Archive for the ‘Ventura’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 2018   Leave a comment

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

It’s become our tradition.

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

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

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

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 33

CNC Signs: 9

Coasters: 5

Trivets: 4

Hearts: 3

Magic Bottle Openers: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

Custom Orders: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Sous Chef Board: 1

Clipboard: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

The Board Chronicles: Champagne on Main 2018   2 comments

 

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

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

Apparently.

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

And then I broke the rule.

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

Let’s see.

New Ideas

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

Observations

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

The Food

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

The Facts

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

Boards sold: 14

5x Coasters

3x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Cheese Boards

1x Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Lazy Susan

1x Medium Surfboard

1x Small Board

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 2017   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.

Happy Independence Day!

We’ve “celebrated” for the last 2 years by going a-vendoring at Ventura’s 4th of July Street Fair, held each year on Main Street just down the hill from city hall. This is a very well attended one-day event. It’s a party. It’s a Street Fair.

And you know how much I love going to the Street Fair.

We’ve had consistently good results at this event over the last couple of years (you can read those blog posts – 2015 and 2016). However, this is a one day event with a good deal of stress put on the vendors to Get. Out. after the event is over. Event volunteers are also stressed: they allow vendors to set up for 6 hours, but tear down must happen in 90 minutes or there’ll be hell to pay.

Apparently.

I’ve written about this in previous years. The event goal is to close the event at 5pm and re-open the street to vehicular traffic at 6:45pm. At 5pm, every year, the street is still filled with customers and the vendors are given Hobson’s choice of doing tear down NOW, or doing what they came to do.

Why don’t they keep the event open until 6pm, and then open the street at 9? No clue. I guess a $385 booth fee only gets you so much….

No matter; we’re in. Time to see what Ventura’s 42nd annual 4th of July Street Fair has in store for us.

New Ideas

  • This is the only one day event that we will do as a double booth this year. I’m going to do a couple of one day events solo, but this is the only “full set up” one day event we’re doing in 2017. I promise.
  • After a month off from events, including a week-long excursion to the midwest to see family, it feels like we’ve totally lost our vendor rhythm. I forgot to bring our weights for the canopy. We were unweighted.
  • Yes, we were those people.
  • Mrs M provided holiday decor to liven up the booth. We had red, white & blue accents, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Observations

  • This city-sponsored event requires a city of Ventura business license, and applications are not processed until that license is in hand, which takes some time. I also made an error on the application – claiming a $25 booth fee discount as a resident of the city. Ooops. We got the paperwork straightened out in April … I had asked for the same booth position in the 400 block, but they gave me a new booth at the end of the 500 block. We were in 501/503, which was right by the information booth and shuttle stop. It was an upgrade. I think.
  • Last year, we left before 5am and had the booth set up by 8:30a. This year, we left about 45 minutes later … and set up was finished much later. We didn’t bring our “A” game to set up, I’m afraid.
  • Booths are set up in the middle of Main Street. Vendors are assigned side streets to enter from, and then it’s one-way traffic to get to your booth, park at the curb (blocking other vendors from driving through), unload your gear, and then find a parking space. The rules are very clear: unload, drive away & park, then set up.
  • The vendor blocking the street when we drove in at 6:30a was not doing it that way. Her booth was set up. Her display pieces were set up. Table cloths were on the tables. Her inventory was organized in front of those tables. And she was still unloading, blocking traffic.
  • Event organizers began to counsel her on what they required of her (which, apparently, had not been done until I pointed out the problem). I soon had an uncharacteristic and direct conversation with the lady about my expectations as well. After about a 5 minute delay, she moved her van.
  • I did not make a friend.
  • We had our trailer unloaded in perhaps 10 minutes, and then I drove away to park. By the time I got back, our vendor friend Craig had helped Velda set up the pop-ups, and the booth was already taking shape.
  • The official 10a start of this event is meaningless. We had walkers at 8:30a, and a full street of customers at 9a. It felt like a very big day was coming.
  • Saw several customers at the event, and really felt the power of doing events for several years and growing the brand over time. It’s good to have people tell you how much they love your stuff after they’ve used it for a year or two. Mrs M heard it; I heard it. This is fabulous.
  • Two women walked into the booth:
    • Lady 1: My sister loves her cutting board I bought from you.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I bought my sister a clipboard from you, and she loves it.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I only have one sister, though, so I don’t need another.
    • Me: I understand what it’s like to have one sister. I have one, and I wouldn’t want another.
    • Lady 1: He’s funny!
  • We were ‘whelmed at 11a. Totally lost control. One lady bought a board from Velda: I never talked to the lady, and I never saw which board she bought. I missed the whole transaction, talking to other customers.
  • Several customers bought boards without talking to me at this event. That’s very unusual … but speaks to the quality of the work itself. I hope.
  • Who wants to talk to the sales guy, anyway?
  • I disappointed one loyal prospect who returned to the booth … and was again disappointed that the long-promised cribbage boards had still not made it out of the shop. I promised him I would have a selection for him at an event in September.
  • What have I done?
  • We stayed busy all day. The traffic seemed much greater this year, and there were no long pauses between conversations. I never got a minute to go walk about. After set up, I saw a total of 6 booths: our neighbors. That’s it.
  • Requests were for a breakfast tray, an in-counter board, an in-sink board for an RV and salad tongs.
  • The rules are clear: stop selling at 5pm. Pack everything. Go get your car, and load out. Be off the street for the road opening at 6:45p. And, we had volunteers encouraging us to begin tear down early (and therefore stop selling!) so we could drive our cars onto the street at 5pm to load out.
  • Why is it that civic-sponsored events always have misinformation and always have stress for volunteers and vendors, alike? Why is it that almost every downtown event has event organizers freaking out about opening the road back up to traffic … and it’s never done safely?
  • There were cars on the street at 5p. And pedestrians. And baby strollers. It was, unfortunately, crazy time as we packed up our stuff. We were efficient, though. We started taking down our 4th of July decorations at 4:40p, and began serious packing – as required – at 5p. When everything was packed except for the pop-ups, I talked to the traffic director about bringing in the trailer, and he told me where he wanted me to park. Communication is a wonderful thing. We were in the Jeep, driving home, at 6:20p.
  • Finally got to the numbers after dinner. Found a couple of errors, of course, from when we were ‘whelmed. Luckily, cash doesn’t lie:

