Archive for the ‘Street Fair’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 2020   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’ve got a history with this event, so I begin cautiously. After all, this is where the Flying Dry Soup Canopy took flight … and crushed Mrs M’s Handmade. That was in 2018.

But I came back in 2019. I note Mrs M declined the opportunity; I was solo.

So, this is year 3. Once again, Mrs M has declined the opportunity to join me in Arizona. Something about her “job.” As if that could be important.

So, what will Lake Havasu City have for me … and in my first event in 2020, our 7th year as vendors?

New Ideas

  • The weather forecast for this year is (at last) wonderful. Blue skies & highs in the 60s on Saturday, with more of the same on Sunday … until a storm blows in late in the day. About time we have good weather for this event!
  • I feel like everything is new at this event, since I haven’t done any event in 60 days. And, I haven’t done this physical setup with 2 pop-up canopies & me solo since … the Simi Valley Street Fair in 2019, and that was 8 months ago. I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.
  • And, yes, that is new.

Observations

  • The load in at 6am on Saturday was just like last year: chaotic. I was yelled at for being in someone’s way by 6:10am. And … I was parked partially IN MY BOOTH. She just didn’t like that I narrowed her path to the width of a bit more than a parking spot – that was clearly marked, and unobstructed by me.
  • Such is the chaos that is Winterfest load in. I emptied the trailer ASAP, and moved my Jeep & trailer out of the line of fire.
  • Set up, unfortunately, takes as long as it takes. These days, my full set up in a double booth takes about 4 hours. I had walkers after about 2 hours. Fortunately, they were primarily dog walkers, and they are not my buyers.
  • The event started hot, and traffic was significant a bit before my set up was complete. When I was done at 10am, traffic was good. Very good.
  • This event has 2 kinds of people in attendance: snow birds that winter in Arizona, and residents of Lake Havasu City … which are definitely weighted towards retirement age. Both have issues with my offerings: snow birds often have a need for me to ship to their home, because they are limited by the airlines for suitcase weight. Local residents don’t have that issue, but older people that are downsizing are not my crowd. People that cook & people with families that cook … those are my people.
  • I nearly had a fight break out over a Garlic Dipping Board that 2 ladies had their eyes on at the same time. It got a bit confusing, but eventually lady # 1 decided on something else, so lady # 2 got the GDB that she wanted. Meanwhile, lady # 1 changed her mind 4 times before finally making her selection. Eventually, her buddy asked me a question mid-transaction, causing me to lose track of where I was … and lady # 2 left, with me still having her credit card in the machine.
  • Oops.
  • She came back on Sunday to retrieve the card. And bought something else.
  • Last year, I met Mesquite Mary. She was an LA resident that was in the process of retiring to Lake Havasu City, where she and her husband have a 2nd home. There was a wonderful mesquite tree that they had to cut down … and she offered me the wood if I could use it.
  • Of course I could. She only asked that she get something that I made from the wood.
  • Of course I would.
  • But, come to find out, I couldn’t. The wood had laid out in her backyard for 2 years, and was just too old for me to use. Too many cracks.
  • I did give the wood to my buddy Charlie, and he was able to use the wood for turning, with cracks adding to the character of the wood. Charlie gave me a bowl he turned … and a year after I met her, I returned to Lake Havasu City with the bowl for Mary.
  • She was on the moon! So happy. I got a hug, even. Saturday was a happy day.
  • A young lady saw my Cracker Things, and didn’t think they were cute. Or clever. No, she thought they were bad ass. That’s good … but she didn’t buy one. That’s bad.
  • I met Rob Cook, who published Popular Woodworking in the ’90s. We had a great chat, and he complimented me on my work. Much appreciated from a real pro!
  • I started Sunday going walk about, and saw about half of the vendors. This is a chamber of commerce street festival … and it is *very* buy & sell. There is some handmade merchandise there, but not much. That can be a bad thing … a very bad thing … but in this case, the attendance is high enough that the event still works for me.
  • Thank goodness.
  • A Cracker Thing went to a party, I’m told. Don’t know anything about the party … but I do know that 3 ladies came to the booth on Sunday wanting to buy a Cracker Thing. Unfortunately, I had none. Sold out.
  • Sorry.
  • A couple looked at my Lazy Susans. We had a long conversation about the event, what they wanted … and how the event ended at 4 o’clock. The lady asked what my 4 o’clock cash price was for the Susan she wanted. I told her the price doesn’t change … still $80. She walked away.
  • Buy bye. My prices don’t change.
  • A couple wanted a custom cutting board for a wedding in a month. I turned it down … I have no time. No. Time.
  • T-shirt of the weekend: “I may be old, but I saw the great bands.” Made me laugh.
  • The event ended at 4 o’clock … and the weather began to turn. Clouds rolled in. Temperature dropped. Winds picked up a bit … and I knew I was in a race to get everything into the trailer before the storm hit.
  • I didn’t make it.
  • I was close. I was doing well, but I got to the part when I take the signs down when the wind started gusting. Signs hang on the walls … part of the weight that holds the canopies down. Wind. Gusts. I’m in a race. It got exciting at 6pm.
  • I won’t say I lost.
  • I won’t say the canopy flew … but it did hop. At the time, I had the signs down, but the mesh walls were still up, so there was a bit of a sail making the booth catch the wind. Luckily, I had some nice neighbors that leapt in to help, and with them holding things together for me, I quickly – well, as quickly as possible – dropped the mesh walls & collapsed the canopies. No more incidents.
  • I ended with 3 helpers, 2 broken fingernails (how did that happen?), booth hardware in 3 pockets, and a trailer finally loaded at 6:55pm. Finally.
  • The weekend was a success. In 3 years, this was the best one yet. That’s a great way to start off 2020.
  • Requests were for a TV tray, a custom counter top, shoe horns, smaller Lazy Susans (2 of those), Pegs & Jokers (on my list, honest!), a stamp dispenser, an English pub game called Shut the Box (?), and a wine rack.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday night pizza from Rosati’s. Recommended.
  • Worst Meal: Saturday breakfast was 2 hardboiled eggs. I don’t love eating immediately after I wake up … and once the set up started, that’s all I did.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 612
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $95
  • Travel cost: $505
  • Total sales: $2,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 5:00a
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00a
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none that I saw in the half of the event that I walked
  • # woodworking vendors: none that I saw (!) in the half of the event that I walked
  • Returning next year? Yes. I left my first deposit for 2021.

