Archive for the ‘Mr M’s Woodshop’ Tag

New: Dough Boards With Hooks   2 comments

These boards are called many things: bread boards. Pasta boards. And, dough boards.

These purpose-built boards can be used for cutting boards, but they are really intended to do 2 things:

  1. Provide a flat surface for rolling out dough
  2. Catch the edge of the counter, and don’t move as you push the dough with your rolling pin

These boards are designed for 2-sided use. One side is plain, but the other has an engraved ruler and graduated circles to help you roll out the perfect-sized circles of dough for pie crusts … or whatever.

The “hooks” are the boards at the top & bottom of the board that are mounted on opposite sides. The one at the bottom will catch the edge of your counter when you work your dough, keeping your board stable. At the same time, the one at the top of the board will keep you from going off the edge. These aren’t literally hooks, but that’s the traditional name of this device. I’ve attached the hooks with dowel joinery.

Another traditional name with these boards are the “bread board ends.” These are the boards on each side that run perpendicular to the horizontal pieces of the main work surface. These are attached with tenon and mortise joinery; the tenon runs the length of the board. The cross grain strength of these boards will keep this relatively thin board flat. There’s a good explanation of this traditional woodworking element, below.

Each board is 18″ square and 3/4″ thick. One of these was a custom order; the other will go with me to my first show this year … Winterfest in Lake Havasu City, AZ, next month.

More

Breadboard Ends

Grandma Mowry’s Chocolate Pie

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival Sacramento 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I’ve been working on catching up.

Today, I have! Here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles. And, stay tuned, there are big plans for 2020!

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Harvest Festivals are very big events in our region. There are 9 of them in a year, spread between northern & southern California (and 1 in Las Vegas). This highly successful series of events features handmade goods only (well, almost), and are scheduled in the key 4th quarter.

The costs are high, but the rewards can be very high as well. After initially planning to do several HFs this year, I eventually settled on doing just one, as all of the others had a conflict of some sort. Plus, I was pretty busy …

I did 2 Harvest Festivals in 2018. However, both were impacted by the Camp Fire, so they probably weren’t a perfect indicator of what I can do at a Harvest Festival. Still, the Sacramento event was very, very good for me in 2018.

Time to see if I can up my game a bit more with my almost “complete” product line, as I now define it!

New Ideas

  • My set-up is much like last year, with a double booth utilizing mesh walls hung from the Trimline frame without the canopy. No Mrs M: Harvest Festivals are 100% me.
  • New products this year include Cheese Slicers, Garlic Dipping Boards and Cracker Things.
  • Last year, the guidance for how to sell at this event from the promoter got me to thinking, and I tried – but failed – to produce engraved price signage for all products. This year, that is complete, with price signage for everything from Carnivore Boards to Bread Saws to Cribbage Boards. Look at the booth shots, below, and you’ll see the little wooden signs on every table I have.
  • Some larger display pieces now have signs integrated, such as the pieces for Surfboards and Large Serving Pieces. My signage is now better.

Observations

  • Big ideas require a time commitment. Set up is on Thursday, the event is Friday – Sunday (with tear down), and then I drive home on Monday. That’s 5 hotel nights, Wednesday – Monday. Some scrimp on the hotel cost by driving Sunday night after working a full day, or arriving later on set up day, but that’s not how I roll. Go big or stay home, if you will.
  • Several products are missing this year: Magic Bottle Openers, Serving Trays, Sous Chef boards and California Bears. Not having California Bears while in the state capitol … is a bad plan. I’ve been out of MBOs all year, and they used to be my #1 seller. Another bad plan.
  • I need more time in the shop.
  • Sold a charcuterie board to a guy that wants to mount a watchmaker’s lathe on it and hang it on the wall as a display piece. Well, OK, then.
  • Friday started hot and stayed hot. Lots of traffic on this work day in November. Sales were over $2,500 on this day, and that’s rare air for me. Rumor was that Friday attendance (you have to pay to get into a HF) set a new record.
  • Saturday got better, as you would expect. I got ‘whelmed several times. When people are 3 deep with product in their hands, waiting on me to wrap and do the transaction … life is good.
  • Sold 2 Foodie denition signs to one person. Don’t know them … but I bet they eat well.
CNC Sign 19 – 732 Foodie
  • Put up the unique In This House sign I made from Red Oak and Sapele, and it sold very quickly once it was out of the container. Hmmmmm.
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House
  • There was a lot more traffic on this day, but there were a lot of requests for discounts, too. I don’t get offended when people ask for a discount … but I don’t change my prices, either. It wouldn’t be fair to all of the people that pay the published price. Shows like this are not swap meets; people may expect to haggle, but I will not oblige them. My prices don’t change.
  • Cracker Things are the odd thing I’ve added this year, and they continue to surprise me with how popular they are. I hear the words over and over: CTs are “cute” and “clever.” I’ll take that for the win.
  • Now I have to come up with another cute & clever idea for 2020. No pressure.
  • Sunday sales fell precipitously, but this event delivered in a serious way. For the first time ever, I sold 100 pieces at a single event.
  • 100 pieces. I bring about 300 pieces to most events … so that means I sold about 30% of my total inventory in Sacramento.
  • Oh, and our biggest event of the year for each of the last 5 years is in 2 weeks! I have a LOT of product to make in that time.
  • But, that pressure was for another day. As I added up the results, there was a smile on my face. A big smile.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • And, as I write this in 2020, I know one more thing:

