Archive for the ‘home & garden show’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Big Spring Home & Garden Show 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

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

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

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

This Home & Garden Show is held at the LA County Fairground in Pomona. I thought it was worth a chance. It’s not the largest Home & Garden Show – but it is in LA. Since it’s just over an hour from home, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed each night. I just have over 2 hours of freeway driving each day. What could go wrong?

The event was held March 8 – 10, 2019.

New Ideas

  • This is the same set up that I did last week in Fresno at that Home & Garden show. This one is in one single hall … but the hall is big enough that the designated parking area for my trailer is inside of the hall, down by the stage. Its. A. Big. Building.

Observations

  • Oh. So. Boring.
  • On Friday, I had one sale, for $45. I’ve got a bad attitude, and I’m just getting started here. The traffic … no. Not at all.
  • Nice enough event, really, but there was not enough there there to keep me interested. Home & Garden Shows are a numbers game, I believe, and this one isn’t big enough to support me.Lesson learned!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Still saving money. Have you seen how low the sales are in the first quarter?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 368
  • Booth cost: $800
  • Food cost: $65
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,650
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # transactions: 14x in 3 days. Horrible. Did I mention the event is 23 hours long?
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Yes, there were a couple.
  • # woodworking vendors: My neighbor installed wooden doors. Does that count?
  • Returning next year? Nope

Boards sold: 17

Signs: 5

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Slicers: 4

Large Serving Piece: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Coaster Set: 1

Special Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

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

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

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

This was my 3rd appearance at the Fresno Home & Garden Show: you can read about my previous successes in 2017 and 2018.

This event isn’t great, and the 3 day event does require some patience to get through. However, the crowd is significant, they aren’t stopped by a bit of rain, and the event always delivers a good result. So far.

You bet I’m going back to Fresno! The event was March 1 – 3, 2019.

New Ideas

  • This is my first year at this event with signs. I took the Trimline frame, put up the mesh walls, and did what I do these days.

Observations

  • This event is worth my time, but it just has no sex appeal for me. I’m in building # 6 (not that you can find that designation anywhere but on the vendor map). The building does have some handmade vendors, but it’s mainly buy & sell. Want stretchy plastic bowl covers made in China? Got ’em. Want a set of pots & pans? Got ’em. Want a vacation to Lake Tahoe to see time shares? No problem. There’s also a big vendor selling patio furniture, another that’ll do your roof. It’s a pretty crazy environment.
  • Vendor parking is in a remote lot, but they provide a shuttle service in tricked out farm wagons. That’s appropriate for a county fairground, right?
  • A vendor in my building, “Would you like a hand spa? 30 seconds to wash away your dry skin?” He said this over and over and over and over. That’s not my idea of a good time. I’m sure he sold something, but yuck.
  • I didn’t spend much time doing walkabout at this event: I can only do this before the gates open at 10a, since I’m solo for the weekend in Fresno. There were a couple of other woodworkers that do similar work; one has a CNC and does cribbage boards. No one has the wood variety that I do ….
  • Another vendor in my building was selling bottle openers with an under-powered magnet hidden under a decorative tin that was glued to the cheap wood that mounted the bottle opener. I think they were $15 each, or 3 for $30. Something like that. Note that I had no Magic Bottle Openers to bring … and I haven’t made any since, either.
  • The thing about this event is … the crowd just keeps coming, and there are enough buyers mixed in that the event works for me. It’s a numbers game, and this first quarter event is just good enough to stay on my calendar.

The Food

  • Best Meal: nope. This is about saving money. If there are good restaurants in Fresno, I haven’t found them. I haven’t looked.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 408
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $92
  • Travel cost: $432
  • Total sales: $2,542
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 19, spread over 3 days and 22 hours of the event
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were at least a few, a couple were handmade
  • # woodworking vendors: everything from redwood exterior signs to wine barrel patio furniture to pallet wood signs
  • Returning next year? yes

Boards sold: 21

Cheese Slicer: 2

Cutting Boards: 3

Cribbage Boards: 3

Cheese Boards: 4

Coaster set: 2

Trivets: 2

Chess pieces: 1

Lazy Susans: 2

Sign: 2

The Board Chronicles: KHTS Home & Garden Show 2018   Leave a comment

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

KHTS, my Hometown Radio Station (I do listen!), sponsors the city’s largest trade show every spring. In Santa Clarita, it’s a don’t miss event for any business that wants to appeal to homeowners.

