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The Board Chronicles: Lompoc Flower 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.

We went to the 2016 edition of the Lompoc Flower Festival and loved it. At the time, that Flower Festival our 3rd best event ever, with sales over $3,000.

Lompoc was good to us … except for that first night restaurant. But, I digress.

We definitely wanted to return to Lompoc when it fit into the calendar, and 2 years later, we’re returning for the 66th Annual Lompoc Flower Festival.

It’s a classic event in a city park. It’s truly a community get-together, with many high school reunions keyed to the event. Once you get there, it’s a paid gate (increased this year from $3 to $5), live music throughout, and a beer garden. Food booths are for local charities. It was a good time in 2016 …

New Ideas

  • This event sells booths that are 10′ wide x 20′ deep. We bought our typical double booth … so we had our first ever quadruple booth, 20′ x 20′. We brought 2 pop-up canopies and the Trimline 10′ x 20′ canopy. 4x mesh walls. We were stylin’.
  • We got there Friday morning for set-up, and asked the organizer if she knew of any teenagers that might want to help us. Her 2 teenagers just happened to be nearby….

Observations

  • We had low expectations for Friday; 2 years ago sales were only $245. No worries … but sales this year were only $119. Board sales were $0. Yuck.
  • We had family in town, and Aunt Sis (maker of Aunt Sis’ Exfoliers) and Dr H (author of the Harbstreit method of routing fingerholds on an end grain board) came to visit us in Lompoc. We had a great couple of days with them … the event, not so much.
  • Saturday started slow, as expected: no one comes to the park until after the parade is over. Once it’s done, the people flood into the park to set up their lawn chairs, see their friends, and enjoy the music.
  • Oh, and shop. We hope.
  • Unfortunately, Saturday stayed slow. Sales were less than half of 2016.
  • This has never happened to us before. Sales down more than half? Well, there’s Sunday. We hope.
  • Nope.
  • Sunday sales totaled $200. Total sales were 40% of 2016. Our neighbor reported their sales were 42% of prior year. 2018 was just way, way off.
  • Vendors always talk about how it used to be better. Nostalgia is always a positive thing, right? People always enjoy talking about the “good old days.” At this event, we heard some of that … but we heard it from the customers, as well. We were told that the Flower Festival used to have many local artists vending at the park: good, handmade artists like Mrs M. Multiple customers told us this. They also told us that in the last few years, the purveyors of cheap imported merchandise have seemed to crowd out the good vendors.
  • Yup.
  • In the artist community, there’s a lot of chatter about how “non-artist vendors will always ruin an art event.” When the likes of solar power companies, LulaRoe & vendors with cheap imported merchandise are allowed into an event, the crowd-sourced wisdom goes, then the quality of the art will always decline. Perhaps that’s what happened in Lompoc. I don’t know – though I will say that their vendors of cheap imported merchandise are hardly the equal of credible multi-level marketing companies like Pampered Chef or Origami Owl.
  • In the end, it doesn’t matter. This was a lost weekend.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board (sigh), anything with a dog on it, a Word Block I didn’t have in stock and both larger and smaller Lazy Susans (sigh, sigh).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M loved her Pork Belly Tacos at the Solvang Brewing Company.
  • Worst Meal: A treat we looked forward to was La Botte in Lompoc, a wonderful Italian restaurant we enjoyed in 2016. We made a reservation for 8p, and arrived to find the wait staff was ‘whelmed. We were barely acknowledged for 10 minutes, and then the busboy (who was funny) became our waiter because the real wait staff was still ‘whelmed. Food was pretty good, but the service was truly insulting.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $394
  • Food cost: $151
  • Travel cost: $789
  • Total sales: $1,249
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): -$85. We lose money for the first time ever.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 59
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other … making medical claims. Did you know soap could cure hair loss? I sure hope the FDA catches wind of these snake oil sellers.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one turner, and a couple of vendors of import, uh, crap.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 24

Trivets: 7

Word Blocks: 3

Hearts: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Small Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Coaster: 1

Soap Deck: 1

Clipboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Lompoc Flower Festival 2016   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.

Lompoc Flower FestivalWe don’t do many summer events, but I thought this would be a good one for us. Missed it last year … managed to book it this year.

Average June temperatures in Lompoc peak in the low 70s. With our thermometer consistently going over 100* lately, it seemed like my timing here was fabulous.

On the other hand, the Sherpa fire broke out in Santa Barbara County last week, and was within 15 miles of Lompoc. Over a couple of mountain ranges, not that close … but in the neighborhood. Freeways were definitely being impacted. By the time of the show, though, that fire’s impact was zero.

So, what’s ahead of us? A 2+ hour drive each way, a getaway weekend to a never-visited community on the Central Coast, and an event with our new trailer (yes!). What awaits us? The great unknown that is the 64th annual Lompoc Flower Festival!

New Ideas

  • Mrs M was inspired to do several lotions with flower scents, so you know she was excited to be doing this event. She’s not exactly a flowery kind of girl.
  • The trailer! We bought a 6×10 trailer, so no more U-Haul for me. Thank goodness.
  • First getaway weekend in a while, so we have high costs with hotel, gas, food, booth fee … we had about $1,000 in expenses before we started selling.
  • Took the new trailer off-roading … to unload in the park, and then to park the trailer in the outfield. Both drives were ever so bumpy due to the gopher damage that was pervasive in this park. It was very difficult to drive on the turf, much less walk on it without breaking an ankle!
  • This is actually a 5-day event, but the arts & crafts vendors (like us!) don’t show up until Friday. So, we’re missing Wednesday & Thursday, for what that’s worth.

