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The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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.

Their slogan is “Peace, Love & Guacamole.” Who can’t get behind that?

This was our 3rd trek to Carpinteria to enjoy the California Avocado Festival. It’s been a good event for us; you can read about previous successes in 2016 and 2017.

Though we have enjoyed this event, it is not without its challenges. The event is expensive, for one: a 10×10 is $450 (corner is $550). Plus, they take a $100 cleaning deposit to ensure you leave the asphalt in the middle of the street as clean as you found it.

Seriously.

Finding an affordable hotel in Santa Barbara County is also a challenge. This year, we’re opting for an AirBnB which is still pricey, but when you are a bit north of an hour from home, it’s difficult to drive home after a hard day of vendoring.

Mrs M got her avocado soap made, and my inventory is in pretty good shape these days. Let’s see what is in store for us in Carpinteria.

New Ideas

  • After being off for 7 weeks, Mrs M had nearly forgotten how to go a-vendoring. We both took too long to set up … it was almost 4 hours. Not. Good.
  • Cribbage boards are not completely finished, but I have a dozen to take to the event. This will be the first time I’ve shown the options with, uh, options.

Observations

  • Getting to our AirBnB proved to be an adventure. We followed my old, portable GPS which led us to a washed out bridge on a twisty overgrown mountain road. Good times. I then *read the directions* from our hostess, got back on the freeway and drove to our home for the weekend without further incident. Thank goodness.
  • I know inventory is expanding. I have 6 containers of signs. 2 containers of cribbage boards. 3 containers of cheese boards, and I have no idea how many cutting boards. No wonder setup takes 4 hours.
  • The sign making business is a competitive one, and I note that a lot of people are taking pictures of my signs … many without asking permission. Some artists put up “No Pictures, Please” signs. Some just say “No Pictures!” I think the signs are ineffective (I have signs displayed on an outer wall … am i supposed to get up and police people throughout the day?), but I wonder if I should do that. My signs are popular; should I let people copy what I do without even asking for my permission?
  • So far, my answer is to follow Elsa’s advice: “Let it go.”
  • Carpinteria is 66 miles away … and this event is a good getaway from Santa Clarita, apparently. At one point, someone asked where I lived in Santa Clarita, and 3 groups in my booth at the same time were all from Santa Clarita … and didn’t know each other!
  • Best moment of the day was when a very young lady solemnly passed her ZooSoapia turtle to me so that we could wrap it up for her. She was very focused on not hurting her turtle. Total cuteness, in the booth.
  • At the end of the event, I did ask our event representative what the official policy was on “handmade” in our handmade section. He called over some other guy on the 2-way, and the other guy said everything should be 100% handmade.
  • Uh, no.
  • I think a good clue is that my neighbor for the last 3 years brought merchandise in a box labeled “Made in China.” That’s a clue, right?
  • Both load in and load out were extremely tight. A double row of booths is in the center of the street, and a row of parked cars and a driving lane is on each side. Very tight. During load out, a vendor driving a U-Haul van hit our canopy with her mirror.
  • She got to meet Frenzied Velda. As Geena Davis said in The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
  • After Frenzied Velda came out, the organizer apologized to us several times.
  • This event has been very good for us … but in our 3rd year, we were down from our 2nd year … which was down from our fantastic 1st year. It’s still a good event, but it’s also a very high cost event. There are alternatives that we must consider for 2019.
  • Requests were for custom signs (at least 6x!), a kitchen counter and a Go board. Time will tell if any actual orders follow, which will affect how we look at this event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Breakfast at Esau’s, which is half a block from our booth. It’s an annual treat.
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner at Clementine’s, another annual treat … with blackberry pie to go.
  • Worst Meal: A getaway chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr after teardown. The fries weren’t edible … and I didn’t want to eat, really. I wanted to go home. But, ya gotta eat, y’know?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 175
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $181
  • Travel cost: $423
  • Total sales: $3,047
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,453
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:45a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 115
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 5
  • # woodworking vendors: There were several; one does work similar to mine
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 27

Signs: 11x

Cribbage Boards: 4x

Cutting Boards: 3x

Cheese Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Serving Piece: 2x

Coasters: 2x

Small Board: 1x

 

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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.

Time to get serious. The holidays are upon us.

Yes. Upon us.

We loved doing this event last year. Big traffic. Happy people. Party.

What’s not to like?

We stayed busy, Mrs M sold out of Avocado Soap, and we even got a very nice steak dinner Saturday night. Spectacular, even.

You bet we wanted to return for the 31st Annual California Avocado Festival!

As we eagerly anticipated returning to Carpinteria, we had 13 events in front of us during this 4th quarter. We truly have miles to go before we sleep, and here’s our very big first step.

New Ideas

  • We’re doing it just like last year … but with better inventory. We hope.

