Archive for the ‘Ridgecrest’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I am ALMOST caught up. After this post … one more to go.

Thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Ridgecrest, CA. Santa’s Art Shop. Year 6.

For each of the last 5 years, this event was our biggest event of the year.

For each of the last 5 years, we set a sales record at this event.

Every year: Best. Event. Ever.

Every year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was time for year 6, 12/7 & 8/2019.

No pressure.

New Ideas

  • Nope, this was not new territory. After 5 years, we knew what we were doing. I did have several new products: Cheese Slicers. Cracker Things. Garlic Dipping Boards. But, we had legacy clients and they knew where to find us at Santa’s Art Shop.


  • This event began with me freaking out.
  • Thank GOODNESS I have friends.
  • A good friend.
  • You’ve heard the story of my Garlic Dipping Boards: how I collaborate with Nicole, who makes my Great Garlic Graters. We told Nicole about this event, and she decided that she wanted to play.
  • She told the promoter that she wanted to be next to Mrs M’s Handmade. The promoter – who was new this year – told Nicole that we weren’t signed up.
  • It was Black Friday, November 29. The promoter told our friend that we weren’t signed up FOR OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF EVERY YEAR.
  • OK, go.
  • Freaking out.
  • Me.
  • What happened? I have no idea. How did the promoter not have our application? No idea.
  • No.
  • Idea.
  • Managing Mrs M’s Handmade – and Mr M’s Woodshop – is a big job. To keep track of the details, I keep a spreadsheet of every event on our radar.
  • Every event.
  • I have promoter contact information. Websites. Costs. Descriptions. Comments. Dates. And, I keep track of whether or not we’ve approved the event for this year’s calendar (Mrs M and I), if the application is in, and if we’ve received approval.
  • The spreadsheet said that the application was in.
  • Honest.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter didn’t have the application, and the NEW PROMOTER THIS YEAR did not reach out to us to ask why we were missing after 5 years of faithful vending.
  • What did happen, though, was that my friend Nicole’s application said she wanted to be next to our booth (bless her), so the promoter called Nicole … and told her we were not on the list.
  • Nicole did not accept that. Oh YES we were coming. YES we were a part of the event. And, YES, she wanted to be next to our booth.
  • Bless her.
  • And, in the end, it worked out just fine. I called the promoter at Nicole’s direction, the promoter accepted that we could be a part of the event if I would just submit (re-submit?) the application, and get the check in the mail.
  • Today.
  • I did. That day.
  • Now, in 20/20 hindsight … I don’t know what happened. Normally, I keep a copy of EVERY APPLICATION on file so I know what I’ve provided to each promoter. Every application. However, I know that when this application was due, my life was out of control and I remember not keeping a copy of a couple of applications. This one? No clue.
  • But, the spreadsheet said the application was in.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter gets a vote, too, and she said she never got it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Must be, right? But every event is different, and we do 25+ events every year. Some will talk to you, some don’t, some will NOT talk to you … and I’ve gotten into the habit of submitting my application and forgetting about it.
  • My mistake.
  • Thankfully, our 3 booths were still available (!), and we slid right back into that opening. After Thanksgiving. For an event on the first weekend in December.
  • Thank you, Nicole. Couldn’t have done it without you, obviously.
  • And, yes, paid for dinner at Mon Reve. It was wonderful, too.
  • This event is now about legacy, and we have many fans in Ridgecrest after 5 years. Thank goodness.
  • One customer did observe the sign above my head as I sat in the booth (“Meet The Maker”) and asked if I was the maker. Uh, yes. They wanted to make sure, as I might have been sitting in the wrong chair.
  • Uh, OK. Me = Maker. Be calm.
  • We were way, way down on Saturday. Almost 40% down. Was it the new promoter? No, I think not … perhaps it was the major earthquake that Ridgecrest had in 2019. People had to fix their homes, perhaps? In any event, we were down on Saturday. Way down.
  • This event finally – finally! – fixed it’s #1 problem. There was WiFi, which meant that PayPal transactions could be done in the metal building without me having to go outside to find a cell signal. It would have been great to get a heads up about this, but oh well. We had WiFi, and that made transactions SO much easier.
  • I have fans in Ridgecrest that buy something from me every year. That is so sweet, and so unexpected. Every time.
  • I have to work very hard to earn those accolades. Every time.
  • But, alas, we were down on Saturday. We were down on Sunday.
  • The streak is broken. This was not the best event of the year. This was not our best event ever. It was good, certainly, but not even in the Top 5 all time.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mon Reve, a ridiculously good French restaurant on the edge of the Mojave desert.
  • Honorable Mention: Olvera’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is a good value for good food.
  • Honorable Mention 2: Kristi’s, a local “diner” that serves comfort food, every day. We had lunch on Friday and dinner on Sunday here; definitely good decisions.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for our lunches was easy; we didn’t pack food for this trip. But to call the vendors at these events fair … well, that’s what they are. IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 270
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $315
  • Travel cost: $368
  • Total sales: $4,439
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, as always
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, as always
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably. But, perhaps we should give it a rest….

