Archive for the ‘vendor’ Tag

An Upgraded Display: Mr M’s Got It Handled   Leave a comment

I’m now going a-vendoring solo more often than I’m out with Mrs M. I normally double my booth to a 10×20 now. And with more space in the booth … that means I need to up my creativity to maximize each opportunity.

After all, I can’t just show up.

I have no clue what this year will turn out to be – for any of us. But I do know, when craft fairs, art shows, street festivals & such are once again happening, I better bring my best ideas to market, because I expect customers will be very choosy. Resources will be precious. I need to respect that.

When I set up my “standard” double booth these days, I put a 6′ table front & center, and then a taller 4′ table behind it. That results in good things for the look of the display.

That configuration, though, creates a 2’x2′ space behind the 6′ table that is wasteful. After all, I pay a lot of money to rent that space. How to fill it?

This is a common problem for vendors: how to fill the booth with a pleasing display. I’ve gone through several iterations for Mrs & me. Want to see our incredibly humble beginnings? Here’s booth # 1, from March 2014:

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Only one direction to go from there!

But, on to the task at hand … how to fill that 2′ x 2′ space in 2020.

After a lot of thinking, I had the idea. For me, that usually results in a high-faluting, incredibly complex plan on paper, and here was this one.

That’s 4 pages of planning! No wonder it took me months to get this built.

Note that I custom build all of my display pieces. I believe that reinforces what I do as a craftsman: customers appreciate that I make everything they see. It’s how I get the best possible display for the boards & games & such that I make. Your mileage may vary.

The final result is that I took those 4 square feet of booth space, and will now effectively display 36 handled boards! That’s far, far better than my old display for handled boards, when I just put them in a crate on a table, or hung them from the rafters so people bumped their heads on them.

Yes, it happened. More than once. And, I’m sorry.

Clearly, I needed an upgrade.

I actually have 5x different shapes that will hang from the display. For pictures of my current inventory, go to the links at the bottom of this page. For brevity, here’s a picture & description of each of the 5 boards that I have now produced for this display. Note that one shape comes either with or without juice groove … though in this shape, I view these groovy boards as having crumb catchers, not actually juice grooves. But that’s me.

OK, OK. I know. One of the designs just has a hole, not a handle … but work with me here.

So, now, to the design of the display. I had a few criteria:

  1. The display has to come apart for transport.
  2. Signage must be integrated.
  3. Flexibility is a must!

The display piece stands well over 6′ tall. The base is 22″ square and is on wheels. The tower rotates on a Lazy Susan bearing, and is built (probably over-built) to reliably hold more than 100 pounds of boards. Hangers are removable, of course, and secured to the tower with french cleats. 4 bolts attach the tower to the base, and 3 attach the sign on top.

3 boards are displayed on each of the 12 pegs. 4 boards will fit, but I’m keeping the display to 3 each for both brevity and to make sure nothing will fall while customers are fondling the boards.

These pictures were taken on a windy spring day (on the patio!), and the 36x boards cards were fluttering in the breeze. I’m going to tuck those cards behind the boards when I set up the display, just to improve the look. My customers appreciate the cards, the identification of the woods and the care instructions attached to the boards … but with a breeze, they proved to be a distraction.

Lessons Learned

  1. The tower, even with the holes cut into each side, is heavier than I had hoped. It’s primarily made from 3/4″ plywood … I should have used 1/2″, I think. Cutting the weight by 1/3 would have been good. I am debating whether to build a shelf in the trailer to transport this piece and other tall display pieces.
  2. The Lazy Susan bearing works, but the assembly is too heavy for people to turn it comfortably, I think. That’s OK. I’ll either assist the customers, or simply let them pull the “hidden” boards from the other side of the display to see them.
  3. Love the sign. Mrs M takes credit for the slogan. After 41 years of marriage … I let her take all of the credit she wants.