Boards sold: 48

  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 7
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Signs: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 4
  • Cheese Slicers: 5
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Pizza Server: 1
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Sous Chef Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: Bishop Mule 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

I like this event.

Bishop Mule Days is the world’s largest gathering of all things mule. I would think Missouri might host such an event, but that honor has come her. Bishop is a lovely mountain community, near Mt Whitney (on every serious hiker’s bucket list, as the tallest mountain in the lower 48 at 14,505′).

These event is on Memorial Day weekend, and takes place in a bucolic park. It’s got a stream running through it. It’s got a duck pond. The park’s in the middle of the downtown area, and that means the parade with all of those mule teams go right by on Saturday. Tourists drive by all weekend, so the crowd is a mix of tourists, hikers, locals, and the mule people. It’s a great, diverse mix, and I’m happy to return for my 2nd year.

It’s a rare 4 day event: set up on Thursday, and then you’re open for business Friday – Monday. It’s the mountains, so there’s often a passing shower or two, but since this is a community that has a significant commitment to outdoor recreation, the weather isn’t that big of a factor. Thank goodness.

New Ideas

  • I convinced Mrs M to come with me this year, and we upgraded the booth to a triple. Just like last week at the California Strawberry Festival, I got the Trimline and she got one of the pop-ups.

Observations

  • We I found a great AirBnB last year. A young couple converted their oversized garage into a “Granny Suite,” with all of the amenities, including a washer & dryer. The couple created the Suite to raise money for their daughter to go to college; it’s my pleasure to contribute to Chelsea’s fund each year … she is just out of preschool now!
  • The advantage of the AirBnB – beyond to Chelsea – is that it allows us to bring food from home. Rather than going out to eat, we go back to our rental, heat left overs or whatever, and relax. It really does save a lot of money and is easier, to boot. AirBnB’s don’t work in every community that we go to, but when it works it can be very, very good.
  • This event is hosted by the Inyo Council for the Arts; they promote all arts and art education in Inyo County. That’s a wonderful thing, and I’m happy to support their efforts as well.
  • Even though I convinced Mrs M to join me this year, she wasn’t able to get Thursday off from work, so she had to drive separately, arriving late Thursday evening. Did she do that just so she didn’t have to help me put up the booths? That’s not the way she tells the story.
  • This is a long 4 day event, but there’s enough traffic from each of the different audiences to justify the time. Friday is a bit slow, but there is still substantial traffic on this holiday Friday. Saturday is when the parade goes by the park, so traffic is very high. Sunday is the biggest day of most 3-day holiday weekends, and you really don’t feel the slow traffic until the few hours that the booths are open on Monday.
  • The load in and out are a bit challenging, as everything has to be carted from the trailer, through the parking lot onto the sidewalk, across the creek and wooden bridge, and then across the grass to the booth. It’s all very doable, but it is a 60 yard haul.
  • I was happy to hire a couple of local guys to help me do the load out on Monday. They helped me get home about 2 hours quicker after the long holiday drive.
  • I left my deposit for 2020 with the promoter on the last day of the event. This event was good – in fact, it ended up being our #2 event of the year.
  • I like mules.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 846
  • Booth cost: $870
  • Food cost: $127
  • Travel cost: $500
  • Total sales: $4,899
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # transactions: We were consistently busy every day at one time or another!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: several, but only one did similar work to me
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 47

The Board Chronicles: Palos Verdes Street Fair 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

We do this event because we like a restaurant.

No one said we had to be logical.

This Street Fair in Palos Verdes was an average event for us last year. Not spectacular, but it was OK. Worth visiting again, we thought. Maybe.

Last year, we found an Italian restaurant that we simply loved, so we wanted to go back to visit it again. The restaurant was better than the event, really, but what’s wrong with that?

Time to see how we would do at the 32nd Annual Palos Verdes Street Fair.

