Archive for the ‘holiday boutique’ Tag

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: Boutique Fantastique 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 love local.

Say it with me. I love local. Local events are the best. You sleep in your own bed, you get to see long-time friends and neighbors, and … your expenses are probably lower. Truly, I love local.

This event is also good for our community. Our 3 kids went to school at Saugus High, and this event is a fundraiser for its PTSO. Over $10,000 is raised every year (principally from vendor fees!) to fund scholarships for the school.

Of course we want to do this event.

This is our 4th year at Boutique Fantastique, in our 4th year as Mrs M’s Handmade. In 2014 (we were so young then!), this is the first event that we got a double booth for.

We want this event to work.

However … it’s an under-performing event, by our standards. Sales are typically below average for us, and this heritage event – generally viewed as the best event in Santa Clarita – has not proven to be so for Mrs M’s Handmade. Here’s hoping for a better year in 2017!

New Ideas

  • After staying in one location for 3 years, and being underwhelmed by our results, I asked for – and received – a new end-aisle space in the front of the room. We’re in the right corner, facing away from the door. It’s not a perfect location, but I believe it’s better than being in the back of the room. I have bowed to my superstition about a bad location, even though I know this is ludicrous. Don’t judge me.

Observations

  • Event # 6 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Days 4 & 5 of my Week From Hell, which thankfully is now behind me.
  • One quirk of this event is that it has to be a Saturday load-in. The event’s in the school gym, and the PTSO can’t do their setup until the students are done with the gym Friday evening … so setup begins at 6:30a on Saturday. Well, actually, it begins with a vendor line up outside of the locked gate at about 6a.
  • The PTSO strictly controls access to the loading zone. Chaos is minimized. Love. That.
  • While unloading, another woodworker with a trailer showed up … and blocked me in. No problem. We chatted as the students carried our stuff in. He primarily made freestanding birdhouses, and some other shabby chic decor items for the patio. He started making birdhouses, he said, while they lived near an elementary school. He made 3, put them on the fence, and they sold that day. From that, a business was born. Still more hobby than occupation for him, but he does enjoy his holiday rush every year.
  • The best part of this event is that the student volunteers come out to load in your gear. I unloaded the trailer, and explained how to use the cart to a student. Mrs M, meanwhile, was in the gym at the booth space, getting everything positioned for setup once we were loaded in. This is an easy load in – and yes, we were generous at the tip jar that is given to the participating student organizations as a fund raiser.
  • So many vendor friends are at this event! I love local!
  • No clue if moving the booth will work or not, but I think our location is better. My superstitious self is satisfied, anyway.
  • Saugus High has a woodworking program. The teacher (who’s also active in Scouts!), has 3 periods of woodworking and 2 periods of stagecraft every day … he joked that I should take the job when he retires.
  • Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
  • I know a couple things will happen every year: 1) the woodworking program will sell cheap, untreated, small cutting boards made from cheap mystery woods including pine, and 2) I will have several moon-eyed young woodworkers visiting the booth to stare at the pieces I make. Some students even enjoy chatting with this old woodworker at times.
  • This event had a tag team thing going on for Mrs M. I was one constant, as was Judy. She, of course, is Employee of the Month (and Velda’s first cousin), and was helping us out for a couple of weeks. She completed her “full immersion experience” by helping us at this event. We were joined at first by Velda, but then she took off with Little Girl to attend a baby shower. That’s when The Intern – Judy’s granddaughter, UCLA Bruin & Blogger Extraordinare – showed up to tag in and help for a few hours.
  • Life was good.
  • I had it easy. Thank goodness, because I was tired enough I might not have been at my best at this event.
  • Results were down from last year, when we had a special order perk up our normally below average sales. Ignoring that special order for a moment, we had our best event sales at this year’s Boutique Fantastique … but still below average for us. I’m almost OK with that. I love local.
  • Load out was just as easy as load in, with student volunteers doing all of the heavy lifting between the booth and the trailer. We were home by 6p Sunday, which is a rare and wonderful thing. So ended my Week From Hell. I don’t think I’ll be doing 3 events in 3 cities in 5 days again anytime soon.
  • In the end, I did 3 under-performing events in one week. Add them up, however, and the total sales were our 2nd best weekly sales ever. Worth it? Nope.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

Saturday Lunch: Trail mix, on the go. Not a culinary delight.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Carry in from Sam’s Flaming Grill. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday. I love local.