Best. Event. In. 2019.

  • I certainly plan to do more Harvest Festivals in 2020!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope. Given the other costs I had for this event, I did my best to stay in the hotel room and eat frozen food from the microwave.
  • Best Meal: After finding how bad traffic was to get to the grocery store from my hotel, though, I definitely tried Uber Eats delivery. It was easy. It had a convenience cost, but it was worth it. After a full day of fun in my booth, I was tired!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 754
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $508
  • Total sales: $6,019
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several. This is a very competitive marketplace. Very competitive.
  • # woodworking vendors: See the above comment. Lots of woodworkers are here.
  • Returning next year? Absolutely, and I intend to be cute and clever, too.

Boards sold: 100

  • Cheese Boards: 11
  • Trivets: 19
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Signs: 11
  • Cribbage Boards: 5
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Cheese Slicers: 9
  • Lazy Susans: 6
  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Bread Saws: 3
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Hearts: 2
  • Cracker Things: 15
  • Surfboards: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Fall 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. After this one … just 2 more to go. And they are the big ones.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Paso Robles is a lovely town near the central coast of California. It’s the home to several wineries, and it’s a nice distance for weekend getaways from the LA area.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

The big park near the downtown area is perfect for strolling through an art fair. You get tourists, you get locals. I did this event with the same promoter in April, and now I’m back to see if October is as good as its reputation. The event was 10/19 & 20/2019.

New Ideas

  • I’ve got a woodworking buddy, Jeff Hewitt, that lives in town. He doesn’t do this event, but he showed up – uninvited! – to help me set up. That is above and beyond the call of duty, and his help was greatly appreciated. As you know, it’s usually just me. Jeff was a great help.
  • You can see Jeff’s work here. Enjoy!

Observations

  • I found a “Granny cottage” AirBnB about 4 blocks from downtown, and it was a perfect place for me. Well, nearly, anyway.
  • Suggested sign: “There are a thousand reasons not to drink, but I can’t think of one.” – Mark Twain. The only problem is, I couldn’t source the quote. I did find this quote from him: “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.” Alas, that’s not a foodie quote, so I won’t make that sign.
  • This, however, is one that will be appearing soon: “Never Delay Kissing A Pretty Girl, Or Opening A Bottle Of Whiskey.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • Reviewing the above quotes … I’m pretty sure that it’s true that writers drink. And I must admit I’m enjoying some bourbon as I write this. Hmmmm.
  • I’m a guy. Logically driven. I like my wood designs symmetrical. And, when I display my work, I line things up. Straight lines.
  • And then there’s Mrs M. She (though absent this weekend!) will walk up to my display and make everything crooked. No straight lines. And, for the record, she’s a Lady. I believe that’s how women’s minds work.
  • My retail consultant (!), Delinda from Sweet Spot Home Decor, is also a Lady. She also makes my displays crooked. See, it’s a woman thing.
  • I note that for this event, I endeavored to make crooked displays, channeling my left brain. My inner female, if you will. And, try though I might, my customers – most of whom are female – will straighten them out.
  • So, like men from the dawn of time, I’m confused. Ladies like crooked displays, but if I make them crooked, they straighten them out.
  • Men. Can’t. Win.
  • In my opinion.
  • Results for the weekend were pretty good, actually, but not outstanding. In 2020, I have another event in mind, so I’ll probably miss this one. Which, gastronomically, sounds like a horrible idea.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch is a true find. I bought Jeff and his lovely wife dinner at my favorite Paso restaurant (and he makes the serving boards that they use!). Worth the trip, highly recommended.
  • Honorable Mention: Leftovers in the AirBnB. Saves money!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 372
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $382
  • Total sales: $1,939
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: At least 4 others
  • Returning next year? I don’t think so

Boards sold: 24

  • Serving Pieces: 1
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 7
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 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!

