-out.
  • This is a table top presentation, but Mrs M gets her full purpose-built display on her 6′ table. Zoosoapia then fell onto my side of the next table.

Observations

  • Event # 11 of our 11 events in the 4th quarter.
  • Thank goodness.
  • There are only 20 or so vendors at this event, and many are friends. That makes for a fun time, which is much appreciated.
  • One nice element that adds to the camaraderie is a pot luck of munchables contributed by the vendors, for the vendors. It adds to the atmosphere, and with the kitchen set-up in the clubhouse, is very easy to do. This is a great part of this event.
  • We got several calls & emails in the week leading up to this event, with customers verifying that they could find us here for last-minute shopping. I do love local, but being local & being available are both important.
  • I arrived 5 minutes after 1p on Sunday, and one of my appointments was already there waiting. I feel like I’m late for everything these days, and I’m not late for anything. Ever. Except during the holiday rush!
  • Personalized Cutting Boards are a thing, clearly. I sold 2 more today, and now I need to adjust my plans for new boards to ensure I have boards that can be personalized (Hard Maple makes the best engravable space).
  • Only one request today, and it was for a Lazy Susan. Geez.
  • Merry Christmas!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: No time. Gotta go. (can you tell this is not what I did?)

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M shared in the munchables

Saturday Snack: See above!

Saturday Dinner: Walnut Shrimp + Cashew Chicken at Grand Panda. Oh, and egg rolls. Of course.

Sunday Breakfast: Better bad bagels & cream cheese. Bad is still not that bad.

Sunday Lunch: Tostada salad from Baja Fresh.

Sunday Snack: a cookie!

Sunday Dinner: Burrito al Mador from La Cucina, with a Cadillac Margarita.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 65
  • Booth cost: $160
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1 (and there’s only 1!)
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Total sales: $1,907
  • # boards available: about half of them, but no Pigs, no Lazy Susans, no Clipboards and no Surfboards
  • Saturday alarm: 7am
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 59
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other, doing melt & pour
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:2
  • Returning next year? You bet.

Boards sold: 9

Magic Bottler Openers: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

 

The Board Chronicles: VHS Choir Holiday Boutique 2016   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.

vhs-choir-boutique-2016Valencia High School is about 3 miles from our house. Our kids didn’t go there, but it’s in our neighborhood.

The choir stages a holiday boutique as a fund raiser … and the choir director’s parents were both involved with teaching The Engineer in his formative years.

It’s local. It’s good people. You bet we’re doing it.

Here’s what happened last year: 2015’s VHS Holiday Boutique.

New Ideas

  • We haven’t done a table top event since April, and we haven’t done a split event since last year. On Saturday, I covered day 2 of this event while Mrs M covered day 1 of the Summit Holiday Boutique. We like both *local* events enough that we double booked ourselves for our last events of the year.
  • Haven’t used this table top, stair step display since we brought out Mrs M’s purpose-built display early this year. It’s been months since we used it; that qualifies as a new idea, right?

Observations

  • Event # 10 of 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter this year.
  • I love local.
  • Since we were doing a split event on table tops, neither event got full inventory. This event didn’t get MBOs, large cutting boards or Lazy Susans. I only got one request at this event … for a Lazy Susan. Sorry!
  • Every holiday boutique should have a choir perform. Valencia High’s choir is available for bookings, I am told.
  • Since I was solo at this event, that means I did the lotion bar demo many times this weekend. Benefit: my hands are now soft and plyable.
  • When you’re used to doing 100+ transactions at a 2 day event, it really feels wrong to only do 38 transactions at this event. I know it was slow, but, geez.
  • Sales were down from last year … but we really don’t do this event just to make money. We’re waving the flag, building brand awareness, and supporting a local high school’s music program. 100% of vendor fees go to support the choir program. What’s not to like?
  • What’s it like doing a local event?
    • 4:00pm – event ends. Packing.
    • 4:16pm – choir carries *everything* to the Jeep
    • 4:27pm – loaded and going home
    • 4:34pm – home
    • 4:35pm – stow boards, lotions, soaps & display pieces in the trailer (storage), garage (long term storage), dining room (for Mrs M to sort) and Jeep (one container, going to tomorrow’s event)
    • 4:53pm – bourbon in hand, writing this blog
  • I love local.