Observations

  • We drove up Friday, and had dinner at Clementine’s. Their filet is highly recommended. If you’re in Carpinteria, enjoy!
  • The event’s on a city street, so, as is often the case with a street fair-styled event, it’s a Saturday morning set-up … even though the commercial section in the next block was up on Friday night as well. Hmmmm.
  • The alarm didn’t go off. WHAT? My phone died … the outlet I plugged the phone in, on the desk lamp, worked just fine until it stopped working. My phone’s battery drained, and I had no alarm. Oh, and our credit card transactions go through my phone. We’re running a bit late, and the majority of our business has to go through my dead phone. OK, go.
  • Love turbo charging. I am a droid fan.
  • Went to go get my favorite breakfast, and charged the phone more in the only outlet in the restaurant, located between the 2 restrooms. 83% will have to be enough today.
  • We arrived at 6:20a for a 6:30a load-in, only to find that the City had left a forklift in the street to block access. The fork lift driver … was not there. OK, go.
  • I carted everything in. About a city block, which was a flat block, thankfully. But, it was 6:30a and I was playing mule to get everything to booths 23 & 24. Good times.
  • Fork lift driver showed up at 7:08a for what he thought was a 7a call. I was almost finished carting in, no thanks to Public Works Department. We were running more than 30 minutes behind schedule. We had walkers in the booth before we were setup due to the forklift delay.
  • First sale of the day = vindication. I can make a serving tray that people believe will be of use. It only took me most of my lifetime to get there….
  • A lady saw the trivets and asked, “Do you put crackers in the slots?”
  • Uh … no.  Not recommended. Sorry.
  • Vending can be a humbling experience.
  • A young lady walked into the booth wearing a pair of bananas on her purse. She observed that it’s the perfect snack … I observed it was an unusual accessory. She offered me a banana as a reward. I think.
  • A pirate walked into the booth with his wench. (That is what the women associating with pirates are called, right? I don’t want to be politically incorrect with the title for a woman accompanying a pirate in my booth.) They were doing some cosplay thing, I guess. She later assured me they were good pirates, and did take exception to being called a wench. So, now you know. Don’t make the same mistake I did when a pirate walks into your booth with his … uh … well, when 2 pirates walk into your booth.
  • Business was way up on Saturday. Looking good for a great weekend.
  • Sunday started with a spectacular breakfast. No load in, of course, and we were assured we would not have a fork lift problem for load out! Life was good.
  • A client came by that custom ordered 2 large cutting boards last year, and he loves them. Lots of kudos. I smiled.
  • And then his wife came by, and the kudos happened all over again. Life is good.
  • Business, though, slowed down. Way down. Last year, Sunday was unusual at this event: it was 20% up from Saturday. At most events, Sunday is 50% down from Saturday. This year, we seem to be following the normal model. Unfortunately.
  • Strike started promptly at 6p. We were in the dark soon … and they didn’t turn on the rented floodlights until well after dark. The Department of Public Works, late to the party. Again.
  • A 3 year old was walking with her family in front of our booth, and went into meltdown. She had a spectacular tantrum, with full-throated screaming for at least 5 minutes. She then got a time out (still in front of our booth) and screaming continued for another 8 minutes as the family tried to figure out what to do with little miss screamer. Finally, a family member picked her up and carried her away. Screaming.
  • I have had days like that, but I believe I was not as demonstratively spectacular as the young miss.
  • In the end, we were disappointed by this event. We were down from last year … but this was STILL our 7th best event ever. How can you be disappointed when you had one of your best ever?
  • Expectations kill you.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend. Thanks for the electricity, too.

Saturday Lunch: Pizza Dan’s was right in front of our booth, so it was easy. And cold, when I finally got to it.

Saturday Snack: Chips & guac when Little Girl came to visit. Life was good.

Saturday Dinner: Comfort food in the hotel bar, which I will not honor by calling it a restaurant.

Sunday Breakfast: Goodbye, old friend. Esau’s was just down the street from us, and this breakfast/lunch cafe is highly recommended. Yum.

Sunday Lunch: Carry out from Esau’s. Yum. A new tradition.

Sunday Snack: Nope.

Sunday Dinner: Carl’s Jr, eaten in the car on the way home. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 274
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $747
  • Total sales: $3,476
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,532
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: It wanted to be 4:30a, but ’twas not to be.
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • # transactions: 119
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 3 other soapers. There may have only been 1 other last year, according to my notes … so perhaps this explains why Mrs M’s sales fell.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board maker, located in the Carpinteria Artist Center (he is a member, he said). They were up near the action, adjacent to the food/music area, but off the street. I heard traffic was not great. They were a bit hidden, it seems.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:2
  • Returning next year? Probably

Boards sold: 33

MBOs: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Trivets: 5

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susans: 3

Serving Trays: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Bread Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Legal Clipboard: 1

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