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The Board Chronicles: Goleta Lemon Festival 2017   Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New Ideas

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


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

The Food

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

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

Saturday Snack: Nope.

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

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

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

Sunday Snack: Did I mention the Pepperidge Farm cookies?

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 14

Cheese Boards: 4

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Small Boards: 2

Letter Clipboard: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard:  1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Goleta Lemon Festival   3 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.

Goleta Lemon FestivalWe’ve done the Strawberry Festival. The Poppy Festival. The Almond Blossom Festival.

Time for some lemons.

Goleta is 77 miles due west of us. It’s part of the central California coast, north of Santa Barbara. We found local motel prices were, uh, pricey in Santa Barbara County, so we ended up driving another 33 miles to the motel in Buellton.

This was the 24th annual Goleta Lemon Festival, celebrating the area’s lemon orchards.

Didn’t see any.

Velda wanted lemons for her lotion display, so we went to the local grocery store to buy some.

The lemons for sale were products of Chile. Those warning bells just turned into sirens….

New Ideas

  • Best attempt to energize social media by the promoter, complete with sending out custom graphic with a timely admonition to invite all of your “clients, friends and followers” to the event. Predictably, the person running the event for the Chamber of Commerce was under 30. Here are the perfect graphics they sent out a few days before the event:
  • Mrs M premiered 2 products here: Goat Milk Lotion & Beard Oil. Both were successful introductions. Because she needed more products.
  • We were an island, really … our double booth was open on 3 sides. The back of the booth was open, but there was a kids activity business there on Saturday and a kids music activity business there on Sunday. They were open air, so we had great, great visibility on the corner of the vendor area, right next to the kids in plastic bubbles playing in the water. Everybody had to check that out, and we were right there. Perfect location.


  • Could not find the drive in entrance to the event area. I could see the set-up, in the city park, but I couldn’t find the road to get there. Silly me. I was supposed to jump the curb with the not-wide-enough wheel chair ramp, and drive in on the sidewalk. Well, OK, then. Here we go.
  • Set up had barely begun when a neighboring canopy blew over and began to tumble towards a bunch of clueless ladies setting up their booth next to their car. I caught the canopy, helped right it and collapse it so it would not harm any people or possessions. The canopy wasn’t weighted at all, of course. When I returned to our booth, Velda and I muttered it together: “Amateurs.”
  • Surprisingly small number of vendors. This was not a huge event, and certainly didn’t have 35,000 in attendance, as the information provided by the event on a vendor website promised. There were perhaps a dozen retail vendors (3 of them were jewelry) and perhaps 2 dozen commercial vendors or local companies there promoting their business. There were several food vendors, some of which were local fundraisers selling lemony goodness.
  • This Festival is promoted as a family friendly event, and there were LOTS of young families there for the wide range of kids activities. Pony rides to Johnny Jump Ups for tweens. There was a track to drive battery operated John Deere tractors for the 3 year olds. A climbing wall. 4 or 5 bounce houses. Happy kids were everywhere.
  • Lots of UCSB students were there as well. No idea why, really … but we had college students, many of which had ridden their bikes to get there. It’s the central coast, after all.
  • I got 3 requests for backgammon boards … which is now my most requested item. Hmmmmm. Also a request for salad tongs, which I’ll file under “no.”
  • Never expected Velda to say this to me: “Here’s a pretty picture of soap.”
  • Best line of the weekend came from a young father there with his wife and 2 carrot-topped children. He was wearing a Cardinals t-shirt, and I commented that I grew up a Cardinals fan, but then converted to the Dodgers when I moved to LA. I congratulated the parents on having 2 red-headed children. Part of the 1%. I observed that I used to have red hair … to which the Dad replied, “Did you lose the red hair when you stopped being a Cardinals fan?”
  • You know the event didn’t go well for some when one vendor neighbor told us she’d never do another pop-up event like this.
  • Velda was overwhelmed by the business on Saturday: it was Mrs M’s best single day ever. The event was the biggest event ever for Mrs M. Those central coast people must need their handmade lotion. Or, perhaps it was what several people suggested to Velda: we had the best products there. Apparently.
  • While Mrs M prospered, Mr M was bored. Last Saturday, I outsold Mrs M, 10:1. This Saturday, Mrs M outsold me, 2:1 … the first time that’s happened in more than a year. And it’s about time!

The Food

Friday Dinner: Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Buellton. To paraphrase MrsMowry, we were drinking better beer than you were.

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4 for me & # 1 for Velda. We ate while driving to the event.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & cracker presentation. It got kudos from the customers. Of course.

Saturday Snack: Too hot. Who’s hungry?

Saturday Dinner: We couldn’t get a reservation to the Hitching Post, so we were stuck seeking comfort food at Pea Soup Andersen’s. It’s a traditional tourist-driven restaurant on the California 101 highway. And … ’nuff said.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday. Still the best option.

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & crackers, part II. Still a good idea.

Sunday Snack: Velda had a lemon beer.

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers at home. 9:15pm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 385 (we drive 2 cars to have enough cargo capacity at most events)
  • Booth cost: $450 for a handcrafter 10×20
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,784
  • # containers of product taken: 23
  • # boards available: 104
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:30a (oops. Should have been 6:30a)
  • # transactions: No clue. Velda gave up & stopped counting. For Mrs. M, this was the Best. Event. Ever.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other, selling soap & lotion bars
  • # woodworking vendors: one other, selling kid’s wooden toys
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1

Boards sold: 13

Small Board: 4

Small Sous Chef: 2

Lazy Susan: 2

Small Surfboard: 2

Chess Board: 1

Large Surfboard: 1

Cheese Board: 1

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