Archive for the ‘Prescott’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Frontier Days 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.

My first trip to Prescott, AZ was for the Faire on the Square event last Labor Day. Nice community … and when I heard that they had a big event in July, I was interested.

Prescott is at altitude, so it’s cooler than most of Arizona. It’s a getaway destination and a retirement community for many. Events there have the ability to appeal to tourists as well as locals. Add in a big attraction, and there’s a real opportunity. I hope.

The World’s Oldest Rodeo? It started in 1888, and has happened every year since! Sounds like a it could be a good one for me. I was tired of our traditional July 4th one day event in Ventura that was good … but not great. And, I hate one day events with our big set-up and tear down. Frontier Days, on the other hand, is a 7 day event. Time to try something new, I think.

New Ideas

  • When I go a-vendoring these days, I frequently state that “This is not my first rodeo.” But …
  • I’ve never had a long-term show before; the longest previously were a couple of long weekend shows. 7 days in one place, with no tear downs in the middle? Sweet.
  • Dirty & dusty. Everything was dirty and dusty. I cleaned daily, and it was a losing cause. I watered the ground to minimize dust in the booth, and that may have helped … but not much.

Observations

  • This is a casual community affair. The organizer, Suzy, has been there and done that. Many of the vendors know each other and have done this event before. I’m the tenderfoot.
  • Suzy greeted me by name as I stepped out of the Jeep … she knew who I had to be. Set up was a breeze. We’re upwind from the livestock, so there is that.
  • As Dad used to say, “Smells like money.”
  • Did not love that my neighbor on one side turned his 12×20 booth into something like 18×24 … totally trampling on my aisle, and sticking 5′ forward from my space. 2 vendors were sharing the space, and I was not impressed.
  • On the other side, it was the Dodge Ram 5th wheel … and a truck was parked in my 5′ aisle on that side … that I paid for. Honestly, I don’t think either incursion affected my sales, but I was not pleased.
  • Rules mean so little to vendors. And how they treat other vendors … I’m not normal, I know that. I’m too polite at events, I think. But in the end, I have to live with me.
  • First person in the booth bought a cutting board. This might work.
  • Second person in the booth really liked my Shakespeare sign. This might work. No sale though.
  • You wouldn’t hear this in LA. Overheard from a 40-something lady: “I don’t think I’ve been in a truck that small before.”
  • I found that me saying that I’ll be back in town for the Labor day event, Faire on the Square … works. I love appointment selling.
  • Live country, bluegrass or even alt country next to my booth every day for 2 hours. This is a good thing.
  • There’s an open bar throughout the event. I could grow to like events like this.
  • Great conversation with a 91-year old woodworker, still active and still making. He loved my work, and I loved hearing about what he did.
  • I think I’m getting truck envy. So, so many pretty Dodge trucks here …
    Dodge Ram is a big sponsor of rodeo.
  • I had a guy ask me about using lemon on a chopping block, and I explained it was an old butcher’s trick. Come to find out, he was an old butcher.
  • He was not the first person at this event that told me I knew what I was talking about. Me, I just wish knowledge paid better.
  • This is one of my most commented on signs:
  • One of the observers looked at me and said, “Your sign is broken. The answer is whiskey, not beer.”
  • Well, OK, then.
  • An advantage of this long term event is that my wounds are healing. One of my most irritating minor injuries of late was a paper cut (!) from a cardboard edge. The cut happened when I picked up a sheet of plywood to move it into the shop and partially grabbed the protective cardboard … that sliced the pad of my index finger. Very happy that wound has now healed with my time away from the shop.
  • Requests were for an Arizona-shaped cutting board (multiple requests, actually, and it’s on my list … my long list), a game board for a marble game I’ve never heard of (sounded like a variation of Wahoo, which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a Chinese checkers board (which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a tray with sides (hmmmm), rolling pins (nope) and plates (maybe … someday).
  • Sunday began with a bus parking behind my booth … with the diesel motor running. It was really harshing my mellow. I called Suzy, and she got it shut down.
  • Love working with a professional.
  • I also had a long conversation about how to treat the wood from a treasured marquetry piece (I believe it was actually intarsia) that the artist left untreated. The owners were properly concerned about how to finish the wood now that they had moved to this very, very dry climate, and I helped them as best I could. They loved the information, thanked me … and walked away. It’s always nice when my free information results in a mercy sale, but ’twas not to be this time.
  • In the end, this event didn’t work for me. Loved the long term set up. Loved the vibe. Didn’t love the lack of sales. At all.
  • Final sale: family of 5 came into the booth. Young mother had 3 small boys, which I commented on. We shared a smile. She wanted to buy a sign for her mother-in-law, but her husband had the money. She returned … and he had given her $5 less than the price. She commented on how much they spent on lemonade and popcorn, and I bet there was no negotiation on those prices. But on the sign for HIS MOTHER, the young man thought negotiation was in order.
  • A fitting end to a frustrating event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda’s spaghetti. Naturally. Leftovers were packaged for me, and I brought them from home in a cooler. Velda stayed at home.
  • Honorable Mention: Velda’s meatloaf. See above.
  • Worst Meal: My first night here, I ended up at a conveniently located Mexican restaurant in Cottonwood, AZ. It was next to the motel. Both were mistakes. Big mistakes.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 1,059
  • Booth cost: $975
  • Food cost: most meals were from home
  • Travel cost: I don’t want to think about this.
  • Total sales: $1,407
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): I lost money on this one. It wasn’t even close.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • # transactions: bored. bored. bored.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none, but there was someone selling natural infusions, I think. Sort of like essential oils … but not. Odd.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Signs: 7
  • Cheese Slicer: 2
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Trivet: 1
  • Custom Orders: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1