New Ideas

  • I asked that they move our booth this year away from the screaming, so we were put farther from the entrance and closer to the stage. Less screaming is good.

Observations

  • This is a nice little community street fair. There’s free music, there’s alcohol and there are about 75 vendors. It’s mainly buy & sell, but it’s local, it’s small, and it feels like home. I want to like this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.
  • Set up on the street near the stage is a bit cramped, so we were there for set up on Friday evening. We arrived at 5:45p, for a 6p set up.
  • They made us wait until 6p. There was no reason for us to wait that was visible … the street was clear, but booth was marked … but we had to wait until the clock ticked. OK, so I started out a bit annoyed.
  • The guy looked at my boards and said, “My board didn’t turn out this well in high school.” Then, he didn’t buy anything. So, apparently, my work is better than a teenager’s, but not something he needed. That seemed to be how this weekend went.
  • Sales were down almost 50% from last year. This event went from about average … to a waste of my time. The only good part of the weekend was the food. Since that’s one of the reasons we booked the event, perhaps we should take that for the win.
  • But then we had to pack up and things took a turn.
  • The sales event ended at 5p, while music was still playing. We were told that the first cars would be allowed on the street to pack up at 5:30. There was a schedule; each vendor had one of 2 entry times. My problem was that cars began getting in the queue to get onto the street much earlier than that – and they simply blocked traffic to get in line. What were people thinking? Event security, manning the barricade at the entrance, did not care what vendors were doing on the street, probably because it was on the other side of the barricade. It began to get crazy.
  • When I saw that other vendors were blocking traffic, I would not do that. Across the street from the vendor entrance was a parking lot entrance, so I parked the Jeep & trailer there, and told the security guy at the barricade that I was there ready for my appointed time to enter.
  • The problem, of course, was that the queue was out of control at this point. Vendors got in line with no regard for when they were supposed to enter the street.
  • When the barricade was opened, it got crazy. Vendors began to just force their way in, and security was no longer in control.
  • Enter Frenzied Velda.
  • We had been communicating by cellphone so she knew what was happening and where I was waiting. Mrs M went to the security guard and complained that the line was out of control. The security guard did nothing. Mrs M complained. Cars kept moving without following the printed rules, and Frenzied Velda had had enough at that point.
  • She simply stood in the middle of the vendor entrance and dared cars to hit her. Obviously, this was NOT SAFE.
  • It was then, and only then, that event organizers got involved and restored a semblance of control to the vendor entrance. I was allowed to enter soon after, at my appointed time and before those in the queue that were attempting to jump the line … and run over Mrs M.
  • Okay, first obstacle overcome. Now it was time to load the trailer.
  • The problem now was that we were slinging containers and loading into the trailer on a crowded street, while dodging the strollers, senior citizens in walkers, and skateboarders that were STILL on the street as they left the free concert. People were everywhere. They were darting in and out. Vendors were trying to load, and some were not concerned about the little people that were trying to go home … with no regard for what the vendors were trying to do.
  • Obviously, this was NOT SAFE.
  • I will not return to this event for that reason. If the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce doesn’t understand how to obey traffic laws and provide a safe environment for their patrons and vendors, then I will not support their fundraiser.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Ortega 120. This art-filled discovery had wonderful Mexican food … and served 120 different tequilas. Alas, I didn’t have a sampling, but the evening was wonderful.
  • Honorable Mention: Gaetano’s Restaurant. Wonderful Italian food, 2 years in a row. Get the bruschetta.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for lunch. Of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 185
  • Booth cost: $739
  • Food cost: $288
  • Travel cost: $254
  • Total sales: $1,141
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple, as is normal at events like this
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do, though there was a turner there, as well as a couple of purveyors of imported Chinese crap wooden boxes & such.
  • Returning next year? Hell, no.