The radio station partners with the city to highlight their Arbor Day celebration, and free trees are handed out to those attending the event. I’ve done this event for 4 years now; Mrs M has joined me for 3 of those years.

So – stay with me now – I get to do an event in my hometown, sleep in my own bed, and meet people that want to improve their home and, uh, garden.

You bet we wanted to be a part of this year’s event, the 9th Annual. Can we continue our hot streak and have another good event?

New Ideas

  • For only the 3rd time ever, we have a triple booth. It’s a funky L shape, with me getting a double end aisle (3 open sides), and Mrs M getting her typical 10×10. I get space to show everything I’ve got.
  • First event we’ve done in Santa Clarita in 4 months, and the first significant event we’ve done in 5. When we started, it seemed like every event was here, but not today!

Observations

  • This is event # 4 of 10 for our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • I love local.
  • Set up seemed to take forever Friday afternoon, but maybe that’s just because I was setting up a triple booth. I used the Trimline 10×20 along with an Undercover pop-up canopy, so there was plenty of work to do to get everything up.
  • Velda started Saturday with mismatched shoes … discovered before we left the house, thankfully. Still, she almost got the day off on the wrong foot.
  • I started Saturday by putting the awnings & banners up on the Trimline, which is absolutely my favorite setup for a large outdoor event. As people lined up to get their free trees and enjoy the opening ceremony with the local politicals representing, we were in the middle of it.
  • And then the wind came.
  • Across the aisle, in a protected location with neighbors on all sides and while facing away from the wind, a young lady setting up her canopy left it alone without securing it to terra firma. She went to get the weights, she said. In any event, moments later, her canopy was upside down and on top of a neighbor’s canopy. Fortunately, the only damage was to the flying canopy. It was destroyed. In a minute. It just takes one malicious gust … and that’s why she stood in the sun all day.
  • It sucks to be the windbreak. Or, perhaps I should say it blows. Doesn’t matter. When you are the one breaking the wind (which is very different from breaking wind, for the record), then it can be bad. That was our role at this event: we were in an unprotected, prominent position, with nothing between us and the wind sweeping across the valley. Wind was a steady 14-17 mph for about an hour … with a few gusts that were less pleasant. When the wind came, we got hit.
  • We survived … but there was one large gust (must have been 30-40 mph) that lifted the Trimline off the ground. Only an inch, mind you, but oh my goodness, it makes your heart stop. And yes, our big, heavy Trimline had additional weights attached to every leg. However, with the big canvas dome plus the 135 square feet of awning, that’s a lot of sail to catch the wind. And we did catch it.
  • I took the awnings down. I secured the Trimline to the cart with ratchet straps, adding several hundred pounds of weight to hold down the canopy. Be Prepared. There was no further incident, thank goodness.
  • The event finally got going at 10am, and there was a steady flow of people through the booth. Many commented that “they had some of my pieces,” or that “my work is beautiful.” Very artistic statements. I must be an artist.
  • I’m good with that. Finally.
  • Mrs M sold some soap; she quickly sold about half of one new batch that she had just labeled. New stuff sells … and it gets scary when your inventory is not deep. It’s a good problem to have, though!
  • Busy. We were busy. Love that.
  • I absolutely love to stand in my booth, point to the northwest and tell the shopper in front of me that I make the boards in our home about 3 miles that way. Local sells. There’s really nothing like selling what I love to make in my hometown, and several times during the day, buyers told me they love supporting local artists.
  • Thank goodness.
  • I didn’t have many transactions on Saturday, really, but activity was constant all day. Sales were steady. Fortunately, several sales were over $100. Sold a big cutting board. Sold another. Had a couple of people purchase multiple items. There were buyers in the crowd, and the crowd walking by at least looked at what we had to offer. Saturday was a very good day.
  • It’s important to wave the flag, especially when you’re local. It’s how you build a brand, and we build at this show.
  • But, you can’t choose your neighbors. Mrs M’s neighbor sold bamboo sheets, and spent all weekend telling every customer passing by, “50% off!”
  • Not our vibe.
  • More wind on Sunday, unfortunately. Not much, really – but it was enough. Mrs M is dealing with her PTSD as best she can, but there’s still that Flying Dry Soup Canopy to remember. This show, the booth behind and to the left of her booth (right behind the 50% off guy), launched at about 3pm. The owner had gone to pick up her daughter, leaving her booth unattended. It appeared the canopy was totally unweighted and unsecured. It launched, flipped, came down in our aisle, and rolled towards unsuspecting patrons sitting in the next booth over. Mrs M screamed at them to look out. No one was hurt. I ran to the canopy with many others, helped collapse it, and carried it back to its abandoned home.
  • Amateurs are dangerous.
  • The mistakes of amateurs not understanding that Wind. Blows. did mar an otherwise very pleasant weekend. Thankfully, no one was hurt. I don’t know if anyone gained wisdom from their experience or not.
  • Requests were for Cribbage Boards – 3 different requests! (I hear you, I just need more development time, and then more CNC time….), Coaster sets (I just sold out, and I need more shop time. See a pattern?), different colors of cheese & cracker servers (I NEED MORE TIME), and pizza peels (alright, alright, it’s on the list).
  • It’s not like I have anything else to do.
  • There just were not enough local crafters at this show. I know the show is viewed as being expensive – it’s not cheap! – but this is an essential Santa Clarita show. Highly recommended.
  • Sales analysis is a wonderful thing. It’s my thing. This is our 53rd event in Santa Clarita, which is 41% of our total of 130 events. As amazing as that is to me, here’s what’s more amazing: this was our best one yet.