The Board Chronicles: Faire On The Square 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.

Once you embrace the idea of doing big events, you have to get out of town.

So, knowing that I had to do something over the holiday weekend, I decided to go a-vendoring in Arizona for the second time. But, since Mrs M claimed to have to work at her “job,” I was a solo act.

And I went far afield.

Prescott (rhymes with biscuit) was the original territorial capitol of Arizona. It’s the county seat, and the courtyard lawn hosts many vendor-driven events throughout the summer & fall: the city has an elevation over 5,000′, so Phoenix comes here to cool off.

I’m told.

I wonder if they need cutting boards?

Faire on the Square is produced by the Chamber of Commerce, and features 150+ vendors. Many “professional” vendors do this event. At this point, I think I’m in that group. One thing is for sure: I won’t be considered a local at this event.

New Ideas

  • I’m driving the trailer across the desert with my big Trimline canopy. I’m told it does rain on occasion. I’m ready for anything.
  • As I drove into Prescott, I heard a loud sound … cicadas, I thought. But, it’s been a while since I have been around them, and it was SO LOUD, I actually rolled down the car window to make sure something wasn’t wrong with the car. Lots of cicadas in the pine trees here!
  • I’m picking up temp labor at the event to help me put up & take down the canopy. I’m told there are homeless people around to help.
  • 2 new items here: cribbage boards sets (I have 4 prototypes), and I’ve actually made stands for sale. They are here. They are available.

