Archive for the ‘handmade’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I am ALMOST caught up. After this post … one more to go.

Thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Ridgecrest, CA. Santa’s Art Shop. Year 6.

For each of the last 5 years, this event was our biggest event of the year.

For each of the last 5 years, we set a sales record at this event.

Every year: Best. Event. Ever.

Every year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was time for year 6, 12/7 & 8/2019.

No pressure.

New Ideas

  • Nope, this was not new territory. After 5 years, we knew what we were doing. I did have several new products: Cheese Slicers. Cracker Things. Garlic Dipping Boards. But, we had legacy clients and they knew where to find us at Santa’s Art Shop.

Observations

  • This event began with me freaking out.
  • Thank GOODNESS I have friends.
  • A good friend.
  • You’ve heard the story of my Garlic Dipping Boards: how I collaborate with Nicole, who makes my Great Garlic Graters. We told Nicole about this event, and she decided that she wanted to play.
  • She told the promoter that she wanted to be next to Mrs M’s Handmade. The promoter – who was new this year – told Nicole that we weren’t signed up.
  • It was Black Friday, November 29. The promoter told our friend that we weren’t signed up FOR OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF EVERY YEAR.
  • EVERY. YEAR.
  • OK, go.
  • Freaking out.
  • Me.
  • What happened? I have no idea. How did the promoter not have our application? No idea.
  • No.
  • Idea.
  • Managing Mrs M’s Handmade – and Mr M’s Woodshop – is a big job. To keep track of the details, I keep a spreadsheet of every event on our radar.
  • Every event.
  • I have promoter contact information. Websites. Costs. Descriptions. Comments. Dates. And, I keep track of whether or not we’ve approved the event for this year’s calendar (Mrs M and I), if the application is in, and if we’ve received approval.
  • The spreadsheet said that the application was in.
  • Honest.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter didn’t have the application, and the NEW PROMOTER THIS YEAR did not reach out to us to ask why we were missing after 5 years of faithful vending.
  • What did happen, though, was that my friend Nicole’s application said she wanted to be next to our booth (bless her), so the promoter called Nicole … and told her we were not on the list.
  • Nicole did not accept that. Oh YES we were coming. YES we were a part of the event. And, YES, she wanted to be next to our booth.
  • Bless her.
  • And, in the end, it worked out just fine. I called the promoter at Nicole’s direction, the promoter accepted that we could be a part of the event if I would just submit (re-submit?) the application, and get the check in the mail.
  • Today.
  • I did. That day.
  • Now, in 20/20 hindsight … I don’t know what happened. Normally, I keep a copy of EVERY APPLICATION on file so I know what I’ve provided to each promoter. Every application. However, I know that when this application was due, my life was out of control and I remember not keeping a copy of a couple of applications. This one? No clue.
  • But, the spreadsheet said the application was in.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter gets a vote, too, and she said she never got it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Must be, right? But every event is different, and we do 25+ events every year. Some will talk to you, some don’t, some will NOT talk to you … and I’ve gotten into the habit of submitting my application and forgetting about it.
  • My mistake.
  • Thankfully, our 3 booths were still available (!), and we slid right back into that opening. After Thanksgiving. For an event on the first weekend in December.
  • Thank you, Nicole. Couldn’t have done it without you, obviously.
  • And, yes, paid for dinner at Mon Reve. It was wonderful, too.
  • This event is now about legacy, and we have many fans in Ridgecrest after 5 years. Thank goodness.
  • One customer did observe the sign above my head as I sat in the booth (“Meet The Maker”) and asked if I was the maker. Uh, yes. They wanted to make sure, as I might have been sitting in the wrong chair.
  • Uh, OK. Me = Maker. Be calm.
  • We were way, way down on Saturday. Almost 40% down. Was it the new promoter? No, I think not … perhaps it was the major earthquake that Ridgecrest had in 2019. People had to fix their homes, perhaps? In any event, we were down on Saturday. Way down.
  • This event finally – finally! – fixed it’s #1 problem. There was WiFi, which meant that PayPal transactions could be done in the metal building without me having to go outside to find a cell signal. It would have been great to get a heads up about this, but oh well. We had WiFi, and that made transactions SO much easier.
  • I have fans in Ridgecrest that buy something from me every year. That is so sweet, and so unexpected. Every time.
  • I have to work very hard to earn those accolades. Every time.
  • But, alas, we were down on Saturday. We were down on Sunday.
  • The streak is broken. This was not the best event of the year. This was not our best event ever. It was good, certainly, but not even in the Top 5 all time.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mon Reve, a ridiculously good French restaurant on the edge of the Mojave desert.
  • Honorable Mention: Olvera’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is a good value for good food.
  • Honorable Mention 2: Kristi’s, a local “diner” that serves comfort food, every day. We had lunch on Friday and dinner on Sunday here; definitely good decisions.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for our lunches was easy; we didn’t pack food for this trip. But to call the vendors at these events fair … well, that’s what they are. IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 270
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $315
  • Travel cost: $368
  • Total sales: $4,439
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, as always
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, as always
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably. But, perhaps we should give it a rest….

