Archive for the ‘vendor’ Tag

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   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.

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

The Board Chronicles: Hillside Farm’s Holiday Craft Fair 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.

This spring, we had a good outing at the Hillside Farm Arts & Crafts Show. We were pleasantly surprised, and their holiday craft fair would be even better, we were told.

We like even better.

Their bigger event is the Holiday Craft Fair, and this year they are hosting their 33rd Annual.

There’s a downside, though: the event takes place over Thanksgiving Weekend, Friday – Sunday. There’s a 2nd weekend as well, but we’ll miss that to do Santa’s Art Shop the following weekend. Week 1 is supposed to be the best of the 2 weekends, we’re told.

And I get to spend another weekend in Norco. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Mrs M had to work at her “job.” She said. So, I’m soloing with our normal double booth set-up. Me. Solo. At a big deal Holiday Craft Fair with lofty expectations. What could go wrong?
  • Since I’m solo, I have to set up both sides of the booth. Luckily, Hillside Farm will open their gates at 6am on Black Friday for me to setup for their event which starts at 10am.

Observations

  • Event # 9 of 15 in our 4th quarter.
  • I’m a lonely, lonely man.
  • I left shortly after 4am to arrive at the venue at about 5:40am. I backed the trailer into the best spot to unload from, and got to work.
  • I was still setting up at 9:30am, and realized that the trailer had to be moved to remote parking. I must have had a crazed look on my face. When I passed the booth for Sweet Spot Home Decor, Dalinda flagged me down and offered me water. “What’s wrong,” she asked? I explained I was on the hustle to move the trailer, and she kindly volunteered her husband to do the deed. I gave him the keys, and all was well. Thank you, Danny!
  • Vendors help each other, but this was above and beyond. Dalinda gets a gold star. One more thing I have to make….
  • Set up was over 4 hours. I’m pretty sure me doing a solo setup of our complete display is not a good idea.
  • I was very worried coming into this event about me handling all of the transactions solo. After all, we were expecting a holiday-crazed event. I strategized on how to do packaging quickly so I could keep up.
  • The event started well: a cutting board was my first sale. That’s usually an auspicious beginning. Unfortunately, that one board was the only sale on Friday from my side of the booth. Total sales on Friday disappointed.
  • As they did on Saturday.
  • As they did on Sunday.
  • A lady was talking to her friend in my booth. She said, “I just read an article about the 3 dirtiest things in your house. # 1 was your wooden cutting board. # 2 was a dog toy.” I never learned what # 3 was, as I interrupted her, told her that wooden cutting boards should be very clean if you washed them, and that wood was, in fact, naturally anti-bacterial.
  • People in my booth must not insult my work, or I will be aggressive and interrupt them. Every time.
  • Requests were for a tongue drum (another woodworker had them), a cribbage board with a holder for the pegs (sigh) and a large cutting board with a hole in it for hanging (nope).
  • Load out was more difficult than load in, as many vendors that were returning for the event the following weekend just left that canopies in place. That meant my 50′ trip to the trailer became 150′. That’s not too big of an inconvenience, though … booth tear down took 2 hours 20 minutes, but loading only took 40 minutes. I was on the road at 7:10pm. Luckily, I had no holiday traffic getting home, which was the best part of the weekend.
  • I know a couple of vendors left after Saturday due to poor sales. Not sure why this event didn’t work this year, but it did not live up to its reputation. Every vendor I talked to – and many vendors do this event every year – said their sales were significantly down this year. Maybe it’s no fun to do Christmas shopping at an outdoor holiday boutique in 90* temperatures. Ya think?

The Food: the worst

When I solo out of town, I seldom invest any effort in good food. To my detriment. The hotel in Corona was next to a restaurant called “Good Fellas,” and they had a great breakfast. Other than that … I didn’t have much good food. I even skipped a meal, which I never do.

When I returned home Sunday evening, I had Thanksgiving leftovers. And bourbon. All was well. Again.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 236
  • Booth cost: $330
  • Food cost: $100
  • Travel cost: $318
  • Total sales: $1,222
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $474
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 38. Let’s me be very clear: I could keep up with that level of business, even solo. I was never close to being ‘whelmed. Unfortunately.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. Though none offered the complete line that we have, there were easily 6 other vendors that offered part of what we did. That’s too many for an event of this size, IMHO.
  • # woodworking vendors: several. There were 4 woodworkers that sold cutting boards at this event, though each had different offerings, of course. 3 different woodworkers had Lazy Susans. It was unusually crowded in my category.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 9

Lazy Susans: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Boutique Fantastique 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.

