Archive for the ‘vendor’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Big Hat Days 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.

April is a big month for our family: 2 birthdays for the granddaughters are in April. That means events take 2nd place to them.

As they should.

We did Big Hat Days when we were babies, way back in 2015. We had a single booth and no clue. At the time, that event was our Best. Event. Ever. It wore that crown proudly for all of 7 days, until it was surpassed by our first time at the California Poppy Festival – another April event that we don’t get to do very often.

This year, we carefully planned with the other Mrs Mowry, and decided to do Big Hat Days on the weekend between the 2 girls’ birthdays.

When a birthday party eventually got scheduled.

I’m not bitter. But I was in Fresno to try and recreate our early success.

New Ideas

  • The most different thing about this event was that the Lady & I obsessed over checking the weather. We were both checking the weather multiple times a day leading up to our trek north. Rain was forecast for Friday & Saturday. It was pretty clear we were in for it.

Observations

  • Event # 2 of 10 of the 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Our 6th event of the year … and 5 of those have been wet. I’m done with rain. Please.
  • This large vendor event (500 vendors!) takes place on a main street in “Old Downtown Clovis.” It’s full of what we, in a nice moment, call buy & sell vendors that are re-selling imported items for a few dollars. In the vernacular, we call it Chinese S***.
  • It is. When an event gets to where almost every booth seems like it’s offering imported goods for less than $10, then the event is probably not a good one for us. On the other hand, there is SO much traffic at this event (30,000+ I am sure), you’d think success would be there, even for vendors of handmade luxury items.
  • And then rain happened.
  • Load-in was at 5:30am. We just about got both canopies up when the rain started. I was wet until the rain stopped 7 hours later.
  • Wet & miserable.
  • We bought a new canopy to replace them one crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy, but we decided to use the old top to see if we could get some use out of it. We could … and learned the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Both canopy tops are about 7 months old, and they did repel water. Unfortunately, there was enough falling from the sky that the fabric saturated and we had drips just about everywhere.
  • As we were setting up, I looked across the street to the vendor setting up his booth of wind spinners – made in China, naturally. He had a canopy of sorts, but all of his product was getting wet. He didn’t care. Made me think I was in the wrong business. Thankfully, sanity returned quickly.
  • There was really nothing to do but close the walls in a bit, move everything away from the walls as much as possible and just endure. Mrs M’s front corner, with the samples, was soaked. My back table with my biggest boards was soaked, too. Good thing I put rubber feet on them; they were up away from the table cloths.
  • We were on a city street, remember, so water ran from the crown down to the side of the street all day long. Everything on the ground was wet – all of the tablecloths were wicking up moisture. It. Was. Wet. Thankfully, we could set up away from the gutter.
  • Mrs M didn’t put out ZooSoapia because of the, uh, advanced humidity. I cut down on my display, too. In the end, I have a few boards that want to be resurfaced (really not a big thing), and Mrs M will have to launder all of the table cloths. But, honestly, we endured.
  • First sale of the event was from a guy I met at the Home & Garden Show a month ago; he came looking for me to buy his cutting board. In the rain.
  • There was still business to be had, thankfully, and even in the rain there were customers walking down the street eating ice cream. But, of course, the day was impacted by the rain and many, many people stayed home. We were far below our expectations. Far below our results from 2015.
  • Sometimes, it rains.
  • The rain stopped about 1p, and the crowd did grow until the end of the day. Sunday, the forecast was for clouds – but no rain – and we hoped for much bigger results.
  • Nope. We ended the event lower than we did in 2015. When we were babies in a single booth. This year, as drenched veterans in a double booth (twice as expensive) with some pride in our accomplishments, we were quite disappointed in the event. But, there’s nothing we can do about the rain, so all we can do is pack up, drive south … and prepare for our next event, which just happens to be in 2 weeks, right back in Fresno.
  • Sold the chaos board recently chronicled as the 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round. It sold on the 2nd day I showed it, and it had already been touched by oh so many people that walked by and had to feel it. Thank goodness I have a 4 more boards with a similar design on the way….
  • Requests were for an ocean-themed cutting board (you know, like a starfish. HUH?), a grill cleaner (that’s a first), knife blocks (2x, but no) and a backgammon set (nope).

The Food

  • Best Meal: We stayed in an AirBnB cottage behind the owner’s home that was really quite lovely. Mrs M planned our meals so we could eat in and save money, thankfully. Meals came from the fridge & freezer, so you ask me to choose between Velda’s Chicken Piccata (leftovers) and Velda’s Spaghetti (from the freezer). Not going to happen. Both were excellent, as always.
  • Worst Meal: It’s sacrilege, I know, but lunch on the road at the Arvin Black Bear Diner was not satisfying. Too much steam table, not enough comfort food. Should’ve had the omelette.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 412
  • Booth cost: $750
  • Food cost: $76 (we don’t count food brought from home)
  • Travel cost: $414
  • Total sales: $1,561
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $321
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: Not nearly enough.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 17:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 18

Coasters: 4

Trivets: 4

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

CNC Engraved Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Soap Deck: 1

The Board Chronicles: Champagne on Main 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.

