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The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom Festival 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.

The Almond Blossom Festival in nearby Quartz Hill has become one of our traditional first quarter events: this will be our 4th year doing this event. Sales have never been spectacular, but it’s close, it’s easy, and we spend the weekend with the Granddaughters. What’s not to like?

Well, I have a few answers to that question, as you shall see. But we were committed, and we were off to the 69th Annual Almond Blossom Festival!

New Ideas

  • The forecast was very clear: rain throughout Saturday, with more rain Saturday night. We opted for our best weather protection, and put up the big Trimline canopy. It takes more time to put up, but it is dry inside.
  • I now have an array of cheese knives (one individual knife and 4 different sets are available) I can offer to people wanting a “complete” cheese & cracker gift set. I also have chess & checker pieces for those that want a “complete” game set.


  • This event has a problem with communication. They have no social media presence, and don’t provide any tools for vendors to promote the event for them. Emails sent to the venders vendors had grammatical errors, factual errors, and were just plain annoying to wade through. They’re trying … but with the long legacy of this event, they should have the details right by now.
  • They should know how to use spell check, too.
  • Can you tell I’m annoyed?
  • Two years ago, our booth cost was 1/3 less. They’ve taken a 33% price increase in 2 years. Wanna bet my sales don’t go up that much?
  • I arrived at 11am to set up, only to be told that I had not understood the instructions. Well, I was actually told that they were sorry that their English wasn’t correct. I had to go away because some RV might show up to be parked in the next hour, so they weren’t letting anyone else in until the 12noon start time they had tried to announce.
  • This event does have many youth volunteers that are eager to help you. Unfortunately, they were not available when I most needed them, since they were pulled off to do duties for the event itself. And, as supervision waned, the attention of the youth wandered as well. Still, I appreciate the effort to provide youth volunteers.
  • The weather heavily impacted vendor participation. Many vendors were NCNS: No Call, No Show. That resulted in the aisles being very spotty due to all of the empty spaces. That made the event much less than it might have been had the positions been tight.
  • Another stalker reader of this blog found us on Saturday, and we had a great conversation with Catherine about going a-vendoring with her horseshoe art. Always nice to meet people that already know us because of The Board Chronicles.
  • Philosophy that was shared with me: “I always tell my kids to do what you love. If you like selling a bucket of rocks, then do that. Someone will be looking for that!” And, indeed, that is true.
  • My neighbor was hawking a solar company, and he was standing in his booth and saying “How’s your electric bill?” to every person that passed his booth to engage them in conversation. Every person. Most people just kept walking, but if they acknowledged him, he kept talking to them as they walked past my booth.
  • One lady reached Mrs M’s booth, and then turned and said to us, “I hate solar people. I hate’m.”
  • As a vendor, those kinds of aggressive sales techniques truly lower the quality of the event. The promoters take the booth fees … and vendors like us have to endure potential but lost customers running down the aisles to escape the obnoxious sales pitches.
  • My favorite events are all handmade. Events that mix in some buy & sell vendors can be fine – especially if they keep handmade vendors in a dedicated section – but if there are “professional” hawkers in the mix, then the quality of the shopping experience deteriorates rapidly. IMHO.
  • It started raining on Saturday in mid-afternoon, and didn’t stop. It rained all night, and was still misty/wet in the morning until about 10am.
  • Sunday morning, we were hit by the trifecta: 1) bad weather, 2) Sundays are for church, and 3) it was the day to jump ahead for Daylight Savings Time, so everyone lost an hour’s sleep. No one was at the event at 10am … including many of the vendors. I read most of a book on Sunday. Everything finally got going at about 1:30pm.
  • The Trimline canopy generated a lot of comment from other vendors … one thought it was a car port that I re-purposed as a vendor canopy.
  • Uh, no.
  • From one of Mrs M’s customers: “When you hang out with drag queens, you learn a lot of tricks.”
  • Uh, OK.
  • A lady came by and wanted to talk about the use of a wooden board. She had been told by one of her bosses to never wash a wooden board: only apply mineral oil to it. WOW. That is such incredibly bad advice. OF COURSE you should wash your cutting board! After every use, in fact! For complete instructions on how to care for your cutting board, go here. For a summary of cutting board research done at UC Davis & the University of Wisconsin that shows why wooden cutting boards are the most recommended – by science! – then go here.
  • A guy walked by the booth, and thanked us for being at the event. “You’re classing up the place,” he said. He went on to suggest that he’d once seen a guy making wooden ties, and that perhaps I should make some. He’d take me to the prom if I was wearing a wooden tie, he said. I declined the offer to go to the prom with him – to the relief of everyone present, I expect.
  • In the end, this event was weather-impacted so you should not draw firm conclusions from this one event. However, we’ve done this event 4 times, and 2 of those had heavy weather impacts (2016 was even worse!). 2017 had better weather, but sales were still disappointing. It’s clear after 4 years that this is a convenient but annoying local event that’s significantly below average for us. Time to move on.