Boards sold: 50

  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Lazy Susans: 3
  • Trivets: 5
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Bread Saws: 5
  • Card Box: 1

The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Fall 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. After this one … just 2 more to go. And they are the big ones.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Paso Robles is a lovely town near the central coast of California. It’s the home to several wineries, and it’s a nice distance for weekend getaways from the LA area.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

The big park near the downtown area is perfect for strolling through an art fair. You get tourists, you get locals. I did this event with the same promoter in April, and now I’m back to see if October is as good as its reputation. The event was 10/19 & 20/2019.

New Ideas

  • I’ve got a woodworking buddy, Jeff Hewitt, that lives in town. He doesn’t do this event, but he showed up – uninvited! – to help me set up. That is above and beyond the call of duty, and his help was greatly appreciated. As you know, it’s usually just me. Jeff was a great help.
  • You can see Jeff’s work here. Enjoy!

Observations

  • I found a “Granny cottage” AirBnB about 4 blocks from downtown, and it was a perfect place for me. Well, nearly, anyway.
  • Suggested sign: “There are a thousand reasons not to drink, but I can’t think of one.” – Mark Twain. The only problem is, I couldn’t source the quote. I did find this quote from him: “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.” Alas, that’s not a foodie quote, so I won’t make that sign.
  • This, however, is one that will be appearing soon: “Never Delay Kissing A Pretty Girl, Or Opening A Bottle Of Whiskey.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • Reviewing the above quotes … I’m pretty sure that it’s true that writers drink. And I must admit I’m enjoying some bourbon as I write this. Hmmmm.
  • I’m a guy. Logically driven. I like my wood designs symmetrical. And, when I display my work, I line things up. Straight lines.
  • And then there’s Mrs M. She (though absent this weekend!) will walk up to my display and make everything crooked. No straight lines. And, for the record, she’s a Lady. I believe that’s how women’s minds work.
  • My retail consultant (!), Delinda from Sweet Spot Home Decor, is also a Lady. She also makes my displays crooked. See, it’s a woman thing.
  • I note that for this event, I endeavored to make crooked displays, channeling my left brain. My inner female, if you will. And, try though I might, my customers – most of whom are female – will straighten them out.
  • So, like men from the dawn of time, I’m confused. Ladies like crooked displays, but if I make them crooked, they straighten them out.
  • Men. Can’t. Win.
  • In my opinion.
  • Results for the weekend were pretty good, actually, but not outstanding. In 2020, I have another event in mind, so I’ll probably miss this one. Which, gastronomically, sounds like a horrible idea.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch is a true find. I bought Jeff and his lovely wife dinner at my favorite Paso restaurant (and he makes the serving boards that they use!). Worth the trip, highly recommended.
  • Honorable Mention: Leftovers in the AirBnB. Saves money!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 372
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $382
  • Total sales: $1,939
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: At least 4 others
  • Returning next year? I don’t think so

Boards sold: 24

  • Serving Pieces: 1
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 7
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: VHS Choir Holiday Boutique 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.

This event has become one of our favorite events. We’ve done it every year! I didn’t publish The Board Chronicles in 2014 when we first did the event, but you can read about the rest here: 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The event happens the 2nd weekend of December.

This event has what I like best about doing local events in Santa Clarita:

  • It supports arts education
  • I’m home after the event before the booth is struck at a typical event
  • The choir members do the heavy lifting for me
  • There’s an award-winning choir singing during the event
  • I see a lot of friends at this event every year

New Ideas

  • This is the ONLY table top event we are doing this year. We have 20′ of tables, and that’s it. In my typical solo booth, I have 46′ of tables just for me.