The 4th Annual Spring Fling is upon us … so it’s time to break some rules.

Apparently.

Last year, I found the event to be underwhelming, and I put it on my “don’t do it” list for this year.

And then I broke the rule.

After all, it fit on the calendar. There wasn’t an attractive alternative … and I remembered that many seasoned vendors last year said it was well below average for them. So, maybe there’s an upside?

Let’s see.

New Ideas

  • A solo, one-day event means I fit everything I can into the Jeep, and that’s what goes to the event. I left many things at home … like the keys to the hitch carrier. Ooops.
  • Also left at home were engraved pieces, the Word Blocks, chess pieces, cheese knives and most of my cutting board inventory. I had 5 pieces in back stock below the table. Roomy, it was.
  • I broke another rule: I had no demo of bottle opening and cap catching to propel MBO sales. No crate to put the MBOs in. I did grab some bottle caps to stick on a few of the display MBOs to show their magic … but that was it. Maybe less is more. Maybe.

Observations

  • Event # 1 of 10 in the 4th Annual Spring Fling.
  • Nice to have an event with no rain in the forecast. This is our 5th event of the year, and the first one without rain!
  • Mrs M packed the table cloths for me, but she shorted me a couple. I needed a tablecloth for another 6′ table, not a 4′ … so my back table was sort of partially covered by a too-short cloth. Also, I needed a covering for my container stack that’s used as a platform to wrap boards on. I borrowed a cloth from our good friend Delinda of Sweet Spot Home Decor, and all was well.
  • I arrived at 7:30a, and was setting up by 8a. I was ready to go at 9a … and immediately had people in the booth. The event was “scheduled” to start at 11a, but when you’re on Main Street and it’s open to the public, you’re open when they wander by.
  • My first sale was at 10a … the only Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Large Surfboard, that I brought. Perhaps I should have found room for more.
  • I get annoyed when people look at my work and talk about how I must use scrap lumber. I do NOT use scraps when I do what I do. Every board is hand selected by me for the piece it goes in. Every time. Scraps are what I recycle, or put in the pizza oven stack to burn.
  • I don’t use scrap in my cutting boards & serving pieces & such.
  • Annoyed, I am.
  • Met another fan of this blog at the event. That’s getting to be a regular occasion … and that’s a good thing!
  • I identified 5 kinds of people that were walking Main Street during the event:
    • People going to the Farmer’s Market, who walked by the booth going to & fro. Produce buyers seem like a good target audience for me, but people that go to Farmer’s Market don’t generally impulse buy a handmade cutting board … in my experience. Today, a few stopped in the booth, but they did not buy from me.
    • Easter Egg Hunters … there was an egg hunt nearby, apparently. Young families are not a particularly good target audience for me, and with kids & baskets in tow, not one stopped in my booth.
    • Dog walkers were on the street throughout the event … not one came into the booth.
    • Restaurant goers and other people on Main Street for reasons having nothing to do with the event were in my booth throughout the day, and they were my primary source of sales.
    • Champagne Drinkers are the reason for the event, on its surface, but they were not the main source of booth traffic all day. The event was officially on 11a – 6:30p, but the drinking was only 3p – 6p. On this day, not one person holding a sampling glass was in my booth. I’m not saying the Champagne Drinkers were not buyers, but they were Secret Shoppers if they were.
  • If your event is not the primary reason that buyers are coming to your booth, then I think there’s a problem with the event. Random traffic & walk-up business is appreciated, of course – but it is not predictable nor repeatable. I do not think it’s a reliable source of business, ever: I am there for the audience of the event that I paid my money to.
  • And on this day, it wasn’t worth it. I heard that same story from other vendors up and down the street. This event is too expensive for the results generated.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Leftovers for dinner – meatloaf. Yum.
  • Worst Meal: In the spirit of the day, I broke a rule and had Jack in the Box for breakfast. Mistake. Again.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 103
  • Booth cost: $225
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $567
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $288
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue, though I did see a wine barrel products guy.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 14

5x Coasters

3x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Cheese Boards

1x Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Lazy Susan

1x Medium Surfboard

1x Small Board

The Board Chronicles: Dealing With An Insurance Claim   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.

In Velda’s mind, here’s what almost happened.

Velda was not harmed in the making of this photo.

Now, I’m don’t think she’s the Wicked Witch of the West, at least on a good day, but the truth is her booth was crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. This is the story of what happened after we picked up the pieces, left stormy Arizona and sought compensation from the company that owned that wind-blown destroyer.