The Food

  • Best Meals: Dinners with the Kids & Granddaughters.
  • Worst Meal: We decided to eat lunches at the event … Fair Food, as we call it. Both of them were overpriced and not that good. But, they were easy.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $365
  • Food cost: $252
  • Travel cost: $79
  • Total sales: $1,078
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $382
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: nope
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:45a
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other, who is also a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild! I looked her up on the member directory, and then reviewed all of the listings for California. I found that Mrs M is one of only 15 certified soapmakers by the HSCG in the state of California.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? Nope. We’re done.

Boards sold: 8x

2x Custom Orders

2x Cheese Board

1x Small Board

1x Clipboard

1x Chess Board

1x Cutting Board

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom 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..

Anticipation was building. We were very excited to be a part of the 68th Annual Almond Blossom Festival in Quartz Hill. This would be our 3rd appearance at this event in the last 3 years.

You know I love local. Quartz Hill is a community in the Antelope Valley, about 45 minutes north of us.

When we do this event, we stay with our two granddaughters, so this event has about the best side benefits I can imagine.

In 2015, we had a 10×10 booth and sales of $1,291. Last year, it rained. Nothing to be done about that, and sales dropped to $879, in spite of our 10×20 booth and expanded product selection. This year, we have Mrs M’s purpose-built display. My inventory isn’t perfect (no chess boards!), but I have as good an array as I’ve ever had. We’re ready for Quartz Hill.

New Ideas

  • Mrs M’s soap will be at this event for the first time – hardly a new idea, really, but it should help us increase sales this year.


  • Every year, there is confusion with load-in and booth placement. This year, I was on an end … then I wasn’t. There was plenty of room in the park, though (fewer vendors this year, for some reason), so it was a non-issue. There was plenty of room, and the atmosphere was very casual during set-up. Very casual.
  • This is a community event in a county park. Local dance studios perform. Local bands perform. It’s all sponsored by the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce, so local businesses have booths, too. It’s all about the community.
  • When the Quartz Hill queens & princesses came around handing out candy to the vendors as a thank you for supporting Quartz Hill, I was amazed. Can’t remember the last time a pre-teen gave me candy.
  • And, of course, it’s cute when a little girl strolls through a park & gives me candy. Me strolling through a park & giving a little girl candy … not so much.
  • Wine Bottle Holders were prominently displayed for the 2nd time, and for the 2nd time I had a senior citizen ask me if they are door stops.
  • They are not.
  • An artist’s work is so seldom understood.
  • The fire marshal closed the vendor section early on Saturday, the last day of standard time. It was scheduled to be open until 7pm (which was way too late). As darkness descended, the fire marshal said to close the vendor area at 6:15pm so no one would be hurt in the darkness.
  • Huh?
  • Every vendor was complaining about the low traffic this year. The weather was glorious: over 80* each day. This was our first weekend this year with great SoCal weather, in fact … maybe the weather was too good? In any event, there were slow sales for everyone, it seemed.
  • There is live music playing throughout the event, and 2 bands were noteworthy. Big Coyote sounded great this year, and happens to include one of our next door neighbor musicians as a guitarist & vocalist. Also sounding great was The Fulcos, a family act based in the AV. Both bands had excellent presentations, and even this critic enjoyed them. Good thing, as there wasn’t enough traffic to hold my attention.
  • Requests from this event were for a kitchen island top (2x), a hope chest and, once again as the # 1 request … chess boards (of course).
  • This is our 2nd event in a row where Sunday sales exceeded Saturday sales. No complaints … but has the world gone crazy?
  • In the end, sales were a disappointment. We did not equal our 2015 sales – where we had much less product, and only a 10×10 booth. Our booth expenses have more than doubled, and sales did not increase. Perhaps we have saturated this event, and should give it a break next year? There aren’t that many good March events, however, and none allow us to spend time with the granddaughters except for this one. Much to think about before we schedule 2018.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, brought from home.

