Archive for the ‘Fresno’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2022   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.

Remember me? Remember how I used to write things?

I’m back.

I’ve done the Fresno H&G a few times, and it’s time to crank it up in 2022.

Finally.

Read about my past experiences here: 2019, 2018 and 2017. Interesting that 2017 was my first solo event, ever. Now, I don’t know how to act if Mrs M shows up … and she hasn’t made soap in quite a while. Don’t bother her, she has a wedding to help plan.

But back to going a-vendoring.

New Ideas

  • I got moved to a new building this time … because my old building was undergoing renovations and was unavailable. I did not receive word from the promoter until late, well after I was paid in full and most booths were booked. We had a, uh, disagreement about what should happen to my booth. I didn’t respond well to the pressure sales tactics, which stated that they would not charge me for moving my booth to a new location.
  • Note to sales reps, everywhere: beware trying to pressure an old sales manager. It will not end well for you.
  • I finally stated I would move to a building that met these criteria: 1) not near another woodworker, 2) not near dogs up for adoption and 3) not near loud, amplified-selling “sideshow barker” type presentations.
  • My sales reps’ recommendation failed on point 2. Completely.
  • So, I, uh, suggested that she not book that location and then I suggested a location near the craft cocktail booths (and an open bar, come to find out). My new home was building # 4 … which, in the time-honored tradition of the Fresno Home & Garden Show, was known as “MORE EXHIBITS.”

Observations

  • I arrived at the Fairgrounds at about noon on Thursday, with 8 hours to set up the booth. I asked directions to building # 4, and parked the trailer with pretty good access to my new home.
  • Set up began as soon as I checked in at Building # 2, I think it was (AKA “MORE EXHIBITS”). I had discovered a problem as I unloaded the trailer … table cloths had not made it into the trailer. They were at home, over 3 hours away. And in 2022 gas, that would be …
  • Luckily, Exhibitor Services fixed me right up with hotel banquet-table-style plastic tops & skirting for all 10 of my tables. And it was def def definitely cheaper than the gas would have been to go home.
  • My spiffy wooden name tag is missing. No clue where it got to.
  • The vendor behind me was a rock n’ roll hair salon, selling hair care products (Hair dryers & such. The prices were way more than I expected. Like, way more. Don’t buy hair dryers at home & garden shows is my recommendation.)
  • I am pleased to report the rock ‘n roll hair salon turned down their music. And I didn’t even have to sic music licensing agencies such as ASCAP or BMI on them. Something I was contemplating, to be honest.
  • Fresno is an agricultural area, so it’s inevitable that I am approached by well-meaning ranchers that want to give me their trees. Not lumber, which I might be able to use, but their trees. Sorry, not set up for that. I turned down old Oak and a Black Walnut stump. Unfortunately.
  • Fridays at home & garden shows are known for 2 things: not much traffic, and lots of senior citizens that are there for exercise and to pick up free stuff. Oh, and rain was forecast. My Friday was dead slow, until I finally sold something at 2:30pm. And then I had someone in line to give me more money while I was wrapping up purchase #1.
  • When it rains, it pours. HA. Weather humor.
  • Rain was again forecast for Saturday, but there wasn’t really much moisture in the air. It was a little wet, attendance was probably down, and it was just cold & wet all day. Temp was in the 50s. I kept my jacket on all day.
  • This is the 2nd event that I had Deviled Egg Platters for sale … but I only had one made. I asked Mrs M if I could borrow her personal DEP to promote special orders. She said yes … and I sold 2x “just like this one.”
  • Interestingly, she had a retirement party at the house for a loved colleague a few weeks ago … and I got orders for 2x large cutting boards “just like hers.”
  • Maybe I should try to not sell more of her stuff.
  • Sold my whiskey sign about Grant … it was going to be a wedding present someone in the whiskey business. If you know about General Grant, you know that is appropriate.
  • Had a lady that wanted to buy an oval Lazy Susan. An oval Lazy Susan. She saw nothing wrong with the idea, and I couldn’t explain the problem with a rotating oval in the middle of a dinner table in a way that she could understand. No sale there. Thankfully.
  • Once again, I was amazed at the people that saw crackers on my display … and decided they were free food. One guy asked if it was OK, I said no, they are stale! … and he took one anyway. That was a first.
  • Strollers are getting bigger. One family had dad pushing a stroller with baby, and mom pushing a foldable wagon with a toddler. That family procession was about 15′ long.
  • My favorite transaction of the weekend was with a group that didn’t dress like me. Mothers all had scarves or hats or something on their head. They spoke with an accent I couldn’t identify. But one of the Moms loved one of my big end grain boards, and we talked about it … but the price was too much.
  • An hour later, her daughter was back and wanted to see if I would sell it to her tomorrow, after she talked to her siblings about sharing the cost for their mother … as a birthday present, just 2 days away.
  • Sunday afternoon, the daughter was back with crisp hundred dollar bills in her hand to buy the board for momma.
  • I’m a sucker for that, so I gave her an unexpectedly large amount of change back. Come to find out, this is an immigrant community that had moved from Russia to Armenia to America several decades ago, and now has at least 3 culturally significant communities on the west coast. Who knew? It was nice getting to know a bit about them, and I am glad I put a smile on these American faces.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope, not this event. This is Fresno, and I’m all about saving money. I had frozen dinners and left overs from home in the hotel room each night. But, Mrs M’s cooking is WONDERFUL. That’s what I meant. Mrs M for the win.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 440
  • Booth cost: $1,000 for a double booth, 10×20
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: I talked to four different people, but no names were exchanged. No personal touches here.
  • Visits in the booth by a promoter’s representative: Only when they were leaving info to solicit me to come back for the smaller fall show that conflicts with much bigger events I do in October. Nope.
  • Competitors: sure, though none that I found did exactly what I did. As always.
  • # transactions: 21 sales in 20 hours
  • Returning next year? Unclear to me at this point. I believe this is the best show available to me IN MARCH. I made a few dollars … literally, a few dollars. Already have one follow-up sale, though, so perhaps…. Well, Liza sang it, “What good is sitting alone in your room?” I would never compare the Fresno Home & Garden Show to a cabaret … but will I return? I simply don’t know. If gas triples in price, no.