Boards sold: 50

  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Lazy Susans: 3
  • Trivets: 5
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Bread Saws: 5
  • Card Box: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.


  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2017   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.

We love this event.

This is one of three events that we’ve done every year for the four years that Mrs M has been … Mrs M. For each of the previous three years, this has been our Best. Event. Ever.

Every year. We keep getting better, thank goodness.

You bet we love our December trip to Ridgecrest every year. Wouldn’t you?

Read about our past years here: 2015 and 2016. Alas, I didn’t start writing The Board Chronicles until 2015, so there is no official record of our initial 2014 outing.

On the eve of our departure, I read last year’s post. I was forced to confront that I sold 20% of my inventory last year at this event. I’m scared all over again.

New Ideas

  • Knowing that CNC would be changing my life, and that I should have many more products to show, we committed to a triple booth this year: 10′ x 30′. This is only the 2nd time we’ve had a triple booth, which breaks down to Mrs M having a normal 10′ x 10′ … plus a bit, and I have the remaining 10′ x 20ish. There was at least one woodworker co-op there last year with a 10′ x 20′ booth (and 2 woodworkers had 10x20s last week in Norco!), so I need to keep up in order to show my stuff well. And since this is our best event, we have a lot to protect!
  • Little Girl is joining us again this year to make sure we have enough hands to, uh, handle all of the transactions that we hope to have.
  • I’ve made 2 new display pieces for me to show 4 items: Serving Trays, Lazy Susans, Chess Boards & Large Cheese & Cracker Servers. I have lots of these unique items to show … space to show them … and now, a way to show them. Here’s hoping I find customers, or all will be for naught.
  • We bought 2 new tables for this booth presentation. We are optimistically expanding.
  • Given how heavy our load out is, Little Girl is driving her new SUV with our extra cargo. So … we’ve outgrown our 6’x10′ trailer. It took us a year and a half. That is sobering.


  • This is event # 10 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter … but since this event is such a focus, everything gets easier from here.
  • I hope.
  • I had oh so many plans for new CNC products, but most of them did not see the light of day. I had so much work keeping up with “normal” products, I never got to many new ideas. Unfortunately.
  • Here’s hoping I’ve done enough. My beginning inventory is larger than ever, at 280 pieces. Mrs M has been busy as well; she’s got more soap finished than ever before, including 3 new Christmas scents.
  • We arrived for setup at 1pm, and got busy. I backed the trailer into the perfect spot, about 40′ from our booth. We brought it all: canopies. Lights. Displays. Christmas table cloths. Christmas decorations. Now, where does it all go? We have never set up in this configuration before, and I have 2 new display pieces … time to move the puzzle pieces around.
  • And move they did. I think we settled on the 3rd configuration. Mrs M even agreed to take a bigger table in the deal (which was a negotiation, I assure you).
  • We did it up, and went to a very nice dinner at Olvera’s, where we were all pregnant with anticipation.
  • Expectations.
  • There’s only one number I care about this year: $5,000. We have never done that at an event, and it’s time we broke through. Expectations … high expectations. We have them.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • This event has a “hard gate:” they charge admission. So, the start time really is 9am … though you get a lot of vendors & such walking around before the gates open. At 8:30a, we were ready. So ready.
  • My first sale: a chess board. Of course.
  • The Ladies got busy almost immediately, and we were ‘whelmed within the hour. People were standing in line to give Mrs & Miss M money for their soaps & lotions & such. Thank goodness Little Girl was there to help.
  • One customer walked up, smelled a few lotions, and settled on Sequoia. “I’ll take 9,” she said. It’s good to have deep inventory.
  • I met another Fanboy of this blog! After recognizing me from my picture (!), he introduced himself. He’s a vendor & designer of jewelry, and says that as he reads the blog, he laughs, he cries … right there with us. Love it. Well, not the crying part so much.
  • Saturday began to slow down about 1p, and we were no longer ‘whelmed. Business continued until closing at 5p, though: there was constant traffic. Constant.
  • I sold 24 boards on Saturday, which was great. It was the other side of the booth, though, that was burning it up. Her big sign says “Handmade Soaps & Lotions,” and that’s what she sold. In abundance. For Mrs M, this was the

