Archive for the ‘holiday boutique’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: VHS Softball Holiday Boutique 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.

I blame Velda.

Of course.

This event came at us late, after we’d booked our 4th quarter. It’s a first time event.

It’s a rule: Don’t. Do. First. Time. Events.

But, the organizer did help us get into the Boutique Fantastique at Saugus High 4 years ago, and she definitely wanted us to be a part of her new event that’s a fundraiser for the Valencia High softball team.

But it’s on a bad date, just 9 days before Christmas and halfway through Hanukkah (too late for holiday shopping, right?).

Oh, and they’re getting seventy (70) vendors for this first time event. That’s way too many unless the crowd is enormous.

For a first time event.

And, did I mention, Velda had to work at her “job” this weekend? So, I would be solo at the event.

However, she said to do it. It fit on the calendar. What was I supposed to do?

I know: just do the event and get it over with.

New Ideas

  • We teamed up with our friend Nicole, who makes lovely ceramics. She made 2 versions of soap dishes, which are now offered for the first time by Mrs M.
  • 6:30a load-in, and Mrs M took pity on me. She’ll help me set up, and then leave do go to her “job.” I appreciate the help, truly.
  • I have no expectations for this event. Well, I want to cover costs, certainly, but beyond that … no expectations. I’ve stated sales could be anywhere between $500 and $1,500. I don’t care. No expectations.
  • Gretchen Wilson, who hales from Pocahontas, IL, said it very well: “I’m here for the party.”

Observations

  • Event # 15 of 15 in our 4th quarter.
  • Sunday about 6p, it’ll be party time. But until then … back to business.
  • Can I nominate the graphic for this event as the worst of the year? They need a little bit of Christmas spirit to go with their mascot. Or, perhaps, instead of their mascot. IMHO.
  • Sports marketing is not my thing, so I’ll concentrate on marketing something I know about … like lotion bars.
  • Load in was at 6:30a; I was there a few minutes early, and the organizer led me into parking right by the gym. Load in was as easy as it could be.
  • Except for the student volunteers … who didn’t arrive until 6:45a. Don’t know why their call time wasn’t at 6:15a, but I don’t make the rules. I was mostly loaded in before the volunteers offered to help me.
  • In the end, load in was easy, and Mrs M helped with set up as much as she could.
  • The event started at 10a, and I had customers that came to see me fill the opening hours. It was 12n before I could look at the clock. Sales were not brisk, but I was busy helping people. Far beyond my expectations, luckily.
  • I finally got lunch at 1p, and was promptly ‘whelmed again by ladies clamoring for lotion bars. Happy to help; my sandwich had to wait.
  • Mostly, the aisles were empty. My neighbor hadn’t made her booth fee at the end of Saturday. Some did OK, others were frustrated. I was just happy that the party was coming.
  • Sunday, the aisles were empty. As expected.
  • Vendors started disappearing Saturday night, actually; not all returned for Sunday. Some vendors had started packing at 2p on Sunday, which is sad. The event wasn’t generating many sales, true, but when vendors start to leave any customers that are there just see “over.” The rules were clear: don’t leave before 4p, or you won’t be asked back. I wonder if the organizers were, uh, organized enough – and have the backbone – to enforce that rule.
  • My last customer came to the booth and bought several gift bags from Mrs M … at 4:03pm. We never leave early.
  • Load out was about like load in: Mrs M helped, thankfully. Student volunteers were absent, though one Dad did help us quite a bit. I was surprised that this event, conceived as a large money maker for the softball team, did not have the full support of the team, the coaches & parents. Perhaps they’d like to return to the mandatory selling of tickets to a different fundraiser, as they’ve done in year’s past?
  • Our “success” at this event was driven by repeat customers coming to find us, often at our specific invitation. That’s why we had the sales that we did.
  • Remember how I said sales could be from $500 to $1,500? We ended up near the high end of that range, because of our legacy customers. Had we relied on the customers brought by the promoter, we would have been near the low end of the range … and only achieved that because the other vendors were so bored, they went shopping in Mrs M’s booth. Thankfully.

Addition, 12/18/17

The Signal covered the event, complete with a picture of me and another of Mrs M’s products. They didn’t identify me well, nor did I even know the Signal was photographing me! In any event, here’s the link.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home.