Boards sold: 8

  • Cutting Board: 1
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Trivets: 2
  • Heart: 1
  • Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

This event is one of those that every serious Southern California makers should do. That’s what we were told, anyway.

The event is held on the main street of nearby Montrose (near Pasadena, about 27 miles away from home). We’ve done it the 3 previous years; read about it here: 2016, 2017 and 2018. The event is always the first weekend in June; so this year it was June 1 & 2, 2019.

You’ll see that I have a love/hate relationship with the event. It’s an easy, sleep-in-my-own-bed kind of event. We’re in a good spot, we have great neighbors, and sales have been dependable in spite of the sometimes oppressive heat in June. We have lot of legacy customers that come to see us at this event. That’s a very good thing. On the other hand, results have not been stellar, though they have grown in each of the last 2 years.

What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • No new ideas; we’ve been there & done, uh, this. Predictability can be a good thing, yes? Much nicer than driving into a strange town not knowing how to get to your booth. I share a 10×20 with Mrs M, so I only have a limited display.
  • There’s a new event organizer this year that promises stricter control of the offerings from the supposedly handmade vendors. We’ll see.

Observations

  • I had one of “those” people in the booth, who asked, “Can I get a custom sign in 2 days?”
  • Uh, no. Sorry.
  • Some people just don’t get me. That should be no surprise, I would guess.
  • This should be a good weekend: moderate temperatures. Legacy customers.
  • Except it wasn’t. Mrs M did fine, but my sales were the worst in 4 years. On Sunday, I (incredibly) only sold one board. Predicting the marketplace is always a dicey proposition. For some reason, the customers just didn’t find me this year.
  • It’s true that there are several competitors at this event, but that’s not new. There were no changes from last year, in fact. I think this was just not my year.
  • To make matters worse, we had our bag of mesh walls (that I hang my signs on) walk away from the event … and not in our trailer. The bag must have been stolen during our takedown; both Mrs M and I inspected our area after our booth was struck to ensure nothing was left behind … such as a 5′ long, bright white vinyl duffle.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board (still no) and a pizza server … which I’ve made before, but haven’t had for years. Hmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 112
  • Booth cost: $650
  • Food cost: $54
  • Total sales: $1,540
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there’s a bunch
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, including at least 4 other makers of cutting boards & such
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 5

  • Cutting Boards: 2
  • Signs: 2
  • Heart: 1

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

We’ve done this event every which way, and it’s always run hot … or cold.

In 2015, I did it solo in a 10×10 showing both Mrs M’s and my stuff. This was when we were just over a year old and didn’t know what we were doing, but I rocked this event. It was chaos. It was wildly successful. At the time, it was our Best. Day. Ever.

In 2016, we shared a double booth … and it was awful. Mrs M vowed she would not return.