I love local.

Say it with me. I love local. Local events are the best. You sleep in your own bed, you get to see long-time friends and neighbors, and … your expenses are probably lower. Truly, I love local.

This event is also good for our community. Our 3 kids went to school at Saugus High, and this event is a fundraiser for its PTSO. Over $10,000 is raised every year (principally from vendor fees!) to fund scholarships for the school.

Of course we want to do this event.

This is our 4th year at Boutique Fantastique, in our 4th year as Mrs M’s Handmade. In 2014 (we were so young then!), this is the first event that we got a double booth for.

We want this event to work.

However … it’s an under-performing event, by our standards. Sales are typically below average for us, and this heritage event – generally viewed as the best event in Santa Clarita – has not proven to be so for Mrs M’s Handmade. Here’s hoping for a better year in 2017!

New Ideas

  • After staying in one location for 3 years, and being underwhelmed by our results, I asked for – and received – a new end-aisle space in the front of the room. We’re in the right corner, facing away from the door. It’s not a perfect location, but I believe it’s better than being in the back of the room. I have bowed to my superstition about a bad location, even though I know this is ludicrous. Don’t judge me.

Observations

  • Event # 6 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Days 4 & 5 of my Week From Hell, which thankfully is now behind me.
  • One quirk of this event is that it has to be a Saturday load-in. The event’s in the school gym, and the PTSO can’t do their setup until the students are done with the gym Friday evening … so setup begins at 6:30a on Saturday. Well, actually, it begins with a vendor line up outside of the locked gate at about 6a.
  • The PTSO strictly controls access to the loading zone. Chaos is minimized. Love. That.
  • While unloading, another woodworker with a trailer showed up … and blocked me in. No problem. We chatted as the students carried our stuff in. He primarily made freestanding birdhouses, and some other shabby chic decor items for the patio. He started making birdhouses, he said, while they lived near an elementary school. He made 3, put them on the fence, and they sold that day. From that, a business was born. Still more hobby than occupation for him, but he does enjoy his holiday rush every year.
  • The best part of this event is that the student volunteers come out to load in your gear. I unloaded the trailer, and explained how to use the cart to a student. Mrs M, meanwhile, was in the gym at the booth space, getting everything positioned for setup once we were loaded in. This is an easy load in – and yes, we were generous at the tip jar that is given to the participating student organizations as a fund raiser.
  • So many vendor friends are at this event! I love local!
  • No clue if moving the booth will work or not, but I think our location is better. My superstitious self is satisfied, anyway.
  • Saugus High has a woodworking program. The teacher (who’s also active in Scouts!), has 3 periods of woodworking and 2 periods of stagecraft every day … he joked that I should take the job when he retires.
  • Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
  • I know a couple things will happen every year: 1) the woodworking program will sell cheap, untreated, small cutting boards made from cheap mystery woods including pine, and 2) I will have several moon-eyed young woodworkers visiting the booth to stare at the pieces I make. Some students even enjoy chatting with this old woodworker at times.
  • This event had a tag team thing going on for Mrs M. I was one constant, as was Judy. She, of course, is Employee of the Month (and Velda’s first cousin), and was helping us out for a couple of weeks. She completed her “full immersion experience” by helping us at this event. We were joined at first by Velda, but then she took off with Little Girl to attend a baby shower. That’s when The Intern – Judy’s granddaughter, UCLA Bruin & Blogger Extraordinare – showed up to tag in and help for a few hours.
  • Life was good.
  • I had it easy. Thank goodness, because I was tired enough I might not have been at my best at this event.
  • Results were down from last year, when we had a special order perk up our normally below average sales. Ignoring that special order for a moment, we had our best event sales at this year’s Boutique Fantastique … but still below average for us. I’m almost OK with that. I love local.
  • Load out was just as easy as load in, with student volunteers doing all of the heavy lifting between the booth and the trailer. We were home by 6p Sunday, which is a rare and wonderful thing. So ended my Week From Hell. I don’t think I’ll be doing 3 events in 3 cities in 5 days again anytime soon.
  • In the end, I did 3 under-performing events in one week. Add them up, however, and the total sales were our 2nd best weekly sales ever. Worth it? Nope.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

Saturday Lunch: Trail mix, on the go. Not a culinary delight.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Carry in from Sam’s Flaming Grill. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday. I love local.

Sunday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s has sandwiches for sale in the room. Done.

Sunday Snack: Chocolate bark from a vendor … handmade, but not the best.