More

Getting It Handled

A Charcuterie Board

Handles Are A Good Thing

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 2): Going Vertical

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 1)

Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×12 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 2020   Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 48

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

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I am ALMOST caught up. After this post … one more to go.

Thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Ridgecrest, CA. Santa’s Art Shop. Year 6.

For each of the last 5 years, this event was our biggest event of the year.

For each of the last 5 years, we set a sales record at this event.

Every year: Best. Event. Ever.

Every year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was time for year 6, 12/7 & 8/2019.

No pressure.

New Ideas

  • Nope, this was not new territory. After 5 years, we knew what we were doing. I did have several new products: Cheese Slicers. Cracker Things. Garlic Dipping Boards. But, we had legacy clients and they knew where to find us at Santa’s Art Shop.

Observations

  • This event began with me freaking out.
  • Thank GOODNESS I have friends.
  • A good friend.
  • You’ve heard the story of my Garlic Dipping Boards: how I collaborate with Nicole, who makes my Great Garlic Graters. We told Nicole about this event, and she decided that she wanted to play.
  • She told the promoter that she wanted to be next to Mrs M’s Handmade. The promoter – who was new this year – told Nicole that we weren’t signed up.
  • It was Black Friday, November 29. The promoter told our friend that we weren’t signed up FOR OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF EVERY YEAR.
  • EVERY. YEAR.
  • OK, go.
  • Freaking out.
  • Me.
  • What happened? I have no idea. How did the promoter not have our application? No idea.
  • No.
  • Idea.
  • Managing Mrs M’s Handmade – and Mr M’s Woodshop – is a big job. To keep track of the details, I keep a spreadsheet of every event on our radar.
  • Every event.
  • I have promoter contact information. Websites. Costs. Descriptions. Comments. Dates. And, I keep track of whether or not we’ve approved the event for this year’s calendar (Mrs M and I), if the application is in, and if we’ve received approval.
  • The spreadsheet said that the application was in.
  • Honest.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter didn’t have the application, and the NEW PROMOTER THIS YEAR did not reach out to us to ask why we were missing after 5 years of faithful vending.
  • What did happen, though, was that my friend Nicole’s application said she wanted to be next to our booth (bless her), so the promoter called Nicole … and told her we were not on the list.
  • Nicole did not accept that. Oh YES we were coming. YES we were a part of the event. And, YES, she wanted to be next to our booth.
  • Bless her.
  • And, in the end, it worked out just fine. I called the promoter at Nicole’s direction, the promoter accepted that we could be a part of the event if I would just submit (re-submit?) the application, and get the check in the mail.
  • Today.
  • I did. That day.
  • Now, in 20/20 hindsight … I don’t know what happened. Normally, I keep a copy of EVERY APPLICATION on file so I know what I’ve provided to each promoter. Every application. However, I know that when this application was due, my life was out of control and I remember not keeping a copy of a couple of applications. This one? No clue.
  • But, the spreadsheet said the application was in.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter gets a vote, too, and she said she never got it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Must be, right? But every event is different, and we do 25+ events every year. Some will talk to you, some don’t, some will NOT talk to you … and I’ve gotten into the habit of submitting my application and forgetting about it.
  • My mistake.
  • Thankfully, our 3 booths were still available (!), and we slid right back into that opening. After Thanksgiving. For an event on the first weekend in December.
  • Thank you, Nicole. Couldn’t have done it without you, obviously.
  • And, yes, paid for dinner at Mon Reve. It was wonderful, too.
  • This event is now about legacy, and we have many fans in Ridgecrest after 5 years. Thank goodness.
  • One customer did observe the sign above my head as I sat in the booth (“Meet The Maker”) and asked if I was the maker. Uh, yes. They wanted to make sure, as I might have been sitting in the wrong chair.
  • Uh, OK. Me = Maker. Be calm.
  • We were way, way down on Saturday. Almost 40% down. Was it the new promoter? No, I think not … perhaps it was the major earthquake that Ridgecrest had in 2019. People had to fix their homes, perhaps? In any event, we were down on Saturday. Way down.
  • This event finally – finally! – fixed it’s #1 problem. There was WiFi, which meant that PayPal transactions could be done in the metal building without me having to go outside to find a cell signal. It would have been great to get a heads up about this, but oh well. We had WiFi, and that made transactions SO much easier.
  • I have fans in Ridgecrest that buy something from me every year. That is so sweet, and so unexpected. Every time.
  • I have to work very hard to earn those accolades. Every time.
  • But, alas, we were down on Saturday. We were down on Sunday.
  • The streak is broken. This was not the best event of the year. This was not our best event ever. It was good, certainly, but not even in the Top 5 all time.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mon Reve, a ridiculously good French restaurant on the edge of the Mojave desert.
  • Honorable Mention: Olvera’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is a good value for good food.
  • Honorable Mention 2: Kristi’s, a local “diner” that serves comfort food, every day. We had lunch on Friday and dinner on Sunday here; definitely good decisions.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for our lunches was easy; we didn’t pack food for this trip. But to call the vendors at these events fair … well, that’s what they are. IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 270
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $315
  • Travel cost: $368
  • Total sales: $4,439
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, as always
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, as always
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably. But, perhaps we should give it a rest….