Saturday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s small sub … not enough.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Backyard Grub & Brew. New place, to me, and well worth the visit. I had short ribs. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, from Jimmy Dean’s

Sunday Lunch: The Heart Attack sandwich from the smoked meat vendor that was outside. It was better than average … not great.

Sunday Snack: Mrs M gave me a can of nuts to eat, so I did.

Sunday Dinner: We we went to a new place, Mama’s Table, for comfort food. We were about the only people there, but the food was good. Definitely recommended.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 12
  • Booth cost: $210
  • Food cost: $16
  • Travel cost: $9
  • Total sales: $1,291
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,056
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 35
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other, who was doing the “organic, natural” thing.
  • # woodworking vendors: 2 others. 1 was making American flags in various derivations, and the other was a first-timer making cutting boards.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:0
  • Returning next year? maybe

Boards sold: 10

Trivets: 4

Custom Order: 1

Lazy Susan: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

 

The Final Pieces For 2017   Leave a comment

Well … not quite.

These are the last pieces I made to sell this year, but there are a few more special orders that will be completed by Christmas.

I promised.

There will also be a couple that may not be done until New Years … that’s OK, that was promised, as well.

But back to this potpourri of wooden things.

I started with lumber, and ended up here. These pieces were actually finished over the last few weeks. But, I didn’t have time to photograph, process and publish them, until now.

Since there’s only one event left this year – the Valencia High Softball Boutique & Silent Auction, December 16 & 17 at Valencia High – I don’t expect these pieces to sell this year. Here, you’ll see chess boards, lazy Susans, cutting boards, cheese boards and small boards.

That’s good: I’ll need something for next year, when this all starts up again.

But that’s a worry for another day. Please enjoy the latest pieces to make it out of the Woodshop!

The Board Chronicles: Trailer Park Holiday Boutique 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.

Trailer Park is a company you’ve probably never heard of … but you’ve seen their work. This company makes movie trailers, and also does in-theater marketing (the posters & stand-up pieces that you see in the theater).

They open their cafeteria up in December to do a holiday boutique for their employees, and I was invited to take my stuff, and Mrs M’s stuff, to the boutique.

The office is in downtown Hollywood – opposite the Chinese Theater – so traffic was a challenge. It was especially so, given that the new Star Wars movie opens tomorrow, and workers were on Hollywood Boulevard rolling out the red carpet on the afternoon of this event. I walked through the chaos that is Hollywood & Highland, and took a couple of pictures of what was going on:

From the cafeteria window, I could see the Chinese Theater courtyard that had C3PO & R2D2 posing for pictures. The area was blocked off … and security was handled by 2 storm troopers. Good choice, that.

It’s just another day in Hollywood.

New Ideas

  • A double table top display on a Thursday afternoon in an office … haven’t done that before!
  • I showed up in the loading zone behind the building, and Trailer Park sent escorts with rolling carts to take everything up in the elevator. They were required to “badge” the elevator so it would go to the 7th floor.

Observations

  • Event # 14 of 15 in our 4th quarter. I am so done.
  • I am so done.
  • I arrived on time (of course), but that was too early. They needed more time to clear the cafeteria from lunch so we could have the tables. No problem … I can set up in 45 minutes. I think.
  • I could.
  • Constant traffic, and small sales, as expected at an in-office event like this. Worth my time, probably, but no one is getting rich here.

The Food

Thursday Lunch: a peanut butter sandwich, on the road. Of course.

Thursday Snack: nope.

Thursday Dinner: Tomato rice soup & grilled cheese from Mrs M. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 52
  • Booth cost: $0
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $27
  • Total sales: $402
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $375
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 13x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: One other, doing an all-natural presentation with bars selling for $14 (!).
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 4:1
  • Returning next year? maybe

Boards sold: 5

Small Boards: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Congregation Beth Shalom Holiday Boutique 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.

Congregation Beth Shalom is a Jewish synagogue and preschool here in Santa Clarita. They do a holiday boutique and book fair each year as a fundraiser for their preschool. There are about 20 vendors; we last did this event in 2015; read about that here.

They also do a spring boutique, but none of their events have fit on the calendar since 2 years ago.

New Ideas

  • Nothing new here … but it’s now unusual for us to do a table top event. We have pretty much left church boutiques behind, so this is an unusual Mrs M event in 2017.