** ** **

Have I mentioned I love strawberries?

This event has been one of my favorites for several years. It’s local-ish. It’s a handmade event. It’s well run. And, it’s big. Very big. Attendance is in the 60,000+ range.

You can read about our history here: 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The event is always the 3rd weekend in May.

Yes, this is our 5th year in a row at the California Strawberry Festival, Very, very few events are that popular with Mrs M’s Handmade!

New Ideas

  • We’re upping our game and doing a triple booth here for the first time. Their current booth configuration is 4 booth pods (every booth is a corner!) so we have an L-shaped booth that’s a bit awkward … but, still, familiar territory. I’m under the Trimline, and Mrs M will be under the adjacent pop-up.
  • Mrs M opted out again to work at her “job”, so I enlisted Miss M to join me in Oxnard. She likes hanging with Dad once in a while … until someone asks her if she’s Mrs M.

Observations

  • I arrived on time for a 1pm set-up … and there were probably 20 vendor canopies already up. I guess early can be on time, too.
  • The majority of vendors for this event set up on the Oxnard College soccer field. This year, the college is coordinating with the promoter, providing college students on sports teams for hire to set up and take down. I’m happy to help the baseball team buy uniforms, as they do the heavy lifting for me.
  • The load in for this event is not easy: I’ve got about a 100 yard haul from the trailer to the booth, and most of the haul is on turf. I typically need about a dozen trips to deliver everything to the booth. With the triple booth set-up for this event, it doesn’t get any easier.
  • Worst non-customer ever: “Excuse me, sir, can you move so I can read the sign behind you?”
  • I like the set up for this event, really, but it is also true that there’s absolutely no way to tell someone where you are. There are no markers that distinguish aisles at all. There’s nothing good about customers not being able to find you easily.
  • I lost a sale today because the piece was on display, and the buyer didn’t want to buy the one that everyone had touched. The piece was unique, of course, and pristine … but it had been touched by the great unwashed masses. Not what the customer wanted.
  • Best T-shirt pair of the weekend – it was a his & hers.
    • His: She’s My Sweet Potato
    • Hers: I Yam
  • OK, I like cute. Sometimes.
  • This event changed in 2018, when the vendor area moved from a street (with very easy trailer access) to the soccer field. Sales peaked in 2016, and declined in 2017, and then again in 2018. This year … down again. This is still a solid event, but it is an expensive one that is a fundraiser for the Oxnard community. Luckily, my only expenses are for the booth, gas and temporary help; I stay at home for this event that’s about an hour away.
  • Note that sales declined in spite of the triple booth. Hmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 216
  • Booth cost: $1,050
  • Food cost: $82
  • Total sales: $3,213
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: Not as many as needed
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there are a few
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do, but there’s a maker of shaped plastic boards as well as other woodworkers
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 26

  • Signs: 4
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Card Boxes: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Chess Board: 1
  • Clipboard: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Pig: 1
  • Cheese Slicer: 1
  • Heart: 1
  • Trivets: 2

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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!

** ** **

Avocados everywhere. Sounds like a good idea, yes?

We’ve done the California Avocado Festival 3 times previously. You can read about 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This event has had some landmark results for us. In 2016, it was at the time our most expensive event ever, and resulted in our most transactions ever.

Unfortunately, sales were down in 2017 … and then down again in 2018. It’s hard to feel good about that.

Time to see what’s what with the 33rd Annual California Avocado Festival.

New Ideas

  • We’re doing just what we did each of the last 3 years: a 10×20 booth, shared. Mrs M always does avocado soap, and I do a (somewhat) limited display in my 10×10 space. So, nothing new here. Just get it done.