Boards sold: 29

  • Signs: 6x
  • Cheese Slicer: 6x
  • Cheese Board: 4x
  • Trivets: 4x
  • Handled Board: 3x
  • Dip Server: 2x
  • Deviled Egg Platter: 2x
  • Large Cutting Board: 2x
  • Lazy Susan: 2x
  • Bread Saw: 1x (SOLD OUT)
  • Ampersand Board: 1x
  • Magic Bottle Opener: 1x
  • Heart: 1x

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

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

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

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

This was my 3rd appearance at the Fresno Home & Garden Show: you can read about my previous successes in 2017 and 2018.

This event isn’t great, and the 3 day event does require some patience to get through. However, the crowd is significant, they aren’t stopped by a bit of rain, and the event always delivers a good result. So far.

You bet I’m going back to Fresno! The event was March 1 – 3, 2019.

New Ideas

  • This is my first year at this event with signs. I took the Trimline frame, put up the mesh walls, and did what I do these days.

Observations

  • This event is worth my time, but it just has no sex appeal for me. I’m in building # 6 (not that you can find that designation anywhere but on the vendor map). The building does have some handmade vendors, but it’s mainly buy & sell. Want stretchy plastic bowl covers made in China? Got ’em. Want a set of pots & pans? Got ’em. Want a vacation to Lake Tahoe to see time shares? No problem. There’s also a big vendor selling patio furniture, another that’ll do your roof. It’s a pretty crazy environment.
  • Vendor parking is in a remote lot, but they provide a shuttle service in tricked out farm wagons. That’s appropriate for a county fairground, right?
  • A vendor in my building, “Would you like a hand spa? 30 seconds to wash away your dry skin?” He said this over and over and over and over. That’s not my idea of a good time. I’m sure he sold something, but yuck.
  • I didn’t spend much time doing walkabout at this event: I can only do this before the gates open at 10a, since I’m solo for the weekend in Fresno. There were a couple of other woodworkers that do similar work; one has a CNC and does cribbage boards. No one has the wood variety that I do ….
  • Another vendor in my building was selling bottle openers with an under-powered magnet hidden under a decorative tin that was glued to the cheap wood that mounted the bottle opener. I think they were $15 each, or 3 for $30. Something like that. Note that I had no Magic Bottle Openers to bring … and I haven’t made any since, either.
  • The thing about this event is … the crowd just keeps coming, and there are enough buyers mixed in that the event works for me. It’s a numbers game, and this first quarter event is just good enough to stay on my calendar.