Best. Single. Day. Event. Ever.

The Food

July 4 Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

July 4 Lunch: The world’s worst Polish hotdog. Fair food is for the birds.

July 4 Snack: Our neighbor makes amazing caramel apples, and she sampled them all day. The paying customers got the good slices; we got the cores. Fabulous!

July 4 Dinner: Being Independence Day & all, we wanted to eat American. After determining that all of the Mexican restaurants were closed, we ate at Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant. Yes, I ate tolerated sushi, and really enjoyed the shrimp tempura and BBQ beef.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 104
  • Booth cost: $385
  • Food cost: $24
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $2,592
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,129
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Tuesday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 20:3
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 23

Cutting Boards: 5

Magic Bottle Openers: 5

Small Boards: 3

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Large Surfboard: 2

Cheeseboards: 2

Bread Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Legal-sized Clipboard: 1

The Board Chronicles: Champagne On Main 2017   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.

Mrs M has this theory that events featuring alcohol should be good for me. Alcohol. Magic Bottle Openers. Cheese Boards. What’s not to like?

This event happens on Main Street in Ventura – a beach town an hour to the west. It’s the same location as the July 4th event we’ve enjoyed the past 2 years, so this seems like it could be a good choice for us.

Except it’s a one day event. We don’t like those.

Except it’s a day when Mrs M has to work at her “job.” So I’m solo .. and my solo events tend to be under-achievers.

Time to see what I can do solo on Main Street. No lotions today; it’ll just be my stuff & me.

New Ideas

  • This will be my first solo event using just my Jeep to carry product since last November’s Affair of the Arts in Culver City. After that event, I vowed to go big or stay home. That vow lasted 5 months, apparently.
  • No trailer = limited cargo space. I have to leave a lot of product at home.
  • Rain was forecast for Friday about midnight, so I didn’t load my trailer hitch Friday evening. That way, the canopy would not get soaked. Hopefully.