Sunday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s has sandwiches for sale in the room. Done.

Sunday Snack: Chocolate bark from a vendor … handmade, but not the best.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at the best Italian restaurant in Santa Clarita, Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 20
  • Booth cost: $275
  • Food cost: $176
  • Travel cost: $10
  • Total sales: $1,791
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,330
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: a few
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: no clue
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was the soap vendor right across the aisle from us (why do promoters do this?), and then another soapmaker that’s well known to us … she lies about her products (cures acne!). There was an essential oil vendor as well.
  • # woodworking vendors: a few, including the Saugus High shop class that was selling untreated, mystery wood “chopping blocks” for $30 – $50. They sold out on Saturday morning.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Opener: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Gingerbread Boutique 2017   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.

Last year, the Gingerbread Boutique was a very nice find for us. Sales were robust, albeit at an expensive event. Still, the event was a Thursday/Friday boutique (last year), so all sales could be viewed as incremental.

I definitely had a positive experience in 2016; read about it here.

The event is a fundraiser for the Westlake Village Junior Women’s Club. There are a relatively small number of vendors, and a lot of women come to shop. What could go wrong?

New Ideas

  • Another central cashier event, though this one is hardly inexpensive. For a 9 hour, one day event, the up-front fee is still $300. And then, add 20%.
  • Last year, this event had a VIP cocktail party on Thursday, followed by a day-long event on Friday. This year, it was Friday only, with the public event 10a-4p, a break for dinner, and then the VIP event 6p-9p. Odd schedule … a VIP party after the public event? Odd.
  • Since I was setting up on Thursday afternoon, during Anna’s Boutique, I had limited display pieces and inventory to actually set up. I did what I could, planted the flag, if you will, and called it good. The rest of setup would be done Friday morning when I had the trailer with everything else in it.

Observations

  • Event # 5 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Day 3 of 5 in my Week From Hell.
  • Set up on Thursday was a surprise: my space, though “the same” as last year, was “smaller” than last year. There just wasn’t as much space. OK, go.
  • This space is very much a “found space” as I called it in my black box theater days. I was at the edge of the stage, and had a stairway in the booth. That sounds like display space to me!
  • When I arrived on Friday to set up, I was told my neighbor was not there … so I could have their space as well. My space just got bigger than last year. OK, go.
  • Yes, I can fill the space.
  • Come to find out, the missing vendor was a re-seller of used wood serving pieces who insisted she should not be next to me. She sold large serving pieces & charcuterie boards that were uniformly silver in color: used wood. They looked good, but who wants to put their food on such a thing? I know what gets sprayed on barn wood, after all.
  • I really don’t like central cashier events. They hide their true cost by charging a percentage of sales after the event, so that cost is not felt as much as writing a big check in advance. In any case, since I don’t really like them, I think I have to make a new rule for next year: no central cashier events. There. Done.
  • Last year, this was a 12 hour event. This year, it’s 9 hours. This may not end well.
  • My neighbor is a high end jewelry designer that has a few brick & mortar boutiques that carry her stuff, she said. For this event, she took her normal wholesale price, added 20% and more … and ended up making more money from each sale at this event. Her first sale was $1,750. I’m definitely not the vendor with the highest prices at this boutique!
  • Sales are down this year. Is it because this is only a one day event instead of two days? Is LA just out of it due to the World Series loss? Did the sponsor not promote this event as well this year since there’s a new coordinator? No clue. In any event, sales are down from last year … and we’ve got better stuff, more stuff, in a larger space. Not. Good.
  • The aftermath of this event proved to be memorable. After the 9p close of the event, I struck everything and moved it to the walkway that was just outside of my entrance door, 5′ from my booth. Convenient. That way, I moved everything out of the room so the promoters could lock the door and leave … which left me to load the trailer from the public access sidewalk. Unfortunately, it was a long load due to the chaos I had left the trailer in. Oh, and I was tired. Go figure.
  • 11p: trailer locked. Time to drive home. I got on the 118 freeway, which was narrowed to only 1 lane due to construction … on a Friday night. Then, unfortunately, there was an accident that I was fairly close to, and the artificially narrowed freeway had to be closed to clear it. There I was, 11:30p on a Friday night, at a dead stop for 20 minutes due to a traffic accident. Not. Happy.
  • Home at 12:30a. So ended Day 3 … and began Day 4 of my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for Boutique Fantastique!

