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The Board Chronicles: Harvest Marketplace 2020 Pleasanton   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.

This year is not turning out how ANYONE thought it would.

The biggest & best events for makers of handmade goods on the west coast have been the Harvest Festivals … for the last several decades. These are great events, and in fact my largest event in 2019 was a Harvest Festival.

But this is 2020, and California is locked down. Totally locked down in many counties, a bit looser in others. This event was in Pleasanton, which is in Alameda county. Fortunately, that county is a little bit open.

Open enough that the promoters found a way to stage a “Marketplace,” which is not a “Festival” or a “Boutique.”

Words matter, apparently.

Works for me. I was on my way to an event in California!

New Ideas

  • This was my first California event in 2020. I typically have been doing about 30 events a year … this year will be only 5. And, 3 of those will be in Arizona; 2 will be in California. I think.
  • I had my biggest and best inventory yet, with 900 pieces available. They all don’t fit in the trailer, but I now have a deep inventory in Cutting Boards, Serving Pieces, Cribbage Boards and Signs.
  • All booths were socially distanced, spread among 3 buildings in this county fairground. Hand sanitizer was available at every building entrance. Attendance was limited to 50% of capacity, but I don’t think that was ever an issue. The crowd was good but never large, the traffic was steady.
  • The fairgroun was happy to see us: they had not had many events in these buildings this year. Our promoters found a way, and that is a very good thing.
  • I now have so much inventory, I have to pick and choose what I’m taking to the event, and what I’m leaving at home. That’s a wonderful problem to have.

Observations

  • I’m out of practice, but I did pack everything I needed … except for the key to the cash drawer, which is attached to a tape measure. So, the cash drawer stayed in the trailer, and I headed to Home Depot to get a tape measure that now lives in my container of critical booth supplies that goes to every event. You know, things like tape. A hole punch. And business cards.
  • Two ladies came into the booth, and delivered the quote that all vendors at this event were waiting to hear: “We’ve been cooped up, dammit. Let us shop!”
  • I was happy to oblige the ladies.
  • The vendors were all happy to be there. These days, people are really happy to be just about anywhere but home, y’know?
  • Masks were required, and people were 100% compliant.
  • Requests were for an Aggravation board (coming, I promise!), pig cutting boards (left at home!) and a dough board (also left at home!).
  • She said … “Do you have this sign in a smaller and cheaper version?” She was pointing to my smallest sign, priced at $30. And, uh, no. Sorry.
  • Eating out has been one of the fun things for when I travel, even if only for a meal or 2. During the pandemic, though, eating out is either difficult or impossible. Having food delivered is like being pranked … the delivery person often knocks on your door and runs away before you even get the door open. As the song says, “The times, they are a-changing.” I’m not sure this is what Dillon meant when he wrote the song 56 years ago, though.
  • This was a very good event, and I give full credit to the promoters that FOUND A WAY TO PRODUCE AN EVENT. In this pandemic, that was no small task. At all. It was my pleasure to be a part of this all-too-rare 2020 shopping event for handmade goods.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda’s frozen spaghetti dinner for the win. I’m no fool.
  • Worst Meal: I went to have my “free” breakfast at the Best Western I was at, not realizing that the reality of “free” in the covid era is a brown bag with a granola bar, an apple, and a bottle of water. Oh, and a packaged muffin. To go, only. I almost started missing the hated plastic cheese omelettes.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 694
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Travel cost: $930
  • Total sales: $4,788
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Friday alarm: 6a
  • Saturday alarm: 6:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • # transactions: 56x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one for sure. Maybe more.
  • # woodworking vendors: No direct competitors, but many people were there that use wood as their medium. But … no direct competitors.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 82:1
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 83

  • Trivets: 16
  • Cracker Things: 9
  • Handled Cutting Boards: 9
  • Signs: 9
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • 5 Section Servers: 6
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Magic Bottle Openers: 5
  • Small Boards: 3
  • Large Serving Pieces: 3
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Cutting Boards: 2
  • Dip Server: 1
  • Bread Saw: 1
  • Heart: 1
  • Lazy Susan: 1
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