Archive for the ‘Street Fair’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July 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.

It’s become our tradition.

This is our 4th year celebrating our nation’s independence through vendoring on Main Street in Ventura, CA. Read about the first 3 events here: 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Ventura’s a beach community, about an hour due west of our home in Santa Clarita. History has taught us that it’s definitely a great place for us to go a-vendoring.

We don’t do fireworks on the 4th, but we do watch the parade of Red, White & Blue go by our booth. It’s a wonderful thing.

New Ideas

  • I’m embracing my inner foodie. I’ve made a new batch of signs that are all food themed, and I’m going to put up all of my mesh walls so I can hang them. That means my traditional open corner that allows 2-sided viewing of cutting boards will go away … now, I’m using the open corner for sign display on the outside of the booth. That’s how a traditional 2D artist displays their work. Just sayin’.
  • The new worry: will curbing the cutting board display hurt those sales? Is trading sign display for cutting board visibility a bad thing?

Observations

  • Why do events always start at 4 in the morning?
  • On the road shortly after 5a. We can do this. We have done this.
  • We’ve got the routine pretty much down at this point. We arrived at the event at 6:10a, and both of our neighbors were already well into their set-ups. We were able to load in with a minimum of trouble. From there, it was a rush to set-up, because we know this is an early crowd. The 10am official start means nothing.
  • The signs are an immediate hit. 3 are sold before set-up is done.
  • I have no inventory to replace signs when they sell (sigh).
  • My neighbor, across the aisle, is a direct competitor for Mrs M with bath bombs, lotions, and such. Direct competitor. Apparently the promoter (the city of Ventura) does not care.
  • At all.
  • Such is the case at many city-sponsored events. They may know how to stage a vendor event, but that doesn’t mean they know/care about the subtleties of managing vendor relationships.
  • I had a manly encounter with a woodworker:
    • He walks into the booth.
    • He fondles a board.
    • He fondles another board.
    • He looks at me, smiles, nods.
    • I reciprocate with a smile and a nod.
    • He leaves.
    • We communicated everything we needed to communicate, right?
  • The stream of humanity by the booth was impressive. People are definitely here … but here to shop? Vendors always try to count shopping bags as they walk by the booth … and there are never enough, it seems. We were busy throughout the day, thank goodness.
  • Lady holding a plaque: “Can you cut on this?”
  • AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • For reference, Mrs M’s all-time favorite question, from a customer holding a boar of soap: “How do you use this?”
  • When appropriate, I did mention my Kickstarter campaign to anyone that might care. Former customers, walk-in prospects … I did talk about supporting my Kickstarter campaign. Wasn’t this a good transition for my naked pitch? If you’re interested, see the video & read all about it, here.
  • We never had time to go walkabout, which is a good thing, I guess. Therefore, we have no idea who else is at this event beyond our small circuit for lunch & such around the neighborhood. We did hear that there are a lot of soapmakers.
  • Woodworkers? No clue.
  • We began tearing down at 4:45p. Banners. Price tags. A “soft close,” which is totally against our nature. Sales, though, had largely stopped before 4pm. We had no late surge on this day.
  • Sales were down a bit from last year, but far beyond the 2 years prior. Not a record setter, but definitely worthwhile.
  • Requests were for a rooster board (sigh), smaller Lazy Susans (sigh) and a dachshund board (NO. Why do people want to cut on dogs?).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda bought sushi for herself & teriyaki chicken for me from a nearby Japanese restaurant. Very well done: not fair food.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 115
  • Booth cost: $385
  • Food cost: $41
  • Travel cost: $60
  • Total sales: $2,099
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,613
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several by the anonymous “block captain”
  • Wednesday alarm: 4a
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Many, we were told
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 33:0
  • Returning next year? Yup

Boards sold: 33

CNC Signs: 9

Coasters: 5

Trivets: 4

Hearts: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Sous Chef Board: 1

Clipboard: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

The Board Chronicles: Lompoc Flower Festival 2018   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

We went to the 2016 edition of the Lompoc Flower Festival and loved it. At the time, that Flower Festival our 3rd best event ever, with sales over $3,000.

Lompoc was good to us … except for that first night restaurant. But, I digress.

We definitely wanted to return to Lompoc when it fit into the calendar, and 2 years later, we’re returning for the 66th Annual Lompoc Flower Festival.

It’s a classic event in a city park. It’s truly a community get-together, with many high school reunions keyed to the event. Once you get there, it’s a paid gate (increased this year from $3 to $5), live music throughout, and a beer garden. Food booths are for local charities. It was a good time in 2016 …

New Ideas

  • This event sells booths that are 10′ wide x 20′ deep. We bought our typical double booth … so we had our first ever quadruple booth, 20′ x 20′. We brought 2 pop-up canopies and the Trimline 10′ x 20′ canopy. 4x mesh walls. We were stylin’.
  • We got there Friday morning for set-up, and asked the organizer if she knew of any teenagers that might want to help us. Her 2 teenagers just happened to be nearby….

Observations

  • We had low expectations for Friday; 2 years ago sales were only $245. No worries … but sales this year were only $119. Board sales were $0. Yuck.
  • We had family in town, and Aunt Sis (maker of Aunt Sis’ Exfoliers) and Dr H (author of the Harbstreit method of routing fingerholds on an end grain board) came to visit us in Lompoc. We had a great couple of days with them … the event, not so much.
  • Saturday started slow, as expected: no one comes to the park until after the parade is over. Once it’s done, the people flood into the park to set up their lawn chairs, see their friends, and enjoy the music.
  • Oh, and shop. We hope.
  • Unfortunately, Saturday stayed slow. Sales were less than half of 2016.
  • This has never happened to us before. Sales down more than half? Well, there’s Sunday. We hope.
  • Nope.
  • Sunday sales totaled $200. Total sales were 40% of 2016. Our neighbor reported their sales were 42% of prior year. 2018 was just way, way off.
  • Vendors always talk about how it used to be better. Nostalgia is always a positive thing, right? People always enjoy talking about the “good old days.” At this event, we heard some of that … but we heard it from the customers, as well. We were told that the Flower Festival used to have many local artists vending at the park: good, handmade artists like Mrs M. Multiple customers told us this. They also told us that in the last few years, the purveyors of cheap imported merchandise have seemed to crowd out the good vendors.
  • Yup.
  • In the artist community, there’s a lot of chatter about how “non-artist vendors will always ruin an art event.” When the likes of solar power companies, LulaRoe & vendors with cheap imported merchandise are allowed into an event, the crowd-sourced wisdom goes, then the quality of the art will always decline. Perhaps that’s what happened in Lompoc. I don’t know – though I will say that their vendors of cheap imported merchandise are hardly the equal of credible multi-level marketing companies like Pampered Chef or Origami Owl.
  • In the end, it doesn’t matter. This was a lost weekend.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board (sigh), anything with a dog on it, a Word Block I didn’t have in stock and both larger and smaller Lazy Susans (sigh, sigh).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M loved her Pork Belly Tacos at the Solvang Brewing Company.
  • Worst Meal: A treat we looked forward to was La Botte in Lompoc, a wonderful Italian restaurant we enjoyed in 2016. We made a reservation for 8p, and arrived to find the wait staff was ‘whelmed. We were barely acknowledged for 10 minutes, and then the busboy (who was funny) became our waiter because the real wait staff was still ‘whelmed. Food was pretty good, but the service was truly insulting.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $394
  • Food cost: $151
  • Travel cost: $789
  • Total sales: $1,249
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): -$85. We lose money for the first time ever.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 59
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other … making medical claims. Did you know soap could cure hair loss? I sure hope the FDA catches wind of these snake oil sellers.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one turner, and a couple of vendors of import, uh, crap.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 23:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 24

Trivets: 7

Word Blocks: 3

Hearts: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Small Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Coaster: 1

Soap Deck: 1

Clipboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair 2018   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.

I know this event is quirky.

Simi Valley is a bedroom community that’s very similar to Santa Clarita, and we’ve done their Street Fair twice before (2015, 2016).

You know how much I like going to the Street Fair.

But, this event is unusual. It’s put on by the Chamber of Commerce, and they have a “required” pre-meeting for vendors. That’s where you can get your booth number confirmed, and talk about how the event is set-up with the organizers. Since I’ve done 100+ events in multiple cities and now 2 states … I’m not enthusiastic about driving to their office to hear about their event. Or be reminded to wear comfortable shoes.

Write a good info packet and I’m ready to go. Every time.

Another quirk is they don’t let people drive onto the street to set up: they make you cart everything in for some reason that’s never been clear to me. In previous years, there was enough room on the street. This year’s street is tighter, but it’s still an unusual situation to require 100% of things to be carted in, as they have in years past.

We didn’t do this event last year as it is only a 1-day event, and there was a better 2-day event available. This year, though, the Sunday of the weekend was not only Mother’s Day, it was also our 40th wedding anniversary. We agreed to take the day off so we could celebrate … so this Saturday event fit the calendar perfectly.

Which is always important to me. So, it’s off to Simi….

New Ideas

  • The new location meant going to the mandatory meeting was a good idea, I thought, and I learned that I either had to cart everything in at 6:30am, hire their UTV/wagon driver to cart things in for me or I could drive onto the street with the trailer at 5am to unload right by the booth. That’s a no brainer for me. I don’t need to sleep.
  • This year I was told that the city required a business license from me if I was to sell at the event, which I learned at the vendor meeting. What I didn’t learn is that the city didn’t have a working website to do this on, so I had to drive back to Simi a second time in order to complete the paperwork and pay the most expensive fee yet for a city’s one-day business license: $57.
  • Mrs M opted out so she could stay home and prepare for MrsMowry’s 30th birthday (a good choice, that), so I got a double booth all to myself.

Observations

  • This is event # 6 of 10 in our 4th Annual Spring Fling. Miles to go before we sleep.
  • As I drove to the event in the dark, it was misting. That turned into a heavy mist. That turned in to, “Oh, hell no, it’s not going to rain, is it?”
  • It didn’t, but it did get a little wet once during the event. No big thing, but it was a cloudy, cool day. Perfect for a Spring Fling event.
  • Plenty of volunteers – at 5 in the morning – to help me unload. A volunteer assured me they would be there to help me load as well … and they were. This event gets an A+ for having volunteers to help. The volunteers I had, though – adults and teenagers – knew nothing about event spaces, but were good to move the heavy stuff.
  • The event gets a D for how they marked booth spaces – chalk numbers faintly written on the top of the curbs. In the dark, you had to turn on a flashlight and be right on top of the numbers before they were legible. There were no marks for the boundaries of the booth: not left/right, nor front/back. I was the first in my area, so I placed my canopies centered on the booth #s. I moved a foot or so out of the gutter (nothing good comes from being in the gutter), which put the front of my booth up to the dividing line between lanes on the street. Looked good to me. No one ever commented, so I must have been OK. It wasn’t until 3 hours later that I noticed some random lines on the street that might have been booth space dividing lines, placed out of the gutter on the solid white line marking the edge of the driving lane and beginning of the gutter. Don’t know what those lines were.
  • The big issue about no front border for the booths became an issue later, unfortunately.
  • With a 5am unload, I had plenty of time to set up my double booth. Who needs Mrs M anyway?
  • I worked straight through, got set up, and did have time to sit down and have my breakfast (bagels/cream cheese from home). While I was eating, a guy walked into my booth and went straight to my chess set. “It’s $140 for the set? I want it. But I only have $4. Here, you take the money until I can get to the bank. I’ll be right back.” So, I put the chess set on lay away for $4.
  • This first sale was long before the event started at 9am. A good beginning, this.
  • Early in the day, a guy came to the booth and said he wanted to buy a cutting board. That had one of my boards, he said, but it was lost when their house burned to the ground. He wanted to get a new board, and he would bring his wife by later, he said. He did, and that was my first $200 sale of the day.
  • Not long after they left, another couple was standing by the board I had just put on display, replacing the one just purchased. I did my standard greeting, “Let me know if I can answer any questions,” I said. “Can we buy a cutting board?” he said. That’s what we in the professional sales business call a “buying signal.”
  • I launched into my standard spiel. Size. Color. I then asked, “What size are you thinking of?” He said, “Can we buy this board?” That’s what we in the professional sales business call a “shut up and take their money signal.” So, I did. In about 10 minutes, I had two different $200 sales.
  • Good, this is.
  • I was busy all day. Business wasn’t over the top, but I was on my feet, talking, working. All good. Busy is good.
  • You can’t choose your neighbors, though. Mine were annoying. And, the promoters get an F on controlling vendors.
  • On the left, I had a professional politician with an army of volunteers soliciting votes & handing out balloons. He was running for Supervisor, and he had a brigade (their word) of volunteers in front of the booth all day long. When they moved to in front of my booth, I complained, and they pretty much kept to the front of their booth – not IN their booth, but IN FRONT of their booth. They were 100% working the crowd in the center aisle. They never, ever let someone go by without stopping them. They typically had 5 volunteers in front of their booth and 3 volunteers inside of their booth – plus the candidate. No way should they have been allowed to only buy a 10×10 booth.

The balloons were given out by members of the politician’s horde … they never stood in the booth, as the rules said they should.

  • I actually heard one of the organizers of the effort say, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” When that is the philosophy of management, what they’re really saying is “the other vendors are too stupid to do what we’re doing, and the organizers don’t care if we take advantage.”
  • I. Hate. That.
  • On my right, I had a professional buy/sell vendor with leather purses & such. He set his canopy up 1′ in front of mine, and then did a waterfall display off of his grid wall that was 1′ in front of his canopy. The result: he had a 2′ corner jutting out in front of my booth. He also had tables set up back to the gutter and boxes on the planter behind, so he had about a 16′ deep booth going.

The 2′ corner in front of my booth. I actually had one lady come into my booth wanting to buy a purse.

  • The net result of all of this was that customers were directed by my neighbors to walk away from my booth. I did push back against the politician’s minions when they were standing IN FRONT OF MY BOOTH, but, overall, I was confident that my 20′ of frontage (which neither of my neighbors had) got me the attention that I had paid for. Had I had only 10′ of frontage – if Mrs M would have been there – then we would have had trouble. I would have become “that guy.” I would have insisted the organizers step in.
  • Oh, and that $57 business license I had to buy? No one ever checked. I’m going to bet my buy/sell neighbor didn’t have it. Following rules may be frustrating at times, but I have to live with me.
  • The final hour came, and my sales picked up. Once again, the final hour of the event was very, very good to me.
  • Requests were for a 6″ Lazy Susan (it was an archery thing, I was told), more chess sets (AARRGGHH!!), a horsey wall hanging, skateboard decks (x2), something in a golf theme and an actual pastry board with side walls and bread hooks.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Birthday cake with MrsMowry, as she celebrated her 6th 5th birthday. Of course!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 218
  • Booth cost: $350 + $57
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $113
  • Total sales: $1,735
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,215
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 3:50am
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:2
  • Returning next year? Probably not

Boards sold: 24

4x Trivets

3x Magic Bottle Openers

3x Cutting Boards

2x Medium Surfboards

2x Lazy Susans

2x Custom Orders

1x Chess Set

1x CNC Wall Plaque

1x Cheese Board

1x Serving Tray

1x Heart

1x Word Block

1x Small Board

1x Pig

 

The Board Chronicles: Whiskey Flat Days 2018   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

We did Whiskey Flat Days 3 years ago, but haven’t been able to get back since. This annual event is in Kernville, CA … which is between 2 of our favorite event sites in Tehachapi and Ridgecrest. This year, the calendar worked out so we were oh-so-ready for the elegantly named Whiskey Flat Days.

This year is the 61st Annual. It’s a small town vendor event, with a rodeo and carnival thrown in. Oh, and a frog jumping contest. A beard growing contest. A costume contest. And, I’m sure a lot more! This small community definitely turns out for the event … I mean, what else would you do in Kernville, in February?

New Ideas

  • This event has an odd structure over President’s Day weekend. The event runs Friday, 1p – dark. Saturday & Sunday run 9a – dark. And then, paradoxically, vendors are asked to open again on Monday, 9a – 1p. When we did this event 3 years ago, our Monday sales were $35. I think the Monday hours are to force vendors to stay another hotel night … or maybe just stay off the roads so tourists can leave Sunday evening without having to follow vendor vehicles.

Observations

  • I got the loading of the trailer going; pulled the Jeep over & hooked up. No problem. Loaded the trailer. Got Mrs M loaded, uh, so to speak, and turned the Jeep’s key. Clickety-clickety-click. And, just like that, we were delayed over an hour while I went to buy and then install a new battery. I covered foreshadowing last week, so I see no need to cover it again this week. Apparently, God had other plans.
  • We arrived in town right on time, actually. Had lunch at Cheryl’s Diner, and then went to the Chamber of Commerce to check in. We then went to our booth location and set up the “hard goods,” as we say: the canopy, tables, and display pieces. All product stayed in the trailer, as there was no security provided on this night. We were almost set up by dusk, and then headed off to find dinner.
  • We used the Trimline canopy this week, since it was an extended length event with a leisurely set-up time. After not using this canopy for 6 months, I forgot how the roof went together. Unfortunately. We had to backtrack a bit to get it done properly, but the canopy is so nice when it’s up. It takes more time, but it’s worth it.
  • I’ll keep saying that; Mrs M may believe it eventually.
  • The aisle is pretty narrow between the booths at this event: there’s only about 10′ between the booths. Friday, a larger-than-life veteran planted himself in the middle of the aisle, outside of his booth a few booths down from us, and proceeded to try and raise funds by selling coffee cups for his veteran-focused charity. I appreciate the charity’s goal, but the sales style? Yuck.
  • Thank goodness he did not return for the rest of the weekend.
  • That same charity, though, had a couple of booth workers that were also in the parade as Harley Davidson riders. They parked their bikes in the driveway across from our booth, and then roared off down the aisle at about 4pm on Saturday. Gas fumes led to zero Mrs M sales until the air finally cleared several minutes later. Oh, and the noise made small children cry. Where were the promoters?
  • Teen boy, pointing to his friend, asked Mrs M, “Do you have any lotion to fix his face?”
  • Random odd guy walked by my booth and called out, “Do you have anything good?” Confused by the oddity, I didn’t respond; he never broke stride and called out, “Didn’t think so.”
  • We had the first-ever opening of an actual beer bottle as my MBO demo. This event is characterized by a lot of public drinking; some do it as BYO, obviously!
  • Young lady was looking at my stuff. Her large, long-haired significant other loudly announced, “You don’t need no f***ing fancy board to cut stuff.” They left the booth before I could react. Mrs M leaned over to me, “And he probably beats her, too.”
  • The fact that this is supposed to be a family event did not deter many from using a limited vocabulary to express themselves.
  • Mrs M and I were talking, sotto voice, about the paucity of sales. She said, “I want you to beat me … oh, I knew it sounded bad when I said it.”
  • I did not, in either case.
  • A guy was in the booth, accompanied by a couple of friends. He was shopping for a gift for his wife that was back at their home in France. He liked a board, but one of his friends told him, in my booth, that it was a poor gift choice. “You should buy her clothing or jewelry.” I did not throw the “friend” out of the booth. I held my tongue. The guy ditched the friends & came back an hour later to buy the board.
  • Discretion can be a good thing.
  • When you are a vendor, you’re just like the hired help, I guess. People can be Oh. So. Rude.
  • Overheard:
    • Young Girl (hovering over ZooSoapia): “Mommy, buy me a soap!”
    • Mommy: “Don’t touch things! Lord, help me. This is why animals eat their young!”
  • Can you tell we just didn’t feel it at this event? Poor sales. Poor parenting on display. Bad language heard frequently. I’m from a small town. I like small towns, but Kernville didn’t show us anything good on this trip.
  • The Monday forecast was for lows overnight in the 20s, with high wind, rain or snow showers overnight and into the morning. Lotions freeze, so we were not interested in ruining product just so we could sit in the cold with no customers. We packed up Sunday night, went back to the motel (bringing the lotion inside for the night!), and then drove out Monday morning.
  • As we drove through town, I saw at least 4 canopies that were upside down and ruined by the overnight winds. Many booths had already packed up at 9am; many more were not open during the “official” event hours.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board, boards with no feet so they could have 2-sided use, and a cheese slicer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Fremont Deli came to our booth on Friday, and offered to deliver to our booth when we ordered lunch during the event. We took their offer on Saturday, and I got a very nice, hot Ham & Cheese. Delicious. 4 stars.
  • Honorable Mention: We had dinner Sunday night with our friend Delinda of Sweet Spot Home Decor. The restaurant (Kern River Brewing Co.) was not great … but the meal was a perfect way to relieve the stresses of a failed event. 2 stars.
  • Worst Meal: El Rio was the Mexican restaurant we found. The food’s not bad, really, but the place has zero atmosphere. The next night, we ate in the motel; we had carry out hot chicken from the grocery store deli, and that was better. YaknowhatImean? 1 star.
  • Final recommendation: Don’t go to Kernville for the food.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 281
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $271
  • Travel cost: $146
  • Total sales: $1,126
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $159
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 5 handmade soap vendors at this event, which was entirely too many, IMHO. This event may “jury” some categories, and I use the term very loosely … but they didn’t count or care about how many soap makers they let in.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one other cutting board maker there (!). He did different stuff as well, including boxes and spoons.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 10

Coasters: 2x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Sous Chef: 1x

Soap Deck: 1x

Magic Bottle Opener: 1x

Small Board: 1x

The Board Chronicles: Lake Havasu Winter fest 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.

Well, faithful readers, I know you’re on pins and needles to see what happened after we were almost blown away.

Didn’t know? Then you should read Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles, which tells the story of the devastation wreaked on us at this event. Go ahead, follow the link & read.

I’ll wait.

This post, however, is the story of the event itself: the 33rd Annual Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. This is a “big idea” event for us, so the investment was significant. We got there.

Hope it’s worth it!

New Ideas

  • As stated, this is our first interstate event. We had to register with the state of Arizona, as well as get a business license from Lake Havasu City. Unfortunately, I forgot to do both, so had to scramble at the last minute (and I do mean the last minute) to get both done properly.
  • My inventory is now over 300 pieces, which is a personal record. I’ve got a varied product line, with Hearts back in stock, 3 kinds of finishes on Word Blocks, and Coasters available for the first time.

Observations

  • After I scrambled to get the city license + the state registration, no one checked to make sure that we were following the rules. Which is how it always goes, it seems.
  • We did, however, get our first-ever fire inspection to ensure we had a fire extinguisher in the booth. I thanked the fireman for doing his job.
  • Oh so many lotion vendors there in the small part of the show that we did visit … and they were all making medical claims of one kind or another. I certainly hope these snake oil salesmen had a bad weekend. I mean, does anyone really think that there are potions to prevent Alzheimer’s that you can just buy on the street?
  • He said, picking up a clipboard: “Is this a cutting board?
    • I said: “No. It’s a clipboard.”
  • Another He said, looking at a cutting board for $150: “Is this price right?”
    • I said: “Yes.”
    • Another He said: “You must make these yourself.”
    • What do you say to that, other than, “I do.”
  • Yet Another He asked if I had cribbage boards. I pointed to the one on display.
    • Yet Another He asked: “How much?”
    • I said: “$40.”
    • Yet Another He said: “That’s a fair price.” (and he turned and left)
  • Arriving to find half of our booth destroyed on Sunday morning was not a good time, I assure you. We packed up Mrs M’s stuff, and moved it into the shade on the sidewalk. We decided to not pack up my stuff … we were there, and selling ANYTHING sounded better than sitting in the Jeep for the 5 hour drive and getting more depressed. So, we set Mrs M’s tables back up and moved my extra inventory onto those tables in what was now Mrs M’s open air booth. Of the things we put on display … nothing sold.
  • Luckily, other things did.
  • She said: “$80 for a Pig for me to chop an onion on? Oh, hell no.” (and she turned and left)
  • Requests were for a Jokers & Pegs set (no), a Wisconsin-shaped cribbage board (no), a flybox (He wanted a tool, not a keepsake. I don’t do utility boxes … and rarely do keepsake boxes!) and an RV sink board (2x).

The Food

  • Best Meal: We had a great meal at Azul Agave. I had the macho burrito. It was Sunday, after a horrible morning and an OK sales day. Glad that we got a smile at the end of a very trying day.
  • Honorable Mention: Breakfast at the Black Bear Diner is always a treat for us.
  • Worst Meal: It was about unmet expectations, really. We had dinner at Mario’s, which did not live up to its Yelp rating. The food was OK, but I expected more. We ate there Friday night, before our event, so that meal was a dramatic device called foreshadowing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 617
  • Booth cost: $300
  • City License cost: $20
  • Food cost: $213
  • Travel cost: $233
  • Total sales: $1,487
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $400
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: given what happened to us, I’m surprised to say … none
  • Saturday alarm: 4a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue. We saw about 25% of the vendors there.
  • # woodworking vendors: see above.
  • Returning next year? Totally unclear. I’m leaning pro; Mrs M is leaning no. The canopy … it’s not leaning anymore. It’s trash.

Boards sold: 18

2x Serving Trays

2x Medium Surfboards

2x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Hearts

1x Large Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Cribbage Board

1x Large Cutting Board

1x Coaster

1x Coaster Set

1x Cheese Board

1x Pig Cutting Board

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles   4 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.

It was time to up our game.

Mrs M’s Handmade is now entering our 5th year of vendorhood. We started oh-so-humbly … and we’re still learning at every event. Unfortunately.

This year, we want to expand what we do. It’s our intention to do some bigger shows … and we scheduled ourselves for our first out-of-state event, Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. That event is 300 miles from home, which is almost as far for us to travel as the events we’ve done in the bay area.

California’s a big state, you see. Going to Arizona from LA is closer. But, I digress.

We went to Arizona to go a-vendoring. What could go wrong?

Quoth The Fifth Element, Leeloo, “Wind blows ….”

This is the story of what happened while we slept.

Saturday was what we expected, really, only less. This very large vendor event has a Saturday morning setup, and we were there at 5:15am to line up for the 6am beginning of the process. We did what we do, and set up our booths, # 358 & 360, in the middle of McCulloch Blvd. We were ready for the crowds at 9am. People were there, which was great … but they didn’t buy much, unfortunately. Our vendor friends universally reported sales that were down significantly from last year. We ended Saturday at 5pm with a very, very disappointing sales total and complete exhaustion. We buttoned up the booths, put a table cloth over the soaps, and went to the motel to lick our wounds.

We knew that there was a windstorm forecast to hit at about 11pm, but we didn’t really worry about it. After all, we knew that we were prepared. Our weights were in place, our new Undercover canopies have thick, heavy side walls … we were ready.

We thought.

We were wrong.

We arrived before 8am on Sunday, because I wanted to tweak my display a bit. That’s what I would end up doing, but nothing else went according to plan.

Here’s the first thing I saw when we walked up to the booth:

My first look at the wind damage. No big deal, right?

This is a picture of the back corner of “my” booth (we do a double booth, so Mrs M has her side, and I have my side). See the upended table? That’s the back of my neighbor’s booth. My booth’s walls are what you see on the left side of the photo, and you’ll see that my canopy has shifted forward 3′. The booth did not go airborne, due to the weights that we had in place. However, the wind did push the sail formed by the wall of the booth forward, relentlessly, in spite of the weight. When the canopy was pushed and slid across the asphalt, the wall eventually rode up and over the top of the table. That, in turn, resulted in the boards I had stupidly left on the table getting knocked down. Only 3 pieces hit the pavement. Luckily.

Note that our weight is velcroed in place at the bottom of the canopy leg, just as it’s supposed to be. My neighbor’s booth is also secured, with the orange ratchet strap attached to the roof strut and holding a sandbag. Their booth (no walls) did not move, and did not protect my booth from the wind.

At this point, though, I was relieved. I had already seen canopies that were upended and destroyed in the wind, so I knew we were lucky that it was not worse. It took me a couple of thoughts to realize that the front of the booth – which looked perfect – was not all there. 10′ of our booth was missing. That’s when my focus shifted, and I saw this.

Velda’s booth, crushed by a flying canopy.

Here you see the opposite corner of my booth from the previous picture, and it was the front, center of our double booth. All you can see of Mrs M’s booth is the crumpled wall that’s on the pavement, and the leg and roof struts that have been folded parallel … they are no longer perpendicular. Mrs M’s Booth should be about 9′ tall; now it’s smashed.

Time slowed down. I surveyed the damage and realized that our day had just taken a very significant left turn.

Bad words may have been spoken at this point.

The booth behind Velda and her neighbor (a real estate agent) was a 10’x20′ booth selling dry soup mixes & such. The soup people had 2x 10′ canopies. They had bungeed the roofs together, and then secured the canopies with ratchet straps and DIY weights made from 4″ PVC pipe and, uh, stuff.

More on that later.

During the night, the wind lifted the dry soup canopies up, and then they flipped over and crushed Mrs M’s canopy, as well as that of her neighbor. Both Mrs M’s and the real estate agent’s canopies were properly weighted down and did not move from their spots. They did, however, get crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy.

The Flying Dry Soup Canopy

This is the view from the far side of the real estate booth. That booth had a cheap EZ Up canopy … crushed flat. Note the 2 front center poles of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy: no weights are attached. These poles would have been front & center in the dry soup display, so the vendor did not put unsightly weights there.

Mistake. Big Mistake.

A DIY weight that really isn’t.

This is a picture of one of the weights that didn’t hold down the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. 2 things are wrong here:

  1. The weight itself is not properly secured. The weight should be connected to the ratchet strap through the eye hole mounted on the weight (now facing the pavement). Also, the weight must be secured to the leg itself. Otherwise, the wind will blow, the tent will shake … the weight will start swinging free of the leg, and then the pendulum effect will increase the power of the wind and speed the catastrophic failure of the canopy. As it did in this case!
  2. The weight itself is about 30″ tall. I have made weights somewhat similar to these. When I made my versions, I filled the 4″ PVC with concrete and rock. My DIY PVC weights did weigh 35 pounds when I put them on our bathroom scale. The pictured “weight,” however, was lifted by Velda using one arthritic finger. I estimate it was no more than 20 pounds; she believes it was under 10 pounds. I can guarantee it was not 50 pounds.

What’s important about 50 pounds? Here’s the relevant rule, which was a part of the event application signed by every vendor:

All vendors must have weights for any canopies in use. All four corners must have weights of at least 50lbs attached.

So, if you have 2x 10′ canopies side by side, you actually have 8 corners. When you put 50 pounds on each corner, you need 400 pounds of weight attached. In my opinion, the Flying Dry Soup Canopy did not have half of that.

The back of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy, now upside down and sitting in the middle of Mrs M’s booth. One weight is on the near corner; you can see the orange ratchet strap holding another on the far corner. But the back, middle?

So, we know there’s devastation here. Nothing to do but clean it up. With all of the involved vendors eventually helping, we took apart the offending canopies, untying the bungees and disconnecting the weights. Mrs M’s canopy could then be removed, to finally reveal the remains of her booth:

The top layers of Mrs M’s purpose built display did get pushed onto the ground, but the bottom layer was left alone. Under the tablecloth is the soap, which was totally undamaged. But as the asphalt underneath was revealed….

Amazingly, none of the wooden pieces were broken. Over 100 lotion bars were destroyed, as well as a small number of lotions and a single beard oil.

The saddest thing I saw broken:

So, nothing to do but get to it. Mrs M started cleaning up, and I started picking up.

Clean up, well in hand. 10am.

We cleaned up Mrs M’s booth entirely, and then decided that we should keep my booth open for the day. All of our costs were sunk; her stuff was safe. We would gain nothing by leaving for home, and if we stayed we just might sell a board or two.

That’s the story for the next installment of The Board Chronicles.

Still unknown is what will happen to our financial losses caused by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. We do have their insurance information, and do expect to be compensated for the losses that we incurred. Will that happen? No clue.

Want to read about an even worse event weekend? The link’s below, When Nature Fights Back….

We expanded “my” booth into Mrs M’s booth space when we finally tweaked my display. There’s still cleanup needed, however.

More

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival 2017   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

The event was a big idea, and they didn’t want us. At first.

One of my favorite event producers is Pacific Fine Arts; they do about 20 events including the wonderful California Strawberry Festival. This year, we decided to add their Half Moon Bay event, which has a wonderful reputation for great sales and a fun atmosphere.

And then this juried event rejected us.

We applied as a couple, of course … and that confuses juries. Just about every vendor applies as a single idea, and then we come in with a pair of ideas as a married couple. Skin care products and cutting boards in one booth? Why, it’s just not done! So, we were rejected by the jury. Of course, we’re not applying for one booth, but for two booths, side by side, but we still are a very unique case for the jury to, uh, judge.

I talked to the producer, Dana, about why we were rejected and what might be done. Moving forward, we’re going to apply as two vendors that want side by side booths instead as one vendor, and she thinks that will work better. Good to know. But, after our rejection, Dana did volunteer to put us on a waiting list in case a booth opened up.

And a corner double booth did open up. Perfect. We’re in. We’re going to the 47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival!

New Ideas

  • Event # 2 of 13 in our 4th quarter. And when I say we have miles to go before we sleep….
  • At 347 miles one way, this is the farthest we have ever traveled for an event. High travel cost, and a big time cost, as well. We’re traveling up Friday and coming home on Monday, so we’re doing 3 hotel nights as well.
  • The fire marshal requires a 2A fire extinguisher to be lashed to the front pole of the booth … and it either needs to be stamped “2017” or it needs a current inspection sticker. That meant … another $75 in cost for our 2 booths. My “2016” fire extinguisher just wasn’t good enough. I guess. The event directions said that fire inspectors would shut down non-compliant booths.
  • Our expectations were high for this event, which has our highest booth cost ever.
  • Wait, that’s not a new idea. But you know about high expectations:

Expectations will kill you.

Observations

  • It’s a long drive going to San Francisco. For me, anyway. Road trips can be good for the soul, I’ve found, but doing 6+ hours in a car is not my idea of a good time. However, it’s the only way to get there, so off we go.
  • We were getting gas a bit north of Gilroy, and I inspected the trailer. I found that the electrical cable powering the trailer lights had become disconnected somewhere in the last 250 miles, and the connector was now thrashed. We had no trailer lights. No turning signals. No brake lights. It’s 5:30p on a Friday, and we were nearing twilight as we entered the San Francisco freeways. We had to drive to Half Moon Bay at Oh Dark Thirty tomorrow. Did I mention it’s 5:30p on a Friday? Okay, go.
  • I continued to drive north, and, incredibly, Velda eventually found Midnight Automotive in San Martin, just a few minutes away. She dialed and I talked to Luis, who told us he was open and would fix us right up. We were there 15 minutes later, and he had us back on the road 30 minutes after that. The trailer lights were on, and the electrical cable had a new clamp holding it in place. Better than new.
  • Did we write a 5 star review for Luis? You bet. Life. Saver.
  • Got to the hotel in San Mateo without further incidents. We grabbed a quick dinner at the hotel. We talked to our waiter, Victor, about our challenge of getting breakfast in the morning … and we wondered if the Holiday Inn breakfast buffet that we would be missing might have a bagel or 2 that he could pack for us tonight. Victor was very helpful, and he got a big tip. Then, we returned to the room and settled down for an all-too-short night’s sleep.
  • Because we travel heavy in a trailer, and because this event takes place on a narrow city street (Main Street, naturally), we were directed, with all large vehicles, to come to the event early and have our oversized vehicles off the street by 4:30am. That meant we had to arrive at 3:45am … leave the hotel at 3:15am, and get up to shower at 2:15am. So, that’s exactly what we did.
  • Set-up under starlight was great. Our early arrival was perfect, and the trailer was parked, unhitched, and I was back setting up our Caravan pop-ups so quickly that Mrs M didn’t think I had done my job. I remember looking at the time at 5am and being surprised that we still had stars as we set up the booth, but the booth was set by sunrise.
  • Our out-of-control hobby leads us into such an elegant lifestyle. We had walkers at 7am, as promised, and we were a-vendoring far earlier than the official 10am start.
  • Did we see a fire inspector? No. Did all booths have fire extinguishers? No. Did we do the right thing? Yes.
  • Interesting event. There was a smattering of people in costume. There were more masked people than we’ve ever seen at an event. So, it was a bit halloween-y, but not overly so.
  • With the sun, came the wind.
  • Wind. Blows.
  • We were told that the gusty wind is very unusual for this town, but we were windblown all day Saturday. It continued into Sunday … and we had trouble. When Velda first arrived at the booth Sunday morning, this is what she saw:

Each banner lost a tie. Tarps were blown off the product, and Velda lost the top of her wall due to clamp failure. Thankfully, we had no booth damage. No product damage.

  • I quickly determined we were best off just taking down the banners, so we ran with naked booths on Sunday. We had the back walls up, and the swirling, gusty wind – when it came from the East – was lifting our center canopy legs up 6″.
  • We have 180 pounds of concrete weighing down our double 10×10 canopies, and we needed every pound.
  • The booth was not going anywhere, but holding down the booth legs while hearing the creaking of the metal structure as the wind howled down the driveway between 2 houses that our booth faced … not fun.
  • The crowd, though, took it all in stride. Sunday sales were strong. Saturday had been a bit disappointing … we did well, but we didn’t hit $2k in sales. This would not be a spectacular event.
  • But, it did keep coming.
  • My first sale each day was a cutting board. Love it!
  • Event directions warned that traffic would be horrible. They weren’t kidding. It was gridlock getting out of town on Saturday and Sunday. It took 45 extra minutes on Saturday to get out of town. Sunday was better, but only marginally so.
  • This event is a party. One customer told me she only drinks before noon at the Pumpkin Festival … and in New Orleans. Well, OK, then. Very common to see people walking with a beer, a glass of wine, or a mimosa. People were enjoying their Pumpkin Festival, and they all came to shop, complete with their own shopping bags.
  • Love. That.
  • A customer looked at the cribbage boards, and asked, “Is that an incense holder?” These cribbage boards have 250+ holes in them. How much incense did they want to burn?
  • A pirate walked by the booth, accompanied by his … uh, pirate. I did not talk to them. I’ve learned my lesson.
  • Mrs M went walkabout, leaving me to fend for myself in the booth. A young lady asked if we had a soap that would be good to remove THC resin from her fingers when she was, uh, processing. Couldn’t help her with this first-ever request. I don’t think Mrs M is going to develop a soap line to remove THC resin, either.
  • Requests were for a bigger Hard Maple end grain board (they always sell poorly when I make them!), a larger cheese dome, cribbage boards with pegs (it never ends), and my # 1 request, by far … chess boards.
  • I need more shop time. A. Lot.
  • There are 300 vendors at this event, and everything is handmade. I love the event producers; they do a great job selecting all handmade vendors!
  • Load out was a bit chaotic, as expected. We just did our thing, though, and took everything down before I went to get the trailer. Traffic was a problem just getting back to the booth, but in the end, I locked the loaded trailer at 7:15pm. 2 hours and 15 minutes total for the load out isn’t bad when the trailer is parked blocks away and you’re fighting 300 vendors for space.
  • I sold 18 different sizes/items at this event. The key to my success is variety. Maintaining that variety is the hardest thing I do in the shop.
  • Our high expectations killed us; we were initially disappointed. However, in the end, this was our 6th best event EVER. Our 2nd best first-time event EVER. We did have high costs, though, and we had hoped to do better. This event is not easy to do: a very long day for Saturday with a crazy load-in time, a long commute and traffic issues means this event is not for the faint of heart. But, we hope to come back. We had a good getaway weekend, and, in this case, that’s the most important thing.
  • We went away. Way away. We cleared our heads. All good.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels in the go boxes from the Holiday Inn. And energy bars. It was a long time until lunch when you start at 2:15am.

Saturday Lunch: Tamales from one of the community groups that sell food here as a fund raiser. This is totally a community event. Love it.

Saturday Snack: Mrs M had more coffee. This was a long day.

Saturday Dinner: Velda used the google machine, and found Sole in San Mateo. Reviews were great, and we wanted a good meal after our very, very long day. Unfortunately, this was a tiny restaurant that told us we would have to wait 20 minutes. And then they told us that again. The food, though, was spectacular, with the best gnocchi that Mrs M has had. The sun-dried tomato appetizer/bread dip was amazing as well.

Sunday Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn. And an Indian stole my toast.

Sunday Lunch: Clam chowder bread bowls from another community group. A worse choice, unfortunately. It was clammy, but not chowdery enough.

Sunday Snack: Pumpkin Pie, with whipped cream.

Sunday Dinner: A late night burger after load out, back at the Holiday Inn.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 855
  • Booth cost: $1,065
  • Food cost: $332
  • Travel cost: $711
  • Total sales: $3,698
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 2:15am (yes, 2:15am)
  • Sunday alarm: 6am
  • # transactions: 142
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 7. Lots of competition for Mrs M … which may have been one reason the jury rejected us, honestly. There were 6 soapers. All had different stuff, but how much soap can one town buy?
  • # woodworking vendors: 5. There were 2 direct competitors. I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself, though I have seen one of them before at Southern California events. The other guy seemed to be a newbie with limited inventory, but had some interesting stuff.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:2
  • Returning next year? hopefully

Boards sold: 33

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Pig Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Trivets: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Serving Tray: 1 (I’m now out)

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Letter Clipboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1 (I’m now out)

Soap Deck: 1

Bread Board: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Domed Cheese & Cracker Server: 1 (I’m now out)

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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.

Time to get serious. The holidays are upon us.

Yes. Upon us.

We loved doing this event last year. Big traffic. Happy people. Party.

What’s not to like?

We stayed busy, Mrs M sold out of Avocado Soap, and we even got a very nice steak dinner Saturday night. Spectacular, even.

You bet we wanted to return for the 31st Annual California Avocado Festival!

As we eagerly anticipated returning to Carpinteria, we had 13 events in front of us during this 4th quarter. We truly have miles to go before we sleep, and here’s our very big first step.

New Ideas

  • We’re doing it just like last year … but with better inventory. We hope.

Observations

  • We drove up Friday, and had dinner at Clementine’s. Their filet is highly recommended. If you’re in Carpinteria, enjoy!
  • The event’s on a city street, so, as is often the case with a street fair-styled event, it’s a Saturday morning set-up … even though the commercial section in the next block was up on Friday night as well. Hmmmm.
  • The alarm didn’t go off. WHAT? My phone died … the outlet I plugged the phone in, on the desk lamp, worked just fine until it stopped working. My phone’s battery drained, and I had no alarm. Oh, and our credit card transactions go through my phone. We’re running a bit late, and the majority of our business has to go through my dead phone. OK, go.
  • Love turbo charging. I am a droid fan.
  • Went to go get my favorite breakfast, and charged the phone more in the only outlet in the restaurant, located between the 2 restrooms. 83% will have to be enough today.
  • We arrived at 6:20a for a 6:30a load-in, only to find that the City had left a forklift in the street to block access. The fork lift driver … was not there. OK, go.
  • I carted everything in. About a city block, which was a flat block, thankfully. But, it was 6:30a and I was playing mule to get everything to booths 23 & 24. Good times.
  • Fork lift driver showed up at 7:08a for what he thought was a 7a call. I was almost finished carting in, no thanks to Public Works Department. We were running more than 30 minutes behind schedule. We had walkers in the booth before we were setup due to the forklift delay.
  • First sale of the day = vindication. I can make a serving tray that people believe will be of use. It only took me most of my lifetime to get there….
  • A lady saw the trivets and asked, “Do you put crackers in the slots?”
  • Uh … no.  Not recommended. Sorry.
  • Vending can be a humbling experience.
  • A young lady walked into the booth wearing a pair of bananas on her purse. She observed that it’s the perfect snack … I observed it was an unusual accessory. She offered me a banana as a reward. I think.
  • A pirate walked into the booth with his wench. (That is what the women associating with pirates are called, right? I don’t want to be politically incorrect with the title for a woman accompanying a pirate in my booth.) They were doing some cosplay thing, I guess. She later assured me they were good pirates, and did take exception to being called a wench. So, now you know. Don’t make the same mistake I did when a pirate walks into your booth with his … uh … well, when 2 pirates walk into your booth.
  • Business was way up on Saturday. Looking good for a great weekend.
  • Sunday started with a spectacular breakfast. No load in, of course, and we were assured we would not have a fork lift problem for load out! Life was good.
  • A client came by that custom ordered 2 large cutting boards last year, and he loves them. Lots of kudos. I smiled.
  • And then his wife came by, and the kudos happened all over again. Life is good.
  • Business, though, slowed down. Way down. Last year, Sunday was unusual at this event: it was 20% up from Saturday. At most events, Sunday is 50% down from Saturday. This year, we seem to be following the normal model. Unfortunately.
  • Strike started promptly at 6p. We were in the dark soon … and they didn’t turn on the rented floodlights until well after dark. The Department of Public Works, late to the party. Again.
  • A 3 year old was walking with her family in front of our booth, and went into meltdown. She had a spectacular tantrum, with full-throated screaming for at least 5 minutes. She then got a time out (still in front of our booth) and screaming continued for another 8 minutes as the family tried to figure out what to do with little miss screamer. Finally, a family member picked her up and carried her away. Screaming.
  • I have had days like that, but I believe I was not as demonstratively spectacular as the young miss.
  • In the end, we were disappointed by this event. We were down from last year … but this was STILL our 7th best event ever. How can you be disappointed when you had one of your best ever?
  • Expectations kill you.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend. Thanks for the electricity, too.

Saturday Lunch: Pizza Dan’s was right in front of our booth, so it was easy. And cold, when I finally got to it.

Saturday Snack: Chips & guac when Little Girl came to visit. Life was good.

Saturday Dinner: Comfort food in the hotel bar, which I will not honor by calling it a restaurant.

Sunday Breakfast: Goodbye, old friend. Esau’s was just down the street from us, and this breakfast/lunch cafe is highly recommended. Yum.

Sunday Lunch: Carry out from Esau’s. Yum. A new tradition.

Sunday Snack: Nope.

Sunday Dinner: Carl’s Jr, eaten in the car on the way home. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 274
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $747
  • Total sales: $3,476
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,532
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: It wanted to be 4:30a, but ’twas not to be.
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • # transactions: 119
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 3 other soapers. There may have only been 1 other last year, according to my notes … so perhaps this explains why Mrs M’s sales fell.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board maker, located in the Carpinteria Artist Center (he is a member, he said). They were up near the action, adjacent to the food/music area, but off the street. I heard traffic was not great. They were a bit hidden, it seems.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 31:2
  • Returning next year? Probably

Boards sold: 33

MBOs: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Trivets: 5

Cutting Boards: 3

Lazy Susans: 3

Serving Trays: 2

Custom Order: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Bread Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Legal Clipboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Goleta Lemon Festival 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.

The Goleta Lemon Festival is a comfortable, small community event with something for everyone.

There are rides & bounce houses for the kids ($30 wrist band for unlimited access). Free music for everyone on the big stage. Lemon-flavored beer. And, of course, this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event has booths for local businesses and vendors. It’s not a huge event: there were perhaps 40 or 50 total booths. The atmosphere, though, is great. Temperatures are mild. What’s not to like?

Goleta is a coastal community in Santa Barbara county. One challenge is that Goleta is 90 minutes from home, and the hotel costs are significant. It’s hard to find a mid-priced motel under $250. Our hotel costs were higher than our event fees for this event, which is startling.

We felt so good about this event 2 years ago, when we last did it.

Well, perhaps I should say Mrs M felt good about it: she outsold me. That’s a relatively unusual thing, and she celebrates that victory to this day. It was her first $1,000 event – her best event EVER. She’s had bigger events since, of course, but she was anxious to return to the Lemon Festival.

When we last did the event, it was before Mrs M’s purpose-built display. It was before soap. Way before ZooSoapia. It was even before Magic Bottle Openers, so we both felt that we had upsides when we returned this year.

Expectations.

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had to work this weekend at her “job,” so we booked this event with the knowledge that I would be solo. We ended up with Mrs M driving up to help me set up Friday afternoon, which was a help. Then, Little Girl drove up to help me sell on Saturday. Sunday, I was solo: me alone in a 10×20 booth. The event on Sunday was 10 – 5, and then I had to tear down and load out. Alone.

Observations

  • I was a lonely, lonely man.
  • But that was on Sunday. Saturday was a different experience.
  • The first entertainment act was a local vocal school, and it started – the event started – with a young Annie wannabe that was definitely not ready for prime time. Humble beginnings, indeed.
  • Act #2 was Ukulele Jim. I observed that anyone with an instrument in their name was clearly serious about their craft. Our booth neighbor asked how many hours of practice had to happen before you could put your instrument in your name. 5,000 hours? More?
  • It was suggested to me that I make deviled egg platters. Challenge accepted.
  • It was suggested to me that I make cutting boards colored like a dive flag. I see the interest … maybe.
  • Sold my first mother/daughter matched set of boards. They both liked the same board on the table, and I just happened to have its mate under the table.
  • Requests were for a heart-shaped board (sigh), chess boards (sigh), small boards with juice grooves (sigh) and small boards with holes for hanging (sigh). I need more time. Other requests were for a board with a crumb catcher (common in Europe, they said) and a cutting board only 1/4″ thick.
  • One of the challenges of working an event solo is dealing with personal needs. How do you get food? Once you have it, how do you get time to eat, without a mouth full when a customer asks a question?
  • And, yes, there are bathroom challenges. I finally bribed a customer with a bar of soap so she would watch my booth for 3 minutes while I sought relief.
  • In the end, my sales were down from my anemic 2015. Mrs M’s sales were up a tad, so she had another $1,000 weekend … which, at this point, is just no big deal. This was a disappointing event for us with below average sales and high travel costs.
  • No cutting boards sold this weekend. No sale over $100. That’s unusual.
  • We ate $79 in singles at this event. That’s unprecedented, and speaks to the number of small transactions that were for Mrs M’s products. Good thing we travel with $100 in singles!
  • Load out was OK, but it does take longer when we put up our FULL display and there’s only me to tear it down. I took the canopies down just after twilight … it was 7:35p. I was loaded at about 8, so it was a 3 hour load out. The drive home was about 90 minutes, and with my stop to pick up dinner, I was home at 9:45p.
  • High living.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” plastic omelettes at the Best Western means I followed Mrs M’s standing recommendation and made faux Bacon McMuffins with salsa. You get what you pay for here.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla, which was very good … even for fair food.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: The best Yelp-rated pizza place in Goleta delivered. Woodstock pizza was good … but I won’t recommend their whole wheat crust.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” frittatas weren’t plastic, but they were tasteless. Faux Sausage McMuffins this time. Yuck.

Sunday Lunch: Since I was anchored to the booth, I brought Lunchables & Pepperidge Farm cookies from the grocery store. I did not suffer.

Sunday Snack: Did I mention the Pepperidge Farm cookies?

Sunday Dinner: McDonald’s # 1, eaten on the road. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 382
  • Booth cost: $450
  • Food cost: $143
  • Travel cost: $685
  • Total sales: $1,745
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $467
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 103
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was a lemon-themed local roller ball team of makers that wore very nice lemon print dresses; they owned local & lemon.
  • # woodworking vendors: there was a toy maker
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 13:1
  • Returning next year? doubt it

Boards sold: 14

Cheese Boards: 4

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Small Boards: 2

Letter Clipboard: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard:  1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2017   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

This is our 3rd trek to the mountains of Tehachapi for their Mountain Festival.

How good is this event? Good enough that Mrs M will brave the heat of August to serve the fine people at Mountain Fest. And neither she nor her lotions have melted yet….

This strong community event (that’s still in search of a logo!) is centered at a city park. There’s free entertainment on the stage that’s surrounded by vendors. Other events happen in surrounding areas, from a 5k to a rodeo to a car show … well, you get the idea. This is a fun community event, and it’s been very good to us. In 2015, it was our best event ever, though we’ve broken that record many times since. We did better in 2016, as well.

Tehachapi has been good for us. After a shaky beginning this year, our legacy events are now on a growth streak. Will we continue doing better this year than last?

New Ideas

  • After 5 weeks with no events, everything seems new.
  • For years, this event had the vendors on the streets on 2 sides of the Phillip J Marx Central Park, and had the food vendors on the park grass on the other 2 sides. Due to a food vendor illegally dumping their cooking oil on the grass last year, the positions were reversed, with the food vendors out on the hot asphalt streets, and the merchandise vendors on the cool grass.
  • We are back to using our new Trimline 10×20 canopy, which hasn’t been out to play since Memorial Day. Hope I remember how to put it up!

Observations

  • I did not remember how to put the Trimline up. Definitely took longer to figure out which pole went where. Unfortunately.
  • It’s no fun loading in when the temperature is above 90*. I had to push every cart up hill, and then over soft turf that had been over-watered in anticipation of a high traffic weekend.
  • For the first time ever, clipboards were my # 1 selling item. And for almost the first time ever, Velda said she was wrong and I was right … to make clipboards.
  • A guy in the booth commented, after seeing Mrs M’s offerings, that he could no longer use the phrase “uglier than homemade soap.” Never having heard that phrase, I inquired and found out that he grew up in Florida. Apparently, Floridian soap-makers don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Later, Mrs M was asked if she offers classes. And the answer was no, so there appears to be no hope for Florida.
  • Requests were for card table repair, a walking stick, a job and an RV cabinet. Tehachapi is an eclectic bunch that doesn’t play chess, apparently.
  • In our 3rd year at this event, we definitely felt the power of legacy. Lots of return purchasers for both of us. Foot traffic was high throughout the event … and I believe putting the food vendors on the streets surrounding the park was a good thing for crowd flow.
  • Velda premiered Luscious Lemon Grass soap at the event, and sold more than half of the batch. She also brought out a new batch of Olive Branch soap, and sold more than 3/4 of that batch. She’s got work to do to prepare for our next event!
  • I do love helping people, explaining what makes a good cutting board. I just wish they would come to the booth before we’re trying to load out. Velda & I both lost at least 30 minutes during load out because we were helping late customers. The event closed at 5 … but we were not loaded and on the road until 7:30.
  • We came in with moderate expectations for this event. We knew the crowd, we had good inventory. We were ready.
  • We killed it.
  • We started the year being down in sales at every event we were repeating from 2016. Now, it appears the tide has turned. This is the 3rd repeated event in a row that we’re up in 2017.
  • And thanks to some custom orders from a couple of the volunteers that help to run this event, we were way up. That’s good … Papa needs a new CNC. It’s now on order, and it will fundamentally change what I can do, and how I can to it. The Woodshop is going to be humming this fall. Stay tuned.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Best Western. It was “free.” Thank goodness.

Saturday Lunch: Cheese & Crackers, when we had time. We waited until too late to eat … and then got rushed. You just never know….

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: A burger with friends. The best way to do events!

Sunday Breakfast: Still worth every penny of free.

Sunday Lunch: Did it again, but earlier.

Sunday Snack: A chocolate soft serve ice cream cone from the booth right in front of us. Yum.

Sunday Dinner: A Big Carl from Carl’s Jr in Mojave. Late night sustenance, nothing more.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 183
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $165
  • Travel cost: $459.17
  • Total sales: $3,929
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $3,005
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 112
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M. There was a doTerra rep as well.
  • # woodworking vendors: there was a turner … couple? Co-op? In any event, they were there as well
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:3
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 21

Clipboards: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Small Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

Magic Bottle Openers: 2

Small Surfboards: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

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