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Bad bagels & cream cheese. Even bad bagels aren’t that bad.

Friday Lunch: A ham sandwich & chips, at home. Of course.

Saturday Breakfast: A ham & cheese omelette @ Jimmy Dean’s.

Saturday Lunch: A protein bar & trail mix. Vendor lunch of champions.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Blackened Ribeye at Marston’s. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 13
  • Booth cost: $180
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: Just the choir director & teacher … but every single choir student came by the booth!
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Total sales: $778
  • # boards available: about half of the inventory … no big cutting boards, MBOs, or Lazy Susans (sigh)
  • Saturday alarm: 5:35am
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 38
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of anti-aging vendors selling an array of, uh, stuff. And another vendor was selling essential oils.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 5:0
  • Returning next year? Maybe. If it fits in the schedule!

Boards sold: 5

Pig: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop   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.

santasartshopFor the last 2 years, Santa’s Art Shop has been our biggest event of the year. Could we repeat that performance in 2016?

Ridgecrest, CA is the home of Santa’s Art Shop. Ridgecrest is just down the road from Inyokern, and that town announces on the sign at the edge of town that they are “100 miles from everywhere.” Ridgecrest is near the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake in the western Mojave Desert. There aren’t a lot of people near there outside of the military facility … which is a largely undeveloped 1.1 million acres, making it larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Lots of open spaces here.

The people may be few, but those people need to do Christmas shopping. Santa’s Art Shop sets up on the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, and thousands from the region show up, every year.

New Ideas

  • After 2 years in the Joshua Hall, we were moved to the Mesquite Hall. Joshua was unavailable this year … resulting in a cascade of booth movement throughout the event. Practically everyone was in a new space. There were more vendors outside this year, and fewer vendors over all.
  • Little Girl joined us, so we had 3 Mowrys go a-vending. We used to have 3 people at every show in our ignorant, early days … now, it’s a special occasion!