Observations

  • There are a small number of tables at this event, so it can be difficult to get into. I’m fortunate that we’ve been here for a few years … and we get the same tables every year. I love that.
  • Mrs M showed up on Saturday to help run the booth. Who knew? She had fun seeing her clients, as did I. Events like this one, in our hometown, are about legacy. It’s always good to see your friends … including those that used to be a Cub Scout in Pack 575, and now have families of their own.
  • Love. That.
  • In 2018, this event had record sales. We did not expect to repeat that this year, as we had just been at the Saugus Boutique, and didn’t expect to repeat the success of last year.
  • We were wrong.
  • Record sales. Again.
  • Note that most of our sales were of new products: Cheese Slicers, Cracker Things and Garlic Dipping Boards. Innovation is key!
  • This event just works for us. It’s a couple of weeks before Christmas, which makes it ideal for local people to find us for their holiday shopping. We had some appointment sales, we had people that knew we would be there because of this website … and it worked.
  • You bet we’ll be back in 2020.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 12
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $25
  • Travel cost: 0
  • Total sales: $2,049
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: 6:30a
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 1 other soaper
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do … but someone was there selling signs, and another doing wine barrel stave coat hangers. A third was selling wooden animal puzzles that were scroll saw work.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:0
  • Returning next year? yes

Boards sold: 18

Cheese Slicers: 5

Cracker Things: 5

Serving Pieces: 3

Garlic Dipping Boards: 4

Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: Bishop Mule Days 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!

** ** **

I like this event.

Bishop Mule Days is the world’s largest gathering of all things mule. I would think Missouri might host such an event, but that honor has come her. Bishop is a lovely mountain community, near Mt Whitney (on every serious hiker’s bucket list, as the tallest mountain in the lower 48 at 14,505′).

These event is on Memorial Day weekend, and takes place in a bucolic park. It’s got a stream running through it. It’s got a duck pond. The park’s in the middle of the downtown area, and that means the parade with all of those mule teams go right by on Saturday. Tourists drive by all weekend, so the crowd is a mix of tourists, hikers, locals, and the mule people. It’s a great, diverse mix, and I’m happy to return for my 2nd year.

It’s a rare 4 day event: set up on Thursday, and then you’re open for business Friday – Monday. It’s the mountains, so there’s often a passing shower or two, but since this is a community that has a significant commitment to outdoor recreation, the weather isn’t that big of a factor. Thank goodness.

New Ideas

  • I convinced Mrs M to come with me this year, and we upgraded the booth to a triple. Just like last week at the California Strawberry Festival, I got the Trimline and she got one of the pop-ups.

Observations

  • We I found a great AirBnB last year. A young couple converted their oversized garage into a “Granny Suite,” with all of the amenities, including a washer & dryer. The couple created the Suite to raise money for their daughter to go to college; it’s my pleasure to contribute to Chelsea’s fund each year … she is just out of preschool now!
  • The advantage of the AirBnB – beyond to Chelsea – is that it allows us to bring food from home. Rather than going out to eat, we go back to our rental, heat left overs or whatever, and relax. It really does save a lot of money and is easier, to boot. AirBnB’s don’t work in every community that we go to, but when it works it can be very, very good.
  • This event is hosted by the Inyo Council for the Arts; they promote all arts and art education in Inyo County. That’s a wonderful thing, and I’m happy to support their efforts as well.
  • Even though I convinced Mrs M to join me this year, she wasn’t able to get Thursday off from work, so she had to drive separately, arriving late Thursday evening. Did she do that just so she didn’t have to help me put up the booths? That’s not the way she tells the story.
  • This is a long 4 day event, but there’s enough traffic from each of the different audiences to justify the time. Friday is a bit slow, but there is still substantial traffic on this holiday Friday. Saturday is when the parade goes by the park, so traffic is very high. Sunday is the biggest day of most 3-day holiday weekends, and you really don’t feel the slow traffic until the few hours that the booths are open on Monday.
  • The load in and out are a bit challenging, as everything has to be carted from the trailer, through the parking lot onto the sidewalk, across the creek and wooden bridge, and then across the grass to the booth. It’s all very doable, but it is a 60 yard haul.
  • I was happy to hire a couple of local guys to help me do the load out on Monday. They helped me get home about 2 hours quicker after the long holiday drive.
  • I left my deposit for 2020 with the promoter on the last day of the event. This event was good – in fact, it ended up being our #2 event of the year.
  • I like mules.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 846
  • Booth cost: $870
  • Food cost: $127
  • Travel cost: $500
  • Total sales: $4,899
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # transactions: We were consistently busy every day at one time or another!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: several, but only one did similar work to me
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 47

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

Have I mentioned I love strawberries?