Boards sold: 50

  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Lazy Susans: 3
  • Trivets: 5
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Bread Saws: 5
  • Card Box: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: Gilroy Garlic Festival 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Yes, we were there.

We were at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, and had a perfectly wonderful time until the crazy guy showed up and started shooting at 5:41pm on Sunday, July 28. I’ve already told that story in a special edition of The Board Chronicles: Terror. I’ve also told the story of how we picked up the pieces, Recovery.

This is not that story. This is the story of the event up until the crazy guy ruined a great weekend.

New Ideas

  • I created a brand new product for this event, Garlic Dipping Boards. Mrs M is taking credit for the idea, and I am wisely giving her all of the credit. Our good friend Nicole makes the Great Garlic Graters, and I make the boards. The customer get to choose the GGG that they like, and then pair it with the GDB. I hope this works! I made 24x new boards for this weekend!
  • Display of the GDBs required food, I thought. We had olive oil, garlic and bread to show how you could use a Dipping Board.

Observations

  • Signing up for the event proved to be a bit of a challenge: they sent me a commercial application. Fees for a double booth were something like $3,000.
  • Uh, no.
  • I carefully explained that I made everything I sold, and eventually – eventually – I was given a revised contract at the handmade vendor rate. My double booth cost “only” $1,450. Plus, we were paying for 5 hotel nights, meals … I was not facing a small number when you add it all up.
  • This event is a big idea. Mrs M has had it on her bucket list for a long time: if you’ve ever eaten at her table, you know she likes garlic. No, she Loves. Garlic. She didn’t want to be a vendor at the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Festival, she just wanted to be there to enjoy this ultimate Foodie event.
  • Check.
  • So, I set up the Trimline and my typical double booth, and Mrs M got to be my assistant (“sit there, look pretty, and wrap up the purchases if you can.”) Her other duties were to enjoy the festival and get lunch.
  • Oh, and, come to find out, they serve alcohol at the Festival. They have commemorative copper mugs in which they serve a very nice Moscow Mule.
  • Very nice.
  • We each had one each day.
  • We needed a set of the mugs … how else would we get them?
  • So, you see, we were intent on enjoying the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and we did a good job.
  • People came to the Festival from all over (60,000 is the estimated attendance). Local people volunteer, and are “paid” with contributions to local charities in their name. So, high school cheerleading squads volunteered and bought uniforms, food bank patrons volunteered to fund operations, and so on. This is a very big, very well-rooted community event.
  • Did I mention there was alcohol? People have a good time at the Festival. One of my early customers was wearing a hat with a solar powered fan in the crown. Lovely! And, come to find out, she did field archaeology, so the hat was a professional tool as well.
  • The biggest problem we found on Friday was that our cellphones didn’t work. At all. Verizon didn’t work in the park??? Come to find out, no. Verizon had zero signal in the park. We had this VERY big event and we couldn’t do any transactions with PayPal?
  • Nothing to do about it … but go buy another phone from Sprint that evening after the event closed. We had just enough time, and went back to the motel to download the software and get the phone ready for a big Saturday. It worked perfectly. So … don’t use Verizon at this event. Check.
  • I should have expected it. I put a display of food on the table … so people helped themselves. My goodness, what were they thinking? The bread was a crouton after a day in the sun, and people were still eating the bread! I couldn’t believe it.
  • But I should have expected it.