Observations

  • Event # 9 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. The end is oh so solidly in sight.
  • Expectations. We had them. And expectations can kill you.
  • We arrived Friday afternoon for the big set up. We do Christmas decorations for this event, and take our time getting the display just right. This is an important event: our best event for each of the last 2 years. It demands our best effort.
  • Broke a piece on one canopy that resulted in one leg not locking into place when extended. Only one fix would work: duct tape. Of course.
  • A guy IM’d me through Facebook before the event, and wanted to make sure I was bringing (wait for it) … chess boards. He could not wait to see me this year! It’s not unusual for customers to make soft appointments to see me at an event, but this is the first time that’s happened for my # 1 most requested item.
  • We woke Saturday morning to get ready for our big event, and Little Girl was sick. Food poisoning? She was a gamer, and tried … but she couldn’t. Back to the hotel for her, and she had to wait until the event was over for us to bring her ginger ale and Saltines.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Art Shop, we got ‘whelmed pretty quickly. You couldn’t walk through the aisles Saturday morning. It was busy, busy … and stayed that way until about 2pm. Even as it slowed down, there were still shoppers doing what they do. Great day … but not our best. Lotion & soap sales weren’t as good as at the record-setting California Strawberry Festival. For me, the day was not as good as last year; I was a bit under prior year. That’s how we ended day 1: down to prior year by $60. (sigh)
  • Down is never good.
  • We ended Saturday disappointed, of course. Down is down. We were so looking forward to this event, and we were very slightly down – from 2015’s best event. It’s amazing how expectations can drive you to distraction when you are having one of your best events ever, but it feels like you aren’t achieving your goals.
  • With Sunday’s dawning, Little Girl was back. She had beaten the 24 hour bug. Come to find out, many of her friends she’d just gone camping with were also suffering from that same awful bug.
  • Sunday was a slow day, as is normal. Sundays typically have late crowds, and there’s a lot more strolling and chatting than you have on a Saturday that’s chock full of ASB (Aggressive Shopping Behavior).
  • But the shoppers did keep coming.
  • The event is in a metal building, and the cell service is horrible. The only way to do credit card transactions was to go outside. Every time. This was so annoying. Luckily, however, we were right by the door. Run the card. Through the door, 10 steps, and then back to get a signature. Through the door, 10 steps, and the transaction went through. Usually. Such a pain!
  • We expect (that word!) Sundays to be 40% of Saturday, which is exactly how this event played out last year. That would have been great, had it played out that way this year. We’d have been down, of course, but only by a very small percentage.
  • ’twas not to be.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • After 2 years at this event, I definitely have customers coming back to tell me about the board they bought & use, or perhaps gave to someone a year or 2 ago, and how much they love it. It’s really wonderful when people tell me stories. I like stories.
  • For an engaged shopping crowd, we had a surprisingly small number of conversations about alternatives. People came in, saw what you had, and shopped accordingly. They didn’t stay to discuss it: they had a mission to accomplish. This is a Christmas season event, and it’s all about the shopping. I did discuss special orders to replace in-counter boards (which can only be made AFTER CHRISTMAS), but other than that, there were few meaningful conversations about what I didn’t have on display.
  • I only got one other request at this event: display stands for my cutting boards. It’s not the first time someone has asked to buy one of my stands at an event … as Mrs M reminded me. Hmmmmm.
  • Remember The Mistake? I had that end grain cutting board as overstock throughout this event. Never brought it out to display. Showed it to one lady … sold it. Perhaps I need to make more mistakes? No, actually the lesson here is that I need to make more end grain cutting boards using Hickory. Now, that is a plan.
  • Had a couple of women in the booth, buying a board for the man of the home. They described him as a destructive force in the kitchen that destroys cutting boards. What did they buy? The unique, pretty board that I had hoped might end up as a serving piece – or even, shockingly for me, as a display piece due to its one-of-a-kind beauty. I sold it with a smile on my face and a cringe in my heart.
  • I need to make more pretty things that I don’t sell.
  • A vendor ran into the booth, said, “I have to buy a cutting board on the sly!” and ran out. I looked at the ladies in the booth: “What was that?” Eventually, the vendor came back; she was buying an anniversary gift for her husband, and didn’t want him to see it while he was sitting at their booth just down from ours. She sent her proxy to buy the board, and all ended well. Husband even smiled when he opened the board!
  • We passed last year’s Sunday sales at 2pm, with 2 hours still to go. That’s great, but the pace was slow. The event seemed to (sadly) be winding down.
  • Sold my last chess board. I finished 6 back in June, so now I see that I’m selling about one every month. I am now out of the chess board business … until next year.
  • Still in the pig business (sigh).
  • We have a standing rule: we never, ever, take down our display before closing time. That’s a published rule for almost every event, of course, and we always follow the rules (!). Vendors around us often start moving boxes and breaking down displays 15 or even 30 minutes before closing time, but we don’t. We won’t. Experience has shown that my heavy cutting boards – my expensive cutting boards – are purchases that people often make last minute, after they’ve thought about the purchase and decided they really want to do it. We never close early.
  • Never.
  • I sold 2 large, end grain cutting boards in the final hour of the event. My sales in the final hour were over 10% of our total sales for the weekend. And that, my friends, was a very good thing. I brought 211 boards to this event, but I only took home 168. I sold 20% of my inventory in one weekend.

Best. Mr. M’s. Event. Ever.

