Archive for the ‘Mrs Ms Handmade’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Dealing With An Insurance Claim   4 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.

In Velda’s mind, here’s what almost happened.

Velda was not harmed in the making of this photo.

Now, I’m don’t think she’s the Wicked Witch of the West, at least on a good day, but the truth is her booth was crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. This is the story of what happened after we picked up the pieces, left stormy Arizona and sought compensation from the company that owned that wind-blown destroyer.

Need to know what happened to cause this problem? Read that story in Wind. Blows. A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

First things first: I took pictures. I took pictures from each corner of Mrs M’s booth so I prove that we had been squashed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. I thought I took pictures of everything, but I really didn’t. I got everything I needed, fortunately, but wish I would have doubled the number of shots to get more close-ups. I didn’t have a good shot of the middle legs of the upside down canopy destroyer, for example. I had a long shot, but not one with as much detail as I would have liked.

Photos in hand, and once the shock wore off a bit, we proceeded to cooperatively disassemble the Flying Dry Soup Canopy … it was toast. Once it was off of Mrs M’s booth, we could see what had happened to her booth. Her canopy was also done for, of course, so we lifted it over her display and folded it up crushed it together so I could cart if off to the dumpster, as I was directed when I sought out event staff to ask what I should do.

Event staff, by the way, did not visit our booth and did not volunteer any direction as to what should happen or who should do what. We were on our own. Totally on our own.

I did salvage the canopy’s fabric top and walls. They all appeared to be somewhat soiled, but not ripped. I continued to take photos, documenting all of the damaged product, the damaged display pieces, the product on the ground, the broken signs … anything I could think of that showed damage, I took pictures of.

Anything.

I didn’t ask permission, I just took pictures. I thought they would come in handy.

They did.

We then proceeded with our day and completed the event. Once home, I got to work repairing Mrs M’s display, replacing broken pieces and missing hardware. Mrs M got to work replacing her product that was damaged, but all damaged product was held in case we needed more than photographic evidence taken at the event to prove the amount of damages we incurred.

Mrs M’s repaired booth, good as new.

Once we recovered, I reached out to the insurance agent with the contact information I was given on that fateful day in Arizona at Winterfest, in Lake Havasu City.

“I’m sorry, that agent doesn’t work here anymore.”

The Claim

However, the lead agent did come on the line and gave me an email address. I then sent them this letter, copying the client:

Thank you for your time on the phone today.

As we discussed, Mrs M’s Handmade was a vendor at the recent Lake Havasu City Winterfest. At that event, a windstorm on Saturday night lifted the canopy of your client, [Company Name/Client Name]. That canopy came down on top of our canopy, crushing it and damaging our products and display pieces underneath.

Amazingly, most of our products were undamaged. There were some broken display pieces. One display crate crashed and most of the products inside were destroyed (109 small lotion bars). Other product losses were nominal. The canopy, unfortunately, was a total loss. The main wooden display was somewhat damaged, and it had to have broken pieces and hardware replaced.

To figure the loss of business profits for this Sunday, I averaged the actual sales for our last 5 outdoor events, and figured the lost net profit from that.

Any questions? Please call me at the numbers below.

I enclosed an itemization of our damaged items, which included actual cost estimates:

  • 1, Undercover Canopy, commercial weight
  • 109, Small Lotion Bars, Replacement Cost
  • 8, Lotions, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Beard Oil, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Body Polish, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Loss of Business Profits, Sunday
  • 1, Bowl, Display Piece
  • 1, Picture Frame, Display Piece
  • 1, Repair of Display, 4 hours

Those are actual losses; I didn’t inflate any item. It doesn’t matter what others might do; I have to live with me. I played this totally above board. Just like life.

Also attached to the email were these photos:

The Denial

After 2 weeks, I got a response from a claims agent, who denied the claim. No idea if this was an automatic thing (as we all fear insurance companies that just deny every claim). Here’s the letter:

Dear Mr Mowry:

[Insurance company name] has been notified of your attempt to file a claim under our insured’s Commercial General Liability policy. After a thorough review of the evidence, documentation and evidence submitted, our findings indicate that our insured is not legally liable for the damages caused to your unit.

The loss concerned a wind storm which occurred late at night on the above-listed date. This wind event caused widespread damage to several vendor tents at the Lake Havasu City Winterfest trade show, including that of the insured. It has been reported that our insured’s tent blew over during this wind event, causing damage to your tent, your product, and affecting your ability to conduct business on the following day.

In review of the weather report for that particular day, it appears that these gusts of wind were in excess of forty miles per hour. Our insured reported to us that they had used – as they always do – five individual thirty-five pound weights hanging from their tent in order to secure it from such wind events that could occur overnight at the event. They also reported that his has seemed to work ever since they started their business.

It is our opinion that it is reasonable to expect that the weight they used, which totals 175 pounds, should be sufficient to hold down a ten-by-ten tent during a normal wind event. The wind event which occurred is considered an “act of God”. It is our opinion that our insured took all reasonable steps to protect against normal wind events, but it is not reasonable for them to expect that an act of God such as  this could occur. After reviewing the information available on this loss, we do not find that our insured was negligence (sic) in the cause of your loss. Therefore, we are denying liability for your damages.

In the state of Arizona, negligence must be proven by some breach of a duty of care. The results of our investigation show that there was no such breach. Therefore, we are denying your claim for property damage.

If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact the undersigned.

The Refutation

I had questions. You bet I had questions.

Needless to say, I was a bit ticked. I took a deep breath, and that night, I responded to the claims agent’s letter. I sent the email to the claims agent that night, this time copying both their client and the original agent.

If there was any pressure that could be brought to bear from those quarters, I wanted it. I had no incentive to just follow the claims agent’s direction and only communicate with them.

Here is what I wrote:

Thank you for your response of March 8, just received today by me. You have several errors of fact in your letter that require your attention.