Observations

  • This is a Saturday morning setup, unfortunately, so we arrived at about 6am to get going. We drove the trailer into the booth area … and couldn’t find our booth. After 3 years in one location, we had been moved. But, I thought we had the same booth number … ?
  • We were on the opposite side of the street, nearer to the end of the event. Nothing to do but to get to it, since we have less than 3 hours to get the booth up before we have walkers in the area. We started setting up our 2 pop-up canopies, and we began hearing neighboring vendor complaints almost immediately. No one was happy. Everyone was moved.
  • The organizer? We didn’t see her – in her first year in charge of this area – until perhaps 6:45am. This is well after the official beginning of set-up. We were way into our hard goods by that point; nothing was going to move easily.
  • Come to find out, the entire booth area had been chalked on the asphalt … backwards. Upside down. We should have been in the same location, but the guy with the chalk did everything wrong. Everything.
  • So, that began a period of chaos where some vendors went to their original spot, some (like us) stayed where their canopies were, and the organizer was there to smooth the ruffled feathers of those that were angry about losing their space, being moved, upset that they couldn’t have the space that was now marked out for them … you name it, people complained about it. I just tried to keep my head down. It was a total, total mess.
  • Finally, the crowd arrived and things got better. At least I didn’t hear any more moaning and complaining.
  • The great part of this event is that we have many fans that find us. A lot of people drive to this event from all over Southern California (attendance for the 3 day event is estimated at 100,000) … so we see a lot of familiar faces. We also meet a lot of Santa Claritans that come to these event that we’ve never met before. It’s all good. Legacy is a wonderful thing. A hometown crowd is a wonderful thing, even if you’re 90 minutes from home.
  • Long, amusing conversation between 2 customers. One of them made a comment about the 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, and the other said they actually were related to Kevin Bacon. That created an uproar – what are the odds? – until the 2nd customer admitted that their cousin was Kevin Bacon, just not THE Kevin Bacon. A good time was had by all.
  • I had a critical eye on the results of this event. It’s not a cheap one, and our sales had been down in 2017 … and then again in 2018. In total we were down over 20%, and I wasn’t happy.
  • Last year, we arrived for our early set up, but the street access was blocked by cement barricades that had to be moved by a fork lift. Come to find out, the city worker that was responsible for that job had overslept. So, this year … different problem, but another problem. It seems this event has trouble getting the details handled.
  • Happily, our sales were up almost 10%, but we’re still substantially down from our first year. Add that sales decline to the 2 years in a row with major infrastructure mistakes that affected me directly, and I’m out. I have another event in mind for next year.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We love a traditional steakhouse in Carpinteria, so we went to Clementine’s Friday evening. They include dessert with every meal, so I got Blackberry Pie with homemade whipped cream. Yum.
  • Honorable Mention: Saturday evening, we were tired. We weren’t creative. So, we went back to Clementine’s.
  • 2nd Honorable Mention: Sunday breakfast, by tradition, is at Esau’s. It’s on the same block as our booth (either location!), and they have a great breakfast. I’ll miss both of these restaurants next year.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 138
  • Booth cost: $1,046
  • Food cost: $331
  • Travel cost: $282
  • Total sales: $3,334
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 102
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several
  • # woodworking vendors: Several
  • Returning next year? Nope

Boards sold: 26

  • Signs: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Bread Saw: 1
  • Trivets: 2
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Serving Piece: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Cheese Slicers: 4
  • Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Palos Verdes Street Fair 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!

** ** **

We do this event because we like a restaurant.

No one said we had to be logical.

This Street Fair in Palos Verdes was an average event for us last year. Not spectacular, but it was OK. Worth visiting again, we thought. Maybe.

Last year, we found an Italian restaurant that we simply loved, so we wanted to go back to visit it again. The restaurant was better than the event, really, but what’s wrong with that?

Time to see how we would do at the 32nd Annual Palos Verdes Street Fair.

New Ideas

  • I asked that they move our booth this year away from the screaming, so we were put farther from the entrance and closer to the stage. Less screaming is good.