Sunday Dinner: Dinner at the best Italian restaurant in Santa Clarita, Bella Cucina.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 20
  • Booth cost: $275
  • Food cost: $176
  • Travel cost: $10
  • Total sales: $1,791
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,330
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: a few
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: no clue
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was the soap vendor right across the aisle from us (why do promoters do this?), and then another soapmaker that’s well known to us … she lies about her products (cures acne!). There was an essential oil vendor as well.
  • # woodworking vendors: a few, including the Saugus High shop class that was selling untreated, mystery wood “chopping blocks” for $30 – $50. They sold out on Saturday morning.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Opener: 5

Cheese Boards: 3

Large Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Word Block: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Gingerbread Boutique 2017   2 comments

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

Last year, the Gingerbread Boutique was a very nice find for us. Sales were robust, albeit at an expensive event. Still, the event was a Thursday/Friday boutique (last year), so all sales could be viewed as incremental.

I definitely had a positive experience in 2016; read about it here.

The event is a fundraiser for the Westlake Village Junior Women’s Club. There are a relatively small number of vendors, and a lot of women come to shop. What could go wrong?

New Ideas

  • Another central cashier event, though this one is hardly inexpensive. For a 9 hour, one day event, the up-front fee is still $300. And then, add 20%.
  • Last year, this event had a VIP cocktail party on Thursday, followed by a day-long event on Friday. This year, it was Friday only, with the public event 10a-4p, a break for dinner, and then the VIP event 6p-9p. Odd schedule … a VIP party after the public event? Odd.
  • Since I was setting up on Thursday afternoon, during Anna’s Boutique, I had limited display pieces and inventory to actually set up. I did what I could, planted the flag, if you will, and called it good. The rest of setup would be done Friday morning when I had the trailer with everything else in it.

Observations

  • Event # 5 of 14 in our 4th quarter.
  • Day 3 of 5 in my Week From Hell.
  • Set up on Thursday was a surprise: my space, though “the same” as last year, was “smaller” than last year. There just wasn’t as much space. OK, go.
  • This space is very much a “found space” as I called it in my black box theater days. I was at the edge of the stage, and had a stairway in the booth. That sounds like display space to me!
  • When I arrived on Friday to set up, I was told my neighbor was not there … so I could have their space as well. My space just got bigger than last year. OK, go.
  • Yes, I can fill the space.
  • Come to find out, the missing vendor was a re-seller of used wood serving pieces who insisted she should not be next to me. She sold large serving pieces & charcuterie boards that were uniformly silver in color: used wood. They looked good, but who wants to put their food on such a thing? I know what gets sprayed on barn wood, after all.
  • I really don’t like central cashier events. They hide their true cost by charging a percentage of sales after the event, so that cost is not felt as much as writing a big check in advance. In any case, since I don’t really like them, I think I have to make a new rule for next year: no central cashier events. There. Done.
  • Last year, this was a 12 hour event. This year, it’s 9 hours. This may not end well.
  • My neighbor is a high end jewelry designer that has a few brick & mortar boutiques that carry her stuff, she said. For this event, she took her normal wholesale price, added 20% and more … and ended up making more money from each sale at this event. Her first sale was $1,750. I’m definitely not the vendor with the highest prices at this boutique!
  • Sales are down this year. Is it because this is only a one day event instead of two days? Is LA just out of it due to the World Series loss? Did the sponsor not promote this event as well this year since there’s a new coordinator? No clue. In any event, sales are down from last year … and we’ve got better stuff, more stuff, in a larger space. Not. Good.
  • The aftermath of this event proved to be memorable. After the 9p close of the event, I struck everything and moved it to the walkway that was just outside of my entrance door, 5′ from my booth. Convenient. That way, I moved everything out of the room so the promoters could lock the door and leave … which left me to load the trailer from the public access sidewalk. Unfortunately, it was a long load due to the chaos I had left the trailer in. Oh, and I was tired. Go figure.
  • 11p: trailer locked. Time to drive home. I got on the 118 freeway, which was narrowed to only 1 lane due to construction … on a Friday night. Then, unfortunately, there was an accident that I was fairly close to, and the artificially narrowed freeway had to be closed to clear it. There I was, 11:30p on a Friday night, at a dead stop for 20 minutes due to a traffic accident. Not. Happy.
  • Home at 12:30a. So ended Day 3 … and began Day 4 of my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for Boutique Fantastique!

The Food

Friday Breakfast: A breakfast burrito from Carl’s Jr. Sometimes you have to shake it up.

Friday Lunch: Sandwiches were provided by the producer, which was very nice. Not very filling, mind you, but I should not complain. Free is free. And given what the event costs….