Observations

  • Event # 13 of 15 in our 4th quarter. I need a nap.
  • Got one, after I finished sanding 9 more boards. And many more miles to go in the coming week, I assure you.
  • This is a family event. Elementary age children go to classes (“Sunday School?”) and the boutique happens for the parents – and kids – to shop as they go to & fro.
  • Lots of kids. And because it’s a safe, family environment, there are a lot of small children with limited supervision.
  • Small children love ZooSoapia. A little too much, in this case. On the other hand, ZooSoapia was our # 1 seller today, so whachagonnado?
  • He was about a 5th grader, I think. He wanted to buy a present for someone, but he didn’t have his credit card. He just had his smartphone … so he paid using Samsung Pay. He held his smartphone next to my reader, and they did an electronic handshake. Technology. Who knew?
  • This is a nice little event, and I really like the volunteer organizer that runs the event. On the other hand, we are trying to avoid one day events. If we actually follow our rule, “Go Big Or Stay Home,” there will be no repeat in 2018.

The Food

 

Sunday Breakfast: Peanut butter sandwich on the road.

Sunday Lunch: Grabbed a burger on the road home after the event.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 11
  • Booth cost: $100
  • Food cost: $10
  • Travel cost: $6
  • Total sales: $596
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $480
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Sunday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 30
  • # soap & lotion vendors: One other, doing melt & pour … “Vegan All-natural.”
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 4:0
  • Returning next year? Doubtful.

Boards sold: 4

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: VHS Choir Holiday Boutique 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.

This is one of 4 events that we have done each of the years that Mrs M has been Mrs M.

It’s 2 miles from home, and it’s a fundraiser for the Valencia High choir. What’s not to like?

Because of this event, the choir raises over $3,000, and uses that money to pay for buses to go to festivals. Yes, we’re fans, and yes, we’re in.

Every time.

New Ideas

  • Same location, same 2 tables + a bonus 4′ table that I bring. Nothing new here.
  • I laid out the products on the tables, and Mrs M got shorted a bit. I’m sure I’ll hear about that when she sees the layout on Saturday: I’m working the event on Friday, and she’s handling Saturday … as long as I’m there for the load out. Deal.

Observations

  • Event # 12 of 15 in the 4th quarter. I’m so done … and yet, we’re not. Miles to go before we sleep.
  • I love local.
  • Any event that has a choir perform, I’m in. LOVE that the concert choir performs both days at this event.
  • This event has an odd shape. Friday hours are 9a – 1p, and are geared towards on-campus students & staff only. Saturday is the public event, 9a -4p.
  • On Friday, I had seasoned choir members teaching junior choir members what a lotion bar was. This event, after 4 years, is such a legacy event for us.
  • We totally killed this event on Friday. We know what to expect here: we’ve done this event for each of the 3 previous years. We should do about $300 on Friday … and we more than doubled that.
  • Mrs M didn’t think much of my lotion display on the table … but all I had to do was point out that on Friday, I had our best ever daily sales at this event. And I pointed it out. At least twice.
  • One of my boards is going to China; it’s a handmade souvenir from California for a visitor that found us on Saturday. Love it!
  • One thing that you should not do when talking to an artist is tell them they’re doing it wrong. This seldom ends well.
  • One person approached Mrs M on Saturday, and asked if she made soap using a cannabis derivative oil that had no THC in it. It’s a thing, apparently. This person must have thought she was the smartest person in the room, and proceeded to tell Mrs M why she should be using the oil.
  • Apparently, she didn’t know Mrs M … who proceeded to respond with the scientific reasons why she chooses to not use the oil, and further explained why the oil is still not viewed as legitimate by main stream  businesses. You know, businesses like Mrs M’s. The lady left in a huff, and Mrs M still has no plans to use the oil.
  • I do have some experience in this area after a few decades’ practice: don’t tell Mrs M she’s doing it wrong. It seldom ends well … for me. Or non-customers that think they’re the smartest person in the room.
  • Mrs M fought a good fight (and not just with potential customers), working to deliver great sales on Saturday.
  • She did not match my magnificence.
  • Saturday sales were less than Friday sales, by $1. That makes no sense of course … but I was selling on Friday, and not on Saturday. We even had an appointment sale on Saturday that was $195 in board sales … still not enough. My Friday sales were double our expectation, and our Saturday sales were still above our expectations … together, we were way, way over our expectation for this event.
  • But I won. And since I write this blog, that’s really all that matters. I’m sure Mrs M will make a comment, below, but it doesn’t matter: I outsold her on an inferior day.
  • Seriously, the sales for this event were way over our expectations this year. Only about 20 vendors are accepted here, and I love this event!