Observations

  • This is a nice little community street fair. There’s free music, there’s alcohol and there are about 75 vendors. It’s mainly buy & sell, but it’s local, it’s small, and it feels like home. I want to like this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.
  • Set up on the street near the stage is a bit cramped, so we were there for set up on Friday evening. We arrived at 5:45p, for a 6p set up.
  • They made us wait until 6p. There was no reason for us to wait that was visible … the street was clear, but booth was marked … but we had to wait until the clock ticked. OK, so I started out a bit annoyed.
  • The guy looked at my boards and said, “My board didn’t turn out this well in high school.” Then, he didn’t buy anything. So, apparently, my work is better than a teenager’s, but not something he needed. That seemed to be how this weekend went.
  • Sales were down almost 50% from last year. This event went from about average … to a waste of my time. The only good part of the weekend was the food. Since that’s one of the reasons we booked the event, perhaps we should take that for the win.
  • But then we had to pack up and things took a turn.
  • The sales event ended at 5p, while music was still playing. We were told that the first cars would be allowed on the street to pack up at 5:30. There was a schedule; each vendor had one of 2 entry times. My problem was that cars began getting in the queue to get onto the street much earlier than that – and they simply blocked traffic to get in line. What were people thinking? Event security, manning the barricade at the entrance, did not care what vendors were doing on the street, probably because it was on the other side of the barricade. It began to get crazy.
  • When I saw that other vendors were blocking traffic, I would not do that. Across the street from the vendor entrance was a parking lot entrance, so I parked the Jeep & trailer there, and told the security guy at the barricade that I was there ready for my appointed time to enter.
  • The problem, of course, was that the queue was out of control at this point. Vendors got in line with no regard for when they were supposed to enter the street.
  • When the barricade was opened, it got crazy. Vendors began to just force their way in, and security was no longer in control.
  • Enter Frenzied Velda.
  • We had been communicating by cellphone so she knew what was happening and where I was waiting. Mrs M went to the security guard and complained that the line was out of control. The security guard did nothing. Mrs M complained. Cars kept moving without following the printed rules, and Frenzied Velda had had enough at that point.
  • She simply stood in the middle of the vendor entrance and dared cars to hit her. Obviously, this was NOT SAFE.
  • It was then, and only then, that event organizers got involved and restored a semblance of control to the vendor entrance. I was allowed to enter soon after, at my appointed time and before those in the queue that were attempting to jump the line … and run over Mrs M.
  • Okay, first obstacle overcome. Now it was time to load the trailer.
  • The problem now was that we were slinging containers and loading into the trailer on a crowded street, while dodging the strollers, senior citizens in walkers, and skateboarders that were STILL on the street as they left the free concert. People were everywhere. They were darting in and out. Vendors were trying to load, and some were not concerned about the little people that were trying to go home … with no regard for what the vendors were trying to do.
  • Obviously, this was NOT SAFE.
  • I will not return to this event for that reason. If the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce doesn’t understand how to obey traffic laws and provide a safe environment for their patrons and vendors, then I will not support their fundraiser.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Ortega 120. This art-filled discovery had wonderful Mexican food … and served 120 different tequilas. Alas, I didn’t have a sampling, but the evening was wonderful.
  • Honorable Mention: Gaetano’s Restaurant. Wonderful Italian food, 2 years in a row. Get the bruschetta.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for lunch. Of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 185
  • Booth cost: $739
  • Food cost: $288
  • Travel cost: $254
  • Total sales: $1,141
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple, as is normal at events like this
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do, though there was a turner there, as well as a couple of purveyors of imported Chinese crap wooden boxes & such.
  • Returning next year? Hell, no.

Boards sold: 8

  • Cutting Board: 1
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Trivets: 2
  • Heart: 1
  • Serving Piece: 1

What Am I Doing Here?   3 comments

I’m sure you’re wondering what I’m doing. After all, I wonder, too.

All of the time.

Here are my goals for this blog for this year:

  • First thing I’ll do is catch up on the remaining installments of The Board Chronicles. I believe I still have 7 events from 2019 to review, including some very notable ones. The most notable ones. Those reviews (should) publish over the next several days.
  • This site will get a face lift in 2020. This blog will turn 8 years old this year (!), and it’s time for a new look.
  • I’ll continue to publish pictures of my work, observations about life in the Woodshop, The Board Chronicles, and other topics as the mood strikes.
  • I’m going to add an index for The Board Chronicles and change the organization for my woodworking, so it’ll be easier possible to actually find things.
  • I’ll definitely continue the Presidential Portraits series. And, if Mrs M has her way, I’ll be adding to the National Parks section as well in the coming months. If I have my way, I’ll be publishing more recipes as Mrs M does more cooking.

I also have a plan for my companion website, Mr M’s Woodshop:

  • This site will get a major change in focus: I’ll be adding a “click to buy” option. People will be able to directly buy items from the site, instead of, uh, having to communicate with me.
  • I’ll be updating pages so that the pictures used are more illustrative of my current work. Some of the pictures shown are of pieces I made a few years ago, and nothing good comes from living in the past.

So, there you have it. A bit of philosophy and my online plan for 2020.

OH, and that kickstarter campaign I promised for last year? I believe it’ll be coming your way this year. Game Night is finally going to happen!

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair 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!

** ** **

We’ve done this event every which way, and it’s always run hot … or cold.

In 2015, I did it solo in a 10×10 showing both Mrs M’s and my stuff. This was when we were just over a year old and didn’t know what we were doing, but I rocked this event. It was chaos. It was wildly successful. At the time, it was our Best. Day. Ever.