  1. I understand that your insured is surprised that their actions directly resulted in the destruction of our canopy and booth. However, their direct actions resulted in that damage, so they are liable. An act of God may have made the wind blow, but it was your client’s negligence that resulted in the destruction of my property. Absent your client’s negligence, we would not be having this conversation.
  2. Your contention that your client had 5 weights each weighing 35 pounds on their 10×10 canopy fails on many points, as follows:
    • They did not have a single 10×10 canopy. Rather, they had two (2) canopies that were bungeed together at the roof line. Those 2 canopies did not have 4 legs. They had 8 legs, as is clearly visible in the photographs that I submitted to your company.
    • Their weights were not found to weigh 35 pounds. I have made very similar “do it yourself” weights using PVC pipe and concrete, and I can assure you that their weights did not weigh 35 pounds each.
    • My wife lifted one of those supposed 35 pound weights with one arthritic finger.
    • I have another witness who will testify that those weights were definitely not 35 pounds each.
  3. Even if the weights did weigh a total of 175 pounds – which is a supposition that I reject – then that weight is STILL not adequate per the rules of the event. In fact, Winterfest requires each canopy to have fifty (50) pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. Your client, therefore, should have had 400 pounds of weight on their two canopies, not the 175 that you claim.
  4. Further, the rules from Winterfest are clear that there should be 50 pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. By your admission in the letter of March 8, your client did not weight all corners of their canopies with the required fifty (50) pounds.
  5. Further, your client weighted the four (4) outside corners, and then put one weight (not the two required to have one on each leg) in the center back. They did not weight the center front of their canopies at all, which happened to be facing the direction from which the wind blew. Therefore, their canopies were not weighted on two (2) legs in the most vulnerable section of their canopies.

It is my desire to resolve the situation amicably. However, if you persist in your insistence that your client is not liable for their canopies destroying my booth, then I will have no choice but to seek justice in the legal system. As you know, your costs will go up precipitously at that point.

Perhaps your client did not share with you that they did not follow the rules of Winterfest. Perhaps you have not personally evaluated each of the weights that your client claims to weigh 35 pounds. I offer you the opportunity to satisfy my original cost estimate, and deliver me a check in 14 days (March 26). If you choose to ignore that deadline or reject this claim outright, then the next conversation you will have will be with my legal counsel.

My original claim is attached for your convenience. We have since found additional damage caused by your client’s negligence, by the way, which is not included. Settle now, and the price will not go up.

Sincerely,

The Victory

The agent was back to me within 24 hours,

Thank you for your detailed description of the events as you understand them.  It was not brought to my attention that the event had specific rules for vendors to follow with regards to their operations.  Could you please forward a copy of these rules for my review, since you allege that our insureds were in violation of such rules?

Additionally, if there is more damage than simply to that which you listed in the document you forwarded, then we would ask that you provide information regarding such damage so that we may include it with your claim.

You bet I could forward the rules, sent within the hour:

The rules for Winterfest vendors are attached. These were a part of the standard event application that was signed by all vendors. The relevant information on booth weights is on page 2, under “Requirements:”

All vendors must have weights for any canopies in use. All four corners must have weights of at least 50 lbs. attached.

We agreed to the settlement that day.

Thank you for forwarding this.  It would appear, based on the rules all vendors are bound to for this event, that our insured did not, by their statement, take the necessary precautionary steps to secure their tent.

He invited me to submit the additional damages as well, which I did.

The check was received one week later, a week before my deadline.

I am no insurance expert; I did not consult legal counsel.

But, I won.

Morals of the story:

  1. Take lots of pictures
  2. Carefully document exactly what happened
  3. Know the event rules, and keep them on file. You never know when you might need to quote them!

The Board Chronicles: Whiskey Flat Days 2018   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.

We did Whiskey Flat Days 3 years ago, but haven’t been able to get back since. This annual event is in Kernville, CA … which is between 2 of our favorite event sites in Tehachapi and Ridgecrest. This year, the calendar worked out so we were oh-so-ready for the elegantly named Whiskey Flat Days.

This year is the 61st Annual. It’s a small town vendor event, with a rodeo and carnival thrown in. Oh, and a frog jumping contest. A beard growing contest. A costume contest. And, I’m sure a lot more! This small community definitely turns out for the event … I mean, what else would you do in Kernville, in February?

New Ideas

  • This event has an odd structure over President’s Day weekend. The event runs Friday, 1p – dark. Saturday & Sunday run 9a – dark. And then, paradoxically, vendors are asked to open again on Monday, 9a – 1p. When we did this event 3 years ago, our Monday sales were $35. I think the Monday hours are to force vendors to stay another hotel night … or maybe just stay off the roads so tourists can leave Sunday evening without having to follow vendor vehicles.

Observations

  • I got the loading of the trailer going; pulled the Jeep over & hooked up. No problem. Loaded the trailer. Got Mrs M loaded, uh, so to speak, and turned the Jeep’s key. Clickety-clickety-click. And, just like that, we were delayed over an hour while I went to buy and then install a new battery. I covered foreshadowing last week, so I see no need to cover it again this week. Apparently, God had other plans.
  • We arrived in town right on time, actually. Had lunch at Cheryl’s Diner, and then went to the Chamber of Commerce to check in. We then went to our booth location and set up the “hard goods,” as we say: the canopy, tables, and display pieces. All product stayed in the trailer, as there was no security provided on this night. We were almost set up by dusk, and then headed off to find dinner.
  • We used the Trimline canopy this week, since it was an extended length event with a leisurely set-up time. After not using this canopy for 6 months, I forgot how the roof went together. Unfortunately. We had to backtrack a bit to get it done properly, but the canopy is so nice when it’s up. It takes more time, but it’s worth it.
  • I’ll keep saying that; Mrs M may believe it eventually.
  • The aisle is pretty narrow between the booths at this event: there’s only about 10′ between the booths. Friday, a larger-than-life veteran planted himself in the middle of the aisle, outside of his booth a few booths down from us, and proceeded to try and raise funds by selling coffee cups for his veteran-focused charity. I appreciate the charity’s goal, but the sales style? Yuck.
  • Thank goodness he did not return for the rest of the weekend.
  • That same charity, though, had a couple of booth workers that were also in the parade as Harley Davidson riders. They parked their bikes in the driveway across from our booth, and then roared off down the aisle at about 4pm on Saturday. Gas fumes led to zero Mrs M sales until the air finally cleared several minutes later. Oh, and the noise made small children cry. Where were the promoters?
  • Teen boy, pointing to his friend, asked Mrs M, “Do you have any lotion to fix his face?”
  • Random odd guy walked by my booth and called out, “Do you have anything good?” Confused by the oddity, I didn’t respond; he never broke stride and called out, “Didn’t think so.”
  • We had the first-ever opening of an actual beer bottle as my MBO demo. This event is characterized by a lot of public drinking; some do it as BYO, obviously!
  • Young lady was looking at my stuff. Her large, long-haired significant other loudly announced, “You don’t need no f***ing fancy board to cut stuff.” They left the booth before I could react. Mrs M leaned over to me, “And he probably beats her, too.”
  • The fact that this is supposed to be a family event did not deter many from using a limited vocabulary to express themselves.
  • Mrs M and I were talking, sotto voice, about the paucity of sales. She said, “I want you to beat me … oh, I knew it sounded bad when I said it.”
  • I did not, in either case.
  • A guy was in the booth, accompanied by a couple of friends. He was shopping for a gift for his wife that was back at their home in France. He liked a board, but one of his friends told him, in my booth, that it was a poor gift choice. “You should buy her clothing or jewelry.” I did not throw the “friend” out of the booth. I held my tongue. The guy ditched the friends & came back an hour later to buy the board.
  • Discretion can be a good thing.
  • When you are a vendor, you’re just like the hired help, I guess. People can be Oh. So. Rude.
  • Overheard:
    • Young Girl (hovering over ZooSoapia): “Mommy, buy me a soap!”
    • Mommy: “Don’t touch things! Lord, help me. This is why animals eat their young!”
  • Can you tell we just didn’t feel it at this event? Poor sales. Poor parenting on display. Bad language heard frequently. I’m from a small town. I like small towns, but Kernville didn’t show us anything good on this trip.
  • The Monday forecast was for lows overnight in the 20s, with high wind, rain or snow showers overnight and into the morning. Lotions freeze, so we were not interested in ruining product just so we could sit in the cold with no customers. We packed up Sunday night, went back to the motel (bringing the lotion inside for the night!), and then drove out Monday morning.
  • As we drove through town, I saw at least 4 canopies that were upside down and ruined by the overnight winds. Many booths had already packed up at 9am; many more were not open during the “official” event hours.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board, boards with no feet so they could have 2-sided use, and a cheese slicer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Fremont Deli came to our booth on Friday, and offered to deliver to our booth when we ordered lunch during the event. We took their offer on Saturday, and I got a very nice, hot Ham & Cheese. Delicious. 4 stars.
  • Honorable Mention: We had dinner Sunday night with our friend Delinda of Sweet Spot Home Decor. The restaurant (Kern River Brewing Co.) was not great … but the meal was a perfect way to relieve the stresses of a failed event. 2 stars.
  • Worst Meal: El Rio was the Mexican restaurant we found. The food’s not bad, really, but the place has zero atmosphere. The next night, we ate in the motel; we had carry out hot chicken from the grocery store deli, and that was better. YaknowhatImean? 1 star.
  • Final recommendation: Don’t go to Kernville for the food.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 281
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $271
  • Travel cost: $146
  • Total sales: $1,126
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $159
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 5 handmade soap vendors at this event, which was entirely too many, IMHO. This event may “jury” some categories, and I use the term very loosely … but they didn’t count or care about how many soap makers they let in.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one other cutting board maker there (!). He did different stuff as well, including boxes and spoons.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 10