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese at home. Of course.

Friday Lunch: Ham & Muenster sandwich on wheat, at home, after the event was over at 1pm

Saturday Breakfast: Thanksgiving leftover corn casserole with an egg on top. Milk + 2 coffees with cream. Mrs M does it up, yes?

Saturday Lunch: half of a ham & Muenster sandwich on wheat

Saturday Snack: free donut in the morning, delivered by choir members

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 8
  • Booth cost: $180
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $4
  • Total sales: $1,555
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,371
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Friday alarm: 5:45a
  • Saturday alarm: 7a
  • # transactions: 54
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other, a young lady doing melt & pour “vegan, all natural” soap
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1
  • Returning next year? I hope so!

Boards sold: 13

Cheese Boards: 4

Word Blocks: 3

Cutting Board: 2

Magic Bottle Openers: 2

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Westlake Village Republican Women Federated Holiday Luncheon 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.

I did the Gingerbread Boutique in Westlake Village, which is where I met the President of the Westlake Village Republican Women Federated, who invited me to vend at their holiday luncheon on a Thursday at the local Four Seasons hotel.

I said sure. Why not?

Estimated attendance was 60 … but this is an upscale city; the event was held at the Four Seasons. However, I had no expectations.

Thank goodness.

New Ideas

  • This was a 2 table, boutique set up for Mr M as a solo event. Have I ever done that before?
  • I am not used to loading the Jeep with containers, and going to an event. I didn’t load a table; they were supplied. Have I ever done that before?

Observations

  • This is event # 11 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter. WHAT WAS I THINKING?
  • Load in was an adventure: the directions were very clear, actually. Go to the loading dock, take the elevator, walk through the catering area until you hit a stairway, and turn right. The room is ahead of you, on the other side of the food prep area.
  • It was.
  • You have to love the setting, with my stuff right beside the lectern and the waterfall in the background. Everything is in one room for this holiday luncheon:

  • Did I mention the costumed carolers?

  • The white rectangle on the tripod was a framed Trump campaign sign, which was a raffle prize.
  • The presentation, by the way, was not hyper-partisan. The President of the organization spoke about the concerns about how split we are as a nation, and how it’s important that we come together.
  • Absolutely.
  • Something you don’t see at every event: the housekeeping staff doing stretching exercises en masse before they go out to do their duties.
  • New rule: no events where the promoters take a percentage.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M made me a ham sandwich, which I ate in the car while the event attendees ate the meal served by the hotel. For me, that’s meal # 2 for the day that was eaten in the Jeep, if you’re keeping track.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Henry’s MOS from Papa John’s. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 112
  • Booth cost: $180
  • Food cost: $11
  • Travel cost: $58
  • Total sales: $423
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $174
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 5
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? probably not

Boards sold: 8

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Word Blocks (all custom orders): 3

Serving Tray: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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 love this event.

This is one of three events that we’ve done every year for the four years that Mrs M has been … Mrs M. For each of the previous three years, this has been our Best. Event. Ever.

Every year. We keep getting better, thank goodness.

You bet we love our December trip to Ridgecrest every year. Wouldn’t you?

Read about our past years here: 2015 and 2016. Alas, I didn’t start writing The Board Chronicles until 2015, so there is no official record of our initial 2014 outing.

On the eve of our departure, I read last year’s post. I was forced to confront that I sold 20% of my inventory last year at this event. I’m scared all over again.

New Ideas

  • Knowing that CNC would be changing my life, and that I should have many more products to show, we committed to a triple booth this year: 10′ x 30′. This is only the 2nd time we’ve had a triple booth, which breaks down to Mrs M having a normal 10′ x 10′ … plus a bit, and I have the remaining 10′ x 20ish. There was at least one woodworker co-op there last year with a 10′ x 20′ booth (and 2 woodworkers had 10x20s last week in Norco!), so I need to keep up in order to show my stuff well. And since this is our best event, we have a lot to protect!
  • Little Girl is joining us again this year to make sure we have enough hands to, uh, handle all of the transactions that we hope to have.
  • I’ve made 2 new display pieces for me to show 4 items: Serving Trays, Lazy Susans, Chess Boards & Large Cheese & Cracker Servers. I have lots of these unique items to show … space to show them … and now, a way to show them. Here’s hoping I find customers, or all will be for naught.
  • We bought 2 new tables for this booth presentation. We are optimistically expanding.
  • Given how heavy our load out is, Little Girl is driving her new SUV with our extra cargo. So … we’ve outgrown our 6’x10′ trailer. It took us a year and a half. That is sobering.