The Food

Friday Breakfast: A breakfast burrito from Carl’s Jr. Sometimes you have to shake it up.

Friday Lunch: Sandwiches were provided by the producer, which was very nice. Not very filling, mind you, but I should not complain. Free is free. And given what the event costs….

Friday Snack: Nope.

Friday Dinner: I found Maria’s Italian Cafe during the break, and have a very nice dinner of Brussel sprouts & lasagna. This was the best part of my day.

 

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 231
  • Booth cost: $300 + 20% = $520
  • Food cost: $38
  • Travel cost: $120
  • Total sales: $1,272
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $594
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 39
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was a soap maker selling soap art (very pretty cupcakes “made with food-quality ingredients.” What does that MEAN?), but their prices were much higher than Mrs M’s. But then, we don’t sell cupcake soap, either.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me and the used wood retailer.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Word Blocks: 2

The Board Chronicles: Anna’s 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 the week I decided to hurt myself. Or, try to hurt myself. Whatever.

In any event, I’m doing 3 Boutiques in 3 cities in 5 days. I’m writing this the night before the first setup, and I hurt already. What was I thinking?

New Ideas

  • A Tuesday afternoon set-up for a Wednesday/Thursday Holiday Boutique in a hotel ballroom. What could possibly go wrong?
  • This event has a central cashier … my first such event in a year. As is normal for such events, the booth fee for our double space is relatively low ($250) but the event producer then keeps 20% of total sales. Since my normal sales on a Wednesday/Thursday are zero, perhaps this event – even at a high cost – will be worthwhile.

Observations

  • Event # 4 of 14 in our 4th quarter schedule. Yes, we added another event. Yes, I’m crazy.
  • Arrived for setup to find that my booths were in a peninsula configuration. OK, this setup will be unique. I also found that my single neighbor had decided that she need 6″ of my space, so she ignored the border & set up her backdrop on my peninsula. I moved the backdrop; it’s not my fault there’s no room for her to sit in her space now. Tuesday setup’s done.
  • 6am: I’m up. Aren’t vacations wonderful?
  • 7:04am: Hello, old friend.
  • 7:57am: At the event.
  • 9am: Doors open … lots of folks. Everyone’s carrying a shopping basket, provided by the promoter. Looks good.
  • ZooSoapia is SO popular at this event! The location is better on the peninsula … but we’ve never had sales like this for ZooSoapia, nor the other shaped soaps that Mrs M creates. This week, it’s Employee of the Month Judy that’s helping with ZooSoapia, and the holiday-themed soaps flew off the table.
  • Wednesday, I solo at the event and am bored much of the day. There was a constant flow of people, luckily, but many were not customers. The business crowd expected at lunch never appeared.
  • For the first time ever, the LA Dodgers are playing in November. It’s game 7 of the World Series … and I’m in a Simi Valley ballroom while the game is happening. Customers that aren’t baseball fans? No chance. Wednesday was a big disappointment (on every level!). No one to blame; baseball just got in the way. Even the post game customers that came to shop away their disappointment weren’t customers for us!
  • Thursday had Velda & Judy come to take my place at the Boutique while I went to set up our next event in Westlake Village. Sales did not improve appreciably, unfortunately.
  • This event has been around a long time, and the promoter has a large mailing list. People definitely come to the Boutique, but they seemed to be a bit older than my normal buyers. Partner that with the collision with baseball, and this event just didn’t meet expectations. But no worries … this is just the first 2 days of events in my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for the Gingerbread Boutique!