Friday Snack: Nope.

Friday Dinner: I found Maria’s Italian Cafe during the break, and have a very nice dinner of Brussel sprouts & lasagna. This was the best part of my day.

 

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 231
  • Booth cost: $300 + 20% = $520
  • Food cost: $38
  • Travel cost: $120
  • Total sales: $1,272
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $594
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 39
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was a soap maker selling soap art (very pretty cupcakes “made with food-quality ingredients.” What does that MEAN?), but their prices were much higher than Mrs M’s. But then, we don’t sell cupcake soap, either.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me and the used wood retailer.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 11:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 12

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Word Blocks: 2

The Board Chronicles: Anna’s 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.

This is the week I decided to hurt myself. Or, try to hurt myself. Whatever.

In any event, I’m doing 3 Boutiques in 3 cities in 5 days. I’m writing this the night before the first setup, and I hurt already. What was I thinking?

New Ideas

  • A Tuesday afternoon set-up for a Wednesday/Thursday Holiday Boutique in a hotel ballroom. What could possibly go wrong?
  • This event has a central cashier … my first such event in a year. As is normal for such events, the booth fee for our double space is relatively low ($250) but the event producer then keeps 20% of total sales. Since my normal sales on a Wednesday/Thursday are zero, perhaps this event – even at a high cost – will be worthwhile.

Observations

  • Event # 4 of 14 in our 4th quarter schedule. Yes, we added another event. Yes, I’m crazy.
  • Arrived for setup to find that my booths were in a peninsula configuration. OK, this setup will be unique. I also found that my single neighbor had decided that she need 6″ of my space, so she ignored the border & set up her backdrop on my peninsula. I moved the backdrop; it’s not my fault there’s no room for her to sit in her space now. Tuesday setup’s done.
  • 6am: I’m up. Aren’t vacations wonderful?
  • 7:04am: Hello, old friend.
  • 7:57am: At the event.
  • 9am: Doors open … lots of folks. Everyone’s carrying a shopping basket, provided by the promoter. Looks good.
  • ZooSoapia is SO popular at this event! The location is better on the peninsula … but we’ve never had sales like this for ZooSoapia, nor the other shaped soaps that Mrs M creates. This week, it’s Employee of the Month Judy that’s helping with ZooSoapia, and the holiday-themed soaps flew off the table.
  • Wednesday, I solo at the event and am bored much of the day. There was a constant flow of people, luckily, but many were not customers. The business crowd expected at lunch never appeared.
  • For the first time ever, the LA Dodgers are playing in November. It’s game 7 of the World Series … and I’m in a Simi Valley ballroom while the game is happening. Customers that aren’t baseball fans? No chance. Wednesday was a big disappointment (on every level!). No one to blame; baseball just got in the way. Even the post game customers that came to shop away their disappointment weren’t customers for us!
  • Thursday had Velda & Judy come to take my place at the Boutique while I went to set up our next event in Westlake Village. Sales did not improve appreciably, unfortunately.
  • This event has been around a long time, and the promoter has a large mailing list. People definitely come to the Boutique, but they seemed to be a bit older than my normal buyers. Partner that with the collision with baseball, and this event just didn’t meet expectations. But no worries … this is just the first 2 days of events in my Week From Hell. Stay tuned for the Gingerbread Boutique!

The Food

Wednesday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Wednesday Lunch: Booth delivery from the hotel, who definitely makes it easy to be at this event. There’s a special menu for vendors, and service was perfect. This is a big plus!

Wednesday Snack: Nope.

Wednesday Dinner: A burger from the hotel bar … and a bourbon to drown my boredom in.

Thursday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Thursday Lunch: A taco on the road as I drive to the next setup for the Gingerbread Boutique.

Thursday Snack: Nope.

Thursday Dinner: I had pasta in the hotel bar while the ladies took over the booth. I brought them dinner when I was done … high living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 249
  • Booth cost: $250 + 20% = $516
  • Food cost: $114
  • Travel cost: $129
  • Total sales: $1,331
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $572
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Wednesday alarm: 6a
  • Thursday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 64
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was an all-natural goat milk soapmaker – who milks her own goats! She was not happy with her sales, but then her booth was unattended, so at least she didn’t have to spend all of her time at the event.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 11

Cheese Boards: 4

Word Blocks: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Magic Bottle Openers: 1

Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire 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.

Last year, I had a respectable solo outing at this community event. Plus, a marching band went by my booth. What’s not to like?

It’s rare for me to repeat solo events, actually. This is the only solo event I’m repeating from 2016 (read about that event here), which is a pretty strong endorsement.