Need to know what happened to cause this problem? Read that story in Wind. Blows. A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

First things first: I took pictures. I took pictures from each corner of Mrs M’s booth so I prove that we had been squashed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. I thought I took pictures of everything, but I really didn’t. I got everything I needed, fortunately, but wish I would have doubled the number of shots to get more close-ups. I didn’t have a good shot of the middle legs of the upside down canopy destroyer, for example. I had a long shot, but not one with as much detail as I would have liked.

Photos in hand, and once the shock wore off a bit, we proceeded to cooperatively disassemble the Flying Dry Soup Canopy … it was toast. Once it was off of Mrs M’s booth, we could see what had happened to her booth. Her canopy was also done for, of course, so we lifted it over her display and folded it up crushed it together so I could cart if off to the dumpster, as I was directed when I sought out event staff to ask what I should do.

Event staff, by the way, did not visit our booth and did not volunteer any direction as to what should happen or who should do what. We were on our own. Totally on our own.

I did salvage the canopy’s fabric top and walls. They all appeared to be somewhat soiled, but not ripped. I continued to take photos, documenting all of the damaged product, the damaged display pieces, the product on the ground, the broken signs … anything I could think of that showed damage, I took pictures of.

Anything.

I didn’t ask permission, I just took pictures. I thought they would come in handy.

They did.

We then proceeded with our day and completed the event. Once home, I got to work repairing Mrs M’s display, replacing broken pieces and missing hardware. Mrs M got to work replacing her product that was damaged, but all damaged product was held in case we needed more than photographic evidence taken at the event to prove the amount of damages we incurred.

Mrs M’s repaired booth, good as new.

Once we recovered, I reached out to the insurance agent with the contact information I was given on that fateful day in Arizona at Winterfest, in Lake Havasu City.

“I’m sorry, that agent doesn’t work here anymore.”

The Claim

However, the lead agent did come on the line and gave me an email address. I then sent them this letter, copying the client:

Thank you for your time on the phone today.

As we discussed, Mrs M’s Handmade was a vendor at the recent Lake Havasu City Winterfest. At that event, a windstorm on Saturday night lifted the canopy of your client, [Company Name/Client Name]. That canopy came down on top of our canopy, crushing it and damaging our products and display pieces underneath.

Amazingly, most of our products were undamaged. There were some broken display pieces. One display crate crashed and most of the products inside were destroyed (109 small lotion bars). Other product losses were nominal. The canopy, unfortunately, was a total loss. The main wooden display was somewhat damaged, and it had to have broken pieces and hardware replaced.

To figure the loss of business profits for this Sunday, I averaged the actual sales for our last 5 outdoor events, and figured the lost net profit from that.

Any questions? Please call me at the numbers below.

I enclosed an itemization of our damaged items, which included actual cost estimates:

  • 1, Undercover Canopy, commercial weight
  • 109, Small Lotion Bars, Replacement Cost
  • 8, Lotions, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Beard Oil, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Body Polish, Replacement Cost
  • 1, Loss of Business Profits, Sunday
  • 1, Bowl, Display Piece
  • 1, Picture Frame, Display Piece
  • 1, Repair of Display, 4 hours

Those are actual losses; I didn’t inflate any item. It doesn’t matter what others might do; I have to live with me. I played this totally above board. Just like life.

Also attached to the email were these photos:

The Denial

After 2 weeks, I got a response from a claims agent, who denied the claim. No idea if this was an automatic thing (as we all fear insurance companies that just deny every claim). Here’s the letter:

Dear Mr Mowry:

[Insurance company name] has been notified of your attempt to file a claim under our insured’s Commercial General Liability policy. After a thorough review of the evidence, documentation and evidence submitted, our findings indicate that our insured is not legally liable for the damages caused to your unit.

The loss concerned a wind storm which occurred late at night on the above-listed date. This wind event caused widespread damage to several vendor tents at the Lake Havasu City Winterfest trade show, including that of the insured. It has been reported that our insured’s tent blew over during this wind event, causing damage to your tent, your product, and affecting your ability to conduct business on the following day.

In review of the weather report for that particular day, it appears that these gusts of wind were in excess of forty miles per hour. Our insured reported to us that they had used – as they always do – five individual thirty-five pound weights hanging from their tent in order to secure it from such wind events that could occur overnight at the event. They also reported that his has seemed to work ever since they started their business.

It is our opinion that it is reasonable to expect that the weight they used, which totals 175 pounds, should be sufficient to hold down a ten-by-ten tent during a normal wind event. The wind event which occurred is considered an “act of God”. It is our opinion that our insured took all reasonable steps to protect against normal wind events, but it is not reasonable for them to expect that an act of God such as  this could occur. After reviewing the information available on this loss, we do not find that our insured was negligence (sic) in the cause of your loss. Therefore, we are denying liability for your damages.

In the state of Arizona, negligence must be proven by some breach of a duty of care. The results of our investigation show that there was no such breach. Therefore, we are denying your claim for property damage.