Observations

  • The rain was gone by 6am, so my delayed packing strategy worked. I was still on the road before 7.
  • When I arrived at the event at 8am, the queue of vendor cars was 10+ long waiting to get onto Main Street.
  • As I got to my booth space a few minutes later, it started to mist. Not a lot of moisture, but it was wet.
  • Great.
  • Luckily, the rain subsided within a few minutes. My boards didn’t get wet at all. I took a risk & didn’t even put up my side walls. The forecast for the day actually came true, and we had blue skies by 10am. Thank goodness!
  • Limited cargo space meant I left stuff at home. Unfortunately, I left the surfboards at home. My mistake.
  • Oh, and I left the Wine Bottle Holders at home, too. Same container. My goodness, what was I thinking???
  • Knowing how the 4th of July event works, I came to this event early to be ready for walkers on Main Street before this event officially began. I was set up by 9:30 … and had people in the booth almost immediately. The event officially started at 11am, but that time was meaningless.
  • At 10am, I had a person engaged with the largest cutting board on the table. She lifted it (no small feat), talked about it … and put it back. That’s an auspicious beginning, however.
  • No serious conversations about big cutting boards happened for the rest of the day. (sigh)
  • This is another event that gave vendors no information about the event layout, times, etc. When did the sampling of alcohol begin? No clue. Where were the restrooms? No clue. What vendors were there? When did the event end? How would I know? They didn’t even give me my booth number until after I arrived, which I always think is bad form.
  • Come to find out, the alcohol sampling happened in the store fronts on Main Street. Those shop owners made space for a sampling station and put signage on their door … and drunk people came into their shops throughout the event. If there was sampling in the, uh, temporary vendor area, I didn’t see it.
  • We had blue skies, but we had a breezy spring day. Gusts to 20 mph, I was told. Lots of wind. I didn’t see a canopy take flight, but it definitely could have happened. Most vendors aren’t that serious about using weights, and that’s a dangerous problem, IMHO.
  • Vendors started exiting in the 3 o’clock hour. One veteran vendor told me she’d done this event for years, but this year’s sales were about 1/3 of her normal. Every vendor I talked to was unhappy.
  • My best hour, with 45% of total sales, was the 5 o’clock hour.
  • Happy Hour.
  • When my MBO demo is met with cheers as the magic is revealed, you know it’s Happy Hour. # 1 seller on this day: Magic Bottle Openers.
  • One request was from a Lady asking if I had a bigger heart. There’s just no way to respond to that question seriously. Other requests were for a cribbage board … and that other game board that people ask about. Yes, it was my # 1 request. Again. As always.
  • I need more shop time.
  • A side note: an interesting article that ran this week describes how the city of Ventura is significantly increasing the cost of events held on city property due to liability concerns. Unprecedented cost increases are resulting in producers moving events (and not just vendor events!) out of Ventura, it seems. The producer of this event (who also does the more popular Winter Wine Walk) indicated that alternatives are being researched, so this event may not be here next year. If you ever do events in Ventura, you should read the article, here.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A ham sandwich from home – the same lunch I have at home 19 days out of 20.

Saturday Snack: A $3 chocolate cookie, and that was well worth it.

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers at home. Easy, quick.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 100
  • Booth cost: $275
  • Food cost: $11
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $670
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $384
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • # transactions: 10, over 9 hours. Luckily, there was enough activity (just not sales activity!) so I wasn’t bored after about noon.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I saw a bath bomb vendor & a buy & sell lotion vendor on my walkabout 90 minutes before the opening. There may have been others.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a turner and 3 people doing wine barrel constructions of various sorts. The lady making American Flags was doing interesting work, in my opinion.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably not.

Boards sold: 11

MBOs: 6x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Small Boards: 1x

Cheese Boards: 1x

Hearts: 1x

 

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 2016   3 comments

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

july4street-fair-logoWe did this event last year, and were amazed at the constant flow of strollers decked out in red, white & blue rolling past our booth. We had a lot of fun. And, we got busy. Very busy.

We got ‘whelmed.

So, of course, we were all in for the 41st annual Fourth of July Street Fair in downtown Ventura.

And since this beach community had a forecast temperature of about 20* cooler than Santa Clarita on this day, it seemed like a good idea to participate in this event from just about every perspective!

New Ideas

  • Mrs M joined in the patriotic fervor, and bought some red, white & blue decorations to liven up the booth a bit.
  • Lots of new soap for this event … including ‘Merica, which is, of course, red, white & blue.
  • I made a new dedicated crate to display the small & medium surfboards … so I now have 4 crate display pieces. Apparently, I have to building something to fill up the trailer.
  • After discussing our experience with a 5:15am departure last year, we agreed that a 5am departure was better for this year … and then agreed that a little before 5am would be preferable. And we departed before 5am.
  • Are you getting this? Velda was early and we left before 5am. I’m thinking that “New Ideas” is not an appropriate heading for this virtually unprecedented reality.

Shocker

  • Velda was early for a 5am departure. Early. Velda.