Observations

  • Wait, what? I’m supposed to hire homeless people?
  • Come to find out, I did find some helpers, and they were underemployed but not homeless. Nice people. Of the 5 that I talked to about helping me, I actually had 2 show up as promised. I made it work.
  • This event has a couple of quirks you have to deal with:
    • Check in is 4pm Friday, and set up can begin after the last judge leaves the courthouse at about 6pm.
    • No vendor displays, canopies, etc, are allowed to touch the courthouse lawn. Wooden blocks (2x4s suggested) must be between every canopy leg, table & product container so that the grass can be allowed to breathe as much as possible.
    • I dealt with it.
  • Set-up was fine, and I ended up having 3 people help. One helper was great, one was good, and one was annoying. Such is life.
  • Parking is a bit of a challenge for loading/unloading, but the COC reserves the parking around the square for vendors. I was there early for check-in, and parked the trailer in the perfect spot. After load-in began, I was yelled at by a vendor for parking my trailer in 5 parking spots so no one else could use them. Not accurate: I was in 2 spots, not 5. And I was actively unloading, as I was supposed to be doing. Why she was entitled to the parking spots that I had, I’m not sure, but she was ticked at me.
  • And, vice versa.
  • First sale on Saturday: one of the new 5-section servers.
  • Second sale: one of the new cribbage boards.
  • Third sale: Can I have a stand with that? Why, yes, yes you can.
  • I know I’m in the west. Cowboys are here. And … one lady saw my 3D carved cribbage board top, and wanted to buy it. Just the top. I eventually got 2 requests (and no sales at my quoted price).
  • We take shop towels to events to clean with. I dust off my boards. Mrs M cleans her soap (think about it). We use a few towels; I typically stick a few into a cutting board container; there are a few in our bag of bags as well. At the last event, we had towels everywhere. Mrs M was offended, I guess, and she, uh, got us better organized. This time, there were zero towels. None. Good thing Mrs M didn’t need one to clean her soap, since she was at her “job.”
  • Most common question of the weekend: “Did you write these signs?”
  • Hmmm. I didn’t write the quotes from Julia Child, Mark Twain, Shakespeare or Miss Piggy, no. I did write some of the others; I researched some and made them my own. One thing I do know: my signs amuse people passing the booth, and I think that’s a good thing. Maybe someday they’ll stop passing by and begin to look around to buy stuff. Maybe.
  • A woman walks into the booth:
    • “Are these canvases marked full price?”
      • “Uh … well, they are marked at the only price. Yes, that’s full price.”
    • “But there was a booth across the square that said all canvases are half off. So are these half off?”
      • No. Just no.
  • A man walks into the booth:
    • “Do you have any cat signs?”
      • “No, no cat signs.”
    • “What, you don’t like cats?”
      • “Uh, no, all of my signs are food-related. I’m all about food here.”
    • “Maybe you’ll have cat signs next year.”
      • No. Just no.
  • A woman walks into the booth:
    • “You know what sign you should make?”
      • (this will end badly, I know) “What?”
    • “Make ‘I laughed so hard that tears ran down my leg!’ Ladies will love it!”
      • No. Just no.
  • A couple walks into the booth:
    • She said, “What’s a trivet?”
      • “It’s to protect your table & counter from hot stuff. When you have hot stuff, it needs protecting.”
    • He said, “I tell her that all of the time.”
  • I have 2 plaques, “Family” & “In This House,” that I often display on a front table. I had them there on Saturday, and then moved them on Sunday to put a pig-themed display in their place, as Mrs M did last week. Changing things up can be good, right? Monday, a lady walked by with her friend and I overheard her say “It serves me right for not buying it when I saw it!” I asked what, and the Family sign was what she liked. I showed it to her around the corner, hanging on the wall, and she was surprised she hadn’t noticed that WALL OF SIGNS when she walked by them. Eventually, she bought a different sign from that display.

CNC Sign 18 – 46. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.

CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

  • Oh, and 2 pig signs did sell. Family & In This House? Nope.
  • It rained a bit on Sunday evening, but after the event was really over at 5pm. It rained again on Monday after load out was in full swing … I was soaked by the time I was loaded. Soaked. Happily, I was going back to the AirBnB so I could dry off and have a nice dinner. Driving home, soaked to the skin … would not have been fun.
  • Requests were for wooden crosses, a magnetic chess board, a 2-player cribbage set (coming!), very small cutting boards, a smaller Lazy Susan and a board to cook a fish on (no, I don’t sell raw cedar planks to burn in a fire).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Frozen meals from the microwave were my dinner each night. I had Velda’s spaghetti, Chicken Marsala, and a travel-ready lasagna she put together.
  • Worst Meal: Driving across the desert, I couldn’t find suitable nourishment, so I settled for a gas station cheeseburger & chips. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 891
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $49
  • Travel cost: $530
  • Total sales: $2,439
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,310
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • Monday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 29
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple I saw, but I only saw about half of the vendors
  • # woodworking vendors: there was one guy making wooden acoustic amplifiers for smart phones … very interesting little creations featuring brass horns.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 37:4
  • Returning next year? Probably

Boards sold: 41

Trivets: 11

CNC Signs: 6

Word Blocks: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Cutting Board: 2

Coasters: 2

Custom Orders: 2

Hearts: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

5-section Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Serving Piece: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

Serving Tray: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

 

 

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