If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact the undersigned.

The Refutation

I had questions. You bet I had questions.

Needless to say, I was a bit ticked. I took a deep breath, and that night, I responded to the claims agent’s letter. I sent the email to the claims agent that night, this time copying both their client and the original agent.

If there was any pressure that could be brought to bear from those quarters, I wanted it. I had no incentive to just follow the claims agent’s direction and only communicate with them.

Here is what I wrote:

Thank you for your response of March 8, just received today by me. You have several errors of fact in your letter that require your attention.

  1. I understand that your insured is surprised that their actions directly resulted in the destruction of our canopy and booth. However, their direct actions resulted in that damage, so they are liable. An act of God may have made the wind blow, but it was your client’s negligence that resulted in the destruction of my property. Absent your client’s negligence, we would not be having this conversation.
  2. Your contention that your client had 5 weights each weighing 35 pounds on their 10×10 canopy fails on many points, as follows:
    • They did not have a single 10×10 canopy. Rather, they had two (2) canopies that were bungeed together at the roof line. Those 2 canopies did not have 4 legs. They had 8 legs, as is clearly visible in the photographs that I submitted to your company.
    • Their weights were not found to weigh 35 pounds. I have made very similar “do it yourself” weights using PVC pipe and concrete, and I can assure you that their weights did not weigh 35 pounds each.
    • My wife lifted one of those supposed 35 pound weights with one arthritic finger.
    • I have another witness who will testify that those weights were definitely not 35 pounds each.
  3. Even if the weights did weigh a total of 175 pounds – which is a supposition that I reject – then that weight is STILL not adequate per the rules of the event. In fact, Winterfest requires each canopy to have fifty (50) pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. Your client, therefore, should have had 400 pounds of weight on their two canopies, not the 175 that you claim.
  4. Further, the rules from Winterfest are clear that there should be 50 pounds of weight on each corner of each canopy. By your admission in the letter of March 8, your client did not weight all corners of their canopies with the required fifty (50) pounds.
  5. Further, your client weighted the four (4) outside corners, and then put one weight (not the two required to have one on each leg) in the center back. They did not weight the center front of their canopies at all, which happened to be facing the direction from which the wind blew. Therefore, their canopies were not weighted on two (2) legs in the most vulnerable section of their canopies.

It is my desire to resolve the situation amicably. However, if you persist in your insistence that your client is not liable for their canopies destroying my booth, then I will have no choice but to seek justice in the legal system. As you know, your costs will go up precipitously at that point.

Perhaps your client did not share with you that they did not follow the rules of Winterfest. Perhaps you have not personally evaluated each of the weights that your client claims to weigh 35 pounds. I offer you the opportunity to satisfy my original cost estimate, and deliver me a check in 14 days (March 26). If you choose to ignore that deadline or reject this claim outright, then the next conversation you will have will be with my legal counsel.

My original claim is attached for your convenience. We have since found additional damage caused by your client’s negligence, by the way, which is not included. Settle now, and the price will not go up.

Sincerely,

The Victory

The agent was back to me within 24 hours,

Thank you for your detailed description of the events as you understand them.  It was not brought to my attention that the event had specific rules for vendors to follow with regards to their operations.  Could you please forward a copy of these rules for my review, since you allege that our insureds were in violation of such rules?

Additionally, if there is more damage than simply to that which you listed in the document you forwarded, then we would ask that you provide information regarding such damage so that we may include it with your claim.

You bet I could forward the rules, sent within the hour:

The rules for Winterfest vendors are attached. These were a part of the standard event application that was signed by all vendors. The relevant information on booth weights is on page 2, under “Requirements:”

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

We agreed to the settlement that day.

Thank you for forwarding this.  It would appear, based on the rules all vendors are bound to for this event, that our insured did not, by their statement, take the necessary precautionary steps to secure their tent.

He invited me to submit the additional damages as well, which I did.

The check was received one week later, a week before my deadline.

I am no insurance expert; I did not consult legal counsel.

But, I won.

Morals of the story:

  1. Take lots of pictures
  2. Carefully document exactly what happened
  3. Know the event rules, and keep them on file. You never know when you might need to quote them!

The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom 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.

The Almond Blossom Festival in nearby Quartz Hill has become one of our traditional first quarter events: this will be our 4th year doing this event. Sales have never been spectacular, but it’s close, it’s easy, and we spend the weekend with the Granddaughters. What’s not to like?

Well, I have a few answers to that question, as you shall see. But we were committed, and we were off to the 69th Annual Almond Blossom Festival!

New Ideas

  • The forecast was very clear: rain throughout Saturday, with more rain Saturday night. We opted for our best weather protection, and put up the big Trimline canopy. It takes more time to put up, but it is dry inside.
  • I now have an array of cheese knives (one individual knife and 4 different sets are available) I can offer to people wanting a “complete” cheese & cracker gift set. I also have chess & checker pieces for those that want a “complete” game set.