  • Quote from a wise male customer: “I don’t need Google. My wife knows everything.”
  • A young couple took a while to make their decision … but they eventually decided that a small end grain board just wasn’t big enough, so they bought the biggest board in the booth. Love that.
  • Sunday, I was examining the booth, and I had a very good idea of my inventory at that point. I realized that I had a heart-shaped board stolen that morning. I believe that $60 board is the first piece that’s ever been stolen from my display, after 6 years of vending. It had to happen.
  • After the dust settled, this was a very good event (until 5:41pm on Sunday). Total sales were strong. In fact, this was the #3 event of the year in 2019. Very good.
  • On the other hand, with costs skyrocketing due to the terror event, the event was not nearly as profitable as I had hoped. Is it fair to attibute the crime-caused costs directly to the event? There’s no good answer here.
  • So, will I be back? I hope to … but I’m going to wait until I see the communication from the event producer. I assume attendance will be down in 2020 because of the terror event in 2019. Will my costs go down in recognition of the (assumed) lower attendance?
  • I’ll wait & see.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We had a nice Italian meal on Saturday evening at Maurizio’s in nearby Morgan Hill. This postage stamp of a restaurant did not have enough seating, and no waiting area for those, like us, waiting for those all-too-rare seats. But, the food was good.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: This should have been about 625 miles, but ended up being a lot more, as you know, due to the terror incident
  • Booth cost: $1,450
  • Food cost: irrelevant because of the extra costs incurred
  • Travel cost: see above. 5 hotel nights turned into 7 hotel nights. 1 round trip turned into 3 round trips.
  • Total sales: $4,792
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 54
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Returning next year? Probably. Maybe. I hope so.

Boards sold: 68

  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 16
  • Signs: 22
  • Magic Bottle Opener: 1
  • Hearts: 4
  • Pig: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 2
  • Trivets: 1
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Custom Order: 2
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Wine Bottle Coaster: 1
  • Cheese & Cracker Servers: 1
  • Serving Tray: 1
  • Large Serving Piece: 2
  • Bread Saws: 7
  • Small Board: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 1

The Board Chronicles: Claremont Pie Festival 2019   Leave a comment

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

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 16

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

Recovery: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   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.

When I left you, dear readers, I had a rental car and was in a hotel in Gilroy, trying to imagine what should be next. That was Monday. If you need to catch up, you need to read about our experiences at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival. Read about it, here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Since that fateful Sunday evening just 5 days ago, I’ve driven several hundred miles, finally gotten all of my stuff back … and am now sitting at home. Here is what happened:

Velda & I spent Monday watching the news and trying to figure out what to do. We networked with other vendors and read email updates that we began to get. The Garlic Festival website had a dedicated link to news as well.

CNN was carrying all of the Gilroy press conferences live at this point, and we were eager viewers. We learned that the entire Christmas Hill Park was now considered a crime scene, and that the entire area was now under FBI protection. It appeared that it would be days before anything could be recovered from inside the park – where the jeep and trailer were parked, and the booth was set up with all of my wooden pieces on display, open to the elements 24/7.