This event has been one of my favorites for several years. It’s local-ish. It’s a handmade event. It’s well run. And, it’s big. Very big. Attendance is in the 60,000+ range.

You can read about our history here: 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The event is always the 3rd weekend in May.

Yes, this is our 5th year in a row at the California Strawberry Festival, Very, very few events are that popular with Mrs M’s Handmade!

New Ideas

  • We’re upping our game and doing a triple booth here for the first time. Their current booth configuration is 4 booth pods (every booth is a corner!) so we have an L-shaped booth that’s a bit awkward … but, still, familiar territory. I’m under the Trimline, and Mrs M will be under the adjacent pop-up.
  • Mrs M opted out again to work at her “job”, so I enlisted Miss M to join me in Oxnard. She likes hanging with Dad once in a while … until someone asks her if she’s Mrs M.

Observations

  • I arrived on time for a 1pm set-up … and there were probably 20 vendor canopies already up. I guess early can be on time, too.
  • The majority of vendors for this event set up on the Oxnard College soccer field. This year, the college is coordinating with the promoter, providing college students on sports teams for hire to set up and take down. I’m happy to help the baseball team buy uniforms, as they do the heavy lifting for me.
  • The load in for this event is not easy: I’ve got about a 100 yard haul from the trailer to the booth, and most of the haul is on turf. I typically need about a dozen trips to deliver everything to the booth. With the triple booth set-up for this event, it doesn’t get any easier.
  • Worst non-customer ever: “Excuse me, sir, can you move so I can read the sign behind you?”
  • I like the set up for this event, really, but it is also true that there’s absolutely no way to tell someone where you are. There are no markers that distinguish aisles at all. There’s nothing good about customers not being able to find you easily.
  • I lost a sale today because the piece was on display, and the buyer didn’t want to buy the one that everyone had touched. The piece was unique, of course, and pristine … but it had been touched by the great unwashed masses. Not what the customer wanted.
  • Best T-shirt pair of the weekend – it was a his & hers.
    • His: She’s My Sweet Potato
    • Hers: I Yam
  • OK, I like cute. Sometimes.
  • This event changed in 2018, when the vendor area moved from a street (with very easy trailer access) to the soccer field. Sales peaked in 2016, and declined in 2017, and then again in 2018. This year … down again. This is still a solid event, but it is an expensive one that is a fundraiser for the Oxnard community. Luckily, my only expenses are for the booth, gas and temporary help; I stay at home for this event that’s about an hour away.
  • Note that sales declined in spite of the triple booth. Hmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 216
  • Booth cost: $1,050
  • Food cost: $82
  • Total sales: $3,213
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: Not as many as needed
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there are a few
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do, but there’s a maker of shaped plastic boards as well as other woodworkers
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 26

  • Signs: 4
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Card Boxes: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Chess Board: 1
  • Clipboard: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Pig: 1
  • Cheese Slicer: 1
  • Heart: 1
  • Trivets: 2

The Board Chronicles: Gilroy Garlic 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

Yes, we were there.

We were at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, and had a perfectly wonderful time until the crazy guy showed up and started shooting at 5:41pm on Sunday, July 28. I’ve already told that story in a special edition of The Board Chronicles: Terror. I’ve also told the story of how we picked up the pieces, Recovery.

This is not that story. This is the story of the event up until the crazy guy ruined a great weekend.

New Ideas

  • I created a brand new product for this event, Garlic Dipping Boards. Mrs M is taking credit for the idea, and I am wisely giving her all of the credit. Our good friend Nicole makes the Great Garlic Graters, and I make the boards. The customer get to choose the GGG that they like, and then pair it with the GDB. I hope this works! I made 24x new boards for this weekend!
  • Display of the GDBs required food, I thought. We had olive oil, garlic and bread to show how you could use a Dipping Board.