Observations

  • This is event # 10 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter … but since this event is such a focus, everything gets easier from here.
  • I hope.
  • I had oh so many plans for new CNC products, but most of them did not see the light of day. I had so much work keeping up with “normal” products, I never got to many new ideas. Unfortunately.
  • Here’s hoping I’ve done enough. My beginning inventory is larger than ever, at 280 pieces. Mrs M has been busy as well; she’s got more soap finished than ever before, including 3 new Christmas scents.
  • We arrived for setup at 1pm, and got busy. I backed the trailer into the perfect spot, about 40′ from our booth. We brought it all: canopies. Lights. Displays. Christmas table cloths. Christmas decorations. Now, where does it all go? We have never set up in this configuration before, and I have 2 new display pieces … time to move the puzzle pieces around.
  • And move they did. I think we settled on the 3rd configuration. Mrs M even agreed to take a bigger table in the deal (which was a negotiation, I assure you).
  • We did it up, and went to a very nice dinner at Olvera’s, where we were all pregnant with anticipation.
  • Expectations.
  • There’s only one number I care about this year: $5,000. We have never done that at an event, and it’s time we broke through. Expectations … high expectations. We have them.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • This event has a “hard gate:” they charge admission. So, the start time really is 9am … though you get a lot of vendors & such walking around before the gates open. At 8:30a, we were ready. So ready.
  • My first sale: a chess board. Of course.
  • The Ladies got busy almost immediately, and we were ‘whelmed within the hour. People were standing in line to give Mrs & Miss M money for their soaps & lotions & such. Thank goodness Little Girl was there to help.
  • One customer walked up, smelled a few lotions, and settled on Sequoia. “I’ll take 9,” she said. It’s good to have deep inventory.
  • I met another Fanboy of this blog! After recognizing me from my picture (!), he introduced himself. He’s a vendor & designer of jewelry, and says that as he reads the blog, he laughs, he cries … right there with us. Love it. Well, not the crying part so much.
  • Saturday began to slow down about 1p, and we were no longer ‘whelmed. Business continued until closing at 5p, though: there was constant traffic. Constant.
  • I sold 24 boards on Saturday, which was great. It was the other side of the booth, though, that was burning it up. Her big sign says “Handmade Soaps & Lotions,” and that’s what she sold. In abundance. For Mrs M, this was the

Best. Day. Ever.

  • But we were definitely not there yet. The number still loomed as we went to dinner … and found an excellent French restaurant. The Ladies had wine. Little Girl said she deserved 2 alcohols. They both did. I drove home.
  • Do you know how rare it is to have 2 nice dinners when we go a-vendoring? I think it’s happened once before. If you find yourself hungry in Ridgecrest, I heartily recommend Olvera’s for Mexican food, and Mon Reve for French food. And they just happen to be a block apart, so navigation is easy!
  • A customer was in my booth talking to her spouse – and me – about purchasing a chess board. They met playing chess, she said. Somehow, he offered to teach her the game … and she lost when they played. As she said, though, she was playing the long game. Years later, still together, kids in the home … who really won when they played?
  • Sundays are known to be slower. More strolling. More friendly conversations. For me, though, it was busy. I was selling a lot of stuff, I thought. And, I was. Then, a lady bought 8 boards.
  • And she wasn’t my best customer.
  • I ended Sunday selling 47 boards. For me,

Best. Day. Ever.

  • So, for those of you keeping track, I ended up selling 24% of my inventory at this one event. The fear is real. I have 5 more events to do this year!
  • All told, I sold 14x different items. My big sign says “Cutting Boards … Serving Pieces & More.” It’s about the More, I think. If I limited myself to just cutting boards, I would not have nearly as much fun.
  • One of the reasons that Mrs M’s Handmade works is that we have very different products, and we have different strengths. (And we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next year. No coincidence.) Mrs M burned it up on Saturday; I had a better day on Sunday.
  • Yes, faithful readers, we got it done. We got better, again. 4 years in a row:

Best. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” at the Best Western … biscuits & gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla … good finger food between conversations with customers.

Saturday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. When only the best will do….

