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The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2022   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.

Remember me? Remember how I used to write things?

I’m back.

I’ve done the Fresno H&G a few times, and it’s time to crank it up in 2022.

Finally.

Read about my past experiences here: 2019, 2018 and 2017. Interesting that 2017 was my first solo event, ever. Now, I don’t know how to act if Mrs M shows up … and she hasn’t made soap in quite a while. Don’t bother her, she has a wedding to help plan.

But back to going a-vendoring.

New Ideas

  • I got moved to a new building this time … because my old building was undergoing renovations and was unavailable. I did not receive word from the promoter until late, well after I was paid in full and most booths were booked. We had a, uh, disagreement about what should happen to my booth. I didn’t respond well to the pressure sales tactics, which stated that they would not charge me for moving my booth to a new location.
  • Note to sales reps, everywhere: beware trying to pressure an old sales manager. It will not end well for you.
  • I finally stated I would move to a building that met these criteria: 1) not near another woodworker, 2) not near dogs up for adoption and 3) not near loud, amplified-selling “sideshow barker” type presentations.
  • My sales reps’ recommendation failed on point 2. Completely.
  • So, I, uh, suggested that she not book that location and then I suggested a location near the craft cocktail booths (and an open bar, come to find out). My new home was building # 4 … which, in the time-honored tradition of the Fresno Home & Garden Show, was known as “MORE EXHIBITS.”

Observations

  • I arrived at the Fairgrounds at about noon on Thursday, with 8 hours to set up the booth. I asked directions to building # 4, and parked the trailer with pretty good access to my new home.
  • Set up began as soon as I checked in at Building # 2, I think it was (AKA “MORE EXHIBITS”). I had discovered a problem as I unloaded the trailer … table cloths had not made it into the trailer. They were at home, over 3 hours away. And in 2022 gas, that would be …
  • Luckily, Exhibitor Services fixed me right up with hotel banquet-table-style plastic tops & skirting for all 10 of my tables. And it was def def definitely cheaper than the gas would have been to go home.
  • My spiffy wooden name tag is missing. No clue where it got to.
  • The vendor behind me was a rock n’ roll hair salon, selling hair care products (Hair dryers & such. The prices were way more than I expected. Like, way more. Don’t buy hair dryers at home & garden shows is my recommendation.)
  • I am pleased to report the rock ‘n roll hair salon turned down their music. And I didn’t even have to sic music licensing agencies such as ASCAP or BMI on them. Something I was contemplating, to be honest.
  • Fresno is an agricultural area, so it’s inevitable that I am approached by well-meaning ranchers that want to give me their trees. Not lumber, which I might be able to use, but their trees. Sorry, not set up for that. I turned down old Oak and a Black Walnut stump. Unfortunately.
  • Fridays at home & garden shows are known for 2 things: not much traffic, and lots of senior citizens that are there for exercise and to pick up free stuff. Oh, and rain was forecast. My Friday was dead slow, until I finally sold something at 2:30pm. And then I had someone in line to give me more money while I was wrapping up purchase #1.
  • When it rains, it pours. HA. Weather humor.
  • Rain was again forecast for Saturday, but there wasn’t really much moisture in the air. It was a little wet, attendance was probably down, and it was just cold & wet all day. Temp was in the 50s. I kept my jacket on all day.
  • This is the 2nd event that I had Deviled Egg Platters for sale … but I only had one made. I asked Mrs M if I could borrow her personal DEP to promote special orders. She said yes … and I sold 2x “just like this one.”
  • Interestingly, she had a retirement party at the house for a loved colleague a few weeks ago … and I got orders for 2x large cutting boards “just like hers.”
  • Maybe I should try to not sell more of her stuff.
  • Sold my whiskey sign about Grant … it was going to be a wedding present someone in the whiskey business. If you know about General Grant, you know that is appropriate.
  • Had a lady that wanted to buy an oval Lazy Susan. An oval Lazy Susan. She saw nothing wrong with the idea, and I couldn’t explain the problem with a rotating oval in the middle of a dinner table in a way that she could understand. No sale there. Thankfully.
  • Once again, I was amazed at the people that saw crackers on my display … and decided they were free food. One guy asked if it was OK, I said no, they are stale! … and he took one anyway. That was a first.
  • Strollers are getting bigger. One family had dad pushing a stroller with baby, and mom pushing a foldable wagon with a toddler. That family procession was about 15′ long.
  • My favorite transaction of the weekend was with a group that didn’t dress like me. Mothers all had scarves or hats or something on their head. They spoke with an accent I couldn’t identify. But one of the Moms loved one of my big end grain boards, and we talked about it … but the price was too much.
  • An hour later, her daughter was back and wanted to see if I would sell it to her tomorrow, after she talked to her siblings about sharing the cost for their mother … as a birthday present, just 2 days away.
  • Sunday afternoon, the daughter was back with crisp hundred dollar bills in her hand to buy the board for momma.
  • I’m a sucker for that, so I gave her an unexpectedly large amount of change back. Come to find out, this is an immigrant community that had moved from Russia to Armenia to America several decades ago, and now has at least 3 culturally significant communities on the west coast. Who knew? It was nice getting to know a bit about them, and I am glad I put a smile on these American faces.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope, not this event. This is Fresno, and I’m all about saving money. I had frozen dinners and left overs from home in the hotel room each night. But, Mrs M’s cooking is WONDERFUL. That’s what I meant. Mrs M for the win.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 440
  • Booth cost: $1,000 for a double booth, 10×20
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: I talked to four different people, but no names were exchanged. No personal touches here.
  • Visits in the booth by a promoter’s representative: Only when they were leaving info to solicit me to come back for the smaller fall show that conflicts with much bigger events I do in October. Nope.
  • Competitors: sure, though none that I found did exactly what I did. As always.
  • # transactions: 21 sales in 20 hours
  • Returning next year? Unclear to me at this point. I believe this is the best show available to me IN MARCH. I made a few dollars … literally, a few dollars. Already have one follow-up sale, though, so perhaps…. Well, Liza sang it, “What good is sitting alone in your room?” I would never compare the Fresno Home & Garden Show to a cabaret … but will I return? I simply don’t know. If gas triples in price, no.