The Food

  • Best Meal: nope. This is about saving money. If there are good restaurants in Fresno, I haven’t found them. I haven’t looked.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 408
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $92
  • Travel cost: $432
  • Total sales: $2,542
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 19, spread over 3 days and 22 hours of the event
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were at least a few, a couple were handmade
  • # woodworking vendors: everything from redwood exterior signs to wine barrel patio furniture to pallet wood signs
  • Returning next year? yes

Boards sold: 21

Cheese Slicer: 2

Cutting Boards: 3

Cribbage Boards: 3

Cheese Boards: 4

Coaster set: 2

Trivets: 2

Chess pieces: 1

Lazy Susans: 2

Sign: 2

The Board Chronicles: Vintage Days 2018   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.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

When I put together the calendar for this year – consulting with Mrs M, of course – I scheduled 3 events in Fresno in 8 weeks.

That’s a lot of Fresno.

However, the first event proved to be my best solo event ever, and the 2nd event proved to be … wet. Can’t win them all.

We’ve been told by people for years that we should do Vintage Days: “It’s perfect for you!” Finally, the stars aligned and it’s time to see what all the buzz is about.

This event is the largest special event put on each year by Fresno State University: it’s a community outreach event for them, done right. Free music. Beer garden. Fun for the kids. Vendors with – only – handmade goods. They invite thousands to come onto the campus and see what they’re about.

They even invited us.

New Ideas

  • I drove up on Thursday to set up Thursday afternoon. Mrs M followed after work: she didn’t want to drive up with me. Or her “job” was important. Or something. In any event, I drove up and set up the basic booth on Thursday, and then we went to the event early Friday to set up the product displays.
  • The event is on grass! I set up the booth on luxurious green grass.
  • We again stayed at an AirBNB for this event. This time, we were in a townhome. The cost is not less than a motel, really, but it is private and you have access to a full kitchen, so we did not eat out. That’s where the saving were: eating leftovers & frozen stuff from home.

Observations

  • Load in was about as easy as it could be. I drove to my booth on wide sidewalks, and unloaded. I only had to carry the stuff about 30′. Lovely.
  • You don’t choose your neighbors at events, and I wasn’t happy with mine.
  • No, I’m not talking about Mrs M. I did choose her, a long time ago (though not as a neighbor, come to think of it).
  • This event is exclusively for handmade goods, and the artist is to be in residence. My back door neighbor, though, was a reseller of very artfully made intarsia wall art & veneer-top tables. They are really very pretty … but he is not the artist, and the company that makes them (or, perhaps, imports them?) is famous in the art show business for reselling their work. I’m offended by lying liars getting into shows they don’t belong in.
  • Thankfully, my neighbor seemed to be the exception. I saw one other booth that had too much buy & sell merchandise for my taste (including a big display of sports team key fobs), but all of the other vendors at this show I looked at seemed genuine. Love that.
  • Love the vibe of this show. Love being in a handmade show.
  • The Lady said she came to Vintage Days to buy 2 things: a large cutting board, and a toe ring. I could help her with one of them.
  • Best t-shirt of the weekend:
    • Haikus are easy
    • Sometimes they do not make sense
    • Refrigerator
  • What is it with Fresno? When I came to the Home & Garden Show in March, I sold 6 chess boards. Way, way beyond expectations! This time, I sold zero chess boards … and sold out of coaster sets. Go figure.
  • Requests were for Magic Knife Holders (hmmmm), an expandable board for over a sink (nope), a “breakfast in bed tray” (nope), a magnifying glass (sorry, not a turner!), a mah jong board (nope), and many requests for a backgammon board (nope).
  • We had big hopes for this show … and we didn’t quite get there. I did some checking though, and this show is actually the best show we’ve ever had in April! Funny how everything else in April has been an underachiever. This show is definitely on the calendar for 2019.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M cooked breakfast on Sunday. Always a treat.
  • Worst Meal: We ordered pizza from a Fresno pizza chain called Me & Eds, and that was a mistake. Not my style.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 937
  • Booth cost: $565 (which includes $50 discount for a first-time vendor, as well as a $30 overnight parking fee for the trailer)
  • Food cost: $21
  • Travel cost: $815
  • Total sales: $2,020
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $619
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: Nope
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 103
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were several. No one does soap like Mrs M, IMHO, but there were many alternatives.
  • # woodworking vendors: Again, several. Noteworthy was a box maker that did very nice work.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:1
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 32