We took 2017 off, but I was up for another run in 2018. I did it solo, and committed even though the event moved locations. I did a double booth, and, again, it was a big success. Sales were $1,735, which is really very good for a one day event.

I had similar expectations for this year … and as you know, expectations will kill you.

New Ideas

  • Nothing new here! I was committed to having a good day. I arrived early, got set up … and made sure my gear was not getting hit by the sprinklers that were on in the planter that was right behind my booth. Seems like the Chamber of Commerce missed that one.

Observations

  • Another suggested sign, another thing I’ll never, ever make:
    • I’m fat, but I identify with skinny. I’m Trans-slender.
  • The day had very nice weather: perhaps too nice. I had shade stealers all day, which I don’t mind too much. Well, I do mind when no one is buying, and on this day, not enough were buying.
  • Given the paucity of sales, I’m not returning to this event. It’s well known that I hate one day events anyway – it’s just too much work for me to set up and tear down – solo – in one day.
  • Sales didn’t hit my magic number of $1,000, either. In this case, at least there were no travel costs other than a tank of gas … but I’m out.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 74
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $0
  • Total sales: $929
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 13
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Returning next year? No

Boards sold: 13

  • Cheese Slicers: 2
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1
  • Small Board: 2
  • Sign: 1
  • Serving Piece: 1
  • Cribbage Board: 3
  • Cheees Board: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Trivets: 2

The Board Chronicles: Great Fair 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

The Great Fair is held in Fountain Hills, AZ. We actually attended this event before we were vendors; brought to it by our snowbird Aunt & Uncle that live in the Phoenix area. With their recommendation – and the promise of an all too rare visit if we just came to this event, we were all in. The dates were February 23 & 24, 2019.

New Ideas

  • The weather forecast was not good for this February event: it was probably going to be cold and wet. Therefore, we planned for it and brought our Trimline. The event has a Friday set up, so we drove in on Friday, put up the booth, and then returned to the hotel.
  • Our timing was good. Just as we had the booth up and returned to the car, the “wintry mix” began to fall. Cold & wet, indeed.

Observations

  • When we arrived Saturday morning, it took some time for me to realize that the rain that fell in Fountain Hills (we had stayed in a motel a few miles away) was colder than we had at the motel. In fact, it was freezing.
  • 4″ of heavy wet snow – actually icy slush – was on the roof of the Trimline. Walking around the event, I saw at least 12 canopies that had been crushed by the weight of the snow. Product was destroyed. Nothing good comes from weather this cold and wet.
  • As it warmed up a bit on Saturday, the snow melt began to flow. Since the event is on a hill, we had an icy river flowing through the booth all day long. Thank goodness I transport all of my boards in plastic tubs … everything was soaked that touched the asphalt.
  • Also, thank goodness I wore my hiking boots to the event with heavy socks. It was *cold* standing in the icy snow melt that flowed through the booth all weekend.
  • With weather this cold and wet, sales were poor, of course. Several experienced vendors that we respect told us to not judge the event based on this year; better sales would come with better weather.
  • Best comment of the event: 5 senior citizens walked by the booth. The ladies were all 75+. The oldest looking lady, 85 if she was a day, read one of my signs out loud as the group was strolling. The other ladies had no clue what she was talking about, so when she read this sign, her companions were shocked!
  • Will I come back? Probably. Will I pray for better weather? Definitely.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Dinner with family for the win.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 906
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $158
  • Travel cost: $273
  • Total sales: $1,406
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • Sunday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • Returning next year? No. The calendar didn’t work out for 2020. Maybe next year.

Boards sold: 26

The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

Winterfest was held February 9 & 10, 2019. It’s a main street event in Lake Havasu City, AZ, and my 2nd trip to the event. Last year, the infamous Flying Dry Soup Canopy made its way into the lore of Mrs M’s Handmade. Weather forecasts were much nicer for this weekend, so I had high hopes for my 3rd sojourn into Arizona.

New Ideas

  • I reserved a triple booth for this year … but Mrs M opted out. That left me solo for the weekend, and with a lot of space to fill. Since I only had a double canopy (the Saturday morning setup leaves NO TIME to put up the Trimline), I added tables in the “annex” that did not have a canopy over them.
  • Cheese cutters make their debut at this event. Made my first batch with Dr H’s help over the holidays.