Boards sold: 29

  • Signs: 6x
  • Cheese Slicer: 6x
  • Cheese Board: 4x
  • Trivets: 4x
  • Handled Board: 3x
  • Dip Server: 2x
  • Deviled Egg Platter: 2x
  • Large Cutting Board: 2x
  • Lazy Susan: 2x
  • Bread Saw: 1x (SOLD OUT)
  • Ampersand Board: 1x
  • Magic Bottle Opener: 1x
  • Heart: 1x

The Board Chronicles: KHTS 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.

First, a note about my long absence from writing these Chronicles.

I’ve been busy. I’ve been behind.

Way, Way Behind.

Way.

I have resolved to catch up, though, and one way to not get farther behind is to not let more events pile up in my “I have to write about this” pile.

This is my 5th time doing the KHTS Home & Garden Show … and it’s their 10th Annual show. It’s my home town. It’s a radio-sponsored event. It’s also city-sponsored; their Arbor Day celebration is a big part of this event which takes place in Santa Clarita’s Central Park … Soccer Fields # 7 & 8, if I remember correctly from my refereeing days.

You bet I’m there.

New Ideas

  • It just seems like a new idea … Mrs M joined me at the event! This is the first Mrs M event since December.
  • Lots of new products here for me: Cheese Slicers, Magic Knife Holders, Clocks, CNC Signs, Cribbage Boards, Card Boxes, Charcuterie Boards….