Best. Day. Ever.

  • But we were definitely not there yet. The number still loomed as we went to dinner … and found an excellent French restaurant. The Ladies had wine. Little Girl said she deserved 2 alcohols. They both did. I drove home.
  • Do you know how rare it is to have 2 nice dinners when we go a-vendoring? I think it’s happened once before. If you find yourself hungry in Ridgecrest, I heartily recommend Olvera’s for Mexican food, and Mon Reve for French food. And they just happen to be a block apart, so navigation is easy!
  • A customer was in my booth talking to her spouse – and me – about purchasing a chess board. They met playing chess, she said. Somehow, he offered to teach her the game … and she lost when they played. As she said, though, she was playing the long game. Years later, still together, kids in the home … who really won when they played?
  • Sundays are known to be slower. More strolling. More friendly conversations. For me, though, it was busy. I was selling a lot of stuff, I thought. And, I was. Then, a lady bought 8 boards.
  • And she wasn’t my best customer.
  • I ended Sunday selling 47 boards. For me,

Best. Day. Ever.

  • So, for those of you keeping track, I ended up selling 24% of my inventory at this one event. The fear is real. I have 5 more events to do this year!
  • All told, I sold 14x different items. My big sign says “Cutting Boards … Serving Pieces & More.” It’s about the More, I think. If I limited myself to just cutting boards, I would not have nearly as much fun.
  • One of the reasons that Mrs M’s Handmade works is that we have very different products, and we have different strengths. (And we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next year. No coincidence.) Mrs M burned it up on Saturday; I had a better day on Sunday.
  • Yes, faithful readers, we got it done. We got better, again. 4 years in a row:

Best. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” at the Best Western … biscuits & gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla … good finger food between conversations with customers.

Saturday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. When only the best will do….

Saturday Dinner: EXCELLENT French cuisine at Mon Reve. Highly recommended. Get a reservation.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” again … but no biscuits & gravy. You get what you pay for, sort of.

Sunday Lunch: A big hot dog & chips. “Nourishment.”

Sunday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. I came prepared.

Sunday Dinner: After a long, frustrating drive home, the ladies had In N Out waiting when I walked in the door. And Blanton’s. Bless them.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 548
  • Booth cost: $712
  • Food cost: $306
  • Travel cost: $285
  • Total sales: $5,887
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $4,584
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too many to count
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 4
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 5
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 64:3
  • Returning next year? Yes. In a triple booth, again. And I still need to figure out how to get those bells on.

Boards sold: 67

Magic Bottle Openers: 14

Cheese Boards: 14

Cutting Boards: 8

Word Blocks: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 5

Trivets: 4

Serving Tray: 3

Lazy Susan: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Pig Cutting Board: 2

Custom Order: 1

Cribbage Board: 1




The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop   3 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.

santasartshopFor the last 2 years, Santa’s Art Shop has been our biggest event of the year. Could we repeat that performance in 2016?

