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The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 2019   Leave a comment

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

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

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

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

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Avocados everywhere. Sounds like a good idea, yes?

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

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

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

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

New Ideas

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


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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 26

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

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