Observations

  • I was behind (remember?), so I was finishing product on Friday morning instead of setting up. It was a lovely day, this Friday. It got up to 85*. So, that’s when I finally got to do the setup. When it was the heat of the day.
  • And this is our largest setup: the Trimline 10×20 canopy + a 10×10 pop-up Undercover canopy. Yes, for the 3rd year we did a 10×30 at this hometown show, in an “L” shape. My solo setup was 4+ hours in the heat.
  • I did as much as I could stand, and then stopped. No awnings for this event. I just didn’t have it in me.
  • The event starts with the Arbor Day celebration, complete with free tree giveaway to several hundred people (no clue how many … but it was a lot of trees). Those seeking free stuff didn’t seem to be my customers, but there was lots of early traffic. Lots.
  • In spite of the seemingly good traffic … we were down to prior year. Down 13%, the tally showed. Maybe Sunday….
  • The headline of this event for me was legacy. I had 4 different people come to the booth, tell me that they came to the event just to order something from me, and then proceeded to do so. 4 special orders at one event, all caused by people knowing I would be there … that’s never happened before.
  • Legacy.
  • Sunday started slowly, as all Sundays seem to. A couple of the special orders happened, then a big board sold … but it seemed like we were going to be short again. Then a large special order came in right at closing, which was great.
  • Then a couple of vendors came over after closing and picked up smaller boards. That’s what did it.

Best. Santa. Clarita. Event. Ever.

  • By $4. We beat last year by $4.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Lunches at this event were from the food trucks that KHTS brings in, and they do well. There were 10 trucks, so there was lots of choices. Definitely recommended.
  • Honorable Mention: I had to go out early Sunday morning to buy groceries (!), so I stopped at Jimmy Dean’s for a breakfast burrito. Delish.
  • Worst Meal: We tried to go to Marston’s at 8p on Sunday … but they closed early due to lack of business (the manager said that!), so we ended up at Wolf Creek. I was very disappointed … the pasta I had was Oh So Bland. We may not be back … until the next Sunday 8p dinner. Options are limited at that time, we’ve found.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 18
  • Total sales: $2,690
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: 4:45a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 49
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were 5, which is too many for an event this size. One soaper came by & told Mrs M that Mrs M’s display last year is what inspired her to get serious about making soap!
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. Everyone does different types of work, though.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 20:2
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 22

  • Special Orders: 4
  • Hearts: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Surfboards: 2
  • Trivets: 2
  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • CNC Sign: 1
  • Small Board: 1
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Large Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: KHTS Home & Garden Show   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.

KHTS Home & Garden Show LogoAfter several years resident at the Valencia Hyatt – which had been outgrown in more ways than one – KHTS (my hometown station!) decided to do a major upgrade with their Home & Garden show.

KHTS partnered with the city of Santa Clarita to incorporate their Arbor Day celebration, and then with that support moved the event to Santa Clarita’s Central Park. Attendance of 12,000+ was expected to see the big show, maybe get a free tree, and enjoy some Southern California blue skies.

New Ideas

  • The “home & garden” vendors were moved to 4 large tents on the edge of the park, next to the food trucks. The other vendors – some with their own shade structures, and some with event-supplied canopies – were behind the 4 large tents. Lots of activity going on here, from a climbing wall for adventuresome kids to a quilt show to city-sponsored tree giveaways. This event goes big, so we felt right at home.
  • With the event 3.5 miles from home, we were. I reffed a lot of AYSO soccer on this field. Unfortunately, the grass was better before the drought restricted our municipal grass watering so severely. Didn’t like the dust blowing in the wind throughout Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday.
  • Last year, my booth location was in a photogenic garden area at the hotel: KHTS kept it as exclusive handmade area. My neighbors were local, handmade, and mutually supportive. Very nice. This year, the handmade booths were lost in a sea of vendors. Handmade vendors were in our area, but my closest neighbors included Pampered Chef (buy & sell), a hat vendor (cheap import buy & sell), a BBQ rub maker (local!), a pet supplies vendor (buy & sell), the SCV Domestic Violence Center (community group), a lending library (community group), and a clothes vendor (buy & sell). Of that batch, only the rub maker was handmade. Not so homey.
  • Last year, it was just my boards & me. This year, Mrs M’s Handmade was there with all of her products. FWIW, come to find out.