Saturday Dinner: EXCELLENT French cuisine at Mon Reve. Highly recommended. Get a reservation.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” again … but no biscuits & gravy. You get what you pay for, sort of.

Sunday Lunch: A big hot dog & chips. “Nourishment.”

Sunday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. I came prepared.

Sunday Dinner: After a long, frustrating drive home, the ladies had In N Out waiting when I walked in the door. And Blanton’s. Bless them.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 548
  • Booth cost: $712
  • Food cost: $306
  • Travel cost: $285
  • Total sales: $5,887
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $4,584
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too many to count
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 4
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 5
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 64:3
  • Returning next year? Yes. In a triple booth, again. And I still need to figure out how to get those bells on.

Boards sold: 67

Magic Bottle Openers: 14

Cheese Boards: 14

Cutting Boards: 8

Word Blocks: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 5

Trivets: 4

Serving Tray: 3

Lazy Susan: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Pig Cutting Board: 2

Custom Order: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

 

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Fine Craft 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.

The Fine Craft Show – now in its 26th year! – is Santa Clarita’s largest city-sponsored vendor event. This is one of only 3 events that we have done each of the 4 years that we’ve gone a-vendoring.

It was our # 1 Santa Clarita event in 2015, but fell to # 4 in 2016. We love local … but how much will we love this event in 2017?

This show used to be a bigger deal, with perhaps 100 vendors spread across a park and adjacent baseball field visible from one of the major streets in Newhall/Valencia: Lyons Avenue. Before we were vendors, though, the event began to lose vendors, and had shrunk to about 40 vendors in the park. This year, the city proudly grew the event to 60 vendors, and used those vendor fees to add more marketing. They did social media, some local print, and also had flags on Lyons, making sure that everyone driving by would know why there were so many shade canopies set up in the park.

But would it be enough? Would we see the event return to the glory we found in 2015?

New Ideas

  • I made a new vertical display that had its first showing at this event. Read about that process here. You can also get a sense of my booth display evolution (which has been extreme) by reading this.
  • We were in our 4th location at this event in 4 years. After pleading my case with the promoter, there was no joy: they will not let me get my trailer close to my booth. The postage stamp of a parking lot only has about a dozen parking spaces, so trailer parking is just not something they are prepared to accommodate. That means that I’ll probably have a 150 yard trek to the trailer for load out, the worst of the year.

Observations

  • Event # 8 of 15 in our 4th quarter. Over the hump. Finally.
  • Knowing the load-in problem – and being local – I showed up early. I arrived at the park at 10am to load in, and only had the regular park patrons there with a nearly empty parking lot. My load in was fine and only about a 40 yard push. My trailer was out of the parking lot before the rest of the vendors arrived. I love local.
  • Love meeting vendor fans of this blog at events. There were 3 at this event. Love it!
  • Lovely weather for events. Saturday was blue skies and the slightest of breezes. It was enough, though. One vendor was set up with all 3 walls up on her canopy. She was facing into the wind … with no weights on the canopy. Her giant sail of nylon caught the breeze that was barely a breeze and tumbled. I ran to secure her canopy – upside down! – while she began recovery. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was 10:43am.
  • Oh so many friends come by to say hello.
  • Oh so many customers love my work and already have my boards at home.
  • I love local.
  • The cutest little girl had parents buy her 3 animals from the Zoo that is ZooSoapia. I love carefully accepting ducks & dogs & such from little hands after they’ve made their selection.
  • We use Paypal, and have a card reader that connects to my smartphone via bluetooth to do the transactions. It will do any kind of transaction: chip, swipe, or wireless. I did my first wireless transaction by accident. The lady gave me her card, I waved it over the reader while I was getting situated … and it charged the card. It all worked correctly, but it did surprise me that it happened with a wave of a card. RFID (Radio-frequency identification) is a thing!
  • I was alone in the booth; a lady was looking at Mrs M’s display.
    • She said, “Are you cruelty free?”
    • I said, “Uhhhh.”
    • I said, “Oh. YES! Of course! We are cruelty free.”
    • Once I recovered, I remembered that this means we don’t do animal testing with our products. You have to know the lingo. And, as Mrs M says, the only animals we test on are our family.
  • Load out was as I feared. We were packed up after 90 minutes or so, and then I had to find a way to get the trailer nearby for loading. The tiny parking lot was a no go, of course; there were still many vendors loading out and complaining that they couldn’t get closer in. That left the only trailer parking to be on Lyons Avenue, a major thoroughfare. Options were:
    • Wait until the parking lot clears, which will probably be another hour or so. At least.
    • Park down by the batting cages. Hop the curb with the rolling carts to get to the trailer. Every load will have to roll about 150 yards on the sidewalk.
    • Park closer in on Lyons Avenue, and take the merchandise on the rolling cart overland (no sidewalks). The big, wooden roll-off carts, meanwhile will have to become unlicensed vehicles on Lyons to  go into the traffic lane, rolling around the parked vehicles, and then roll up the ramp of the parked trailer.
  • I chose option # 3. We didn’t die, and I didn’t get a ticket. We did get loaded 2 hours and 55 minutes after the event closed. Thank goodness the drive home is only 15 minutes.
  • Like the cross town Summit Holiday Boutique, this event disappointed this year. We were down about 20% from last year, which was in turn down 25% from the year before. No clue why, of course. Phase of the moon? The weekend before Thanksgiving? You might argue that the cutting board market is saturated … but that doesn’t explain why Mrs M’s sales were down, too. Sales trends are so often a mystery. Unfortunately.
  • But, we have declining revenues and an impossible load out. And this is a hometown event. Hmmmmmmmm.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A burger from the Patty Wagon food truck, on site. Yum.