Coasters: 2x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Sous Chef: 1x

Soap Deck: 1x

Magic Bottle Opener: 1x

Small Board: 1x

The Board Chronicles: Lake Havasu Winter fest 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.

Well, faithful readers, I know you’re on pins and needles to see what happened after we were almost blown away.

Didn’t know? Then you should read Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles, which tells the story of the devastation wreaked on us at this event. Go ahead, follow the link & read.

I’ll wait.

This post, however, is the story of the event itself: the 33rd Annual Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. This is a “big idea” event for us, so the investment was significant. We got there.

Hope it’s worth it!

New Ideas

  • As stated, this is our first interstate event. We had to register with the state of Arizona, as well as get a business license from Lake Havasu City. Unfortunately, I forgot to do both, so had to scramble at the last minute (and I do mean the last minute) to get both done properly.
  • My inventory is now over 300 pieces, which is a personal record. I’ve got a varied product line, with Hearts back in stock, 3 kinds of finishes on Word Blocks, and Coasters available for the first time.

Observations

  • After I scrambled to get the city license + the state registration, no one checked to make sure that we were following the rules. Which is how it always goes, it seems.
  • We did, however, get our first-ever fire inspection to ensure we had a fire extinguisher in the booth. I thanked the fireman for doing his job.
  • Oh so many lotion vendors there in the small part of the show that we did visit … and they were all making medical claims of one kind or another. I certainly hope these snake oil salesmen had a bad weekend. I mean, does anyone really think that there are potions to prevent Alzheimer’s that you can just buy on the street?
  • He said, picking up a clipboard: “Is this a cutting board?
    • I said: “No. It’s a clipboard.”
  • Another He said, looking at a cutting board for $150: “Is this price right?”
    • I said: “Yes.”
    • Another He said: “You must make these yourself.”
    • What do you say to that, other than, “I do.”
  • Yet Another He asked if I had cribbage boards. I pointed to the one on display.
    • Yet Another He asked: “How much?”
    • I said: “$40.”
    • Yet Another He said: “That’s a fair price.” (and he turned and left)
  • Arriving to find half of our booth destroyed on Sunday morning was not a good time, I assure you. We packed up Mrs M’s stuff, and moved it into the shade on the sidewalk. We decided to not pack up my stuff … we were there, and selling ANYTHING sounded better than sitting in the Jeep for the 5 hour drive and getting more depressed. So, we set Mrs M’s tables back up and moved my extra inventory onto those tables in what was now Mrs M’s open air booth. Of the things we put on display … nothing sold.
  • Luckily, other things did.
  • She said: “$80 for a Pig for me to chop an onion on? Oh, hell no.” (and she turned and left)
  • Requests were for a Jokers & Pegs set (no), a Wisconsin-shaped cribbage board (no), a flybox (He wanted a tool, not a keepsake. I don’t do utility boxes … and rarely do keepsake boxes!) and an RV sink board (2x).

The Food

  • Best Meal: We had a great meal at Azul Agave. I had the macho burrito. It was Sunday, after a horrible morning and an OK sales day. Glad that we got a smile at the end of a very trying day.
  • Honorable Mention: Breakfast at the Black Bear Diner is always a treat for us.
  • Worst Meal: It was about unmet expectations, really. We had dinner at Mario’s, which did not live up to its Yelp rating. The food was OK, but I expected more. We ate there Friday night, before our event, so that meal was a dramatic device called foreshadowing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 617
  • Booth cost: $300
  • City License cost: $20
  • Food cost: $213
  • Travel cost: $233
  • Total sales: $1,487
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $400
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: given what happened to us, I’m surprised to say … none
  • Saturday alarm: 4a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue. We saw about 25% of the vendors there.
  • # woodworking vendors: see above.
  • Returning next year? Totally unclear. I’m leaning pro; Mrs M is leaning no. The canopy … it’s not leaning anymore. It’s trash.

Boards sold: 18

2x Serving Trays

2x Medium Surfboards

2x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Hearts

1x Large Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Cribbage Board

1x Large Cutting Board

1x Coaster

1x Coaster Set

1x Cheese Board

1x Pig Cutting Board

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles   4 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.

