Archive for the ‘Saugus High School’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Boutique Fantastique 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.

I love local.

Say it with me. I love local. Local events are the best. You sleep in your own bed, you get to see long-time friends and neighbors, and … your expenses are probably lower. Truly, I love local.

This event is also good for our community. Our 3 kids went to school at Saugus High, and this event is a fundraiser for its PTSO. Over $10,000 is raised every year (principally from vendor fees!) to fund scholarships for the school.

Of course we want to do this event.

This is our 4th year at Boutique Fantastique, in our 4th year as Mrs M’s Handmade. In 2014 (we were so young then!), this is the first event that we got a double booth for.

We want this event to work.

However … it’s an under-performing event, by our standards. Sales are typically below average for us, and this heritage event – generally viewed as the best event in Santa Clarita – has not proven to be so for Mrs M’s Handmade. Here’s hoping for a better year in 2017!

New Ideas

  • After staying in one location for 3 years, and being underwhelmed by our results, I asked for – and received – a new end-aisle space in the front of the room. We’re in the right corner, facing away from the door. It’s not a perfect location, but I believe it’s better than being in the back of the room. I have bowed to my superstition about a bad location, even though I know this is ludicrous. Don’t judge me.

Observations

  • Event # 6 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Days 4 & 5 of my Week From Hell, which thankfully is now behind me.
  • One quirk of this event is that it has to be a Saturday load-in. The event’s in the school gym, and the PTSO can’t do their setup until the students are done with the gym Friday evening … so setup begins at 6:30a on Saturday. Well, actually, it begins with a vendor line up outside of the locked gate at about 6a.
  • The PTSO strictly controls access to the loading zone. Chaos is minimized. Love. That.
  • While unloading, another woodworker with a trailer showed up … and blocked me in. No problem. We chatted as the students carried our stuff in. He primarily made freestanding birdhouses, and some other shabby chic decor items for the patio. He started making birdhouses, he said, while they lived near an elementary school. He made 3, put them on the fence, and they sold that day. From that, a business was born. Still more hobby than occupation for him, but he does enjoy his holiday rush every year.
  • The best part of this event is that the student volunteers come out to load in your gear. I unloaded the trailer, and explained how to use the cart to a student. Mrs M, meanwhile, was in the gym at the booth space, getting everything positioned for setup once we were loaded in. This is an easy load in – and yes, we were generous at the tip jar that is given to the participating student organizations as a fund raiser.
  • So many vendor friends are at this event! I love local!
  • No clue if moving the booth will work or not, but I think our location is better. My superstitious self is satisfied, anyway.
  • Saugus High has a woodworking program. The teacher (who’s also active in Scouts!), has 3 periods of woodworking and 2 periods of stagecraft every day … he joked that I should take the job when he retires.
  • Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
  • I know a couple things will happen every year: 1) the woodworking program will sell cheap, untreated, small cutting boards made from cheap mystery woods including pine, and 2) I will have several moon-eyed young woodworkers visiting the booth to stare at the pieces I make. Some students even enjoy chatting with this old woodworker at times.
  • This event had a tag team thing going on for Mrs M. I was one constant, as was Judy. She, of course, is Employee of the Month (and Velda’s first cousin), and was helping us out for a couple of weeks. She completed her “full immersion experience” by helping us at this event. We were joined at first by Velda, but then she took off with Little Girl to attend a baby shower. That’s when The Intern – Judy’s granddaughter, UCLA Bruin & Blogger Extraordinare – showed up to tag in and help for a few hours.
  • Life was good.
  • I had it easy. Thank goodness, because I was tired enough I might not have been at my best at this event.
  • Results were down from last year, when we had a special order perk up our normally below average sales. Ignoring that special order for a moment, we had our best event sales at this year’s Boutique Fantastique … but still below average for us. I’m almost OK with that. I love local.
  • Load out was just as easy as load in, with student volunteers doing all of the heavy lifting between the booth and the trailer. We were home by 6p Sunday, which is a rare and wonderful thing. So ended my Week From Hell. I don’t think I’ll be doing 3 events in 3 cities in 5 days again anytime soon.
  • In the end, I did 3 under-performing events in one week. Add them up, however, and the total sales were our 2nd best weekly sales ever. Worth it? Nope.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

Saturday Lunch: Trail mix, on the go. Not a culinary delight.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Carry in from Sam’s Flaming Grill. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday. I love local.

Sunday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s has sandwiches for sale in the room. Done.

Sunday Snack: Chocolate bark from a vendor … handmade, but not the best.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at the best Italian restaurant in Santa Clarita, Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 20
  • Booth cost: $275
  • Food cost: $176
  • Travel cost: $10
  • Total sales: $1,791
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,330
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: a few
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: no clue
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was the soap vendor right across the aisle from us (why do promoters do this?), and then another soapmaker that’s well known to us … she lies about her products (cures acne!). There was an essential oil vendor as well.
  • # woodworking vendors: a few, including the Saugus High shop class that was selling untreated, mystery wood “chopping blocks” for $30 – $50. They sold out on Saturday morning.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Opener: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Boutique Fantastique 2016   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.

boutique-fantastiqueI want to love the Boutique Fantastique, put on by the Saugus High PTSO. It’s the high school my kids graduated from, and this event raises about $10,000 each year to help fund scholarships for students from my neighborhood. This is an event I want to support.