Observations

  • This event has a problem with communication. They have no social media presence, and don’t provide any tools for vendors to promote the event for them. Emails sent to the venders vendors had grammatical errors, factual errors, and were just plain annoying to wade through. They’re trying … but with the long legacy of this event, they should have the details right by now.
  • They should know how to use spell check, too.
  • Can you tell I’m annoyed?
  • Two years ago, our booth cost was 1/3 less. They’ve taken a 33% price increase in 2 years. Wanna bet my sales don’t go up that much?
  • I arrived at 11am to set up, only to be told that I had not understood the instructions. Well, I was actually told that they were sorry that their English wasn’t correct. I had to go away because some RV might show up to be parked in the next hour, so they weren’t letting anyone else in until the 12noon start time they had tried to announce.
  • This event does have many youth volunteers that are eager to help you. Unfortunately, they were not available when I most needed them, since they were pulled off to do duties for the event itself. And, as supervision waned, the attention of the youth wandered as well. Still, I appreciate the effort to provide youth volunteers.
  • The weather heavily impacted vendor participation. Many vendors were NCNS: No Call, No Show. That resulted in the aisles being very spotty due to all of the empty spaces. That made the event much less than it might have been had the positions been tight.
  • Another stalker reader of this blog found us on Saturday, and we had a great conversation with Catherine about going a-vendoring with her horseshoe art. Always nice to meet people that already know us because of The Board Chronicles.
  • Philosophy that was shared with me: “I always tell my kids to do what you love. If you like selling a bucket of rocks, then do that. Someone will be looking for that!” And, indeed, that is true.
  • My neighbor was hawking a solar company, and he was standing in his booth and saying “How’s your electric bill?” to every person that passed his booth to engage them in conversation. Every person. Most people just kept walking, but if they acknowledged him, he kept talking to them as they walked past my booth.
  • One lady reached Mrs M’s booth, and then turned and said to us, “I hate solar people. I hate’m.”
  • As a vendor, those kinds of aggressive sales techniques truly lower the quality of the event. The promoters take the booth fees … and vendors like us have to endure potential but lost customers running down the aisles to escape the obnoxious sales pitches.
  • My favorite events are all handmade. Events that mix in some buy & sell vendors can be fine – especially if they keep handmade vendors in a dedicated section – but if there are “professional” hawkers in the mix, then the quality of the shopping experience deteriorates rapidly. IMHO.
  • It started raining on Saturday in mid-afternoon, and didn’t stop. It rained all night, and was still misty/wet in the morning until about 10am.
  • Sunday morning, we were hit by the trifecta: 1) bad weather, 2) Sundays are for church, and 3) it was the day to jump ahead for Daylight Savings Time, so everyone lost an hour’s sleep. No one was at the event at 10am … including many of the vendors. I read most of a book on Sunday. Everything finally got going at about 1:30pm.
  • The Trimline canopy generated a lot of comment from other vendors … one thought it was a car port that I re-purposed as a vendor canopy.
  • Uh, no.
  • From one of Mrs M’s customers: “When you hang out with drag queens, you learn a lot of tricks.”
  • Uh, OK.
  • A lady came by and wanted to talk about the use of a wooden board. She had been told by one of her bosses to never wash a wooden board: only apply mineral oil to it. WOW. That is such incredibly bad advice. OF COURSE you should wash your cutting board! After every use, in fact! For complete instructions on how to care for your cutting board, go here. For a summary of cutting board research done at UC Davis & the University of Wisconsin that shows why wooden cutting boards are the most recommended – by science! – then go here.
  • A guy walked by the booth, and thanked us for being at the event. “You’re classing up the place,” he said. He went on to suggest that he’d once seen a guy making wooden ties, and that perhaps I should make some. He’d take me to the prom if I was wearing a wooden tie, he said. I declined the offer to go to the prom with him – to the relief of everyone present, I expect.
  • In the end, this event was weather-impacted so you should not draw firm conclusions from this one event. However, we’ve done this event 4 times, and 2 of those had heavy weather impacts (2016 was even worse!). 2017 had better weather, but sales were still disappointing. It’s clear after 4 years that this is a convenient but annoying local event that’s significantly below average for us. Time to move on.

The Food

  • Best Meals: Dinners with the Kids & Granddaughters.
  • Worst Meal: We decided to eat lunches at the event … Fair Food, as we call it. Both of them were overpriced and not that good. But, they were easy.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $365
  • Food cost: $252
  • Travel cost: $79
  • Total sales: $1,078
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $382
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: nope
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:45a
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other, who is also a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild! I looked her up on the member directory, and then reviewed all of the listings for California. I found that Mrs M is one of only 15 certified soapmakers by the HSCG in the state of California.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? Nope. We’re done.