Best. Santa. Clarita. Event. Ever.

  • Nothing like having a good weekend to improve your outlook on Monday.
  • Great being out in our hometown. I saw young & old friends that were soccer referees. Scouters. Vendors. School teachers. And, of course, customers. Great weekend!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday dinner at Pho Shure. S5, hold the squid, please. Delightful. Parting shot: the host told me to have a wonder-pho day. Good meal, served with humor.
  • Worst Meal: We ate from the food trucks for lunches this weekend, and Saturday was a teriyaki bowl that was both overpriced and unsatisfying. Sunday’s Polish sausage was very good, thankfully.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 18
  • Booth cost: $525
  • Food cost: $105
  • Travel cost: $9
  • Total sales: $2,686
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,047
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: Nope. Went to bed early (and tired), so I woke up early (but refreshed).
  • # transactions: 69
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other soaper, and am essential oil person, I think. A few “soap and body products” people, but no one does soap like Mrs M does soap. IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: Only three that I found this year, and all do very different things. 2 are SCV artists that are well known to me. Good guys; one’s a scroll saw artist and the other does a lot of turning and makes home decor. The 3rd woodworker makes adjustable patio furniture out of redwood that’s really fantastic. All of them were in my booth chatting, and vice versa. Comradery is a good thing.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:1
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 24

4x Cutting Boards

4x Cheese Boards

4x Hearts

2x Lazy Susans

2x Coasters

1x Wine Bottle Coaster

1x Large Cutting Board

1x Clipboard

1x Chess Board

1x Magic Bottle Opener

1x Small Sous Chef Board

1x Large Sous Chef Board

1x Custom Order

More

KHTS Home & Garden Show, 2017

KHTS Home & Garden Show, 2016

KHTS Home & Garden Show, 2015 (for a good dose of humility!)

The Board Chronicles: KHTS Home & Garden Show 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.