Ridgecrest, CA is the home of Santa’s Art Shop. Ridgecrest is just down the road from Inyokern, and that town announces on the sign at the edge of town that they are “100 miles from everywhere.” Ridgecrest is near the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake in the western Mojave Desert. There aren’t a lot of people near there outside of the military facility … which is a largely undeveloped 1.1 million acres, making it larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Lots of open spaces here.

The people may be few, but those people need to do Christmas shopping. Santa’s Art Shop sets up on the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, and thousands from the region show up, every year.

New Ideas

  • After 2 years in the Joshua Hall, we were moved to the Mesquite Hall. Joshua was unavailable this year … resulting in a cascade of booth movement throughout the event. Practically everyone was in a new space. There were more vendors outside this year, and fewer vendors over all.
  • Little Girl joined us, so we had 3 Mowrys go a-vending. We used to have 3 people at every show in our ignorant, early days … now, it’s a special occasion!


  • Event # 9 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. The end is oh so solidly in sight.
  • Expectations. We had them. And expectations can kill you.
  • We arrived Friday afternoon for the big set up. We do Christmas decorations for this event, and take our time getting the display just right. This is an important event: our best event for each of the last 2 years. It demands our best effort.
  • Broke a piece on one canopy that resulted in one leg not locking into place when extended. Only one fix would work: duct tape. Of course.
  • A guy IM’d me through Facebook before the event, and wanted to make sure I was bringing (wait for it) … chess boards. He could not wait to see me this year! It’s not unusual for customers to make soft appointments to see me at an event, but this is the first time that’s happened for my # 1 most requested item.
  • We woke Saturday morning to get ready for our big event, and Little Girl was sick. Food poisoning? She was a gamer, and tried … but she couldn’t. Back to the hotel for her, and she had to wait until the event was over for us to bring her ginger ale and Saltines.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Art Shop, we got ‘whelmed pretty quickly. You couldn’t walk through the aisles Saturday morning. It was busy, busy … and stayed that way until about 2pm. Even as it slowed down, there were still shoppers doing what they do. Great day … but not our best. Lotion & soap sales weren’t as good as at the record-setting California Strawberry Festival. For me, the day was not as good as last year; I was a bit under prior year. That’s how we ended day 1: down to prior year by $60. (sigh)
  • Down is never good.
  • We ended Saturday disappointed, of course. Down is down. We were so looking forward to this event, and we were very slightly down – from 2015’s best event. It’s amazing how expectations can drive you to distraction when you are having one of your best events ever, but it feels like you aren’t achieving your goals.
  • With Sunday’s dawning, Little Girl was back. She had beaten the 24 hour bug. Come to find out, many of her friends she’d just gone camping with were also suffering from that same awful bug.
  • Sunday was a slow day, as is normal. Sundays typically have late crowds, and there’s a lot more strolling and chatting than you have on a Saturday that’s chock full of ASB (Aggressive Shopping Behavior).
  • But the shoppers did keep coming.
  • The event is in a metal building, and the cell service is horrible. The only way to do credit card transactions was to go outside. Every time. This was so annoying. Luckily, however, we were right by the door. Run the card. Through the door, 10 steps, and then back to get a signature. Through the door, 10 steps, and the transaction went through. Usually. Such a pain!
  • We expect (that word!) Sundays to be 40% of Saturday, which is exactly how this event played out last year. That would have been great, had it played out that way this year. We’d have been down, of course, but only by a very small percentage.
  • ’twas not to be.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • After 2 years at this event, I definitely have customers coming back to tell me about the board they bought & use, or perhaps gave to someone a year or 2 ago, and how much they love it. It’s really wonderful when people tell me stories. I like stories.
  • For an engaged shopping crowd, we had a surprisingly small number of conversations about alternatives. People came in, saw what you had, and shopped accordingly. They didn’t stay to discuss it: they had a mission to accomplish. This is a Christmas season event, and it’s all about the shopping. I did discuss special orders to replace in-counter boards (which can only be made AFTER CHRISTMAS), but other than that, there were few meaningful conversations about what I didn’t have on display.
  • I only got one other request at this event: display stands for my cutting boards. It’s not the first time someone has asked to buy one of my stands at an event … as Mrs M reminded me. Hmmmmm.
  • Remember The Mistake? I had that end grain cutting board as overstock throughout this event. Never brought it out to display. Showed it to one lady … sold it. Perhaps I need to make more mistakes? No, actually the lesson here is that I need to make more end grain cutting boards using Hickory. Now, that is a plan.
  • Had a couple of women in the booth, buying a board for the man of the home. They described him as a destructive force in the kitchen that destroys cutting boards. What did they buy? The unique, pretty board that I had hoped might end up as a serving piece – or even, shockingly for me, as a display piece due to its one-of-a-kind beauty. I sold it with a smile on my face and a cringe in my heart.
  • I need to make more pretty things that I don’t sell.
  • A vendor ran into the booth, said, “I have to buy a cutting board on the sly!” and ran out. I looked at the ladies in the booth: “What was that?” Eventually, the vendor came back; she was buying an anniversary gift for her husband, and didn’t want him to see it while he was sitting at their booth just down from ours. She sent her proxy to buy the board, and all ended well. Husband even smiled when he opened the board!
  • We passed last year’s Sunday sales at 2pm, with 2 hours still to go. That’s great, but the pace was slow. The event seemed to (sadly) be winding down.
  • Sold my last chess board. I finished 6 back in June, so now I see that I’m selling about one every month. I am now out of the chess board business … until next year.
  • Still in the pig business (sigh).
  • We have a standing rule: we never, ever, take down our display before closing time. That’s a published rule for almost every event, of course, and we always follow the rules (!). Vendors around us often start moving boxes and breaking down displays 15 or even 30 minutes before closing time, but we don’t. We won’t. Experience has shown that my heavy cutting boards – my expensive cutting boards – are purchases that people often make last minute, after they’ve thought about the purchase and decided they really want to do it. We never close early.
  • Never.
  • I sold 2 large, end grain cutting boards in the final hour of the event. My sales in the final hour were over 10% of our total sales for the weekend. And that, my friends, was a very good thing. I brought 211 boards to this event, but I only took home 168. I sold 20% of my inventory in one weekend.