Boards sold: 8x

2x Custom Orders

2x Cheese Board

1x Small Board

1x Clipboard

1x Chess Board

1x Cutting Board

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 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.

After 2 very uninspiring events, I’m hoping that the trek to Fresno will be a change in fortune.

Well, I’m a vendor. “Fortune” had better not be my goal.

But I digress.

We scheduled this event based on my success last year as a solo act. Read about 2017, here. This year, we initially planned for both of us to go, but Mrs M opted to stay home and make soaps & lotion while I went to the Home & Garden Show … that she doesn’t really believe is a good place for her, anyway.

So be it.

It’s the 32nd Annual Fresno Home & Garden Show. Last year, this was my Best. Solo. Event. Ever. I did it in a single booth, and I spent a bachelor’s weekend in Fresno.

That was high living, so you bet I’m returning for another round of fun.

New Ideas

  • I had a trailer, I had a double booth, and I had no canopy. I didn’t exactly travel light, but not having a canopy or 2 in the trailer – and no canopy weights! – is most unusual!
  • I took my largest-ever inventory of products to this event. 317 pieces were on display.
  • We booked the event this year as a double booth, and then opted for me to take it solo. This exhibits unprecedented flexibility on my part. Big booth? No problem. No Mrs M? No problem. Fresno? No problem.

Observations

  • I drove through rain about 60 miles south of Fresno, and I felt it following me. Rain was forecast for the first 2 days of this 3 day event. My booth is indoors, but so much of the show is not, I wondered if people would turn out in the rain. Only time will tell if I will match last year’s success.
  • Everything I said about set up last year is still true. This is a large complex, signage is minimal to non-existent, and you just have to feel your way. Luckily, my booth is in the same building as last year, and I drove right to it.
  • Well, sort of. Due to congestion, I had to have a 40 yard load in with the rolling carts. That’s not a big deal, but somewhat annoying when the load in is made more difficult by people just parking their cars wherever – and leaving them for their own convenience after they’re unloaded – with no concern for other vendors. You get a few entitled jerks, and everyone else suffers.
  • I suffered.
  • On Friday, we had rain. As predicted. Showers came every 2 or 3 hours, and the temperature was in the low 50s. My building was dry … but unheated. I just sat there and got cold. And bored. And when I’m bored, I get colder. It was a miserable day. Today sales on Friday = $80. Last year, sales were several times that. Friday was awful.
  • I went walk-about Saturday morning before opening, and looked at about 75% of the displays at the event. I found three (3!) different booths selling bottle openers with magnetic capability. Two booths were selling (IMHO) ugly rustic versions; one was selling something similar (but not as magical) as the ones that I sell. Still, this was the first time EVER that I have seen other woodworkers selling wanna-be MBOs.
  • He said he was a woodworker. “I mostly cut up old furniture and use the wood. We don’t have any furniture in the house anymore.”
  • Best t-shirt slogan of the weekend: “Rhinos are just chubby unicorns.”
  • I was walking behind a couple of women as they turned the corner in front of my booth.
    • Lady 1: Wow.
    • Lady 2: Someone has fun.
    • Lady 1: Beautiful.
    • Lady 2: Some people hang these.

How can I not smile?

  • Saturday had better weather, though it was still wet. Not as cold, fortunately (there’s that word again), so the day was much more pleasant. Sales, though were down from last year. Significantly down. As the day wore on, I was down 40%.
  • But, to use a baseball analogy (it’s Spring Training!), you play all 9 innings. In the last hour  of Saturday, a 3 generation Sikh family (the patriarch had such a wonderful beard!) came into the booth and bought 2 chess sets and 2 Lazy Susans. That transaction, the largest of the weekend, put me ahead of prior year at the end of Saturday … even though it was raining. Sunday, though, will tell the tale: that was the biggest sales day last year.
  • Sunday was a clear day. Blue skies, but still a bit crisp in the wind. Can I top last year’s best day of the event?
  • I do hate friends that turn to a shopper and say, “You don’t want to buy that.” I just want to scream “GET OUT OF MY BOOTH.”
  • But, I don’t.
  • Why is it that, now that I have chess boards, people will look at them, turn to me, and say, “Are these cutting boards?” Can I not ever WIN?
  • When a legacy customer walks into the booth, shops for several minutes, and then says to me, “I’ll just buy one today!” … well, OK, that’s a win.
  • Requests were for a mahjong board, a bread board, a pistachio board, a counter top, a cheese slicer (coming!) and a beef jerky board.
  • Sales were slow into the mid afternoon on Sunday, unfortunately. I sold 10 items, but all were priced at $50 or below, so I was down significantly from last year’s best day. Thankfully, I play all 9 innings.
  • The last sale of the day was my last Chess Board. I sold 6 Chess Boards at this event, and 5 of them sold with a new offering that’s not handmade by me: sets of imported chess pieces from India. So, again, I’m out of chess boards. This last batch of 10 that took me too many months to make only lasted for 6 events … and I sold most of them with chess pieces. At a Home & Garden Show. Go figure.
  • Again on Sunday, the tale was told in the final hour of the event. I had 3 nice sales that totaled over $400, and that is what made this event, again:

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • The double booth at this event helped me sell 13 different items on display. I need more real estate, but do we really want to do a triple booth when I share with Mrs M?