This is the 8th annual Home & Garden Show in Santa Clarita, sponsored by KHTS 1220 AM. For the first 6 years, the event was at the Hyatt, but it outgrew that facility. Now, the event has a partnership with the city’s Arbor Day celebration, and takes place in Central Park with big tents for the corporate clients and and a large empty soccer field for the rest of the vendors & attractions to fill.

I did a lot of AYSO soccer games on this field. Ah, memories.

The event has grown into Santa Clarita’s largest vendor-driven event, with attendance of 15,000+. It fills the available parking to overflowing – something Santa Claritans are not that used to. It’s my 3rd time doing this event: I did the last iteration at the Hyatt as a solo act (2015), and then Little Girl & I ran the first Central Park event last year (2016).

I love radio. I love local. How can I not love this event?

New Ideas

  • 2 new rolling carts premiere at this event. One is the large centerpiece of our booth with  4 drawers, 3 doors, and storage for large cutting boards, Lazy Susans & MBOs. This is a big idea.
  • The 2nd cart is an upright cart with 4 shelves that store most of the crates that make up our display, and then holds products in my booth during the event. Now, the crates are not chased all over the trailer; they are all in this one cart. This is a big idea.
  • Velda found a young man to work with me to do booth set up. Now, he does the heavy lifting, so I need a new joke to tell people.
  • Cut a deal with the owner of KHTS, and got a last-minute 3rd booth adjacent to our regular 10×20. We’re in an “L”shape; this is our first ever triple booth.
  • Little Girl is back! Mrs M is taking the weekend off to make product (she says) and go to Vegas for a soaper’s convention. She says.
  • Our booth is an official stop on the KHTS Passport Game, so everyone filling out a game card needs a stamp from our booth … and about 15 others.

Observations

  • This is event # 2 of 7 in our Spring Fling. It’s the only event scheduled in Santa Clarita … until November.
  • Whoa. That’s different.
  • Set up the canopies … and one was broken coming out of the bag. I guess the wind in Lancaster was just too much for it last week. This is our oldest canopy, now 3 years old. And, it’s done.
  • I needed the canopy this weekend, of course. I splinted the broken struts with hardwood from the shop, and duct taped everything in place.
  • Lots of duct tape.
  • Of course.

  • Another windy weekend, with gusts above 25 MPH during set up. I had 150 pounds of concrete on the canopies … and then I drove in stakes & roped the canopies down.
  • Wind. Blows.
  • I love, love, love the wonderful display space when I own a double booth. I had 5x 6′ tables, plus my 2 new cabinets. I did not display 100% of my inventory, but I had great space to display every kind of piece that I have in inventory. I could have used more cutting board holders. Another item on the work list, unfortunately.
  • Wind gusts persisted until about 2:30p on Saturday. We survived another windy one, though I fear one of our portable awnings is also wind damaged. We may need an upgraded solution, but that’s a problem for another day.
  • Loved the Mom who took my business card, and told me she was giving it to her kids with specific instructions for a Mother’s Day present. Always happy to be a part of a family’s celebration!
  • Overheard & busted:
    • She said: “These are nice.”
    • He said: “$125? Not that nice.”
    • She said: “But they’re handmade!” (Turning towards me.) “Do you make them?”
    • I said: “Yes I do.”
    • He said: “Well, your time is worth something, right?”
    • I think: ‘Not according to you!’
  • A lady asked for a quote for an in-counter custom board, and I quoted $125. She walked away, thinking about it. She came back saying a neighboring woodworker would do it for $50, and would I negotiate? I said no, the price was $125. She walked away.
  • Eventually, she came back, and bought the custom board (at $125) as well as a Lazy Susan. Sometimes, it’s just not about price.
  • Oh, and my promised delivery was July 4 at the earliest. Sometimes, it’s about the product, not the wait.
  • I saw 2 shade canopies carried away in pieces at this event, and both were the cheap, aluminum, consumer versions. Those are not meant for constant use in high-wind environments. You know our motto: Go Big or Go Home.
  • Requests were for a table-size Lazy Susan (like they have in India), a cribbage board (2x) and a backgammon board.
  • Chess board sales = $0.
  • My sales were down this year, but Mrs M’s sales were up from prior year. In total, we were down at an event with attendance that was up. (sigh)
  • If just one or two of those promised follow-up sales happen, then this event will have been well worth it. If I don’t have follow-up sales, I’ll definitely be frustrated.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese. At home.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M made a surprise appearance and went to the food truck to deliver some sort of mac & cheese & shrimp & tri tip concoction. No complaints! The food trucks at this event are very good.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Papa John’s. Mrs M forgot how to order pizza, though, so our order was a bit, uh, off. I felt like I was at a 6 year old’s birthday party (because isn’t that when you eat plain cheese pizza?).