On the other hand, I have to do this event solo, as they require a unique California sales permit for each booth: no double booths for any vendor. Since Mr M’s Woodshop is officially a subsidiary of Mrs M’s Handmade, only one of us could do this event.

And you didn’t think I’d solo selling soap only, did you?

In any event, I’m off to the poorly named 36th annual Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire. Can’t wait to see that marching band!

New Ideas

  • We have a new pop-up! The Caravan pop ups we’ve used from the beginning were done: holes in the roof, holes in the walls. Velcro was worn out. So, we bought an Undercover canopy with a vented top and heat reflective roof. Upgrade!
  • We have new weights! The DIY weights made of concrete in 4″ PVC are retired after keeping us firmly on Terra Firma for 3 years … uglying up the place in the process. The new weights are much easier to handle. They velcro to the legs. With 30 pounds/leg, we are not launching in the wind.

Observations

  • I only got a little lost on my way to the Faire. I arrived at about 6:40am. With only me to set up, I had time to burn.
  • I was annoyed, though, when I showed up and both of my neighbors had their cars in place, blocking my booth, while they were mostly set up. Canopies were already up. Shelving was up. But … cars were still in place. Rules are clear: 1. Unload. 2. Go park. 3. THEN, set up.
  • I love rules. Mrs M observes that I’m the only one.
  • There was a helpful volunteer right there to help. She told the neighbors to move their cars. One did almost immediately … the other still had not moved when I was unloaded and going to park. Unbelievable.
  • “How do you get empty beer bottles?” she asked. First time I’ve heard that one. Most people know how bottles get emptied … often from personal experience. Of course, putting caps on those empties is outside of many’s experience, and that definitely confused that young lady until she saw the magic demonstrated. Everyone loves the MBO demo.
  • One guy came into the booth to tell me my work was as good as that of Sam Maloof. Uh, no. That man was an artist; I would love to be able to make a rocking chair like his!
  • “Do you deliver?” Uh, no. But I do ship….
  • I miss my cash drawer. Doing change out of cargo pockets is not for the faint of heart … especially with customers stacked up wanting to give me money.
  • Love that.
  • This is a massive event. Hundreds of vendors, and everything looks handcrafted to me. Outstanding job of curation!
  • Requests were for Keepsake Boxes, a board shaped like Texas (“you’ll make millions!”), a knife holder, a ladle, a board shaped like California (patience! I have a plan), a wired cheese slicer (patience! I have a plan) and a game board for something called Pegs & Jokers. And, the # 1 request was for … chess boards.
  • Maybe I should make some. Got a month of shop time to give me?
  • Another volunteer came to introduce himself to me; he was in charge of my area during load out.
    • I said: “Great. I love the way you guys do this. So well done.”
    • He said: “What do you mean?”
    • I said: “The way you did it last year.”
    • He said: “We don’t do it that way anymore.”
  • “Sigh.”
  • I was ‘whelmed about noon.
  • I stayed ‘whelmed until about 2.
  • So many customers telling me they bought last year, and are back for more.
  • So many customers & prospects shaking my hand and thanking me for being there. People were so friendly. Nice. Happy. I’m just not used to this!
  • The business kept coming until about 3pm, when it fell off. These people came to shop, however: everyone had bags. Backpacks. Pull carts. The holidays approach, and people were buying gifts.
  • My People. And they showed up in Claremont, I’m happy to report.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Who needs a double booth? Today, I was an overachiever. Who needs help?

Best. One. Day. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home

Saturday Lunch: Sesame bagel ham sandwich, from the 42nd Street Deli … 15′ from my booth. Knowing where the booth is located is a wonderful thing.

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: Tri tip with the family. I got to sit by Camdyn.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 126
  • Booth cost: $195
  • Food cost: $19
  • Travel cost: $66
  • Total sales: $1,940
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,660
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 24
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue. At least one.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue. At least one other.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 28:4
  • Returning next year? Yup

Boards sold: 32

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Small Boards: 5

Lazy Susans: 4

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 3

Trivets: 2

Wine Bottle Holders: 2 (I’m now out)

Large Cutting Board: 1

Letter-size Clipboard: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

 

The Board Chronicles: Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival 2017   Leave a comment

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

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

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

And then this juried event rejected us.

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Expectations will kill you.

Observations

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

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

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

The Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Snack: Pumpkin Pie, with whipped cream.

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 33

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Pig Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Trivets: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Serving Tray: 1 (I’m now out)

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Letter Clipboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1 (I’m now out)

Soap Deck: 1

Bread Board: 1

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

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

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