Best. Mr. M’s. Event. Ever.

  • The load-out was bigger than normal, since we had Christmas decorations to take down as well as a lot of vendors to dodge that were loading out through the narrow door directly adjacent to my display. We had 3 people attacking the problem, however, and we were loaded & ready to move the trailer down the road after only an hour and 39 minutes. We were home shortly after 8pm, and then turned immediately to go out to dinner.
  • The next step, of course, was to begin analyzing the event and actually counting the money. And it was wrong.
  • I keep a tally of the event, as you know, and the tally is sometimes off a bit. When we get ‘whelmed, I don’t always get to write down transactions. Sometimes, we just miss things. Humans. Mistakes. It happens. But our tally was not equaling our cash count. We were off. We weren’t short, luckily. We were long. Way long.
  • Long is good. Way long is very good.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Now, a new problem. How are we going to top this? Luckily, that’s a problem for next year!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs & toast at Best Western.

Saturday Lunch: A Polish Dog. With ketchup & mustard.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: A delightful dinner at Charlie’s with our friends & fellow vendors that run Souper Dip.

Sunday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs … and biscuits & gravy at Best Western.

Sunday Lunch: Chicken fingers & fries. The food is not great at Santa’s Art Shop.

Sunday Snack: Cinnamon & sugar coated almonds & pecans. Yum.

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Marsala at Santa Clarita’s best Italian restaurant: Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 279
  • Booth cost: $407
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 4
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Total sales: $4,833
  • # boards available: all of them = 211
  • Saturday alarm: 5:50am
  • Sunday alarm: 5:50am
  • # transactions: 130
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was another on our aisle, and a lotion guy (?) that was asking ladies as they passed, “Can I do your hands?” Mrs M politely declined that opportunity when asked.
  • # woodworking vendors: 3 other vendors had cutting boards! One was really a furniture maker with a few cutting boards on display. Another was really a turner with a few cheese slicing boards on display. Finally, there was a coop venture between 3 woodworkers that had a very large, impressive double booth display. They had many cutting boards … but no end grain. And very few boards of size except for a curious design with a bread hook, a juice groove, and a back rail. Now, that was an unwieldy board! In my humble opinion. It even confused Mrs M, so I know it was an odd design.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 40:4
  • Returning next year? With bells on, if I can figure out how to wear them.