Saturday Snack: Chocolate pudding, from The Pudding Truck. Who knew?

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. All we could manage after a disappointing day.

Sunday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home. It’s my current go to.

Sunday Lunch: Back to the Patty Wagon. It was the only choice.

Sunday Snack: A donut from whatever food truck was doing donuts. Best $2 donut I’ve ever had. And, yes, it’s the only one.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at a favorite local restaurant … and I found foreign objects in my food. These were identified as metal pieces from a scrub pad. The restaurant was very responsive; the manager comped my meal and the chicken sandwich they made for me to take home. Didn’t matter: I lost my appetite.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 22
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $185
  • Travel cost: $12
  • Total sales: $1,536
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $989
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 63
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 4 soap vendors (too many for this size of an event). At least 2 of the others were local vendors with limited experience, it seemed. Welcome!
  • # woodworking vendors: There were 5 other woodworkers, 3 of which had cutting boards. None matched my variety & depth for cutting boards, of course, but there were definitely other people offering their wooden objects for sale. Two of them are fans of this blog (!).
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Boards sold: 11

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Summit Holiday Boutique 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 Summit is one of the older, prestigious neighborhoods in the planned community that is Valencia. Valencia is one of the 4 communities that make up the city of Santa Clarita (along with Newhall, Saugus and Canyon Country).

A vendor friend of ours hosts a holiday boutique at the homeowner’s clubhouse each year. This is micro neighborhood event, though it does attract some shoppers from across Santa Clarita. Small event, small number of vendors … and Santa comes by every year.

There are generally several friendly vendors that we know well. There’s a pot luck lunch for the vendors. And, our results here traditionally have been way beyond our expectations. Read about prior years here: 2015 part 1, 2015 part 2 and 2016.

New Ideas

  • We double booked this weekend (we broke a rule). The 2 Mrs M’s handled this show, while Little Girl & I handled the Fine Craft Show a couple of miles away.
  • It’s been a while since we did a table top boutique like this one simultaneously with a double booth outdoor boutique. Both Mrs M and I had to get new display pieces. She bought a suitcase for hers; I built mine.

Observations

  • Event # 7 of 15 in our 4th quarter. Yes, I added another event. Shoot me now.
  • We look forward to this event, which is why we broke a rule to double book it.
  • Velda met a vendor fan of this blog, who actually gave her a gift of appreciation! I must be doing something right.
  • Unfortunately, this event just didn’t work this year. Traffic was way down, as were vendor bookings. Is it because it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving? Is it just another in a long list of “down” events in 2017? Is it just the phase of the moon?
  • No way to know, but business at this event was way, way down from prior year.

The Food

Mrs M is not as forthcoming with her food choices and I was not there … so you’ll miss the culinary updates for the event days. Sorry!

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. We’re a sad, sad couple of vendors.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants … with drama. Read the Fine Craft Show post for that story.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 36
  • Booth cost: $ 160 + raffle prizes
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $19
  • Total sales: $389
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $210
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just us
  • # woodworking vendors: just us
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:0

Boards sold: 3

Small Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Cheese Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Hillside Farm’s Holiday Craft Fair 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.