It was time to up our game.

Mrs M’s Handmade is now entering our 5th year of vendorhood. We started oh-so-humbly … and we’re still learning at every event. Unfortunately.

This year, we want to expand what we do. It’s our intention to do some bigger shows … and we scheduled ourselves for our first out-of-state event, Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. That event is 300 miles from home, which is almost as far for us to travel as the events we’ve done in the bay area.

California’s a big state, you see. Going to Arizona from LA is closer. But, I digress.

We went to Arizona to go a-vendoring. What could go wrong?

Quoth The Fifth Element, Leeloo, “Wind blows ….”

This is the story of what happened while we slept.

Saturday was what we expected, really, only less. This very large vendor event has a Saturday morning setup, and we were there at 5:15am to line up for the 6am beginning of the process. We did what we do, and set up our booths, # 358 & 360, in the middle of McCulloch Blvd. We were ready for the crowds at 9am. People were there, which was great … but they didn’t buy much, unfortunately. Our vendor friends universally reported sales that were down significantly from last year. We ended Saturday at 5pm with a very, very disappointing sales total and complete exhaustion. We buttoned up the booths, put a table cloth over the soaps, and went to the motel to lick our wounds.

We knew that there was a windstorm forecast to hit at about 11pm, but we didn’t really worry about it. After all, we knew that we were prepared. Our weights were in place, our new Undercover canopies have thick, heavy side walls … we were ready.

We thought.

We were wrong.

We arrived before 8am on Sunday, because I wanted to tweak my display a bit. That’s what I would end up doing, but nothing else went according to plan.

Here’s the first thing I saw when we walked up to the booth:

My first look at the wind damage. No big deal, right?

This is a picture of the back corner of “my” booth (we do a double booth, so Mrs M has her side, and I have my side). See the upended table? That’s the back of my neighbor’s booth. My booth’s walls are what you see on the left side of the photo, and you’ll see that my canopy has shifted forward 3′. The booth did not go airborne, due to the weights that we had in place. However, the wind did push the sail formed by the wall of the booth forward, relentlessly, in spite of the weight. When the canopy was pushed and slid across the asphalt, the wall eventually rode up and over the top of the table. That, in turn, resulted in the boards I had stupidly left on the table getting knocked down. Only 3 pieces hit the pavement. Luckily.

Note that our weight is velcroed in place at the bottom of the canopy leg, just as it’s supposed to be. My neighbor’s booth is also secured, with the orange ratchet strap attached to the roof strut and holding a sandbag. Their booth (no walls) did not move, and did not protect my booth from the wind.

At this point, though, I was relieved. I had already seen canopies that were upended and destroyed in the wind, so I knew we were lucky that it was not worse. It took me a couple of thoughts to realize that the front of the booth – which looked perfect – was not all there. 10′ of our booth was missing. That’s when my focus shifted, and I saw this.

Velda’s booth, crushed by a flying canopy.

Here you see the opposite corner of my booth from the previous picture, and it was the front, center of our double booth. All you can see of Mrs M’s booth is the crumpled wall that’s on the pavement, and the leg and roof struts that have been folded parallel … they are no longer perpendicular. Mrs M’s Booth should be about 9′ tall; now it’s smashed.

Time slowed down. I surveyed the damage and realized that our day had just taken a very significant left turn.

Bad words may have been spoken at this point.

The booth behind Velda and her neighbor (a real estate agent) was a 10’x20′ booth selling dry soup mixes & such. The soup people had 2x 10′ canopies. They had bungeed the roofs together, and then secured the canopies with ratchet straps and DIY weights made from 4″ PVC pipe and, uh, stuff.

More on that later.

During the night, the wind lifted the dry soup canopies up, and then they flipped over and crushed Mrs M’s canopy, as well as that of her neighbor. Both Mrs M’s and the real estate agent’s canopies were properly weighted down and did not move from their spots. They did, however, get crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy.

The Flying Dry Soup Canopy

This is the view from the far side of the real estate booth. That booth had a cheap EZ Up canopy … crushed flat. Note the 2 front center poles of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy: no weights are attached. These poles would have been front & center in the dry soup display, so the vendor did not put unsightly weights there.

Mistake. Big Mistake.

A DIY weight that really isn’t.

This is a picture of one of the weights that didn’t hold down the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. 2 things are wrong here:

  1. The weight itself is not properly secured. The weight should be connected to the ratchet strap through the eye hole mounted on the weight (now facing the pavement). Also, the weight must be secured to the leg itself. Otherwise, the wind will blow, the tent will shake … the weight will start swinging free of the leg, and then the pendulum effect will increase the power of the wind and speed the catastrophic failure of the canopy. As it did in this case!
  2. The weight itself is about 30″ tall. I have made weights somewhat similar to these. When I made my versions, I filled the 4″ PVC with concrete and rock. My DIY PVC weights did weigh 35 pounds when I put them on our bathroom scale. The pictured “weight,” however, was lifted by Velda using one arthritic finger. I estimate it was no more than 20 pounds; she believes it was under 10 pounds. I can guarantee it was not 50 pounds.

What’s important about 50 pounds? Here’s the relevant rule, which was a part of the event application signed by every vendor:

All vendors must have weights for any canopies in use. All four corners must have weights of at least 50lbs attached.

So, if you have 2x 10′ canopies side by side, you actually have 8 corners. When you put 50 pounds on each corner, you need 400 pounds of weight attached. In my opinion, the Flying Dry Soup Canopy did not have half of that.

The back of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy, now upside down and sitting in the middle of Mrs M’s booth. One weight is on the near corner; you can see the orange ratchet strap holding another on the far corner. But the back, middle?

So, we know there’s devastation here. Nothing to do but clean it up. With all of the involved vendors eventually helping, we took apart the offending canopies, untying the bungees and disconnecting the weights. Mrs M’s canopy could then be removed, to finally reveal the remains of her booth:

The top layers of Mrs M’s purpose built display did get pushed onto the ground, but the bottom layer was left alone. Under the tablecloth is the soap, which was totally undamaged. But as the asphalt underneath was revealed….

Amazingly, none of the wooden pieces were broken. Over 100 lotion bars were destroyed, as well as a small number of lotions and a single beard oil.

The saddest thing I saw broken:

So, nothing to do but get to it. Mrs M started cleaning up, and I started picking up.

Clean up, well in hand. 10am.

We cleaned up Mrs M’s booth entirely, and then decided that we should keep my booth open for the day. All of our costs were sunk; her stuff was safe. We would gain nothing by leaving for home, and if we stayed we just might sell a board or two.

That’s the story for the next installment of The Board Chronicles.