  • The load-out was bigger than normal, since we had Christmas decorations to take down as well as a lot of vendors to dodge that were loading out through the narrow door directly adjacent to my display. We had 3 people attacking the problem, however, and we were loaded & ready to move the trailer down the road after only an hour and 39 minutes. We were home shortly after 8pm, and then turned immediately to go out to dinner.
  • The next step, of course, was to begin analyzing the event and actually counting the money. And it was wrong.
  • I keep a tally of the event, as you know, and the tally is sometimes off a bit. When we get ‘whelmed, I don’t always get to write down transactions. Sometimes, we just miss things. Humans. Mistakes. It happens. But our tally was not equaling our cash count. We were off. We weren’t short, luckily. We were long. Way long.
  • Long is good. Way long is very good.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Now, a new problem. How are we going to top this? Luckily, that’s a problem for next year!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs & toast at Best Western.

Saturday Lunch: A Polish Dog. With ketchup & mustard.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: A delightful dinner at Charlie’s with our friends & fellow vendors that run Souper Dip.

Sunday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs … and biscuits & gravy at Best Western.

Sunday Lunch: Chicken fingers & fries. The food is not great at Santa’s Art Shop.

Sunday Snack: Cinnamon & sugar coated almonds & pecans. Yum.

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Marsala at Santa Clarita’s best Italian restaurant: Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 279
  • Booth cost: $407
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 4
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Total sales: $4,833
  • # boards available: all of them = 211
  • Saturday alarm: 5:50am
  • Sunday alarm: 5:50am
  • # transactions: 130
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was another on our aisle, and a lotion guy (?) that was asking ladies as they passed, “Can I do your hands?” Mrs M politely declined that opportunity when asked.
  • # woodworking vendors: 3 other vendors had cutting boards! One was really a furniture maker with a few cutting boards on display. Another was really a turner with a few cheese slicing boards on display. Finally, there was a coop venture between 3 woodworkers that had a very large, impressive double booth display. They had many cutting boards … but no end grain. And very few boards of size except for a curious design with a bread hook, a juice groove, and a back rail. Now, that was an unwieldy board! In my humble opinion. It even confused Mrs M, so I know it was an odd design.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 40:4
  • Returning next year? With bells on, if I can figure out how to wear them.

Boards sold: 44

Magic Bottle Openers: 10

Cheese Boards: 10

Small Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Hearts: 3

Chess Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

Pigs: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Large Surfboards: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Sous Chef Boards: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2016   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.

carpinteriaThe Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-style event on their grounds in their city. In November, the event transforms into a handmade-only holiday boutique. We’ve done the event for a couple of years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of this community event.

Here’s the Board Chronicles from last year: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2015.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend is a bit crazy.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend when we could be making product for next week’s biggest event of the year might be a bit crazy.

But we like the feel of this event! It’s community. It’s handmade. It’s what we do.

We’re in.

New Ideas

  • We asked for a booth on the front side of the museum (the city street) instead of our traditional booth on the other side (the parking lot, which is cramped quarters). No double space was available on the street, but the museum director assured us he would help us get the trailer through the unloading/loading process. We’re in.

Observations

  • We checked the forecast Friday … and it was bad. Rain was forecast throughout the event. In fact, the forecast said it would rain 10a – 3p … the entire span of the event! Rain would continue through 6pm, so we would not have any respite for the load out.
  • I just did a wet event last weekend.
  • Velda’s recovering from a bad cold.
  • We became 2 of “those people.”
  • I learned the phrase when I was running marathons: DNS DNF. Did Not Start, Did Not Finish. We stayed home.
  • We made product.
  • And the weather was awful; raining as predicted. We made the right call, IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 0
  • Booth cost: $150
  • Total sales: 0
  • Returning next year? If we continue down the path of not doing one day events….

Boards sold: 0

The Board Chronicles: Affair Of The Arts   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.

affair-of-the-artsWe decided to take this weekend off.

And then I changed my mind.

We had an opportunity to do a big, highly recommended craft fair in Orange County, but we declined that opportunity. The Lady had to work this weekend at her “job,” and it seemed like a stretch to do another event in November. However, this event popped up and seemed tailor made for my solo act. It’s set in Culver City which is an up-and-coming kind of neighborhood – Sony Pictures is just around the corner. The promoter has done a few of these art shows in this location for a couple of years, it seems.