The Food

Wednesday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Wednesday Lunch: Booth delivery from the hotel, who definitely makes it easy to be at this event. There’s a special menu for vendors, and service was perfect. This is a big plus!

Wednesday Snack: Nope.

Wednesday Dinner: A burger from the hotel bar … and a bourbon to drown my boredom in.

Thursday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Thursday Lunch: A taco on the road as I drive to the next setup for the Gingerbread Boutique.

Thursday Snack: Nope.

Thursday Dinner: I had pasta in the hotel bar while the ladies took over the booth. I brought them dinner when I was done … high living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 249
  • Booth cost: $250 + 20% = $516
  • Food cost: $114
  • Travel cost: $129
  • Total sales: $1,331
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $572
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Wednesday alarm: 6a
  • Thursday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 64
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was an all-natural goat milk soapmaker – who milks her own goats! She was not happy with her sales, but then her booth was unattended, so at least she didn’t have to spend all of her time at the event.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 11

Cheese Boards: 4

Word Blocks: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Magic Bottle Openers: 1

Small Board: 1

Trivets Are Fun!   Leave a comment

The good news is that I made another batch of trivets, and I needed them at last weekend’s event. I have a few left, and I’m sure I will need them this week, too!

The bad news is that I blew up one blank due to a loose hold down. I’m still learning how to use my CNC.

However, I do know something about creating pretty trivets … and once again, the tri-color trivets were the first to sell at last weekend’s event. I believe I need to learn that combining different woods is the most important thing I do in the shop … according to my customers.

Maybe I’ll learn that someday. Meanwhile, I have 2 new product introductions this week – BIG introductions, I think – and they both feature single species. Hmmmm.

No one said I was a fast learner.

More to come as I burn the candle at both ends this week. I have 5 days of events to cover, and there are 64 new pieces in the garage woodshop needing to be completed. Sanity is in short supply, I believe … bear with me!

And bears are coming back! 3 of those are in the shop, and they will be finished this week. Unfortunately, those 11 chess boards … are still waiting. Like I said, no one said I was a fast learner.

Trivet 17 – 05. Black Walnut, Padauk and Hard Maple. 8.5″ x 8.5″ x .75″.

Trivet 17 – 06. Jatoba. 8.5″ x 8.5″ x .75″.

Trivet 17 – 07. Cherry. 8.5″ x 8.5″ x .75″.

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2016   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.

carpinteriaThe Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-style event on their grounds in their city. In November, the event transforms into a handmade-only holiday boutique. We’ve done the event for a couple of years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of this community event.

Here’s the Board Chronicles from last year: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2015.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend is a bit crazy.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend when we could be making product for next week’s biggest event of the year might be a bit crazy.

But we like the feel of this event! It’s community. It’s handmade. It’s what we do.

We’re in.

New Ideas

  • We asked for a booth on the front side of the museum (the city street) instead of our traditional booth on the other side (the parking lot, which is cramped quarters). No double space was available on the street, but the museum director assured us he would help us get the trailer through the unloading/loading process. We’re in.

Observations

  • We checked the forecast Friday … and it was bad. Rain was forecast throughout the event. In fact, the forecast said it would rain 10a – 3p … the entire span of the event! Rain would continue through 6pm, so we would not have any respite for the load out.
  • I just did a wet event last weekend.
  • Velda’s recovering from a bad cold.
  • We became 2 of “those people.”
  • I learned the phrase when I was running marathons: DNS DNF. Did Not Start, Did Not Finish. We stayed home.
  • We made product.
  • And the weather was awful; raining as predicted. We made the right call, IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 0
  • Booth cost: $150
  • Total sales: 0
  • Returning next year? If we continue down the path of not doing one day events….