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday.

Sunday Lunch: A dry Panini. Not a good thing.

Sunday Snack: Kona Ice. A good thing.

Sunday Dinner: Stonefire. Their carryout is always a good thing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 16. I love local.
  • Booth cost: $525
  • Food cost: $152
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,581
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $904
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 48
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3, but none of them were handmade.
  • # woodworking vendors: 4, one of which makes cutting boards, cheese boards, bottle openers & bears (sound familiar?). One is a local scroll saw artist, one is a local turner/woodworker, and the 4th is also local, and works with wine barrels.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:2
  • Returning next year? Yes. Gotta wave the flag at this local event – that is the biggest vendor event in Santa Clarita!

Boards sold: 14

Cutting Boards: 4

MBOs: 2

Medium Surfboard: 2

Cheese Boards: 1

Small Boards: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server (AKA Large Surfboard): 1

Bear: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 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.

fresno-home-garden-showVacation’s over. Time to get to work.

I’ve enjoyed 75 glorious days since my last event … but now it’s time for some vendoring.

The Fresno Home & Garden Show (“the 3rd largest in California!”) boasts 30,000 in attendance over its three days. The private producers have 3 shows each year at the Fresno fairgrounds, and this is the largest. The show isn’t inexpensive … and Mrs M has a bad taste in her mouth with central valley Home & Garden shows after only selling $150 at the Bakersfield H&G we did last year. So, she opted out as I opted in.

After all, it fit our calendar.

Time to shake off the cobwebs.

New Ideas

  • It’s not a new idea for me to solo with just my booth, but it is new for me to drive the trailer to the event to carry just me & my stuff. I’m giving more meaning to the phrase “Go big or go home.”
  • One of the vendor comments offered as testimonial on the producer’s website described the area as “a little rough.” This is the first venue we’ve had an event in that’s surrounded by concertina wire. The Fresno fairgrounds are located near the old downtown area, and the surrounding blocks are not picture postcard pretty. The fairgrounds are in good shape, however.
  • Wine bottle holders made their debut at this event. Finally.