Still unknown is what will happen to our financial losses caused by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. We do have their insurance information, and do expect to be compensated for the losses that we incurred. Will that happen? No clue.

Want to read about an even worse event weekend? The link’s below, When Nature Fights Back….

We expanded “my” booth into Mrs M’s booth space when we finally tweaked my display. There’s still cleanup needed, however.

More

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival 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.

45,000 people come to the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival.

They say.

Last year may not have been a good representation, though, with temperatures soaring over 100*. We still had an OK outing, though (read about our 2016 event, here). And this year, the forecast is better, with the high on both days projected at 83. In addition, we have the coolest booth on the street, with a giant shade tree.

Maybe our patrons will linger in the coolness that is our booth.

Last year, this was one of our most expensive events ever. This year, that’s no longer the case. The vendor fees aren’t cheap ($650 for a double booth with an open aisle on one side), but we’ve definitely paid more. We’ve also had much better sales at other events. This year, we’re hoping to do better than last year – and if we do, it’ll be the first event this year at which we’ve done better than in 2016.

It’s the end of the Spring Fling … think we can gather some momentum and have a very nice event?

New Ideas

  • Back to our pop-up canopies this week; the early Saturday morning set-up has dissuaded us from doing the 10×20 Trimline canopy. It adds 30+ minutes to both the set up and the take down. It’s worth it … but when time is of the essence, we need to use the pop-ups.
  • I don’t like leaving the trailer parked on public streets, and this event does not provide any off-street parking. At all. So, I drove the empty trailer home Saturday night and then back to the event Sunday morning. Velda especially loves the rattling & bouncing of the empty trailer.

Observations

  • Spring Fling event # 7 of 7.
  • 7 events, 7 weeks.
  • Done.
  • Just like last year, I’m across the aisle – about 10′ away – from a direct competitor. Exotic Chopping Blocks is the company name, and the woodworker is Glenn. His style is very different from mine, though we do make some similar boards (cheese boards, especially). We’re really OK being in close proximity – we both like our current booth locations, so we’re not moving. Not ideal, but we’re both OK. We enjoy the camaraderie, for sure.
  • We both get comments, though: “Don’t you hate being right by that guy?” “Are you in business together?”
  • This event is in downtown Montrose, and there’s a lot of early/late walkthru traffic with people going to get a coffee, going out to eat, or going to the farmer’s market. That business outside of the published hours of the event is significant … I sold the last chess board before we “opened” at 10am Saturday.
  • Why do people touch a board, and then do a double tap on the surface with a finger? Are they verifying that the wood is an unyielding surface to a fingertip? I’ve seen so many people do this; it’s an odd human habit.
  • A mother and daughter were having fun looking at boards, choosing which big board they wanted. Eventually, the daughter said, “we’ll do this next year.” The healthy-looking mother said, “I might be dead next year.” The daughter walked away. The mom did return to the booth later, but didn’t buy. No clue what that human drama meant!
  • Saturday was down 20% from prior year. Not looking good….
  • Overheard: “I pocket dialed you? I don’t know how to do that. I’ve heard about it, but I don’t know how to do it.”
  • Standing in the booth, we heard a pop and then a loud “SSSSSS.” We looked at each other … what was that? Someone passing by the booth told us: a branch had broken off the tree, landed on the canopy above our heads, and then slid down the canopy roof into the gutter between the canopy where it stopped. Odd sound for a random occurrence!
  • Sunday picked up, thankfully, but still was short of last year’s “heat impacted” results. Is this just not that good of an event?
  • Tear down was at 5pm, and we started promptly.
  • A mom & 2 teenagers wandered by at 5:25pm:
    • She said: “I really like this board.”
    • Son said: “You should get it.”
    • I said: “I like your kids.”
    • She said: “Do you have anything in Walnut?”
    • I said: “I do. Here’s a Cheese & Cracker Server in pure Black Walnut.”
    • Daughter said: “You should get it.”
    • I said: “I really like your kids.”
    • Everyone smiled.
  • She bought the Black Walnut Cheese & Cracker Server, plus a couple of soaps for the kids. That $92 walk-up transaction with a lady that had no idea the event was happening, over 30 minutes after the event “closed,” put us over the top. For the first time this year at a repeated event, we beat last year’s number! But, even better, by an eyelash ….

Best. Spring. Fling. Ever.

  • Requests were for a fleur de lis-shaped board, a board with plastic cutting board inserts, a cheese & cracker server with a larger glass dome, a board for cutting turkey (massive juice groove), a board with a meat hook to easily flip meat over (huh?), a big lazy Susan/compartmentalized serving piece and another request for a board with an over-sized juice groove. Oh, and the # 1 requested item? Yup. Chess boards.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 23. I’m moving JITB off of my approved list for breakfast.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & cracker plate, with a fruity assist from our friend, Jan.

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: A chicken burrito at Margaritas, still our go to for Mexican food in SCV

Sunday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Sunday Lunch: Soupy pizza from the joint down the street … easy, but very disappointing.

Sunday Snack: Paradis ice cream. Yum. There’s another reason why we like this booth location!

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Parm at the best Italian restaurant in the SCV: Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 140
  • Booth cost: $650
  • Food cost: $227
  • Travel cost: $73
  • Total sales: $2,150
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $ 1,127
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 35+
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, though none had the range of products that Mrs M offers. Together, though, there were many competitors
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, including 1 cutting board maker … and, I believe, 1 cutting board importer at this “exclusively” handmade event
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:0
  • Returning next year? Probably.

Boards sold: 20

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Lazy Susans: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Chess Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival 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.

Just last week, we went to the California Strawberry Festival … this week, we’re moving up the coast & going to perhaps an even bigger celebration of my favorite fruit.

The timing seems right for this event. After all, I spent many Memorial Day weekends when we lived on the farm, helping the family harvest our strawberries from Grandma Mowry’s incredibly large strawberry patch from hell.

But, oh, those strawberries.

There were 6 of us working the patch for hours to do one picking (and I’m certain I did the least of all), and 2 pickings over the holiday weekend were normal.

I did learn an important lesson picking those strawberries all those years ago: Never look back. Because, if I did, I always saw strawberries that were hidden from me when I looked at the vines from a different perspective. So, never look back … unless you want to see what a bad picker you really are.

Flash forward, uh, 50 years, and let’s see what the pickings are like in Arroyo Grande at their 34th Annual Strawberry Festival.