Boards sold: 44

Magic Bottle Openers: 10

Cheese Boards: 10

Small Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Hearts: 3

Chess Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

Pigs: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Large Surfboards: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Sous Chef Boards: 1

Lazy Susan: 1



The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop   3 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.

santasartshopHere’s the intro to this event from their website:

Located in Ridgecrest, California, Santa’s Art Shop is now in it’s 35th year. Over 5,000 holiday shoppers come together with more than 200 art and craft vendors for this two day event. The Desert Empire Fairgrounds provides over 33,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space for this show.

Ridgecrest is about 120 miles north and east, located on the edge of the Mojave. Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS, or China Lake) is nearby, and this community of 27,000 is a military town. As the residents will tell you, there aren’t many opportunities for shopping nearby, so the community saves for this annual event and really turn out to support it and complete some unique holiday shopping.

We did this event in 2014, and we had our best event of the year. Loved it. Handmade goods, nice people, nice community, holiday spirit … what’s not to love?

But, we agreed, we did it wrong. We did not take advantage of the opportunity that this event provided us. We were in a crowded, single booth with all 3 of us working it. The lighting in this government-owned fairgrounds building was horrible (and I am SO focused on lighting!). We had the best holiday decorations money could buy from Walmart the night before with no planning, no electricity, and no way to hang anything.

We had a lot of work to do.

So, we spent all year talking about how we could bring our “A” game to Ridgecrest. We wanted to make sure that our presentation was perfect, and our product offering was as good and complete as we could make it.

We went all in. My secret goal was to have our best event ever, of course, and have sales over $3,000. We had only barely gone over $2,500 once, mind you, so I had a lofty, secret goal, indeed.

New Ideas

  • Double booth, of course, with holiday lights, garland, and Christmas tree tablecloth runners.
  • We had spent weeks preparing for this event. Velda, Alley and I had all made an incredible amount of product. We needed to buy new containers just to hold it. We had a LOT of new product. The ladies weren’t making batches of lotion … they were making quadruple batches. I finished 70 new boards (42 cheese boards, 13 Lazy Susans, 6 large cutting boards, 4 pizza servers, 1 cutting board, 1 small board & 3 bears) just in time for this event, in addition to my current inventory.
  • I asked Velda what product we were taking. The answer, “All of it.”
  • We rented a 5’x8′ trailer, hitched it to the Jeep, and prepared to head north. We filled the trailer with our pop-up shade structures, lights, product & decorations.
  • Christopher & Alley drove separately with Payton, and the 5 of us set up the booth. It was great having Christopher there, using our new industrial strength rolling cart to empty the trailer while the rest of us got busy setting up.
  • Remember those new containers needed to hold all of the new product? We had no room to store them in the booth, so they had to be returned to the empty trailer for the duration of the event so we could conveniently access our overstock (this year, we had overstock!) during the event.
  • The trailer was dropped in a parking lot on the fairgrounds for the duration, and we had the Jeep to drive around town without the trailer. Thank goodness. I may get used to driving a trailer someday, but I’ll always remember pulling a hay trailer with a tractor while Dad loaded the hay. I was not good at pulling a trailer then, and I haven’t practiced much since.


  • The pitcher may throw you a ball that is just begging to be smacked out of the park … but you still have to hit it. Could we?
  • Here’s a hard rule: never, never, never talk to a woman about being pregnant until she actually says she’s pregnant.

    A lady with a pronounced bump in her middle loved one of my large cutting boards. She couldn’t stop touching it. She was shopping with her Mom, and it became a joke about how she kept touching the board.

    That’s when I did it.

    I said it was OK: she was touching for 2 now.

    She said, “Oh, I’m carrying twins.” My immediate and obvious reply, “Congratulations!”

    Her response, “Oh, they’re not mine. I’m just the surrogate.”