Observations

  • Drove in to the fairgrounds, in search of the unfortunately named “More Exhibits” building that I was assigned to. The map actually called my building “More Exhibits.” Here’s the problem: every building on the fairgrounds had a big banner on it: “More Exhibits.” Luckily, my More Exhibits was the 2nd More Exhibits building I tried.
  • My booth was between the Tupperware ladies and a fence builder. Problem was the fence builder had put up a 5′ spite fence blocking the view of my booth which was against the rules (vendors are limited to 3′ obstructions in the front half of their booths, which is standard for pipe & drape environments like this one). I complained … and the builder moved the fence. Wow. Rules enforced by the producer. Maybe there’s hope here.
  • “Park at the lot on the corner of Maple & Butler,” I was told. Free for vendors. I drove there … and on the 4 corner lots there were 2 fair or city developments with fencing, a park with fencing, and a liquor store. No parking lot entrance near the intersection, except for the liquor store. No signage for the fair, for parking, or for vendors. NO signage. Come to find out, the “park” was a grass lot behind a fence, and that was the parking lot. Not the other corners with asphalt. But since I couldn’t find any cars, nor an open entrance anyway….
  • Forgotten, Day 1: Left my Bubba Keg in the Jeep, so I had to survive over 10 hours without a Bubba filled with Diet Coke within 5′ of my hand. The horrors of vending.
  • We use Paypal, which pushed a mandatory software update the weekend prior to the event. I dutifully installed it. All was well until I tried to use the app for our first transaction, and the keyboard was screwy. Push 4, and it said 4. Push 5, and it said 8. Push 7, and it said 1. The numbers were randomly generated, it seemed, and I could not figure out how to get it to work. Luckily that first customer had cash … and then I found that the software update had changed my default to include sale tax in the transaction, so every time I pushed a number, the app added 8.5%. Automatically.
  • Shut that off.
  • I hear it all of the time: customers come into the booth, like my stuff, and promise to come back later. Generally, those people get lost on the way to their car, or something. All I know is they usually don’t come back. Friday, the majority of those people did come back. Friday had surprisingly good results, and I was off to a great start.
  • Forgotten, Day 2: Discovered I had left my cooler at the venue the night before, so I had to deal with getting ice & soda to the venue without a cooler. Not as bad as being without my Bubba, but still. Also forgotten was the Paypal e-chip reader, left at the hotel on Saturday. Why am I forgetting things???
  • Expectations can kill you. Saturday was totally underwhelming – barely better than Friday, in fact. My expectation for Friday was almost no sales, and I did 5 transactions, including a big board. All good! Saturday, I did 9 transactions, but they were all small. And it was forecast to rain on Sunday … hope wasn’t fleeting; it fled. Saturday had huge traffic … and few buyers in my booth. Other vendors had very good days with the traffic surge.
  • Overheard: “I can not WAIT to get tickets to go see Neil Young … I mean Neil Diamond.” I understood her excitement, since one Neil is so much like the other.
  • This event was open for 25 hours. During that time, I had a total of 20 transactions. When Mrs M is there, we have a lot more transactions … but don’t think that more transactions always result in more profits. A big difference, though, is that I have to deal with boredom. I had hours go by with few quality conversations and no transactions, and that’s just not fun.
  • During the slow times, I wasn’t even happy talking to DIYers and the ever-present shop teacher that trolled my booth to tell me of their accomplishments. Normally, those are very pleasant conversations, but here I could not avoid my frustrations that the event was not fulfilling my high expectations.
  • Although, I did note on Saturday that it was great to hear my skills lauded by other woodworkers. Translation: I’m better at hiding my mistakes than they are.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Requests: a lamb-shaped cutting board (that’s new), business card holders, a pepper mill, rolling pin (2x – but I am NOT a turner!), decorative mason jar lid covers (You know you’re in an agricultural area when….), a cutting board with a built-in drawer, a pizza peel, a cutting board with bowls built in to collect your work, a 4’x6′ island, a cribbage board, a custom gunstock, and my # 1 request was (wait for it) … chess boards.
  • Saturday was slow, but Sunday was my best day. In the rain. No other vendor I talked to did better on Sunday, but Sunday saw 2 of 3 large cutting boards sell. Sunday grew beyond expectations, and was 40% of my sales.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Every event has the same rule: no breaking down of your booth until the event closes. In this case, that was 6pm Sunday. The event started breaking down their gear at about 4pm. When vendors followed immediately, the producers did not stop them (though my neighbor was told not to break down by a temp employee).
  • When a producer doesn’t follow their own rules, then there are no rules.
  • Strike at 6, packed by 7, loaded & on the road at 7:47pm. Only 186 miles to home….

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Best Western Village Inn free breakfast. All good with biscuits & gravy.

Friday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews. No fair food.

Friday Snack: See above.

Friday Dinner: My MOS (Mushroom, Onion, Sausage) from Mama Mia Pizza. Definitely a good pizza, just as Yelp predicted.

Saturday Breakfast: Back to the Village Inn for a disappointing choice between “cheese” omelets and pre-cooked egg slabs (they tried to look like a fried egg, but, yuck).