Remembering the Enterprise Rent-a-car slogan (“We’ll pick you up!”), we took them up on that offer and got a rental. We stayed near Gilroy on Monday night, which was an extra night in the motel, plus food (an accurate accounting will follow in the formal event review, but for now, you’ll just get approximations). $200.

We communicated with our final customer of the day, who had bought a beautiful, large Black Walnut cutting board and left it with us for pickup later … until we were all interrupted by the idiot with the gun. The buyers, luckily, lived in Gilroy, and we agreed that we would see each other when we returned, so they could get their cutting board … which was currently in the FBI’s protective custody.

We decided to drive home with the rental on Tuesday, and drop it off in Santa Clarita. $200.

Gas, $40.

On our way home, we learned at 2:45p – when we were 4 hours away from Gilroy – that we could pick up the Jeep if we were there by 6:30p. No way we could make that, and having the Jeep wasn’t that helpful anyway in the near term. The trailer had to stay with the booth – and the product was not accessible. Yet. We decided to keep on the road to home and do nothing, for now.

Wednesday was more of the same. I called the offered information number … and got the main receptionist for the city of Gilroy. No help there. Velda got a call from an FBI agent, who verified that she did not see the perpetrator.

We saw nothing.

Our near-complete lack of information, and general confusion continued throughout the week. Official announcements were typically made shortly before the time period that you were allowed to do something, so you really had no advance notice when anything would change. No. Idea.

Late Wednesday, an update landed on the website saying that “sometime” on Thursday the vendors on our side of the park would be able to recover their property. No other information was given. No time. No schedule. Nothing. We were cautioned that we would need an ID or driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration for the vehicles before they could be recovered. Well, OK, then.

Velda & I agreed that we would pack up Wednesday night and drive north Thursday morning. We would take the opportunity as it presented itself.

Velda, who had her fair share of anxiety – and then some – woke up at 2:15a. She puttered in the kitchen. At about 4a, she starting making the bed with me still in it and that’s when I got up.

We were on the road shortly after 5a. We drove her car, with the plan being that she would drive it home while I drove the Jeep & trailer home. Gas to & fro, $80. Wear & tear … well, we’re way beyond accounting for that on this one.

We were in line behind a flatbed produce truck. I have no idea why.

When we were almost to Gilroy, we learned that we could get access to the park after 1p. Since it was shortly after 9a, we had some time to kill. We ended up at the Gilroy outlet mall, and Velda did a bit of shopping. I read a book. We ate lunch (she made our lunches at 3a, I think it was). We headed out at about noon, and we were at the gate at 12:15p. A CHP officer was manning the barricade, and he told us where to wait. We got in line; about 10 cars were ahead of us.

Soon after we got in line, an FBI agent came out to talk to everyone in line and tell them what to expect:

  • You would be individually escorted at all times
  • You were not allowed to do anything but recover your property that was located on what’s called the “park side” of the park … where our booth was.
  • Everything in your booth had already been examined by the FBI.
  • All cash in the booth had already been photographed, logged and removed by the FBI (we had left none).
  • All valuables were similarly removed from the booth, we were told (so my cutting boards were not considered valuable. This is SO WRONG.).
  • They had already arrested some people that tried to sneak through the protective line of police. The crime scene was still being managed by the FBI (how stupid do you have to be to try and sneak onto a crime scene while the police are still there?).

We finally got to go in a little after 2p.

Each car had to be checked in by the FBI. A form had to be filed with my ID info for each of my 2 vehicles. Velda was also identified with legal ID and logged into their system. While in the park, we had a nice FBI agent named Matt (badged & armed) by our side at all times. Our trailer was an additional wrinkle; but we got a ride in an FBI cart to the Jeep, where I could then hook up the trailer, drive to the booth and begin to do what we were there to do. Velda took the pictures … this is exactly how we found the booth. The empty containers in front of the booth, the products and the canopy were set up exactly how we had left them Sunday evening.