In 2016, we shared a double booth … and it was awful. Mrs M vowed she would not return.

We took 2017 off, but I was up for another run in 2018. I did it solo, and committed even though the event moved locations. I did a double booth, and, again, it was a big success. Sales were $1,735, which is really very good for a one day event.

I had similar expectations for this year … and as you know, expectations will kill you.

New Ideas

  • Nothing new here! I was committed to having a good day. I arrived early, got set up … and made sure my gear was not getting hit by the sprinklers that were on in the planter that was right behind my booth. Seems like the Chamber of Commerce missed that one.

Observations

  • Another suggested sign, another thing I’ll never, ever make:
    • I’m fat, but I identify with skinny. I’m Trans-slender.
  • The day had very nice weather: perhaps too nice. I had shade stealers all day, which I don’t mind too much. Well, I do mind when no one is buying, and on this day, not enough were buying.
  • Given the paucity of sales, I’m not returning to this event. It’s well known that I hate one day events anyway – it’s just too much work for me to set up and tear down – solo – in one day.
  • Sales didn’t hit my magic number of $1,000, either. In this case, at least there were no travel costs other than a tank of gas … but I’m out.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 74
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $0
  • Total sales: $929
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 13
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Returning next year? No

Boards sold: 13

  • Cheese Slicers: 2
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1
  • Small Board: 2
  • Sign: 1
  • Serving Piece: 1
  • Cribbage Board: 3
  • Cheees Board: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Trivets: 2

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival Sacramento 2018   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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

The Camp Fire was largely contained by now, but this event still was smoke impacted on November 16 – 18, 2018. Sacramento is much closer to Paradise (only 88 miles), but the smoke was less bothersome, and got better every day. But would it be enough?

After having a very, very disappointing event last weekend, I was hopeful. That’s all I had, really. If this event didn’t score, then I would be in a deep hole.

New Ideas

  • Last week was my first Harvest Festival, so I got a $100 discount off of the price. This week, no discount. I paid the full $1,590, which was now the most I’ve ever paid for an event.

Observations

  • I arrived at the motel Wednesday night and was in the middle of a little insurrection. There was no hot water in the motel due to some plumbing issue. People were yelling, checking out, not checking in … it was a mess. I got the room key & hoped (that word again) that I would have hot water the next day.
  • I did.
  • Friday started hot. I was ‘whelmed by 1pm. I had people standing in line – 3 deep – to give me money a couple of times. Those are good times.
  • I had a person give me a suggestion for a sign (this never ends well):
    • If you love someone, set them free
    • If you hate someone, set them free
    • In fact, set everyone free
    • People are stupid. Get a dog.
  • Requests were for an appetizer server with a slot for a wine glass, odd cribbage boards, a thinner heart-shaped board (mine are 3/4″ thick), and 2 separate requests for deviled egg trays. These are my people … and this will happen soon, I said to myself. A year ago.
  • Editor’s note: it’s now 2020. Deviled egg trays will happen soon. I’m working on the design now. Honest.
  • This event was great. I couldn’t believe how many pieces I was selling … and by Sunday, it was clear I had done something special.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • I sold more pieces at this event than I ever have before. Even with the increase in volume, though, my average selling price was higher than ever before. Sacramento came to shop, without question!
  • The top selling items were from the CNC. Signs were my top seller, but almost everything I sold had been touched by the CNC.
  • I had a long drive home on Monday, but there was a smile on my face.

The Food

  • Best Meal: I had a treat meal at a BJ’s that was pretty tasty. The venue was very near a shopping/restaurant district, so life was good

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 768
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Food cost: $232
  • Travel cost: $580
  • Total sales: $5,637
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: 58
  • # soap & lotion vendors: my next door neighbor was a soaper, so I felt right at home
  • # woodworking vendors: many, many woodworkers are here. My favorite is a retired couple that owns (?) a company in North Carolina making lawn furniture out of white oak. Very nice work … but the “sellers” were definitely not the “makers,” at least not anymore.
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 73

  • Cutting Boards: 15
  • Lazy Susan: 1
  • Cribbage Boards: 4
  • Signs: 15
  • Cheese Boards: 8
  • Hearts: 5
  • Cheese & Cracker Servers: 3
  • Trivets: 8
  • Small Board: 1
  • Clipboards: 2
  • Chess Set: 1
  • Serving Tray: 1
  • Coaster Set: 5
  • Sous Chef Board: 1
  • Magic Bottle Opener: 1
  • California Bear: 1
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1