However, last year, the results were down from our first year, and our first event with a double booth. 2014 sales were just over $1,400, and 2015 sales were only $1,311. This event has the reputation of being the best holiday boutique in the valley … but is this the best we can do on this prime time first weekend in November?

New Ideas

  • ZooSoapia premieres for Mrs M: soap for kids. The soaps are in molded animal shapes and are really quite spectacular. When we first posted a picture of the hedgehog on Facebook, we got immediate, positive feedback. We got orders for a product Mrs M had barely begun to make.
  • Also new at this event are Mrs M’s Bags of Coal Soap. If someone you know has been naughty….

Observations

  • Event # 5 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. Still not half way. Still not close to done.
  • I love local.
  • Event load-in was scheduled to begin at 6:30am, and some vendors began showing up in the parking lot at 5:30am. I got there at 6:03am … and they started letting people in a few minutes later, well ahead of schedule. When I got to the gate with my Jeep + trailer, the only comment from the guard was “You’re large.” Thank you very much. I was directed to the far side of the loading zone, where there was room for me. I was unloaded and students were carrying our stuff in by 6:30am. Amazing help from student volunteers.
  • I had gotten away from saying that we were from THIS TOWN … because we haven’t been for several events. However, at this event, I made a point of saying that the boards on display were made in my garage workshop … 2 miles that way. Local, local local.
  • After a run of events that were not in Santa Clarita, this event felt like we were enjoying the fruits of building a brand. People talked about seeing us at this event for 3 years. People talked about buying local. People talked about seeing us at another event 2 years ago, and buying from us several times.
  • I love local.
  • I got a large custom order on Saturday from a guy that stalked me … right to this event. After emailing me on Thursday (which I returned at midnight that day, explaining I was in the middle of 4 event days, and couldn’t talk to him until next week), he followed my advice and found me at this local event on Saturday. And ordered 8 boards for corporate Christmas presents. He first saw my work a couple of years ago at a local event at the Elks Lodge … and now, he’s talking about what we could do next Christmas. Sometimes, you just have to be available. Oh, and be willing to do the work.
  • Which I am. And I do.
  • Dinner proved to be an adventure Saturday evening. After we completed our salads, the manager approached the table and apologized. And apologized. Our waitress, we were told, had lost our order and could not find it. The manager apologized, and assured us that she would buy us dinner, dessert, and whatever we wanted. We placed our order (and Velda didn’t get her chicken pot pie, as they were now out), and the waitress apologized when she came to refill our drinks. The guy delivering our dinners – eventually – apologized. The manager apologized again. We got it: everyone was sorry, and a mistake happened. We got a free dinner, and free muffins to go. Why get angry? No big thing.
  • Mrs M had her single biggest event sale ever on Sunday. The lady decided Mrs M products would make great Christmas presents for a lot of people, and she bought a large shopping bag full of soaps, lotions, scrubs, lotion bars, lip scrubs, lip balms….
  • I love Christmas.
  • Several people talked to me about special orders … and I honestly believe they will come through. This event had value beyond the sales we gained Saturday & Sunday. I hope.
  • (Note to self: expectations can kill you.)
  • Load-out had rules that you must follow: take down your booth, carry it all to the loading area curb, and THEN ask for a pass to bring in your car to load. I went to the lady in charge when we were packed up, and asked where I should carry our stuff to, since I was driving a Jeep + trailer. She told me to get help, organize my student volunteers, and drive my trailer in immediately. Suddenly, we had a bevy of volunteers, and we were home 2 hours after tear down started.
  • Did we tip the volunteers? You bet.
  • I love local.
  • Requests were for a Mickey Mouse cutting board (I don’t emulate licensed products without a license) and a coffee table.
  • I think we’re in a lousy location at this event, which fills the Saugus High gymnasium with vendor spaces. We’re in the back of the gym on the right side … and it sure seems like most vendors in the front of the gym have better sales than we do. After trending down in year 2, we were way up in year 3, thanks to the big custom order that I got. The custom order wasn’t really driven by the event, but it did happen at the event, and that’s how we look at the business. We had a great event in year 3.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Velda made egg sandwiches & brought them to the high school; we ate before completing set up

Saturday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s 4″ sub. Mike’s way.

Saturday Snack: the chips from lunch

Saturday Dinner: Mimi’s Cafe … for meatloaf with all of the other old people

Sunday Breakfast: bagels & cream cheese. And a banana.

Sunday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s 4″ sub. Mike’s way.

Sunday Snack: the chips from lunch (see a pattern here?)

Sunday Dinner: Bella Cucina for Chicken Marsala. Best Italian restaurant in Santa Clarita. Fabulous.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 16
  • Booth cost: $265
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Total sales: $2,269
  • # boards available: all of them
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: 63
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other
  • # woodworking vendors: two others, both had turned objects. One had a few cutting boards & such.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:0 … NO end grain!
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 22

Custom Orders: 8

Magic Bottle Openers: 7

Small Surfboards: 1

Medium Surfboards: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Cheese Board: 1

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