Saturday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews and a banana. And Oreos. No fair food.

Saturday Snack: See above.

Saturday Dinner: I was desperate enough to drive to Olive Garden (!), but they had a line out the door. I ended up at Carrow’s, where I was not the youngest person there, but every single table had an older person at it than was sitting at my table. I felt young.

Sunday Breakfast: Back to biscuits & gravy. Thank goodness.

Sunday Lunch: Same as Saturday, but no Oreos. No fair food … but I would have had a cinnamon roll if someone would have been there to cover the booth while I stood in line.

Sunday Snack: See above.

Sunday Dinner: McDonald’s # 1 on the road. No time to eat; I had to drive.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 428
  • Booth cost: $450
  • # of people I met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Two: one when they showed me a potential leak in the roof above my booth, and one when they dropped off a solicitation for their next 2 shows. Pass.
  • Total sales: $1,940
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: I seemed to be the only cutting board maker; there were 4 guys there showing furniture & such made from wine barrels. Four!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:4
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 22

Magic Bottle Openers: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Pizza Server: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Bakersfield Home & Garden Show   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.

Bakersfield Home & Garden Show logoHome & Garden shows have a mixed reputation with makers of handmade goods, I find. They are generally relatively expensive. The main purpose of these shows isn’t to sell handmade goods … it’s to improve where you live, or want to live.

Of course, a good cutting board would go a long way towards doing that. Happy cooks tend to, uh, produce more good meals. And who doesn’t want that?

To date, we’ve only done the Santa Clarita Home & Garden Show, at which we had a good (though not spectacular) hometown response. Other vendors have given me mixed reviews for the Bakersfield show … but it fit into our rather tight calendar. We’re in.

New Ideas

  • The show is at the Kern County Fairgrounds in 4 separate buildings, but they will look much like a convention center with pipe & drape backdrops & side rails for every booth.

Observations

  • Trailer rental #2 was done for this show, 90 miles north of Santa Clarita. It certainly makes load-in and load-out much easier. A trailer purchase is in Mrs M’s future.
  • First show I’ve done where I received a direct solicitation to buy radio advertising, from KUZZ-FM/Bakersfield. It was only one phone call, but it was a sales effort from my favorite medium.
  • Check-in was made more difficult because the promoters moved the Show Office Check-in location after they sent the Exhibitor Final Instructions. Actually, it appeared that they moved the office months – perhaps even shows ago – and never noticed that their maps were wrong. Or their instructions. They. Just. Didn’t. Notice.
  • Those final instructions also were *very* specific about how booths could be constructed, with no permanent display items over 36″ tall in the front 5′ of your booth: you couldn’t block your neighbor’s booth in any way. The instructions were very clear … and the rules were not enforced. At all.
  • I paid an extra $50 for a corner, which in the end meant that I was next to an emergency exit. About half of our booth was accessible from the 2nd open side … the rest was behind a trash can, fire extinguisher & wall. It wasn’t even close to a full corner.
  • We were told we must have our parking pass to park, and our exhibitor badge to enter the grounds. Guess what? Nope. We drove in, walked in, and parked where we pleased. No one cared.
  • Do you see a pattern here? The guidance from the promoter was 1) wrong or 2)not enforced. Makes one pause before following any other instructions, y’know?
  • Set-up was Thursday afternoon (or it could have been early Friday, but pass!). I like leisurely, day before set-ups which are then followed by no alarm to wake up on the day of the event!
  • Things I was asked to make at this show:
    • Cutting board with paw print inlays
    • Cat cutting board (I just don’t get why someone wants to cut on a cat)
    • Tic Tac Toe game (I didn’t recommend the lady buy the kids 2 crayons & a piece of paper, but I wanted to)
    • Fish fillet board (hmmmmmm)
    • Cribbage board (stop!)
    • Tortilla maker (double hmmmmmmmmmmm)
    • Backgammon board (nope)
    • Counter tops (4x times)
    • Chess board (6x times)
  • I’m still sold out of chess boards. Wonder when I’ll be able to make more (sigh)?
  • Overheard:
    • Little girl: “I want a cat.”
    • Mom: “No, Daddy wants a dog.”
  • We were across the aisle from a greyhound adoption group. They place greyhounds that are no longer wanted by their owners that run them in dog races. Greyhound trivia for you:
    • They sprint up to 45mph
    • Greyhounds are indoor dogs, because they don’t deal well with heat. Or cold. Or sun. And they place them in Bakersfield?
    • The greyhound is the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible (it’s in Proverbs 30)
  • So, yes, the promoters of the show put us next to a bunch of dogs. Think about it. They weren’t bad neighbors generally … but when the owners started not cleaning up after the dogs’ accidents, I was done. So done.
  • Back in the day, I loved DC Comics, and one of the realities that Superman explored occasionally was Bizarro world, AKA htraE, where everything was backwards. That’s how this weekend felt. Velda had very poor sales and a very small number of transactions. I had a larger number of transactions, which just never happens. My traditional best-seller is cheese boards, which are my lowest priced item. This weekend, I sold only 1 cheese board, but I sold 3 large cutting boards priced at $250 & more. There was just no understanding this weekend.
  • With an event that was 23 hours long, spread over 3 days, the time passed excrutiatingly slowly with, on average, a transaction every 42 minutes. I did get to read several chapters in my book, though – something I never do at normally-paced shows. This one was  s  l  o  w  .
  • Sales by day: Friday 7%. Saturday 60%. Sunday 33%.
  • However, with the sale of the 3 big boards, plus several other nice boards, the sales numbers did just keep growing. Bottom line: of the 66 events we have now completed, this was our 4th best sales event EVER. But, man, did it move slowly.

The Food

Friday Lunch: Jalapeno BBQ pizza. It was a fair food kind of day … and I won’t do that again.

Friday Snack: Fried Mozarella sticks with ranch dressing … and I won’t do that again.

Friday Dinner: We thought we’d be safe & went to a well-reviewed Mexican restaurant. It was OK, but only that. I had a Chimichanga that was soggy. Or undercooked, I’m not sure which. And we didn’t like the salsa. Oh well….

Saturday Breakfast: I was promised biscuits & gravy “in 5 minutes” at the Quality Inn. Twenty minutes later….

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & crackers. Simple. Good … but I was busy with customers. Wish I had time to enjoy lunch!

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Cashew Chicken at a Chinese restaurant that is in a “white castle” concrete block building. Why are they in a white castle? No clue. Truly, no clue. Another OK meal, but only that.

Sunday Breakfast: Carl’s Jr. No way was I waiting for the free breakfast at the hotel again!

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & crackers again. More time to enjoy them today … and then I gut busy talking to people again. There were so very many talkers at this show. Buyers, too, in the end. Traffic was really fine … but so few buyers for all of the talkers. Oh well.

Sunday Snack: a dozen donut holes. Nice & hot. Sugary. Cinnamony. Yum.

Sunday Dinner: Black Bear Restaurant on the way home. Comfort food is always good after an event (chicken fried steak, of course!).

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 193
  • Booth cost: $250
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Total sales: $1,991. We hoped to hit $2k, and we were oh so close, but ’twas not to be. Surprisingly strong number, though, given the slow pace of the entire show. We were very fortunate; I didn’t hear good things from many vendors who complained of a slowing local economy and poor sales at this event; often a small fraction of last year’s sales.
  • # containers of product taken: 26
  • # boards available: 95
  • Saturday alarm: none needed
  • Sunday alarm: none needed
  • # transactions:  33
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 2. Both had lotions; only one had soap.
  • # woodworking vendors: a routed sign maker & a scroll saw artist. And many, many printed sign makers.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:7
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 17

Lazy Susan: 4

Large Cutting Board: 3

Cutting Board: 3

Small Board: 3

Small Sous Chef Board: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

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