23x Coasters

1x Magic Bottle Opener

1x Large Cutting Board

1x Cutting Board

1x Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Bread Board

1x Serving Tray

1x Trivet

1x Cheese Board

1x Cribbage Board

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2018   Leave a comment

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

After 2 very uninspiring events, I’m hoping that the trek to Fresno will be a change in fortune.

Well, I’m a vendor. “Fortune” had better not be my goal.

But I digress.

We scheduled this event based on my success last year as a solo act. Read about 2017, here. This year, we initially planned for both of us to go, but Mrs M opted to stay home and make soaps & lotion while I went to the Home & Garden Show … that she doesn’t really believe is a good place for her, anyway.

So be it.

It’s the 32nd Annual Fresno Home & Garden Show. Last year, this was my Best. Solo. Event. Ever. I did it in a single booth, and I spent a bachelor’s weekend in Fresno.

That was high living, so you bet I’m returning for another round of fun.

New Ideas

  • I had a trailer, I had a double booth, and I had no canopy. I didn’t exactly travel light, but not having a canopy or 2 in the trailer – and no canopy weights! – is most unusual!
  • I took my largest-ever inventory of products to this event. 317 pieces were on display.
  • We booked the event this year as a double booth, and then opted for me to take it solo. This exhibits unprecedented flexibility on my part. Big booth? No problem. No Mrs M? No problem. Fresno? No problem.

Observations

  • I drove through rain about 60 miles south of Fresno, and I felt it following me. Rain was forecast for the first 2 days of this 3 day event. My booth is indoors, but so much of the show is not, I wondered if people would turn out in the rain. Only time will tell if I will match last year’s success.
  • Everything I said about set up last year is still true. This is a large complex, signage is minimal to non-existent, and you just have to feel your way. Luckily, my booth is in the same building as last year, and I drove right to it.
  • Well, sort of. Due to congestion, I had to have a 40 yard load in with the rolling carts. That’s not a big deal, but somewhat annoying when the load in is made more difficult by people just parking their cars wherever – and leaving them for their own convenience after they’re unloaded – with no concern for other vendors. You get a few entitled jerks, and everyone else suffers.
  • I suffered.
  • On Friday, we had rain. As predicted. Showers came every 2 or 3 hours, and the temperature was in the low 50s. My building was dry … but unheated. I just sat there and got cold. And bored. And when I’m bored, I get colder. It was a miserable day. Today sales on Friday = $80. Last year, sales were several times that. Friday was awful.
  • I went walk-about Saturday morning before opening, and looked at about 75% of the displays at the event. I found three (3!) different booths selling bottle openers with magnetic capability. Two booths were selling (IMHO) ugly rustic versions; one was selling something similar (but not as magical) as the ones that I sell. Still, this was the first time EVER that I have seen other woodworkers selling wanna-be MBOs.
  • He said he was a woodworker. “I mostly cut up old furniture and use the wood. We don’t have any furniture in the house anymore.”
  • Best t-shirt slogan of the weekend: “Rhinos are just chubby unicorns.”
  • I was walking behind a couple of women as they turned the corner in front of my booth.
    • Lady 1: Wow.
    • Lady 2: Someone has fun.
    • Lady 1: Beautiful.
    • Lady 2: Some people hang these.