New Ideas

  • We’re situated at the end of the T-shaped vendor area. We’re told we’re near a fire lane so we can’t use our awning for this event. That means our big banners go inside the canopy against the mesh walls … hardly ideal, but the first time we’ve done our signage like that.
  • Our booth was on a sidewalk, which means you had to step up onto the curb to enter the booth. That meant we were not handicap accessible, and that was an issue for two customers in wheelchairs. Luckily, they both had attendants that assisted them (in both cases, before I could get there to assist). First time we’ve ever had this as an issue.
  • This is a big event with 400 vendors. The wacky thing is that the majority of those vendors are located on Branch Street (and I do mean ON Branch Street), and all of those booths must tear down each night so the street can be open, 6p – 6a. Tear downs had to be accomplished in 1 hour, and the motorcycle cops were not shy about telling you how much time you had left to strike your gear … in 5 minute increments. Many booths are on Bridge Street, and a few are on sidewalks (like us) … those booths can stay up overnight. Thank goodness.
  • This is a buy & sell vendor event. If you need cellphone accessories, or a back pillow, or a EuroWhip (whatever that is), these vendors had you covered. For the first time this year, the organizers put together a handmade section and put us there. Thank goodness.

Observations

  • Yes, I’m just about all flung out. This is our 6th event in 6 weeks. After this event, next weekend will complete our 3rd Spring Fling.
  • Arroyo Grande is a 3 hour drive up the coast from us. We took days off and took advantage of the holiday weekend so that we could enjoy the trip. A few years ago we always went camping in the Sequoias on this weekend; will this be our new Memorial Day tradition?
  • Before the event got going, I had a volunteer in my booth telling me they had 1s & 5s they could sell us if we ran short on change. Great … but vendors traditionally do that???
  • We do not.
  • Mrs M successfully added shelf tags to her display with pricing. First time! Her conclusion: when prices were well displayed, people made their selection and handed her money. Putting prices up cut down on customer confusion. Go figure.
  • We are getting better at what we do, at every event!
  • A stranger walked into the booth, told us that we had a really nice display, and walked out. Didn’t buy anything. That’s really OK … if random passers-by are so struck by our display that they have to tell us “good job,” then we’re doing it right.
  • Heard it before: “You’re not Mrs M.” At almost every event, some old wise guy (OWG) looks at the tag on all of my boards, looks at me and says, “You’re not Mrs M.” The OWG then gets to hear my explanation that Mrs M is standing over there, the company started with her and our daughter-in-law, and, finally, that Mr M’s Woodshop is officially a subsidiary of Mrs M’s Handmade. Not sure why the OWGs want to point out that I’m not woman enough to be a Mrs, but, uh, I’m not.
  • A guy saw my Magic Bottle Openers, and saw my demo of the MBO. His comment, “Why can’t my kids ever get me something like this? I have more socks than I’ll ever need.”
  • I could not help him. Unless his kids are reading this….
  • This event promises attendance of 150,000. That is a fantasy, in my estimation. I don’t have a good way to estimate total event attendance based on me being anchored to our booth for the majority of the event, but I believe the number that passed by our booth was a small fraction of the projected attendance. 20,000? I believe that. 50,000? Perhaps. 150,000? Not buying it … nor were our sales commensurate with that kind of exposure. In my opinion.
  • Requests were for a small charcuterie board for two, a wine bottle opener, wine bottle stoppers, a pillbox, a smaller cutting board with a juice groove (2x), a cribbage board, and notepad clipboards (2x).

The Golden Strawberry

I blame Velda. Of course.

Velda took this nicely composed picture of me with the Golden Strawberry, and posted it to the event’s Facebook page as well as on Instagram. I posted it on Facebook – made it my profile picture – and our friend, the Happy Texan, captioned it with “And the Golden Strawberry award goes to … Henry Mowry!”

It was a great caption, but it was not true. The ‘net was not to be denied, however, and the congratulations and likes of the photo began flowing in while we were at the event. We were busy vendoring … but the internet was blowing up with well wishes from friends who thought it was great that someone had finally given me inedible fruit.

In reality, the event had decided to create some social media. The organizers got a golden strawberry and asked their fans to take a selfie with it, post it to the event’s Facebook page … and whoever got the most likes would get a free t-shirt. We saw selfies being taken throughout the day. I pointed out to Mrs M that her submission was not a selfie … but she was not to be denied, either.

And I didn’t get the t-shirt. All of my likes & congrats were on my page, not the event’s page.

Velda blames me.

Of course.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Something from Burger King. It was on the way.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken on a stick. It was the daily special, I was told.

Saturday Snack: Strawberry Parfait … not as good as last week’s shortcake, and more expensive @ $7 each.

Saturday Dinner: We ordered BBQ for in-room delivery. This was not a wise decision, but it was easy.

Sunday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express biscuits & gravy. Yum.

Sunday Lunch: I asked for a hot dog, but got a Navajo Taco. Communication is the hardest thing we humans do.

Sunday Snack: Nope. Too busy.

Sunday Dinner: We walked to the Rooster Creek Tavern for the nicest meal of the trip.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 332
  • Booth cost: $800
  • Food cost: $198
  • Travel cost: $729
  • Total sales: $2,374
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $474
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 88
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were a few. One soapmaker was in our immediate area. There was at least one corporate type selling lotions; one company with organic in their name was making illegal medical claims for their products. The usual, in other words.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, including one direct competitor offering cutting boards & Lazy Susans.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 27

Magic Bottle Openers: 7

Custom Orders: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Bread Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Chess Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 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.

“Do you do a lot of food events?” we were asked. The answer is no (though we’re scheduled for 4 food-based events this year!).

This year, we’re doing 2 strawberry festivals, an avocado festival and a lemon festival. We very much regret that we’re not doing Gilroy’s Garlic Festival … but that’s a story for another day.

Oxnard is about an hour west of us, and it hosts the California Strawberry Festival to celebrate my favorite fruit. This is the 31st annual event, and the organizers proudly trumpet that this Festival has raised over $5,000,000 for local charities during this event’s run.

Did I mention they sell Strawberry ale?

Did I mention they sell strawberry shortcake, strawberry parfait and chocolate-covered strawberries? You bet we love this event!