The Food

  • Best Meal: BJs Brewhouse was just down the street from my hotel, and I had their wonderfully cold wedge salad and then the Parmesan Crusted Chicken. This was a good meal.
  • Honorable Mention: I found DiCicco’s Family Italian Restaurant a mile further down the road, and that was a great way to unwind after a difficult day a-vendoring. Highly recommended!
  • Worst Meal: The “free” breakfast at the Best Western on Friday. Paper-thin bacon with scrambled eggs. The curiosity of the meal is that they buy bread that’s too big to fit into the toaster. What are they thinking?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 397
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $103
  • Travel cost: $343
  • Total sales: $2,164
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $512
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2. One lady asked me where leaks in the roof were, and another pair dropped off solicitations for their next 2 shows. No introductions. No personal contact.
  • Saturday alarm: Nope
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 25 spread over 25 hours.  However, 41% of total sales were done in the final hours on Saturday and Sunday.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I didn’t see the entire show, but there were a couple in my building. Neither had the presentation that Mrs M did … well, that she might have had. Since she wasn’t there, she had nuttin’.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board guy that I found; he had a small, artsy display. He offered nothing larger than a small board, by my definition.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 35

Coasters: 8

Chess Board: 6

Clipboards: 4

Trivets: 3

Heart-shaped Board: 3

Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Cutting Board: 1

3D Carved Sign: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Word Block: 1

Custom Order: 1

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   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.

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: Fine Craft Show 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 Fine Craft Show – now in its 26th year! – is Santa Clarita’s largest city-sponsored vendor event. This is one of only 3 events that we have done each of the 4 years that we’ve gone a-vendoring.

It was our # 1 Santa Clarita event in 2015, but fell to # 4 in 2016. We love local … but how much will we love this event in 2017?

This show used to be a bigger deal, with perhaps 100 vendors spread across a park and adjacent baseball field visible from one of the major streets in Newhall/Valencia: Lyons Avenue. Before we were vendors, though, the event began to lose vendors, and had shrunk to about 40 vendors in the park. This year, the city proudly grew the event to 60 vendors, and used those vendor fees to add more marketing. They did social media, some local print, and also had flags on Lyons, making sure that everyone driving by would know why there were so many shade canopies set up in the park.

But would it be enough? Would we see the event return to the glory we found in 2015?

New Ideas

  • I made a new vertical display that had its first showing at this event. Read about that process here. You can also get a sense of my booth display evolution (which has been extreme) by reading this.
  • We were in our 4th location at this event in 4 years. After pleading my case with the promoter, there was no joy: they will not let me get my trailer close to my booth. The postage stamp of a parking lot only has about a dozen parking spaces, so trailer parking is just not something they are prepared to accommodate. That means that I’ll probably have a 150 yard trek to the trailer for load out, the worst of the year.