How can I not smile?

  • Saturday had better weather, though it was still wet. Not as cold, fortunately (there’s that word again), so the day was much more pleasant. Sales, though were down from last year. Significantly down. As the day wore on, I was down 40%.
  • But, to use a baseball analogy (it’s Spring Training!), you play all 9 innings. In the last hour  of Saturday, a 3 generation Sikh family (the patriarch had such a wonderful beard!) came into the booth and bought 2 chess sets and 2 Lazy Susans. That transaction, the largest of the weekend, put me ahead of prior year at the end of Saturday … even though it was raining. Sunday, though, will tell the tale: that was the biggest sales day last year.
  • Sunday was a clear day. Blue skies, but still a bit crisp in the wind. Can I top last year’s best day of the event?
  • I do hate friends that turn to a shopper and say, “You don’t want to buy that.” I just want to scream “GET OUT OF MY BOOTH.”
  • But, I don’t.
  • Why is it that, now that I have chess boards, people will look at them, turn to me, and say, “Are these cutting boards?” Can I not ever WIN?
  • When a legacy customer walks into the booth, shops for several minutes, and then says to me, “I’ll just buy one today!” … well, OK, that’s a win.
  • Requests were for a mahjong board, a bread board, a pistachio board, a counter top, a cheese slicer (coming!) and a beef jerky board.
  • Sales were slow into the mid afternoon on Sunday, unfortunately. I sold 10 items, but all were priced at $50 or below, so I was down significantly from last year’s best day. Thankfully, I play all 9 innings.
  • The last sale of the day was my last Chess Board. I sold 6 Chess Boards at this event, and 5 of them sold with a new offering that’s not handmade by me: sets of imported chess pieces from India. So, again, I’m out of chess boards. This last batch of 10 that took me too many months to make only lasted for 6 events … and I sold most of them with chess pieces. At a Home & Garden Show. Go figure.
  • Again on Sunday, the tale was told in the final hour of the event. I had 3 nice sales that totaled over $400, and that is what made this event, again:

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • The double booth at this event helped me sell 13 different items on display. I need more real estate, but do we really want to do a triple booth when I share with Mrs M?

The Food

  • Best Meal: BJs Brewhouse was just down the street from my hotel, and I had their wonderfully cold wedge salad and then the Parmesan Crusted Chicken. This was a good meal.
  • Honorable Mention: I found DiCicco’s Family Italian Restaurant a mile further down the road, and that was a great way to unwind after a difficult day a-vendoring. Highly recommended!
  • Worst Meal: The “free” breakfast at the Best Western on Friday. Paper-thin bacon with scrambled eggs. The curiosity of the meal is that they buy bread that’s too big to fit into the toaster. What are they thinking?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 397
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $103
  • Travel cost: $343
  • Total sales: $2,164
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $512
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2. One lady asked me where leaks in the roof were, and another pair dropped off solicitations for their next 2 shows. No introductions. No personal contact.
  • Saturday alarm: Nope
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 25 spread over 25 hours.  However, 41% of total sales were done in the final hours on Saturday and Sunday.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I didn’t see the entire show, but there were a couple in my building. Neither had the presentation that Mrs M did … well, that she might have had. Since she wasn’t there, she had nuttin’.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board guy that I found; he had a small, artsy display. He offered nothing larger than a small board, by my definition.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 34:1
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 35

Coasters: 8

Chess Board: 6

Clipboards: 4

Trivets: 3

Heart-shaped Board: 3

Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Cutting Board: 1

3D Carved Sign: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Word Block: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 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.

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

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

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

After all, it fit our calendar.

Time to shake off the cobwebs.

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

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

The Food

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

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

Friday Snack: See above.

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

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

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

Saturday Snack: See above.

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

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

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

Sunday Snack: See above.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 22

Magic Bottle Openers: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Pizza Server: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Small Board: 1

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