New Ideas

  • I was selected to appear on KTLA Channel 5’s morning news show to represent. Friday’s alarm was at 3:15am.
  • This is the first time that I set up our new 10×20 canopy solo … and I did it after the TV appearance. True celebrity is elusive.
  • Even though this is our 3rd annual entry into this event, it’s the first time that the elder Mrs M (she hates it when I write that) got to work the event, on Saturday.
  • On Sunday, the younger Mrs M worked this event, which is the first event that she’s gone a-vendoring in over a year. Important side note: Camdyn, Granddaughter # 2, turned 1 last month.
  • Our juggling reached a new level of chaos with an extremely important, simultaneous event: MrsMowry got her MA in Secondary English Education from Cal State Northridge this weekend … so we had to do things a bit differently. For the first time ever, a non-Mowry helped us work the booth during the 2 hours that I was absent due to the 8am Sunday (!) Commencement ceremony.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Annual Spring Fling is purring right along, and it’s time for the big events. This is event # 5 of 7.
  • Nap needed. Definitely.
  • At the TV shoot Friday morning, the PR person’s husband fell in love with the pig I had on display, so he bought it on the spot.
  • I’m out of the pig business. All my pigs have found new homes.
  • Love this event! Troy & Dana, the promoters, do a great and professional job. One huge perk: they keep private bathrooms (well, bathrooms may be overselling here) just for their 174 vendors. Much appreciated!
  • “I saw you on TV!” I heard it several times, both days. Attributable sales = $0.
  • The cutest little girl had Mom buy her a duck from ZooSoapia. That little slip of a girl approached Mrs M and solemnly announced, “I promise not to break it.”
  • Well done, Mom, well done.
  • A guy announced “It smells better in this booth than anywhere here!”
  • Our new motto: We Don’t Stink.
  • A 30-something got all excited about my small sous chef boards on display … until I explained, no, they were not pizza stones, and no, you couldn’t put them in the oven to hold the pizza as you warmed it. She genuinely thought it would be good to bake pizza on wood – in an oven with high temperatures.
  • One guy walked into the booth and got upset I wouldn’t embrace his use of pure tung oil to finish cutting boards. Other than potentially hurting people with nut allergies and the possibility that this oil imported from China can eventually turn rancid in the board … great idea. In my (sarcastic) opinion.
  • Sunday we needed help to run the booth, since Velda & I were attending MrsMowry’s commencement. Pam Leighton and her daughter Chelsea wanted to go to the festival (attending this festival several years ago, Chelsea was discovered & began a modeling career!). A BIG THANK YOU for Pam & Chelsea for the assist. We could not have done it without you! When Pam goes a-vendoring, she sells sterling silver jewelry & scarves as Dazzle Me Designs. See some of her stuff, and her upcoming events, here.
  • A lady walked into the booth, and got all excited that I was willing to make her a pig cutting board. She then bounced out of the booth to talk to her husband:
    • She said, “I got a pig cutting board!”
    • From the side of his mouth, he said, “Figures.”
  • I’m back in the pig business. It was demanded of me. I anticipate a substantial celebration among Petunia’s pals … I predict a big litter.
  • By the way, this sale was accomplished using my smartphone. I showed the lady a picture of pigs gone by, and she bought one, sight unseen, from the next litter.
  • Note to self: deduct the smartphone.
  • A lady was discussing a special order with me when my engraver, Teri Diamond of Lavene & Company, walked into the booth. Fun to introduce her to a client!
  • The new canopy definitely got noticed at the event. 2 vendors talked to me about buying one. I blogged about our purchase, here.
  • My inventory is shrinking … and that’s  a good thing? I’m below 200 pieces again. I’m out of notepad clipboards, letter clipboards, blanks for engraved boards, pigs, bears, hearts, pizza servers and large sous chef boards. I need shop time … which I don’t get any, in any meaningful way, until July.
  • Sunday was a full day of fun. Up early to go to Commencement, then on to work the event that lasted until 6:30pm. We began taking it all down then, but the younger Mrs M had never packed product with this new display. She’d never touched ZooSoapia before. For my part, the new canopy had to be taken down; it’s my 3rd time doing that … and we were down at 8:30pm. Then, I had to go get the Jeep, go to the trailer storage area, hook up, return to the event area, and commence loading. That took another hour or so. I got home shortly after 11pm.
  • Requests were for cutting board stands (The elder Mrs M applauded. Again.), a reading stand (nope), e-cig holders (double nope), a backgammon board (still nope), a knife to go with the cutting boards, a travel-sized chess board (now I’m expected to have different kinds of chess boards???), and a Lazy Susan made from Black Walnut (patience!).
  • Chess board sales = $0.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & crackers = no waiting in the famously long food lines at the event (which were not so bad this year. Perhaps they brought in more food vendors? That is good!)

Saturday Snack: Strawberry Ale, before 12noon. We didn’t buy it soon enough.

Saturday Dinner: Marston’s Linguine with chicken … for when you don’t want to count the calories in its creamy goodness.

Sunday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Sunday Lunch: The younger Mrs M brought me a PBJ from home. Bless her.

Sunday Snack: Strawberry shortcake. It was perfect.

Sunday Dinner: .3 miles north of the event, I stopped the newly loaded trailer, got gas at the Arco & dinner from the adjacent Jack in the Box. Back on the road, munching as I went … at 10pm.

The Facts

  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival (2015)
  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016
  • Total miles driven: 496
  • Booth cost: $765
  • Food cost: $59
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $3,617
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,793
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 151 … tied for our record number of transactions in a 2-day event, and exactly the same number of transactions done at this event last year!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others; both had been bitten by the “all natural” kind of presentation, it seemed.
  • # woodworking vendors: several, including one direct competitor. There was also a cutting board maker selling relatively inexpensive, shaped plastic boards.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:3
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 28

MBOs: 6

Small Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Clipboard: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

Mr M’s New Booth: # 4 (part 1)   5 comments

Change is a wonderful thing … but creating change is a challenge.

Last year, Mrs M’s new booth premiered to hoopla and huzzahs. The proof was in the pudding: her sales went up significantly when we began using her purpose-built booth.

And it’s not that I got jealous, but I did feel that Mr M’s Woodshop was being left behind. I needed to up my game … I have done a few display pieces and stitched them together into a booth display, but have never actually had a unified display for the Woodshop. By summer, that will be remedied.

Meanwhile, here’s where we started, so you know I have only one way to go. Note the vomiting of cheese boards across my table with the lovely table-cloth. Note the custom laminated sign. Note that I don’t rate being in the picture.

Humble beginnings.

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

For the 2nd iteration of the booth, I had graduated to making display pieces … but never enough, it seemed, and always with issues in the execution.

I should get better help.

The 2014 booth included vertical towers that didn’t come apart and step units that did. Neither choice was correct.

By the time we hit 2015, I had learned from some of my mistakes. The step units now had removable posts to hold the product in place … but those removable posts all-too-frequently were removed when you picked up a board to look at. The non-folding towers were gone, but a purpose-built display for my engraved boards did make an appearance … and died later that year, since I assembled it with hardware not meant for multiple uses. I used wood screws, not machine bolts, and the red oak screw holes lasted for about 20 put-togethers, and then they were done.