Boards sold: 0

The Board Chronicles: Valencia Summit Holiday Craft Boutiques   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.

SummitWe’re back for part 2.

This boutique ended up being split onto 2 different days in November and December. The November event was good (read that Chronicle here), but I had lower expectations for this event just 6 days before Christmas.

New Ideas

  • The promoter, Stella, played into my superstition and moved our tables away from the door. My working theory is that being next to the door is a negative on sales.
  • Of course, Stella put her tables right by the door … so she’s either being far too accommodating of me, or she rejects the superstition outright.

Observations

  • With only 2x 6′ tables and 1x 4′ table, space is at an absolute premium at this indoor event. I left the blocks at home, brought too many cheese boards, and decided I didn’t have room for the pig on the table. And I still sold it. Go figure.
  • Here’s what I will remember: a year ago, I was out of the pig business. At the end of 2015, I was, again, out of the pig business. Therefore, I’m not in the pig business.
  • Yes, I sold the last pig.
  • Santa's a very busy man this time of the year.

    Santa’s a very busy man this time of the year, what with the workshop to manage remotely and all.

    We had 3 different people come to find us at this final event of the year, and all 3 were big sales. Note to self: when you promote where you’re going to be, people will find you.

  • With promoter promotion (THEIR JOB), and then when all of the vendors do this as well … it works.
  • Santa came by today … not sure who he was texting.
  • Sales were up today from last month’s event, with our booth not near the door. My superstition only grows….
  • Loved this day. Totally relaxed with no expectations at all for this event. Great friends working the event, relaxed atmosphere. Goodies to snack on. What’s not to like?
  • Mrs M showed up at lunch and stayed the rest of the day, through load out. Good news: she helped. Bad news: no Christmas cookies were baked. Unless she’s hiding them from me.
  • The last event of the year was a success. And I am oh so ready for a break. Well, a break after I get those last few promised projects out of the shop in time for Christmas!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Velda’s egg burrito. Yum.

Saturday Lunch: Tater tots & grilled cheese with bacon from The Grilled Cheese food truck. Yum.

Saturday Snack: Holiday treats brought by the vendors to share. Yum.

Saturday Dinner: Salmon at Fishtail. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 44
  • Booth cost: $80
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: both of them
  • Total sales: $870
  • # containers of product taken: 18
  • # boards available: 72
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one soap vendor & Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 5: 1

Boards sold: 6

Cheese Boards: 2x

Large Cutting Board: 1x

Pig: 1x

Bear: 1x

Small Sous Chef: 1x

The Board Chronicles: Winter Wonderland   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.

Winter Wonderland Paper Flyer 2015The Church on the Way hosts an annual community event that includes snow, a live nativity, Santa … and vendors. Their flyer is my absolute favorite for this holiday season, too.

New Ideas

  • In the “we’re still crazy” department, we are doing this event on a Sunday in December. It’s a 3 hour event … so I’ll spend as much time setting up and taking down as I will, uh, eventing.
  • The cost for the event is a voluntary contribution. Happy to tithe from our sales, as is suggested.
  • Given the forecast and the short window for the event, we downsized to a 10 x 10.

Observations

  • After last week’s Best. Event. Ever., this week promised to be a comedown. Zero expectations for this event, actually. It will be what it will be.
  • Rain was forecast throughout the event. It never rains in Southern California, but girl, let me warn you….
  • Last year’s event was a success, I was told. But this year’s forecast….
  • It started misting at 4:30, and it rained more every hour. There was no saving this event. No one’s fault … but it was raining. No shoppers.

Worst. Event. Ever.

  • No one’s fault, really. But, it was raining. We were done before we started. Setting up was a mistake, in the end.
  • Broke down in record time with Velda’s help, and then we came home with wet containers, a wet shade structure, and wet table cloths. We don’t think that any product was damaged, but it may have been. Only time will tell.

