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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.

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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!

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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

The Board Chronicles: Palos Verdes Street Fair 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.

There was a time that I was staging promotional events on the road. It was a big idea. I hired a staff in 7 markets and we created over 200 night club music events during a 6 month period. After that project ended, I rolled right into another promotional project that was staging music events in 35 markets. All told, I saw a lot of this country, visited several states for the first time and logged 180 hotel nights in 1 year.

What did I learn? I don’t want to travel for a living. No amount of points or free stuff from Marriott or American Airlines or whatever could compensate me for the tough travel time.

So, here we are, at the glorious end of the 4th Annual Spring Fling. we’ve had some great events – and a couple of clinkers. We’ve gotten wet more than once. The main thing I’ve learned, though, is that doing 10 events in 11 weeks while balancing a real job is not for the faint of heart.

But, we still have one more to go. What’s in front of us?

The Palos Verdes peninsula is a landform between Redondo Beach and Long Beach. The event itself is in Rolling Hills Estates. It’s not easy to get there from here – I have to brave the Friday commute on the 405 again! – and we’ve never been to this event. We booked it kind of blind … it’s a big deal in the community and it’s a pretty nice neighborhood. But do these people need lotions & cutting boards?

New Ideas

  • This is an event “in LA,” but we still opted to get a hotel & avoid the 90 minute commutes to and from the event. It was a good decision.
  • We’re using our pop-up canopies for this Saturday morning set-up, but we are now adding mesh walls to the pop-ups. Made by Flourish who also made the Trimline canopy and its mesh walls, these new walls are sized to fit the pop-ups. Sta-Bars – rigid bars at the bottom of the legs – are added as well. These add to the structural strength of the canopy, stretch the mesh walls, and provide a nice unobtrusive place to put our weights. Importantly, artwork & signage can now hang on the walls at every event.

Observations

  • This is event # 10 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Quoth Hamm in Beckett’s Endgame, “Finished. It’s finished.”
  • The Fling’s over, and I get a week off from events. Thank goodness.
  • This is not a cheap event for a spur of the moment kind of booking. Our double booth cost $700, plus a city business license of $39. I sure hope these people want some handmade soap….
  • We arrived Saturday morning to find a stainless wash station & big water tank in the middle of our booth. “Oh, that was for last night,” the volunteer told us. What in the world were they doing last night?
  • After I helped move the leftover infrastructure, we set up … right next to the entrance to the carnival. We were on the midway next to a carney thrill ride. We were in ‘tween central, and just downhill from the Domino’s Pizza trailer and its diesel generator. Pop music was booming all day. A perfect location … for what, exactly? Not selling soap. Not talking to customers in a relaxed setting. Not for Mrs M’s sanity.
  • Set up took a long time today … 4 hours later, we still weren’t done. Having to move the trailer to one location and then park the Jeep a block farther away didn’t help. Not an auspicious beginning.
  • The head of the Chamber of Commerce visited us first thing to verify we had a Rolling Hills Estates business license! Apparently, the city had threatened the COC if they didn’t police their vendors. The city didn’t have the staff for enforcement … so the Chamber of Commerce was responsible? Very odd.
  • A lady walked into the booth. “Excuse me, do you have a petting zoo?”
  • Uh….
  • Something I never expected to hear from Mrs M: “I guess you get used to the screaming after a while.”
  • I have 2 carved plaques right up front, and a nice moment was when a Mom was reading the sentiment on “In This House” to her brood and using it as a teaching moment. Very cute.
  • Dad asked the price … no sale, unfortunately. But I was entertained.
  • This event has a lot going on in a very compact space. It’s all parking lots and roadways, but they cram in a carnival, a concert stage, a beer garden, an “International Food Court” (AKA Fair Food) and 150 vendor spaces. Activities, drinking, music, people … but this year, there wasn’t much shopping. An excessive number of vendors were first-timers, too, and that’s never a good sign. If vendors don’t come back, there must be a reason.
  • A couple was in the booth shopping in Mrs M’s, uh, department, and the discussion turned to beard oil. Before long, I had the lady – and the guy – fondling my beard to see if it was soft. I was objectified while minding my own business. In my booth. That I paid for.
  • The things I must do to support Mrs M’s totally out-of-control hobby.
  • Saturday ended with an underwhelming number. We were OK … but not impressed.
  • And the screaming. Oh, the screaming.
  • A lady admired the product shots hanging on the wall. “Do you have this piece?” she asked. No, I’m out of that one. “How about this piece?” No, I’m out of that one, too.
  • Great. Now I have to manage my cutting board inventory because of the photography.
  • A guy walked into the booth. “I think you’re the guy my wife told me about.”
  • Uh….
  • A shade stealer (you know, a person more interested in the shade of your canopy then the products it shelters) came into the booth and started talking to me, then switched to Mrs M. He was a former biochem major, and they talked soap. It was a highlight of Mrs M’s day, actually. Later, his wife & 2 daughters showed up and they bought some stuff. Not all shade stealers are bad … you just never know who you need to be nice to … sometimes you just want to say “get out of my booth.” But, it’s better to be polite, every time. In my experience.
  • The weekend moved Oh. So. Slowly. Was it the screaming? Was it the engine fumes? Was it the long hours? Was it that most people were not there to shop? I don’t know. The final tally was really OK, but we certainly didn’t have fun at this Street Fair. Unfortunately.
  • Requests were for Cribbage boards (2x) (sigh), Chess pieces (2x) (sigh), a Pegs & Jokers board, larger Lazy Susans, lighter cutting boards and more photographs to be on sale.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday dinner was at Gaetano’s Restaurant in Torrance. It was simply fabulous. Mrs M had found the place on Yelp … “I knew we were coming to the right place when one of the reviews said they use too much garlic.” She had the seafood special; I had the Marsala (naturally). We even had the bruschetta and a dessert. Exquisite. The best event of the weekend, by a country mile.
  • Honorable Mention: Sunday breakfast was at the Pinwheel Cafe & Bakery. Again, fabulous. French sourdough to die for.
  • Worst Meal: Friday dinner was at a horrible iteration of Mimi’s in Torrance. The only good thing was that parking the trailer was easy. Maybe that shouldn’t be how we choose our restaurants.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 164
  • Booth cost: $739
  • Food cost: $275
  • Travel cost: $283
  • Total sales: $2,202
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $905
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 77
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was a booth that had mainly bath bombs, but no one else.
  • # woodworking vendors: There were a couple of buy & sell guys (imported crap). One turner might have been a real woodworker instead of an importer, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Not sure. Certainly no other cutting board makers.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 28:2
  • Returning next year? As a solo act, maybe. Mrs M won’t touch this event again.

Boards sold: 30

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Trivets: 5

Coasters: 4

Cutting Boards: 3

Small Boards: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Carved Signs: 2

Clipboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

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