Observations

  • The day started poorly. The load in started at 6am, and I was in position early. I was directed to line up in a parking lot across the street from the entrance … and then the event did not control which vehicles entered next. I hate being lied to. But, no big thing; I entered in plenty of time.
  • Once there, I parked the trailer and started unloading. I got yelled at almost immediately from someone that didn’t like the way I parked adjacent to my booth to unload. They were frustrated they couldn’t drive by the trailer … but the street just wasn’t wide enough for the big truck with duals and a 20′ trailer to get by me. They had to wait for me to unload. I hate getting yelled at by an idiot.
  • It was 6 in the morning. I was yelled at for no good reason. So, yes, he was an idiot.
  • Once I was unloaded, I moved the trailer to the parking lot. I followed the rules – but this event is pretty much a free for all. That’s the problem: lack of control by the organizers. In my opinion.
  • She said: “Cheese cutters. I love it. You never see these anymore.” And I’m thinking … I better keep making these.
  • He said: “Do you give lessons?” Uh, no. And, I’m from LA, so….
  • She said: “That’s a nice cheese slicer. And, I’m from Wisconsin, so I know cheese slicers.” I smiled.
  • This proved to be a good weekend, and as successful an event as you can expect in February. I left a deposit for next year.

The Food

  • Best Meal: This trip was not about the food. At all. The menu was cold bagels for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch & TV dinners in the hotel room. My only plan was minimizing expenses.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 628
  • Booth cost: $320
  • Food cost: $92
  • Travel cost: $354
  • Total sales: $2,299
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,533
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 5a
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 33:1
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 34

  • Trivets: 5x
  • Signs: 5x
  • Coaster Set: 5x
  • Cheese Slicers: 5x
  • Hearts: 3x
  • Clipboard: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Small Boards: 1



The Board Chronicles: Claremont Pie Festival 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.

** ** **

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!

** ** **

For 2 years running, I’ve been approached at the Claremont Village Venture event in October to do this event in March. Last year didn’t work, but this year the event did fit on the calendar, so ….

It’s always seemed like foodie events should be a natural for me. I haven’t found success at drinking events (the Winter Wine Walk in Ventura comes to mind), and the results from the Chili Cook-off and Bar B Q events have been spotty, to say the least.

But I like pie. I’m going to Claremont.

New Ideas

  • Not new … more of a back to basics idea. I’m doing a 10×10 booth with no games. Only cutting boards, serving pieces and a few signs.

Observations

  • The vendor info packet announced that a fire extinguisher was required in the booth. A check will be done, it promised.
  • ’twasn’t.
  • Very nice little event, it seems. Maybe 40 vendors. I’m in booth 201, right next to the alleyway exit from the Wells Fargo parking lot, I’m told. Sounds like a corner space.
  • It was, but only until they set up the canopy, tables & sound system for the bands that played next to me all day. They were acoustic with some amplification, but I did have to talk over the, uh, music.
  • One performer was a ukelele band. They were the loudest. Kind of fun, actually, once you got past the pronounced amateur status of the performers.
  • The event was on a pretty tight side street … Once booths were up on both sides, there was only room for about 4 people to walk down the aisle side by side. Or, that would be a couple going in each direction. That’s it. Baby strollers, Roll-ators, motorized chairs … it got interesting when the crowd thickened. Which it did: good crowd flow all day long.
  • I was immediately in front of my booth, talking to a customer about the Carnivore Boards, when a motorized chair ran into the cardboard trash can and pushed it into me, knocking me off balance. No big thing, really, but illustrative of the crowded conditions in the aisle.
  • I stayed in my booth.
  • Where I belong.
  • Lots of traffic. Sales didn’t break any records (I hate doing so few transactions in a 6 hour event!), but certainly proved to be worth my while.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Only left-overs for dinner. I’ll take Velda’s Beef Bourguignon anytime.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 130
  • Booth cost: $125
  • Food cost: $13
  • Travel cost: $68
  • Total sales: $1,096
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $890
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:55a
  • # transactions: 8
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 15:1
  • Returning next year? Yes, if the schedule allows

Boards sold: 16

  • Trivets: 4
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Serving Pieces: 2
  • Carnivore Boards: 2
  • Cutting Board: 1
  • Magic Knife Holder: 1
  • Sous Chef Board: 1
  • Lazy Susan: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1

The Board Chronicles: Claremont Village Venture 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.