Observations

  • Signing up for the event proved to be a bit of a challenge: they sent me a commercial application. Fees for a double booth were something like $3,000.
  • Uh, no.
  • I carefully explained that I made everything I sold, and eventually – eventually – I was given a revised contract at the handmade vendor rate. My double booth cost “only” $1,450. Plus, we were paying for 5 hotel nights, meals … I was not facing a small number when you add it all up.
  • This event is a big idea. Mrs M has had it on her bucket list for a long time: if you’ve ever eaten at her table, you know she likes garlic. No, she Loves. Garlic. She didn’t want to be a vendor at the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Festival, she just wanted to be there to enjoy this ultimate Foodie event.
  • Check.
  • So, I set up the Trimline and my typical double booth, and Mrs M got to be my assistant (“sit there, look pretty, and wrap up the purchases if you can.”) Her other duties were to enjoy the festival and get lunch.
  • Oh, and, come to find out, they serve alcohol at the Festival. They have commemorative copper mugs in which they serve a very nice Moscow Mule.
  • Very nice.
  • We each had one each day.
  • We needed a set of the mugs … how else would we get them?
  • So, you see, we were intent on enjoying the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and we did a good job.
  • People came to the Festival from all over (60,000 is the estimated attendance). Local people volunteer, and are “paid” with contributions to local charities in their name. So, high school cheerleading squads volunteered and bought uniforms, food bank patrons volunteered to fund operations, and so on. This is a very big, very well-rooted community event.
  • Did I mention there was alcohol? People have a good time at the Festival. One of my early customers was wearing a hat with a solar powered fan in the crown. Lovely! And, come to find out, she did field archaeology, so the hat was a professional tool as well.
  • The biggest problem we found on Friday was that our cellphones didn’t work. At all. Verizon didn’t work in the park??? Come to find out, no. Verizon had zero signal in the park. We had this VERY big event and we couldn’t do any transactions with PayPal?
  • Nothing to do about it … but go buy another phone from Sprint that evening after the event closed. We had just enough time, and went back to the motel to download the software and get the phone ready for a big Saturday. It worked perfectly. So … don’t use Verizon at this event. Check.
  • I should have expected it. I put a display of food on the table … so people helped themselves. My goodness, what were they thinking? The bread was a crouton after a day in the sun, and people were still eating the bread! I couldn’t believe it.
  • But I should have expected it.
  • Quote from a wise male customer: “I don’t need Google. My wife knows everything.”
  • A young couple took a while to make their decision … but they eventually decided that a small end grain board just wasn’t big enough, so they bought the biggest board in the booth. Love that.
  • Sunday, I was examining the booth, and I had a very good idea of my inventory at that point. I realized that I had a heart-shaped board stolen that morning. I believe that $60 board is the first piece that’s ever been stolen from my display, after 6 years of vending. It had to happen.
  • After the dust settled, this was a very good event (until 5:41pm on Sunday). Total sales were strong. In fact, this was the #3 event of the year in 2019. Very good.
  • On the other hand, with costs skyrocketing due to the terror event, the event was not nearly as profitable as I had hoped. Is it fair to attibute the crime-caused costs directly to the event? There’s no good answer here.
  • So, will I be back? I hope to … but I’m going to wait until I see the communication from the event producer. I assume attendance will be down in 2020 because of the terror event in 2019. Will my costs go down in recognition of the (assumed) lower attendance?
  • I’ll wait & see.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We had a nice Italian meal on Saturday evening at Maurizio’s in nearby Morgan Hill. This postage stamp of a restaurant did not have enough seating, and no waiting area for those, like us, waiting for those all-too-rare seats. But, the food was good.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: This should have been about 625 miles, but ended up being a lot more, as you know, due to the terror incident
  • Booth cost: $1,450
  • Food cost: irrelevant because of the extra costs incurred
  • Travel cost: see above. 5 hotel nights turned into 7 hotel nights. 1 round trip turned into 3 round trips.
  • Total sales: $4,792
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 54
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Returning next year? Probably. Maybe. I hope so.

Boards sold: 68

  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 16
  • Signs: 22
  • Magic Bottle Opener: 1
  • Hearts: 4
  • Pig: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 2
  • Trivets: 1
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Custom Order: 2
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1
  • Cheese & Cracker Servers: 1
  • Serving Tray: 1
  • Large Serving Piece: 2
  • Bread Saws: 7
  • Small Board: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 1