    OK, you’re so smart, what do you say now?

  • She bought the board. And I’ll never violate the rule again.
  • I only had 2 medium surfboards left, and I almost left them at home. I’m going to the desert: no surfers there. I sold both boards on Saturday. Lesson: stop thinking, and bring the product. All of it.
  • Saturday night, my Facebook news feed had a meme with a picture of Sam Elliott saying that you’re not a man if you can’t back up a trailer. Now, how in the HELL did that arrive in my news feed just after I had driven a trailer over a hundred miles for the first time in years?
  • And I had backed it up. Just sayin’.
  • Board sales on day one totaled 31: an all-time record for any event … on day one! I checked my overstock Sunday morning, and with my 3 tables full of 80 boards, I still had an overstock of 31 for the second day. We. Were. Prepared.
  • # 1 comment at this show: “Oh, these are too pretty to use!” Is that code for too expensive to buy? Perhaps that is sometimes the case, but with sales so good, I’m not going to worry about it.
  • Remember how I sold the last chess board last week? Yup, I was asked the question. Again.
  • # 1 request at this show was for cribbage boards. Nope, not going to do it. Still.
  • Y’know, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked to make a cribbage board, I still could not buy the template and drill bit I need. Just sayin’. And, I don’t wanna. The end.
  • Saturday was a blur. We were so busy. That’s a fabulous thing, because….

Best. Day. Ever.

  • I love it when the event organizers buy stuff from us. We generally sell some boards, and especially some lotion products, to the other vendors, but we don’t always sell to the event producers. Cool when it happens!
  • Sunday was much slower. That was OK … because it was still 40% of the incredible day we had on Saturday.

Best. Event. Ever.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

  • After the frenetic pace of the day before, I caught myself yawning a couple of times. Then, it happened. In the last hour, I sold a large cutting board … checked the total … and we were ever so close to reaching a very big number. Velda had 2 more lotion sales, and we made it on the final sale.
  • I talked to several vendors that had their best year at this event, or simply, like us, their best event ever. This is a GREAT event for vendors of their own handmade goods.
  • Coming back next year? You bet.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Just like last year. Free breakfast at the Clarion Inn. 2 eggs, over easy. Yum.

Saturday Lunch: Food vendors were overwhelmed. We had orange chicken over rice … luckily. They had run out of rice, it seems, and a few patrons ahead of Velda in line got their orange chicken served over french fries. Velda got the rice, and that’s about the only good thing I can say about the lunch.

Saturday Snack: Peanut butter toffee from another vendor. Yum.

Saturday Dinner: We went to dinner with our good friends, Barry & Wendy, our vendor neighbors. We tried to find dinner … and our first 3 Italian restaurant choices were all closed (note to self: Ridgecrest doesn’t support Italian restaurants. Apparently.). The 4th restaurant was a Mexican restaurant, and the line was out the door, so we passed. We ended up back at the Clarion Inn’s restaurant for dinner. I had beef medallions … and I should have had the pasta like everyone else. In this not-an-Italian-restaurant restaurant in Ridgecrest. Go figure.

Sunday Breakfast: Free breakfast at the Clarion Inn. Their omelet was a mistake. But it was free.

Sunday Lunch: Tortas. A mess, but good food.

Sunday Snack: nope.

Sunday Dinner: Cashews on the road, and then an egg sandwich when we got home. At 9:30p.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 590 miles
  • Booth cost: $407
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $4,012
  • # containers of product taken: All of them
  • # boards available: 142
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 90
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 9. There was a scroll saw expert making wonderful nightlights. A spoon maker. A turner that made pens, and another that made bowls. A model maker. Toy maker. Jewelry box maker. Sort of a general woodworker with a few items including hat racks … and a few cutting boards. And me. I don’t count the buy & sell importer with wooden boxes & dust catchers that were NOT handmade. Or, at least not handmade by the vendor, as the rules require.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 38:7

Boards sold: 45

Cheese Boards: 21

Lazy Susans: 7

Cutting Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Large Surfboards: 2

Medium Surfboards: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Clipboard: 1

Blocks: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

%d bloggers like this: