Archive for the ‘Tehachapi’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 2018   3 comments

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

This will be our 4th consecutive annual trip to the mountains in southern Kern County for the 55th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival.

We love this event. You can read about our previous visits: 2017, 2016 and 2015. Note that when Mrs M’s Handmade was just 18 months old, the 2015 event was our Best. Event. Ever.

We love Tehachapi.

Great community. Park atmosphere. Handmade vendors are in the vast majority – and we get to set up on the grass. Live music. Oh, and there’s a carnival, a car show and fair food (we didn’t do any of those!).

We’ve been surprisingly successful at this event over the years, and got a large special order last year that really put me over the top. That’s not expected this year, of course, but we still expect to have another nice jaunt north.

New Ideas

  • After putting up our Trimline canopy last year, we return to pop-ups this year. That saves about 30 minutes or so on the set up and the tear down … and since we’re driving home Sunday evening, we thought that was a good idea.

Observations

  • Set up began at 3pm Friday afternoon. Heat of the day. We took our time, though, and worked the process until we wanted to quit. Mrs M got most of her product up, but I elected to do my product set up on Saturday morning. Opening was at 10a; we were ready.
  • This community comes to the event, and they walk the booths. There’s traffic here, and you just need to find your audience.
  • A lady came into the booth and wanted me to do a replacement board for her Hoosier. Huh? Come to find out, this is an old, freestanding kitchen cabinet that has an integrated flour mill below the upper cabinet. I have seen these, but never knew they were named after the state’s nickname where so many of them were made: in Indiana. Who knew?
  • A side note: when I write these blogs, I have an opportunity to have the website check them before publication. Basic spelling is checked (I have trained the checker how to spell Padauk, Bubinga & Morado, by the way). Grammar is checked. And, every time I use the word “lady” the checker accuses me of using biased language.
  • I’m not biased. I believe people are good, and every female that enters my booth is a lady until she proves otherwise. If that makes me biased, then so be it. I’m not changing. And I calls ’em the way I sees ’em.
  • I got a few more chaos boards finished for this event (I had been out for 6 weeks). Those boards are a stopper … but they always inspire people to tell me that they see what I do with my scrap wood. Here’s the board:

Cutting Board 18 – 724. 18 species are in this board! End Grain. Chaos Board.

  • Please note I do not make my boards out of scrap. I start with lumber, and I end up at the finish line. Each board is hand selected to be a part of the cutting board. Scrap is what I burn or recycle. Good lumber is what I use. I do get rather insistent when people tell me that I use scrap to make things.
  • The price tag on this board is $200. It is not made out of scrap. Nothing I make is out of scrap.
  • Rant over.
  • We expected this year to be down from the record-setting event last year, and we were not wrong. We didn’t want to be this wrong, however: Saturday was down about 50%. Several other vendors reported similar numbers, unfortunately. Temperatures were in the 90s … the ice cream vendor had a line all day long. Cutting Board sales? Not so much.
  • Sunday is another day.
  • A pair of ladies (yup) walked by the booth. One observed that it might be fun to get a pig cutting board. Or a bear cutting board. I pointed them both out to her (win!). Come to find out, her family had a cabin complete with a shaped cutting board from the ’30s (!) that was shaped like a pig. Or, probably a bear. They really weren’t sure which. Interesting; I told them how rare a vintage bear board is. Pig boards are out there, but bears? Not so much.
  • No sale for me, however.
  • This event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. During the course of the event, 5 different board members came into the booth to introduce themselves and thank us for our support.
  • Promoters, take note. It is nice to feel appreciated.
  • We love this event.
  • Sunday sales ended up being much better than expected. It didn’t make up for our oh so slow Saturday, but our ending total was much more respectable than we feared the night before. We were down, as expected, but we had a very respectable event. We’re already planning for next year … and we’re going to get bigger.
  • Requests were for cribbage boards (2x. I am so over not having these done yet!), more boards with juice grooves, more smaller boards & a sign defining a chicken, since I’ve already defined a pig (hmmmm).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Dinner with friends. Does it matter what you eat?
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner with friends. See above.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 148
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $104
  • Travel cost: $77
  • Total sales: $2,107
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,626
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other
  • # woodworking vendors: there was one maker and 2 importers
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 17:1
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 18x

Trivets: 4

Large Serving Pieces: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 2

Coasters Set: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Clipboard: 1

Custom Order: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Heart: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2017   3 comments

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

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

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016   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.

Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016Tehachapi is a small town (population 13,000+) with at an elevation of 3,970′, and is located between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. Tehachapi is about 60 miles north of us, in the mountains of southern Kern County.

Which must be why they host the annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival®.

There’s a rodeo. There’s a parade. There’s a 5K & 10K. There’s a carnival. There’s a car show (and I saw none of these, by the way, but I did see Miss Rodeo Kern County’s horse trailer.). The event takes place at Tehachapi’s Philip Marx Central Park, where a bandstand has free concerts and the streets are filled with vendors offering handmade goods. That’s my kind of good time.

We first visited Tehachapi as vendors last year, and had a fabulous time, as you can read in last year’s The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival. At the time, this was our Best. Event. Ever.

We’ve kept improving on our performance, however, and we’ve broken that record 5 times since. My only question is, can we keep it going?

New Ideas

  • We’ve both improved our presentations since last year … but we still don’t have a banner. We’ve introduced a few new products, of course, but we’re comparing results with an excellent, surprisingly successful event from last year.
  • New at this event is Aunt Sis’ Cloth Exfolier, available as a flat cloth or a mitt (see the last picture, below). Aunt Sis has been crocheting up a storm so she could be a part of the wonder that is Mrs M’s Handmade. That’s my version of the story, anyway.
  • This is our 80th event as vendors. I’m not sure we still qualify as beginners, but I know we are far, far from being experts.

Observations

  • The number of vendors effectively doubled this year, with many more vendors on the 2 streets surrounding the park. Unfortunately, many of the new vendors were not exhibiting handmade goods exclusively. In my humble opinion. Only handmade goods were allowed to be offered from the street positions (there were perhaps a dozen buy & sell vendors located in the purgatory on the south side of the park, just like last year). The mixing of non-handmade goods by some vendors was my only complaint with the event.
  • I love community events.
  • Great booth location … because it’s the same one we had last year. Personally, I don’t think which booth location you get matters much most of the time, but we are happy with our location … especially with vendor friends on both sides and behind our booth! Keeping the same location year-to-year is important, I believe. Own your space.
  • Both Mrs M & I had so many people come to our booth on Saturday and express their excitement that we were back again. Mrs M sold a lot of Soozy’s Achy Muscle Relief to people coming back for more, and that is always a wonderful thing!
  • I love community events.
  • Oh so many wannabe woodworkers talked to me at this event, and to a man (yup) they all asked where I got my lumber. It’s not easy to shop for exotics like I use when you leave LA County.
  • After thinking my large surfboards, AKA Elegant Cheese & Cracker Servers, would never sell … I’m now down to my last one. I need to make another big bunch ASAP!
  • Requests were pretty light this weekend … so it figures that the requests received were for chess pieces (2x) and (wait for it) … cribbage boards.
  • Someone asked Mrs M for soap made from ostrich oil. That’s a thing, come to find out. And, uh, I don’t want to know how you get the oil out of the ostrich.
  • I’m never going to be OK with the look of our booth until we:
    • Add mesh walls to both add hanging points and control our backdrop 100%
    • Get banners up above our booth header
  • The former may have to wait until we buy a new shade structure … maybe next year. If we need it. The latter needs to get handled ASAP. We. Need. Banners.
  • It was just days ago that I had pushed my inventory of boards & such to 215. After this event … I’m down to 140. And it’s only been 17 days!
  • I either need to make more stuff or stop letting people buy things.
  • Guess which option I’m choosing.
  • Results on Saturday seemed good, though not spectacular. Flat to prior year, I thought. Sunday started slow and stayed slow … but kept coming. In the end, we beat last year’s number by 4%. That’s not a record this year, but it’s still strong sales from this fun event.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express Biscuits & Gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Fish & Chips Surprise from one of the vendors at the Festival.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Red House BBQ, with our good friends Jan & Barry. They were paying, so it was a great dinner. (Seriously, it was a great time, and nice to relax after a busy day vending).

Sunday Breakfast: The infamous HIE plastic cheese omelette.

Sunday Lunch: Some Chinese Chicken. On a stick.

Sunday Snack: Still nope.

Sunday Dinner: The best Mexican meal we’ve had in 3 attempts at the last 2 events … served at a gas station on our way out of town. We couldn’t believe it, either.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $300
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $2,759
  • # containers of product taken: 18
  • # boards available: 152
  • Saturday alarm: not needed
  • Sunday alarm: not needed
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: We never saw any, but there was supposed to be someone there selling Sugar Scrub. Never found them.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. There was a box maker, a toy maker (Hi again, Mitch!), and several people that used wood in signs, holiday decorations, etc.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 27:1
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 28

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Lazy Susans: 5

Large Surfboards: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Bread Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Chess Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival   3 comments

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

TMF2015It was our big August event … the only August event we scheduled. The average temperature in Tehachapi for August indicated that the lotions should be OK (direct sunlight and high temps are not their friend!), so we committed to the event in spite of some heat concerns.

And it was hotter than normal this year, come to find out. Temps went into the 90s, but with judicious use of our portable awning (as you can see in the bottom picture), the lotions were just fine.

As were we.

Best. Event. Ever.

We had our best sales event yet. In our vast experience as vendors (we’ve been doing this 18 months, can you believe it?), we hit our stride at this event.

This is a wonderful community event. People wandered in to the park throughout the day to enjoy free live music and stroll through the handmade craft area. There was also a smaller area for commercial vendors, as well as food vendors (of course!). Some of those booths were fundraisers for community organizations (hot dogs by the Boy Scouts!).

New Ideas

  • I had a “complete” inventory at this event, with examples of every kind of board that I’ve been making. The result of that complete inventory was sales of 12 different kinds of boards. I know that my challenge is to keep this variety available through the holiday season.
  • We moved up from keeping wads of cash in our pockets to actually having a professional cash drawer. It really did make handling the money much easier.
  • Two different total strangers thanked me for being a part of the Mountain Festival. These weren’t staff members from the sponsor, the Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce. I mean, wow. LOVED this community.

Observations

  • Great neighbors at this event. Of course, we chose to be next to Theresa’s “Heart String Creations,” and the producers accommodated that request. Theresa is a joy, and her neck coolers helped us beat the heat throughout both days. (HIGHLY recommended!) The other neighbor sold tutus, magic wands and such for little girls, and did a great business. My fellow slave labor from that booth is a radio personality in the Fresno area, so we bonded immediately and told war stories all weekend. Being around good people is such a rare and wonderful thing!
  • Very good attendance for what proved to be a relatively small number of vendors. There were about 30 handcrafted vendors and perhaps another 16 commercial vendors. Very little duplication, and I heard several vendors talk about they were having a good event. We certainly did!
  • Anytime I sell the most expensive board on the table, I have a good event. This time, I sold 4 of the 5 most expensive boards on the table. That makes for a very good event!
  • With sales success comes the realization that I need to make more stuff. And go to the lumber yard. I’m good with glue for now (I bought 2 gallons last time), and I should have mineral oil to last the year (Velda bought 8 gallons when it was on sale).
  • Do you know anyone else that has gallons of mineral oil in the garage woodshop … and is happy about it?
  • There was a fire burning between Tehachapi and our home, so we couldn’t take the most direct route home. We detoured to the east and took a freeway (the 14) home once we reached the Antelope Valley, and avoided the roads closed by the fire. That fire in the San Francisquito Canyon isn’t very close to our home, by the way, but did add 30 minutes or so to the ride home.
  • All product & booth infrastructure was unloaded and into the house, shed or garage woodshop at 9:50pm. Then I got to sit down. This is a glamorous and glorious life….

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express (note to self: use more salt & pepper for at least SOME flavor)

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s fruit & cheese extravaganza

Saturday Snack: Too busy. Too hot. Not hungry.

Saturday Dinner: I was promised Mexican, but I got South American. Not the same thing, but very good.

Sunday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express with more salt & pepper

Sunday Lunch: Velda’s fruit & cheese extravaganza, take 2

Sunday Snack: Still too busy. Definitely too hot. Not hungry.

Sunday Dinner: Take out after we got home from Carl’s Jr. Necessary, but hardly satisfying.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 327
  • Booth cost: $300 for a 10’x20′ booth
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $2,631
  • # containers of product taken: 27
  • # boards available: 118
  • Saturday alarm: 7am
  • Sunday alarm: 7:10am
  • # transactions: 70
  • # soap & lotion vendors: only 1!
  • # woodworking vendors: only 1!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 15:7

Boards sold: 22

  • Lazy Susan: 4
  • Large edge grain cutting board: 4
  • Cutting board: 2
  • Large cheese & cracker server: 2
  • Small board: 2
  • Cheese board: 2
  • Pig cutting board: 1
  • Small sous chef board: 1
  • Medium surfboard: 1
  • Chess board: 1
  • Bread board: 1
  • Custom board order: 1

Tehachapi - Mr M Tehachapi - Mrs M

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