The Food

Sunday Dinner: A ham & cheese from The Grilled Cheese Truck. And tater tots. Mmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 16
  • Booth cost: $1
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $11
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: too many
  • Sunday alarm: No problem. Load in was at 3:30p
  • # transactions: 2
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just us
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0

Boards sold: 0

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop   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.

santasartshopHere’s the intro to this event from their website:

Located in Ridgecrest, California, Santa’s Art Shop is now in it’s 35th year. Over 5,000 holiday shoppers come together with more than 200 art and craft vendors for this two day event. The Desert Empire Fairgrounds provides over 33,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space for this show.

Ridgecrest is about 120 miles north and east, located on the edge of the Mojave. Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS, or China Lake) is nearby, and this community of 27,000 is a military town. As the residents will tell you, there aren’t many opportunities for shopping nearby, so the community saves for this annual event and really turn out to support it and complete some unique holiday shopping.

We did this event in 2014, and we had our best event of the year. Loved it. Handmade goods, nice people, nice community, holiday spirit … what’s not to love?

But, we agreed, we did it wrong. We did not take advantage of the opportunity that this event provided us. We were in a crowded, single booth with all 3 of us working it. The lighting in this government-owned fairgrounds building was horrible (and I am SO focused on lighting!). We had the best holiday decorations money could buy from Walmart the night before with no planning, no electricity, and no way to hang anything.

We had a lot of work to do.

So, we spent all year talking about how we could bring our “A” game to Ridgecrest. We wanted to make sure that our presentation was perfect, and our product offering was as good and complete as we could make it.

We went all in. My secret goal was to have our best event ever, of course, and have sales over $3,000. We had only barely gone over $2,500 once, mind you, so I had a lofty, secret goal, indeed.

New Ideas

  • Double booth, of course, with holiday lights, garland, and Christmas tree tablecloth runners.
  • We had spent weeks preparing for this event. Velda, Alley and I had all made an incredible amount of product. We needed to buy new containers just to hold it. We had a LOT of new product. The ladies weren’t making batches of lotion … they were making quadruple batches. I finished 70 new boards (42 cheese boards, 13 Lazy Susans, 6 large cutting boards, 4 pizza servers, 1 cutting board, 1 small board & 3 bears) just in time for this event, in addition to my current inventory.
  • I asked Velda what product we were taking. The answer, “All of it.”
  • We rented a 5’x8′ trailer, hitched it to the Jeep, and prepared to head north. We filled the trailer with our pop-up shade structures, lights, product & decorations.
  • Christopher & Alley drove separately with Payton, and the 5 of us set up the booth. It was great having Christopher there, using our new industrial strength rolling cart to empty the trailer while the rest of us got busy setting up.
  • Remember those new containers needed to hold all of the new product? We had no room to store them in the booth, so they had to be returned to the empty trailer for the duration of the event so we could conveniently access our overstock (this year, we had overstock!) during the event.
  • The trailer was dropped in a parking lot on the fairgrounds for the duration, and we had the Jeep to drive around town without the trailer. Thank goodness. I may get used to driving a trailer someday, but I’ll always remember pulling a hay trailer with a tractor while Dad loaded the hay. I was not good at pulling a trailer then, and I haven’t practiced much since.

Observations

  • The pitcher may throw you a ball that is just begging to be smacked out of the park … but you still have to hit it. Could we?
  • Here’s a hard rule: never, never, never talk to a woman about being pregnant until she actually says she’s pregnant.

    A lady with a pronounced bump in her middle loved one of my large cutting boards. She couldn’t stop touching it. She was shopping with her Mom, and it became a joke about how she kept touching the board.

    That’s when I did it.

    I said it was OK: she was touching for 2 now.

    She said, “Oh, I’m carrying twins.” My immediate and obvious reply, “Congratulations!”

    Her response, “Oh, they’re not mine. I’m just the surrogate.”

    OK, you’re so smart, what do you say now?