This spring, we had a good outing at the Hillside Farm Arts & Crafts Show. We were pleasantly surprised, and their holiday craft fair would be even better, we were told.

We like even better.

Their bigger event is the Holiday Craft Fair, and this year they are hosting their 33rd Annual.

There’s a downside, though: the event takes place over Thanksgiving Weekend, Friday – Sunday. There’s a 2nd weekend as well, but we’ll miss that to do Santa’s Art Shop the following weekend. Week 1 is supposed to be the best of the 2 weekends, we’re told.

And I get to spend another weekend in Norco. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had to work at her “job.” She said. So, I’m soloing with our normal double booth set-up. Me. Solo. At a big deal Holiday Craft Fair with lofty expectations. What could go wrong?
  • Since I’m solo, I have to set up both sides of the booth. Luckily, Hillside Farm will open their gates at 6am on Black Friday for me to setup for their event which starts at 10am.

Observations

  • Event # 9 of 15 in our 4th quarter.
  • I’m a lonely, lonely man.
  • I left shortly after 4am to arrive at the venue at about 5:40am. I backed the trailer into the best spot to unload from, and got to work.
  • I was still setting up at 9:30am, and realized that the trailer had to be moved to remote parking. I must have had a crazed look on my face. When I passed the booth for Sweet Spot Home Decor, Dalinda flagged me down and offered me water. “What’s wrong,” she asked? I explained I was on the hustle to move the trailer, and she kindly volunteered her husband to do the deed. I gave him the keys, and all was well. Thank you, Danny!
  • Vendors help each other, but this was above and beyond. Dalinda gets a gold star. One more thing I have to make….
  • Set up was over 4 hours. I’m pretty sure me doing a solo setup of our complete display is not a good idea.
  • I was very worried coming into this event about me handling all of the transactions solo. After all, we were expecting a holiday-crazed event. I strategized on how to do packaging quickly so I could keep up.
  • The event started well: a cutting board was my first sale. That’s usually an auspicious beginning. Unfortunately, that one board was the only sale on Friday from my side of the booth. Total sales on Friday disappointed.
  • As they did on Saturday.
  • As they did on Sunday.
  • A lady was talking to her friend in my booth. She said, “I just read an article about the 3 dirtiest things in your house. # 1 was your wooden cutting board. # 2 was a dog toy.” I never learned what # 3 was, as I interrupted her, told her that wooden cutting boards should be very clean if you washed them, and that wood was, in fact, naturally anti-bacterial.
  • People in my booth must not insult my work, or I will be aggressive and interrupt them. Every time.
  • Requests were for a tongue drum (another woodworker had them), a cribbage board with a holder for the pegs (sigh) and a large cutting board with a hole in it for hanging (nope).
  • Load out was more difficult than load in, as many vendors that were returning for the event the following weekend just left that canopies in place. That meant my 50′ trip to the trailer became 150′. That’s not too big of an inconvenience, though … booth tear down took 2 hours 20 minutes, but loading only took 40 minutes. I was on the road at 7:10pm. Luckily, I had no holiday traffic getting home, which was the best part of the weekend.
  • I know a couple of vendors left after Saturday due to poor sales. Not sure why this event didn’t work this year, but it did not live up to its reputation. Every vendor I talked to – and many vendors do this event every year – said their sales were significantly down this year. Maybe it’s no fun to do Christmas shopping at an outdoor holiday boutique in 90* temperatures. Ya think?

The Food: the worst

When I solo out of town, I seldom invest any effort in good food. To my detriment. The hotel in Corona was next to a restaurant called “Good Fellas,” and they had a great breakfast. Other than that … I didn’t have much good food. I even skipped a meal, which I never do.

When I returned home Sunday evening, I had Thanksgiving leftovers. And bourbon. All was well. Again.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 236
  • Booth cost: $330
  • Food cost: $100
  • Travel cost: $318
  • Total sales: $1,222
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $474
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 38. Let’s me be very clear: I could keep up with that level of business, even solo. I was never close to being ‘whelmed. Unfortunately.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. Though none offered the complete line that we have, there were easily 6 other vendors that offered part of what we did. That’s too many for an event of this size, IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: several. There were 4 woodworkers that sold cutting boards at this event, though each had different offerings, of course. 3 different woodworkers had Lazy Susans. It was unusually crowded in my category.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 9

Lazy Susans: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Trivet: 1

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