Yes, you know I’m behind … but you also know I’m catching up. This event always happens on the last Saturday in October, and it’s been a rare very good one day event in the past. From Claremont:

I really liked this event in 2016. I absolutely loved it in 2017, where it was my best solo event ever.

Until I upped my game in 2018, that is.

The event is a bit quirky. It has an odd name. The merchant association that produces the event only allows you to buy one space per seller’s permit … so Mrs M hasn’t done this event. That’s OK, it was very good for me last year. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Same old, same old. I’ve had the same booth every year.

Observations

  • This is a rare event where the marching band leads the kid’s costume parade. What’s not to like?
  • A couple came into the booth … and they shall be known as the Bickersons. She came right up to me and said that she would buy a cutting board if he would shut up about it. He responded that her cutting board was awful. After a bit more back and forth, they settled on their selection. As they walked away, we were chatting about relationships, and I asked, “How long?” Her reply: “Long enough.”
  • The worst part about solo events is the boredom. I had 15x transactions spread over 8 hours … and not nearly enough quality conversations to cover the time. With Mrs M, we have many more transactions … more conversations, more action.
  • I hate the boredom.
  • Two couples entered into the booth within about 30 minutes of each other. Both saw my steak sign:

CNC Sign 18 – 29 Steak. Hard Maple. 9″ x 12″.

Both couples announced that they had an adult child that was a vegetarian. Both couples took a picture of my sign and sent it to their wayward child. I provide parenting assistance, no charge. Apparently. Not sure what the wayward children will think of their idiot parents. Well, maybe I do know.

  • Parenting experience does allow me to accurately predict what the kids will do, after all.
  • Sales were way, way down from the prior year.  In fact, they were just under HALF of what they were last year. No clue what happened … but I’m out.
  • Requests were for clipboards (no room in the Jeep!), 2x in-counter boards (send me the dimensions!) and 2x Magic Bottle Openers (I’m out!).

The Food

  • Best Meal: My booth is in front of a deli, so I have a bagel sandwich every year. Delish.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 122
  • Booth cost: $215
  • Food cost: $12
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $960
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • # transactions: 15
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? doubtful

Boards sold: 25

Cheese Boards: 6x

Trivets: 6x

Coasters: 5x

Hearts: 3x

CNC Signs: 2x

Large Serving Pieces: 2x

Bear: 1x

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Sherman Oaks Street Fair 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.

I’m gaining on my back log of blog posts, honest. I keep whittling away … and SWEAR I will not do an event while not having published the previous year’s blog (and I’m close to that!). In any event, from Sherman Oaks:

This is a main street event for a relatively affluent community in the San Fernando Valley. I’ve tried to find more events in the Valley, this is one … and it’s one day event.

Oh well. It fits on the calendar. Let’s give it a whirl.

New Ideas

  • One day event, with a Jeep load in. Going old school for this one.

Observations

  • Definitely found getting into the event a challenge. There were volunteers, but I was there on time and the line was, uh, not quite formed yet. Once I got by the guy with the clipboard, the street was wide open. Only a few booths had started setting up. Time to find my place in the world.
  • Lots of amateurs here. First timers, even. Not. Good.
  • A question that I’ve never been asked before: “What’s a Foodie?”
  • Uh … read the sign.
  • I want to make spoons. I need to make spoons.
  • This event had more than its fair share of shade stealers. It was a hot October day, I get it … but my shade is provided for my customers. Please.
  • Worse than a shade stealer was the table swipe by a Mom’s Purse … knocking a board onto the ground. Mom didn’t notice.
  • With only the room in the Jeep, inventory was necessarily limited. But I was still frustrated when I was asked for a chess board and a cribbage board. They were at home.
  • I believe I need to have standards, and here it is: I don’t want to set up for less than $1,000 in sales. This event did less than half of that … so there you go.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 60
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $15
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $483
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Sunday alarm: 5a
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards: 14

  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Heart: 3
  • Individual Coasters: 4
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Sign: 1
  • Trivet: 1
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