I decided to take a flyer into the unknown.

New Ideas

  • Just me doing a one booth presentation from the woodshop at an art show.

Observations

  • Event # 7 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. Countdown mode engaged.
  • There were 40 booths (some shared between 2 artists) at this event. Live music. The plaza area we were in was alongside the ArcLight Cinema, Chipotle, a Mediterranean restaurant, an iconic hotel and Cold Stone. Trader Joe’s was across the street, and the event signage & canopies were visible from a very busy street. Traffic seemed to be built in – which is good. Booth traffic seemed to be more happenstance than generated by the event.
  • Without Mrs M’s offering there, the number of transactions plummeted. Only 8 transactions on Saturday, spread over 7 hours. (yawn)
  • Sooo slow on Saturday. Too slow. Not good.
  • And then it rained on Sunday.
  • Nothing to be done, of course, so I just sat there, moved the tables closer to the center and the boards away from the front of the booth … and tried to stay warm & dry. Traffic to the movie theater continued, and there continued to be traffic through the booths. Sort of.
  • Sunday was busier. And wetter.
  • A young boy in rain gear came into the booth and shook his umbrella, getting water everywhere. I immediately went to drying. The father said nothing at all. Thanks, Dad.
  • A woman in rain gear kept her umbrella up while accompanying her charge, a senior citizen with mobility issues. Her umbrella dripped all over everything, and she was oblivious. What is it with people? But then, when they left the booth, I noted that the umbrella covered her more than it did the senior citizen. (sigh)
  • When it rains, it drains … downhill. I only lost one cardboard box and a lot of packing paper, in the end. No damage to any boards that I was aware of, luckily. I’ll un-pack and re-pack everything – everything – to make sure.
  • So, I sat in the rain. It was consistent, but light, through the afternoon. I had a couple with credibility say they were going to a movie and would come back after to buy a Christmas present (never heard that one before) … so I waited, and resolved to pack up in an effort to be gone by 5pm when the rain was supposed to get heavier.
  • I waited.
  • The couple came back a little before 4pm, on schedule. Booth was closed by 4:05pm.
  • 25% of my total sales happened after 3:30pm on Sunday. In the rain.
  • Breakdown started at 4:05pm. It’s no fun packing when everything is wet. The only way to pack the side walls and table cloths was to wring them out, put them in plastic bags, and shove them into the car so they could be dried out tomorrow when it stops raining.
  • Ever been working, or perhaps camping out in the weather, and just gotten to the point where you gloried in the beauty of the rain and the feeling of doing work and being out in it?
  • Not me, not today. I think it was the third time I got water down my front while working on the walls overhead…. Or, maybe it was when the pool of water dumped on me from atop the canopy. All I know is when I finally got in the Jeep to drive home, I was soaked to the skin.
  • This is the 5th event I’ve done this year as a solo event with no Mrs M products. Four were one day events, and all 5 were in the bottom 8 for sales net of booth cost this year. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson there.
  • Go big, or go home. Or, more accurately, go big or stay home. That’s my mantra for 2017.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A burrito bowl from Chipotle

Saturday Snack: Yes, I know guac is extra

Saturday Dinner: Chicken surprise not cooked in the crock pot, because there was no time.

Sunday Breakfast: I went to Carl’s & learned 2 things: 1) the canopy over the drive thru window is just big enough that the drips from rain run into your open car window, and 2) their breakfast is messier to eat while driving than that from my old friend.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday

Sunday Snack: See Saturday

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers. And a baked potato. And bourbon.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 162
  • Booth cost: $335
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: a few
  • Total sales: $1,230
  • # boards available: a Jeep load
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 17
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: me & a toymaker
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 19:2
  • Returning next year? Doubt it.

Boards sold: 21

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Boards: 2

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

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