Observations

  • I love local.
  • My gosh, it was windy for setup on Friday! We had gusts of 20+ MPH while we were putting product on tables … and then we stopped. Too much dust in the air, and too much air movement, for that matter. Setting up on Friday allowed Mrs M to help (as she had the day off), but it wasn’t very successful due to the wind.
  • On the other hand, I had to return home for a table that I forgot to bring as well as a rubber gasket to repair the scrub wash station. Then, after I was home, I had to return to the booth for a forgotten cell phone. Good thing it was local! (sigh)
  • We go big. It’s how we do. And when we go big these days, we really don’t fit in the Jeep + the Honda. And soap is coming. We need a trailer.
  • We were there at 8:30a on Saturday and were not allowed into the booth area to unload the Jeep. We were directed to vendor parking, with no appeal possible. I hate it when events don’t follow their own rules (which had offered close-to-the-booth area access until 9am for a 10am start).
  • Little Girl helped with setup Saturday morning, and was in the booth all weekend. She told me I couldn’t write about her unique approach to prep for the event, but then I forgot what she told me I couldn’t blog about. I asked her to remind me, and then she didn’t tell me not to write about her reminding me that she painted her toenails in the booth before we opened.
  • Freedom of the press is a thing … though I don’t have a press; I just have electrons.
  • Mrs M was “working” this weekend at her “job.” She said.
  • Several former customers approached me over the weekend – several while I was talking to new customers – and gushed about how much they & their loved ones love their board(s) and how much the new customers will enjoy having their boards. Totally unsolicited, totally heartfelt, and oh, so gratifying to help people that love my hobby.
  • I love local.
  • Home & Garden shows, in my vast experience of 2, appear to have limited appeal for Mrs M’s products. There were several lotion vendors here this weekend, but our results indicate they may not have invested wisely. For our part, my boards outsold Mrs M by a wide, wide margin, in spite of the fact we were at a big Santa Clarita event!
  • A young lady (who, come to find out, went to high school with Little Girl) was playing with a flying disc (definitely not a Frisbee) with her ?nephew? or ?little brother?, when a wind gust sent it onto the roof of one of the large tents, and out of reach. Little Girl went to the rescue with the long arm of our awning adjuster, and with a slightly taller young man helping, the disc was rescued. People helping people. Community. A good thing.
  • I was asked for puzzles (that’s a new one), charcuterie boards (wow, two weekends in a row!), chess boards (of course) and toaster tongs. That’s a new one, too.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese that tasted like strawberries, as Mrs M was making very fragrant strawberry lip scrub & lavender body scrub as I was eating. And then I helped her with the packaging so we’d have the new scrubs for Saturday sales.

Saturday Lunch: In & Out, courtesy of the hockey player. It’s a SoCal thing (the burgers, not the hockey so much. But, GO KINGS!).

Saturday Snack: never thought about it.

Payton if 4 - 03Saturday Dinner: Miss P’s 4th birthday party, complete with chicken tacos and some delectable bean dip made with chorizo. Dessert was a unique skirt cake, since we live in a Barbie world. Or, she does, at least. After dinner, Party Barbie was passed out cold on the floor, so Dr Barbie was trying to identify the problem with her stethoscope. Or that’s what it looked like, at least. All was good in the Barbie world.

Sunday Breakfast: Mrs M’s breakfast burritos. The best in town.

Sunday Lunch: A delectable grilled chicken, portobello mushroom & cheese combo on an Asiago cheese ciabatta roll. A great lunch from the Keep On Grubbin’ food truck.

Sunday Snack: Cookies from the Paradise food truck.

Sunday Dinner: Asian chicken wraps from Velda. A good day’s end.

The Facts

  • 2015: The Board Chronicles: KHTS-AM 1220 Home & Garden Show
  • Total miles driven: 82
  • Booth cost: $425
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 4
  • Total sales: $1,922
  • # containers of product taken: 22
  • # boards available: 145
  • Saturday alarm: none
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: 393
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. I saw 3 buy & sell corporate types as well as one soaper and one retailer that was, uh, difficult to ID.
  • # woodworking vendors: 2 turners, one scroll saw artist, one patio furniture maker and me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 24:2
  • Returning next year? Definitely. Mrs M may opt out, though….

Boards sold: 26

Small Sous Chef Boards: 6

Bottle Openers: 5

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

Large Surfboards: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Cutting Boards: 1

 

 

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