Observations

  • Event # 8 of 15 in our 4th quarter. Over the hump. Finally.
  • Knowing the load-in problem – and being local – I showed up early. I arrived at the park at 10am to load in, and only had the regular park patrons there with a nearly empty parking lot. My load in was fine and only about a 40 yard push. My trailer was out of the parking lot before the rest of the vendors arrived. I love local.
  • Love meeting vendor fans of this blog at events. There were 3 at this event. Love it!
  • Lovely weather for events. Saturday was blue skies and the slightest of breezes. It was enough, though. One vendor was set up with all 3 walls up on her canopy. She was facing into the wind … with no weights on the canopy. Her giant sail of nylon caught the breeze that was barely a breeze and tumbled. I ran to secure her canopy – upside down! – while she began recovery. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was 10:43am.
  • Oh so many friends come by to say hello.
  • Oh so many customers love my work and already have my boards at home.
  • I love local.
  • The cutest little girl had parents buy her 3 animals from the Zoo that is ZooSoapia. I love carefully accepting ducks & dogs & such from little hands after they’ve made their selection.
  • We use Paypal, and have a card reader that connects to my smartphone via bluetooth to do the transactions. It will do any kind of transaction: chip, swipe, or wireless. I did my first wireless transaction by accident. The lady gave me her card, I waved it over the reader while I was getting situated … and it charged the card. It all worked correctly, but it did surprise me that it happened with a wave of a card. RFID (Radio-frequency identification) is a thing!
  • I was alone in the booth; a lady was looking at Mrs M’s display.
    • She said, “Are you cruelty free?”
    • I said, “Uhhhh.”
    • I said, “Oh. YES! Of course! We are cruelty free.”
    • Once I recovered, I remembered that this means we don’t do animal testing with our products. You have to know the lingo. And, as Mrs M says, the only animals we test on are our family.
  • Load out was as I feared. We were packed up after 90 minutes or so, and then I had to find a way to get the trailer nearby for loading. The tiny parking lot was a no go, of course; there were still many vendors loading out and complaining that they couldn’t get closer in. That left the only trailer parking to be on Lyons Avenue, a major thoroughfare. Options were:
    • Wait until the parking lot clears, which will probably be another hour or so. At least.
    • Park down by the batting cages. Hop the curb with the rolling carts to get to the trailer. Every load will have to roll about 150 yards on the sidewalk.
    • Park closer in on Lyons Avenue, and take the merchandise on the rolling cart overland (no sidewalks). The big, wooden roll-off carts, meanwhile will have to become unlicensed vehicles on Lyons to  go into the traffic lane, rolling around the parked vehicles, and then roll up the ramp of the parked trailer.
  • I chose option # 3. We didn’t die, and I didn’t get a ticket. We did get loaded 2 hours and 55 minutes after the event closed. Thank goodness the drive home is only 15 minutes.
  • Like the cross town Summit Holiday Boutique, this event disappointed this year. We were down about 20% from last year, which was in turn down 25% from the year before. No clue why, of course. Phase of the moon? The weekend before Thanksgiving? You might argue that the cutting board market is saturated … but that doesn’t explain why Mrs M’s sales were down, too. Sales trends are so often a mystery. Unfortunately.
  • But, we have declining revenues and an impossible load out. And this is a hometown event. Hmmmmmmmm.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A burger from the Patty Wagon food truck, on site. Yum.

Saturday Snack: Chocolate pudding, from The Pudding Truck. Who knew?

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. All we could manage after a disappointing day.

Sunday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home. It’s my current go to.

Sunday Lunch: Back to the Patty Wagon. It was the only choice.

Sunday Snack: A donut from whatever food truck was doing donuts. Best $2 donut I’ve ever had. And, yes, it’s the only one.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at a favorite local restaurant … and I found foreign objects in my food. These were identified as metal pieces from a scrub pad. The restaurant was very responsive; the manager comped my meal and the chicken sandwich they made for me to take home. Didn’t matter: I lost my appetite.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 22
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $185
  • Travel cost: $12
  • Total sales: $1,536
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $989
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 63
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 4 soap vendors (too many for this size of an event). At least 2 of the others were local vendors with limited experience, it seemed. Welcome!
  • # woodworking vendors: There were 5 other woodworkers, 3 of which had cutting boards. None matched my variety & depth for cutting boards, of course, but there were definitely other people offering their wooden objects for sale. Two of them are fans of this blog (!).
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Boards sold: 11

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Summit Holiday Boutique 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 Summit is one of the older, prestigious neighborhoods in the planned community that is Valencia. Valencia is one of the 4 communities that make up the city of Santa Clarita (along with Newhall, Saugus and Canyon Country).

A vendor friend of ours hosts a holiday boutique at the homeowner’s clubhouse each year. This is micro neighborhood event, though it does attract some shoppers from across Santa Clarita. Small event, small number of vendors … and Santa comes by every year.

There are generally several friendly vendors that we know well. There’s a pot luck lunch for the vendors. And, our results here traditionally have been way beyond our expectations. Read about prior years here: 2015 part 1, 2015 part 2 and 2016.

New Ideas

  • We double booked this weekend (we broke a rule). The 2 Mrs M’s handled this show, while Little Girl & I handled the Fine Craft Show a couple of miles away.
  • It’s been a while since we did a table top boutique like this one simultaneously with a double booth outdoor boutique. Both Mrs M and I had to get new display pieces. She bought a suitcase for hers; I built mine.

Observations

  • Event # 7 of 15 in our 4th quarter. Yes, I added another event. Shoot me now.
  • We look forward to this event, which is why we broke a rule to double book it.
  • Velda met a vendor fan of this blog, who actually gave her a gift of appreciation! I must be doing something right.
  • Unfortunately, this event just didn’t work this year. Traffic was way down, as were vendor bookings. Is it because it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving? Is it just another in a long list of “down” events in 2017? Is it just the phase of the moon?
  • No way to know, but business at this event was way, way down from prior year.

The Food

Mrs M is not as forthcoming with her food choices and I was not there … so you’ll miss the culinary updates for the event days. Sorry!

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. We’re a sad, sad couple of vendors.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants … with drama. Read the Fine Craft Show post for that story.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 36
  • Booth cost: $ 160 + raffle prizes
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $19
  • Total sales: $389
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $210
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just us
  • # woodworking vendors: just us
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:0

Boards sold: 3

Small Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Cheese Board: 1

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