Saturday Lunch: “Half a Polish,” he said. Of course, I’m not half Polish … I’m not half anything. I’m a mutt. “English, Irish, German, Dutch….”

Saturday Snack: A Twisted Spud. They look better than they taste, every time. Maybe I’ll learn someday.

Saturday Dinner: “Deconstructed cabbage rolls,” she said. Well, OK then. Tasted great.

Sunday Breakfast: See above.

Sunday Lunch: See above. I’m consistent.

Sunday Snack: Nope. I learn, too.

Sunday Dinner: A carnitas burrito from the local Mexican restaurant, La Cocina. And guacamole. And a Cadillac Margarita.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 226
  • Booth cost: $255
  • Food cost: $81
  • Travel cost: $121
  • Total sales: $1,264
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $807
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several, including 3 visits from 3 different people explaining to us the load-out procedure. I thought that was overkill. Been there, done that, and didn’t learn a thing.
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15am
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 70
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Incredibly, just Mrs M. Maybe the soap fad is over?
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me. No fad here.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe.

Boards sold: 11

Small Boards: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cheese Boards: 2

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom Festival   5 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.

Almond-flowersSmallThe 67th event ever for Mrs M’s Handmade was the 67th Annual Almond Blossom Festival in nearby Quartz Hill. We did the event very successfully last year (we were so young then). It’s a classic community event in a local park. Activities include live music throughout, a carnival, a stage for community groups like dance studios, a beauty contest, a car show … and more.

Last year, we had absolutely perfect weather, and generated sales over $1,300. Of course we were going back! In fact, this was chosen to be 1 of only 2 events that we are doing in the first quarter.

Part of the reason we didn’t want to do first quarter events was the prediction that Godzilla El Nino would swamp Southern California this winter, making outdoor events questionable, at best.

This was our first outdoor event of the year.

It rained.

New Ideas

  • With rain forecast for the weekend, we went prepared with tarps, extra spring clamps, garbage bags & plastic sheeting. Oh, and a good attitude. We were ready for the weather, and expected to have good weather on Saturday and showers throughout Saturday night into Sunday morning.


  • I love community events.
  • Unfortunately, this event offers zero social media support for vendors – they don’t even have a logo to share.
  • Booth fees went up 21% per 10×10 space, plus we went from a single to a double booth. When we go to an event, we only know how to travel big & heavy these days. It’s the motto we followed on the 50+ mile backpack I did with the boys: Go Big Or Go Home.
  • We barely fit into Christopher’s truck. Yikes!
  • Baseball is truth:

“A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while.”

– “Nuke” Laloosh as played by Tim Robbins, in Bull Durham, 1988

  • Ironically, there was perfect weather for our first indoor event of the year last month. And, last weekend, it was 80* in SoCal. This weekend? No such luck.
  • Two canopies were upside down and tumbling in the gusty wind on Saturday afternoon. No one was hurt … but one vendor who had her canopy rolled into lost her canopy, product & opportunity.
  • Shade canopies should always have 25 pounds of additional weight on each leg. I am continually amazed at how many people ignore this basic safety rule. One of our neighbors, for example, had a gallon of water on each leg. That’s about 7 pounds/gallon, and won’t save you if the wind hits your canopy with evil intent.
  • The stronger winds were on Sunday. Good thing the unweighted canopies were gone by then.
  • The sponsoring organization, the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce, clearly stated (I thought) that insurance was the responsibility of each vendor, and asked that a copy of your insurance policy be sent prior to the event. They helpfully provided a link to an insurer that would cover you for $39.
  • Come to find out, though, the insurance was not required by the Chamber. It was “the responsibility of each vendor to get insurance.” And, apparently, the vendor that had canopies tumbling in the wind did not insure himself, and refused to pay damages to the vendor that had her canopy – and weekend – shredded through his negligence.
  • I had a clipboard on display; I would have sold it to 3 different people if it hadn’t been pre-sold.
  • I need to make more clipboards. And sous chef boards. And pig boards. And bottle openers. And routed bowls. And….
  • The younger & very pregnant Mrs M visited the event with the adorable Miss P (AKA Granddaughter # 1), with the goal of Miss P enjoying some carnival rides. For context, Miss P is not quite 4 years old. Here’s the conversation:

Miss P: I want to ride the roller coaster!