See those sous chef boards hanging on a rope? They looked great most of the time … but if people leaned into the table to look at a board, they often hit their head. After a few months of that, I finally decided that people hitting themselves on my display was a bad idea. I’m quick, you’ve got to give me that.

That was my approach to product display for the first 3 years of Mr M’s Woodshop. People have put up with my shortcomings, but it’s time that I should act like a pro and build a display that’s as good as my cutting boards. I’m actually building a few more pieces, but these are 2 of the 3 major pieces for my display. Mrs M will eventually get a couple of new cabinets to match mine. All told, the entire booth should be upgraded & complete in time for Mountain Fest in Tehachapi this August.

August, he said? I can barely control my chortling, how about you?

Meanwhile, here’s  a photo array of part 1 of my new booth that premiered last weekend. Note these features:

  • 4 drawers in the big cabinet to hold product, accessories and who knows what else.
  • Both pieces are painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. There’s also a wax topcoat. We’ve got a 2-tone color scheme, with the top of the big cart a darker color than the cabinetry. The custom mixes of the paints were also combinations of 2 colors, interestingly. Everything came from Refined by Cindy Rowley. Cindi was a huge help consulting with me on how to do this properly – it’s the first time I’ve done distressed water-based paint since building sets at Mizzou! Highly recommend you check out Cindi’s store when you get a chance … you’ll even find some of my boards for sale there. Cindi’s now begun her 2nd year selling boards from Mr M’s Woodshop!
  • Each cart has a removable skirt that’s velcroed in place. The skirts cover up the wheels; we couldn’t have those unsightly things visible. Some events even require that! Kudos to Jan Sandstrom who finished the skirts in record time, and even brought them to us.
  • It takes a village.

More

Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×12 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

Mrs M’s New Booth # 4 (part 2)   Leave a comment

It’s been a long wait for me to complete Mrs M’s 4th booth.

But then, I ought to know that it’s never easy getting to the finish line.

Mrs M was promised these display pieces last year. Foolishly, I got busy making new product that was selling, and didn’t make time have a chance to finish these pieces until someone was beyond frustrated with my prioritization of products that sell over one-off projects that just sit on the table.

Hmmm. Maybe my priorities were off. Ya think?

With these 2 pieces to hold Mrs M’s Lip Balm as well as the spectacle that is ZooSoapia, Mrs M’s booth is now complete with her purpose-built display.

Except for the rolling cart for the testing station.

And except for the rolling cart for the wrap station.

Those shall wait for another day, another season, and a time when I don’t have too many things that must be done looming over my head. Those frustrations, however, are for another time. Today, we celebrate the new stuff!

More

Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×12 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

Be Kind To Vendors   2 comments

Poppy Festival 01As we approach our first event in 2017, it’s time to share some thoughts about kindness. I know producers & customers alike are eagerly awaiting my opinions on this subject.

  1. Producers: if you give me 2 hours to set up, then please give me 2 hours to tear down. Putting more pressure on me doesn’t make it go back into the trailer any faster.
  2. Customers: if it’s raining, don’t let your rain gear sprinkle rain onto my glass-smooth wax finishes, or else they won’t be.
  3. Producers: I’ll arrive at the beginning time you set for vendors to arrive & set up. Please be ready for me.
  4. Customers: I’m always OK for you to take pictures of my work, but always appreciate it when you ask. I know some vendors are a bit more private (which strikes me as odd, but waddayagunnado?).
  5. Producers: I actually read everything you send me and will follow the rules as I understand them. If you don’t know what you sent me and don’t intend to follow your own rules, I will be frustrated. And I will tell you that, on the spot.
  6. Customers: don’t assume you’re the smartest one in the booth. You may not like the products offered; that’s fine. However, just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean you can lecture the vendor on what they have done wrong (both Mrs M and I have received such lectures about our handmade products). (And the lectures were not from the smartest person in the booth – ed. note)
  7. claremont-band-criticProducers: please give me a street address to drive to your vendor entry/check-in location. Be GPS friendly. If I have never been to your event before, and I’m not local, then I don’t know where “Smith Park” is. And, if I’m not local, I don’t know from which direction to approach the gate/nice person with the clipboard in order to smoothly enter your event space.
  8. Customers: if you’re standing in my booth, or in front of my booth, or beside my booth … you should be looking at my merchandise and, hopefully, thinking about buying something. If you’re blocking access to my booth while loitering for an extended time, that’s rude. If you’re standing in the shade of my awning without allowing my customers to enjoy that shade, that’s a problem for me. If you’re a dog walker, who’s run into your good friend the dog walker, or you’ve got a baby stroller … then the blockade you’ve put in front of my booth might be several feet across. Please be considerate of your immense size in such circumstances.
  9. Producers: customers ask me all sorts of things, like where the bathrooms are, what the entertainment schedule is, and where they can find whatever they might be looking for. If you give me a map, list of events & vendors & such, I’ll help them. Otherwise, I’ll tell them that the producers kept that information secret from us. You choose which response you’d like.
  10. Customers: if we’re past closing time, I’m packing up. Many events promise fines – and banishment – if I sell you something after closing time. I’m definitely on a clock to pack up and get out so everyone can go home. Please accept my business card and visit my website, as I don’t have time to talk to you when I have to pack.
  11. Producers: you need to control the unloading and loading processes. Some producers are oh-so-controlling, and others are totally laissez-faire. What you should do is enforce the rules that you publish, and in all cases provide for public safety. When cars are driving in, baby strollers are pushing through and kids on skate boards are dodging around everything … well, my prayers may not be enough to save everyone from harm, I fear.
  12. Big Hat DaysCustomers: if you’re paying in cash (thank you!), please hand me flattened, relatively wrinkle-free bills. The women that hand me wadded up bills (and it has always been a woman that does this in my experience) are not my favorites. And yes, I will take the time to smooth out each bill to make sure I know what it is AND make sure it will go into the cash drawer before I will accept it.
  13. Producers: you are renting me space for a day or two, and I thank you for that. Your job is to make sure I stay within that space, and I respect that. Your job is also to make sure other vendors stay within their allotted space, and I will expect you to do that job as well. It’s why you get paid the big bucks. If your approach is to make me enforce your rules upon my neighbors, then many people will be frustrated by the experience. Including you.

Vendors: yes, you also need to follow the rules about how you set up, how much space you get, how you unload and load back up. Please be considerate: life is far too short to “accidentally” take advantage of others just so you can make a buck or get home a few minutes earlier.

Speaking for myself, I’m here for the joy of conversation, the pleasure of sharing my creations, and to spend a pleasant day or two outdoors. Most of the time, that’s exactly what I get, and I thank all of you for that!

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