Observations

  • We decided late, and our application was late, so I called the office to see if it was possible to register a month in advance of the event. It took a bit of patience, but when I finally got the organizer on the phone (she had been out sick), Inga was truly a delight on the phone, helping me pick the perfect location, advising me on how to set up, etc.
  • I booked a cheap hotel. Not the cheapest; it was well reviewed. Relatively. And it was cheap ($146 for a Saturday night on an event weekend. “Cheap.”). I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel; I told Velda I thought it was “Motel One.” “What,” she replied. “We couldn’t afford Motel Six?”
  • Nope.
  • Friday was a killer. We arrived early to set up, and were done well ahead of the gate opening at 12noon. The day was a real snooze with sales of only $235, spread across 9 transactions in 6 hours. (sigh)
  • I read a book. The day was not a total loss. And when I say I read a book, I read it all. At the event.
  • Saturday again started out very  S  L  O  W  L  Y  due to the parade which started at 10am: the same time that the gates opened and we had to man the booth. Our business was simply inconsequential until after the parade. This parade had more pregnant pauses in it than is healthy for civic pageantry. In my opinion.
  • This is a big party – for 5 days – in a little town (Lompoc’s population is about 43,000). Live music. Beer garden. Carnival. Community. High school reunions (for both the 20th & 30th years) were coordinated to coincide with the event, and shade structures were erected to comfort those in a spot of shade while they were contemplating their wasted youth. Or whatever they were contemplating.
  • Saturday was packed once people started hitting the gates shortly after noon. Big sales day, with 3 big cutting boards sold. This was a good day. We made our informal goal for this event entirely on Saturday. It ended up being about 65% of total sales.
  • Quite a parade of humanity went by the booth. I was surprised by the transvestite cyclist wearing fishnet hose and a platinum bob, though. I mean, wouldn’t you be?
  • Sunday was again a slow day, with limited sales in the morning and few sales at the end of the day, as well. We did do well in a short amount of time, though, with Sunday sales equaling about 25% of the total.
  • Our neighbor has done this event for 19 years … and said this was a good year for her. Above average, she said. Other local crafters (a candle maker & a nut coater) agreed that this was a good year. Both sold out on Saturday.
  • Ashley came by on Sunday and placed a large special order with Velda. Ashley discussed her upcoming nuptials with us when we met her at Sissy’s on Saturday night … and I gave her my business card. She read it as “Mr Handsome.”
  • Ashley is a wise and wonderful friend.
  • Velda sold a few of her flower scents, but not a huge number. Maybe next week’s event will be wanting the flower scents. After all, now she’s got something for the gardenia lovers out there. Pity she didn’t have an answer for the person that wanted a verbena-scented lotion. It’s a big world out there….
  • Great event for us, and the first event we’ve had for sales to finish in 4 digits with a 3 in front. And that’s a great number! This ended up as our 3rd best sales event ever.
  • As we were loading out, a gopher stuck his head out of his hole about 3′ from where I was standing. He did it just to taunt me, of course. It worked. I kicked dirt in his hole, just to show him.
  • If you’ve ever fought gophers, you know that Bill Murray had the only right solution in Caddyshack. Just sayin’.
  • Requests included cribbage boards (still NO), backgammon boards (always NO) and the most requests were for chess pieces, of course (still NO).

The Food

Thursday Dinner: We were limited because the Jeep had the trailer on the hitch, so I wanted to walk to dinner. No problem, the hotel manager said, there are 9 restaurants within 2 blocks. What’s the best? Floriano’s, he said. So we went … and Velda had what she called her worst restaurant meal ever. Not. Good.

Friday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. Hello, old friend.

Friday Lunch: Fair food … I got a tri tip sandwich from the Lompoc Kiwanis that was OK, but far too much bread to eat. Messy.

Friday Snack: Frozen Yogurt. Chocolate, of course.

Friday Dinner: La Botte … with the best Bruschetta EVER. Highly recommended.

Saturday Breakfast: Burger King something. Not my favorite, but the parade route was already blocked off, so we had to make due with what we could drive to. And then thru.

Saturday Lunch: Fair food  … today was taquitos from some local organization (a church? don’t know), and the sauce dribbled over our tablecloth because the taquitos were served on a single hot dog paper “coffee filter” thingy. Decidedly not OK.

Saturday Snack: Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chocolate goodness. Velda said the frozen yogurt lady was on a break, so she had to get Ben & Jerry’s. Ya gotta love fair food.

Saturday Dinner: Sissy’s Uptown Cafe, with an absolutely delectable menu. And we met the incredible Ashley here, so this was a great meal from every perspective.

Sunday Breakfast: American Host, with a classic breakfast because we had the time for it. Highly recommended.

Sunday Lunch: Fair food from 2 other local organizations … French bread pizza (served on a plate!) & 2 egg rolls (served in a styrofoam cup). Because I could.

Sunday Snack: Back to frozen yogurt.

Sunday Dinner: A quick burger before we hit the road for the long drive home.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 278
  • Booth cost: $375
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Total sales: $3,088
  • # containers of product taken: All of them
  • # boards available: 141
  • Friday alarm: none needed
  • Saturday alarm: 7am
  • Sunday alarm: 7am
  • # transactions: 85
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other lotion vendor, offering a “10 minute face lift.” There was  also a beginning, local vendor there selling “organic bath bombs.” Mrs M was not impressed, but as she said, we were there not long ago. Our first event was just 2 years and 3 months ago.
  • # woodworking vendors: three. One made toys & also did some scroll saw work … the second made routed signs. And then there was me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 26:4
  • Returning next year? Absolutely.

Boards sold: 30

Magic Bottle Openers: 10

Cheese Boards: 7

Small Boards: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Large Surfboard 1

Medium Surfboards: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Special Order: 1

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