The Very Pregnant Mrs M: OK.

Miss P: I want you to come with me!

The Very Pregnant Mrs M: I can’t because of the Baby. Nonni can go with you this time. Next time, I can go with you and someone else can hold the Baby.

Miss P: Thank God!!!

The Very Pregnant Mrs M: Why, P! Why do you say that?

Miss P: Because you say it.

  • Why do people buy cutting boards? One lady bought hers because her teen-aged daughter left her previous wooden board soaking in the sink overnight. She discovered that the next morning, unfortunately, and she was dressing down her daughter when her teen-aged son strolled in. “What’s the deal, Mom?” he said, “It’s a board!” He then whacked it on the kitchen counter … and it splintered into several pieces. The teenagers immediately excused themselves from the room, I’m told. And, 18 months later, I helped Mom find a wooden cutting board she liked.
  • When I arrived at the booth Sunday morning, I discovered we had a zipper failure on the leading corner of our booth’s walls overnight. The strong wind had defeated the zipper … and the flapping wall had allowed wind & rain into the booth. The floor-length tablecloths (which we had carefully lifted & folded over the merchandise) were soaked. The tarps over Mrs M’s tables had blown off. Fortunately, we had no product damage! Other than a display piece that needs to be resurfaced, we had no problems that evaporation will not cure. We got lucky.
  • Sunday was breezy & cold, to say the least. It didn’t rain on us after 9am, but it was oh so cold sitting in the shade with the wind shaking the canopies & freezing your bones. This vendor thing, it’s glamorous. Sometimes.
  • The best weather of the weekend was at 3pm Sunday. Warm. No wind. And, by then, absolutely no customers.
  • Lots of help from some very nice, motivated high school students for load-out. Some all-too-typical disorganization had the wrong vendors plugging up the parking instead of loading their vehicles, but we overcame and got on the road at about 6:15p.
  • Because of the help in loading, I didn’t quite get everything in its perfect place. Driving home, the lotion container (a Rubbermaid tote) had its lid blow off on the freeway. No one was hurt by the debris I put on the highway, thankfully. Major kudos to the young man in the next pickup over who got my attention to pull over and check my load; I hope he finds me when he needs a cutting board. No further incidents, and no product was lost.
  • Every time the elder Mrs M asks if the packing is done right or if the tie downs are secure or if anything will fly off the truck this time, then everyone owes me a dollar. I’m going to be rich!
  • With the weather impact on the event, sales were going to be disappointing, of course. Our booth cost went up $145 over last year, and our sales dropped about $500.
  • I know 2 canopies died this weekend, and I suspect several others did as well. If your canopy can’t take 40 mph winds, then don’t come to the Antelope Valley for an event!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: Fair food – 3 tacos. Not nearly as good as I hoped.

Saturday Snack: Velda got a funnel cake to share. My few bites were all I wanted, thank you.

Saturday Dinner: Wonderful pasta dinner at home with the family of the Very Pregnant Mrs M.

Sunday Breakfast: Same breakfast, different McDonald’s.

Sunday Lunch: Baked potato with all of the fixings, included some added BBQ rib meat. It was warm, and that’s all I wanted on this very wind-chilled day.

Sunday Snack: Too cold to eat.

Sunday Dinner: After unloading everything, we turned & went to Wolf Creek for an 8:30p dinner. I ordered my favorite dish, Chicken Dijon … which they have taken off the menu. (sigh) The end to a very trying weekend.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 123
  • Booth cost: $240
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Total sales: $879
  • # containers of product taken: 28
  • # boards available: 100
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • Sunday alarm: didn’t need one
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: three others. One was exclusively soap, one was a direct competitor to just about everything that Mrs M does, and the other was exclusively lotions.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:4
  • Returning next year? definitely

Boards sold: 7

2 Cutting Boards (1 sold in its first showing)

1 Large Cutting Board

1 Small Board

1 Lazy Susan (sold in its first showing)

1 Bottle Opener

1 Cheese Board

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