  • She bought the board. And I’ll never violate the rule again.
  • I only had 2 medium surfboards left, and I almost left them at home. I’m going to the desert: no surfers there. I sold both boards on Saturday. Lesson: stop thinking, and bring the product. All of it.
  • Saturday night, my Facebook news feed had a meme with a picture of Sam Elliott saying that you’re not a man if you can’t back up a trailer. Now, how in the HELL did that arrive in my news feed just after I had driven a trailer over a hundred miles for the first time in years?
  • And I had backed it up. Just sayin’.
  • Board sales on day one totaled 31: an all-time record for any event … on day one! I checked my overstock Sunday morning, and with my 3 tables full of 80 boards, I still had an overstock of 31 for the second day. We. Were. Prepared.
  • # 1 comment at this show: “Oh, these are too pretty to use!” Is that code for too expensive to buy? Perhaps that is sometimes the case, but with sales so good, I’m not going to worry about it.
  • Remember how I sold the last chess board last week? Yup, I was asked the question. Again.
  • # 1 request at this show was for cribbage boards. Nope, not going to do it. Still.
  • Y’know, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked to make a cribbage board, I still could not buy the template and drill bit I need. Just sayin’. And, I don’t wanna. The end.
  • Saturday was a blur. We were so busy. That’s a fabulous thing, because….

Best. Day. Ever.

  • I love it when the event organizers buy stuff from us. We generally sell some boards, and especially some lotion products, to the other vendors, but we don’t always sell to the event producers. Cool when it happens!
  • Sunday was much slower. That was OK … because it was still 40% of the incredible day we had on Saturday.

Best. Event. Ever.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

  • After the frenetic pace of the day before, I caught myself yawning a couple of times. Then, it happened. In the last hour, I sold a large cutting board … checked the total … and we were ever so close to reaching a very big number. Velda had 2 more lotion sales, and we made it on the final sale.
  • I talked to several vendors that had their best year at this event, or simply, like us, their best event ever. This is a GREAT event for vendors of their own handmade goods.
  • Coming back next year? You bet.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Just like last year. Free breakfast at the Clarion Inn. 2 eggs, over easy. Yum.

Saturday Lunch: Food vendors were overwhelmed. We had orange chicken over rice … luckily. They had run out of rice, it seems, and a few patrons ahead of Velda in line got their orange chicken served over french fries. Velda got the rice, and that’s about the only good thing I can say about the lunch.

Saturday Snack: Peanut butter toffee from another vendor. Yum.

Saturday Dinner: We went to dinner with our good friends, Barry & Wendy, our vendor neighbors. We tried to find dinner … and our first 3 Italian restaurant choices were all closed (note to self: Ridgecrest doesn’t support Italian restaurants. Apparently.). The 4th restaurant was a Mexican restaurant, and the line was out the door, so we passed. We ended up back at the Clarion Inn’s restaurant for dinner. I had beef medallions … and I should have had the pasta like everyone else. In this not-an-Italian-restaurant restaurant in Ridgecrest. Go figure.

Sunday Breakfast: Free breakfast at the Clarion Inn. Their omelet was a mistake. But it was free.

Sunday Lunch: Tortas. A mess, but good food.

Sunday Snack: nope.

Sunday Dinner: Cashews on the road, and then an egg sandwich when we got home. At 9:30p.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 590 miles
  • Booth cost: $407
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $4,012
  • # containers of product taken: All of them
  • # boards available: 142
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 90
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 9. There was a scroll saw expert making wonderful nightlights. A spoon maker. A turner that made pens, and another that made bowls. A model maker. Toy maker. Jewelry box maker. Sort of a general woodworker with a few items including hat racks … and a few cutting boards. And me. I don’t count the buy & sell importer with wooden boxes & dust catchers that were NOT handmade. Or, at least not handmade by the vendor, as the rules require.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 38:7

Boards sold: 45

Cheese Boards: 21

Lazy Susans: 7

Cutting Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Large Surfboards: 2

Medium Surfboards: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Clipboard: 1

Blocks: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

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