Observations

  • Expectations will kill you. Every time.
  • My expectations were low, honest. I expected to do better than last year’s sales total of $1,526 … so I thought we would probably do $2,000. We had soap going for us. New display for Mrs M. 2nd year legacy at the event. And since our average per event is nearly $2,000 this year, the number seemed reasonable.
  • “Reasonable.”
  • We had our first walker this morning at 8:30am … and we were set up. This event has a 10am “official” start that has no meaning whatsoever.
  • In spite of the early walker, our first sale wasn’t until 9:55am … still before the official start, but only barely.
  • She said it to a stranger in her booth, who commented on our side-by-side booths: “We’re not friends. We’re husband & wife.”
  • I had nothing to add to that. I mean, would you?
  • My 2 most common words spoken today were “Thank you.” That’s what I said to every single person who said something like “Your boards are beautiful” … as they walked out of the booth with empty hands. Lots and lots of lookers today; not so many shoppers.
  • An early shopper liked my work (and bought something!) and recommended I check out a woodworker/artist from New York named Ariel Alasko. She encouraged me to create art pieces for next year.
  • “Art.”
  • We had one good rush at about 12noon … 6 parties in our 2 booths, and people waiting to buy something. Good times. But … that never happened again.
  • This event felt very odd today. We had about an hour around 1pm with loads of traffic, and not one sale. For an hour. That’s really unusual for midday during a (scheduled) 7 hour event.
  • Most unusual episode today was when we met Reno, the loyal dog for a lady wearing a “Veteran” cap while riding on her scooter through the event. She’d cruised into the booth and bought a cheese board, and then introduced us to Reno. She put a dog treat in her mouth, and then told Reno to come get it. She assured us Reno didn’t bite her.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Vindication is sweet. Sold 2 clipboards today. I need to make more. Honest. But then, I also need to make more cheese boards. And bears. And pigs. And wine bottle holders. And sous chef boards. And and and….
  • This event allows people to begin set up at 4am … 6 hours before the official opening. In the evening, however, you are instructed to stay open until 5pm … and then be off the street by 6:30pm. Craziness!
  • I went to get the trailer at about 5:30pm, when we were largely packed up (Trish, the city employee, had told me to go get my car at 5:10pm, when there were still many pedestrians on the street. That makes 2 events in a row where organizers told me to ignore the pedestrians, ignore the “get packed up first” rule and drive in. I mean, ignore the rules? That’s not me.
  • When I came back, Velda had corralled two event “volunteers” to help us load out quickly, and we were on the road by 6:10pm. Amazing how fast you can be with good help that have strong backs!
  • Requests today were for cribbage boards (2), chess pieces, name tags just like the one I was wearing, surfboard bottle openers (2), an American flag made out of wood that didn’t cost $400, and coasters. I could help none of them.
  • In the end, we beat last year’s number, but just barely. It’s so amazing that last year’s event was our

Best. Day. Ever.

This year, doing slightly better was a true disappointment. It wasn’t close to our best day ever at this point! Doing better than last year isn’t good enough … yet we heard from other vendors that were down as much as 25% from prior year. We should be happy with incremental growth, don’chathink?

The Food

Monday Breakfast: JITB # 23 … but what alternatives are there for drive thru at 5am on a holiday?

Monday Lunch: A ham sandwich from home

Monday Snack: Bad chocolate chip cookies. Don’t blame me; I didn’t buy them.

Monday Dinner: Grand Panda for Walnut Shrimp & Chicken Asparagus. And egg rolls, of course. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 104
  • Booth cost: $385
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $1,590
  • # containers of product taken: all of them
  • # boards available: 139
  • Monday alarm: none needed
  • # transactions: 45, down nominally from last year
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 3 others. One was doing the natural thing; one was doing the melt & pour thing. Don’t know about anyone else, and we only saw about 1/2 of the vendors. Or less.
  • # woodworking vendors: One toy maker was our very nice neighbor; not sure of anyone else.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 19:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 21

Cheese boards: 7

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Clipboards: 2

Small board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server AKA Surfboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

From The Shop: Making 24 Surfboards   3 comments

After I started making small surfboards, it was inevitable that I would make more.

Then I got an order for 24 more. 12 were to be the original large size, which I’m now calling cheese & cracker surfboards. The order was also for another 12 in a new medium size. The 12 large ones were to be identical, and the 12 medium ones would come in 2 designs, 6 each.

OK, go.

Here’s the photo story of making the 12 large ones.

The Board Chronicles: 4th Of July Ventura Street Fair   5 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.

4th of July Ventura Street FairRunning marathons is a mental game, I’ve found. There’s a BIG physical element, of course, but you only succeed if your head’s screwed on right during the race.

This event was also a marathon. We loaded the truck after dinner Friday evening (too hot to load earlier). Thank goodness we had the help of Christopher and the younger Mrs M. They had to help: it’s their truck.

Set-up officially began at 4am on Ventura’s Main Street, though we elected to arrive just a bit later. We left home at 5:15am.

We drove right to the booth, luckily, though the street was already clogged with vendors setting up (and not moving their empty cars out of the way so others could find their way). We were able to put everything into our space and then park the truck in a city lot about a block away. Very convenient and easy … because we arrived at 6:30am.

The official beginning was 10am, but we had walkers by the booth at 8:30am.

Then the marathon part really began in earnest. The set up was fine, but we didn’t have much down time. LOTS of people. Lots of decorated strollers with red, white & blue sparkly things. Patriotism, on parade, all day long. All good, but with the volume of people, we were busy. Along the way, we lost our way a bit.

I made an addition error in our sales record. We missed recording some sales. We ended the day disappointed in our total, but really too tired to count the money. It’s frustrating when you work very hard, but don’t feel rewarded, and that’s how we ended the day.

At 5pm, we had to close the booth (according to the rules), and be gone by 6:30pm. This event allowed any vendor to set up for 6 hours, but only allowed you 90 minutes to get out. We did that basically … but we also had 5 transactions, comprising over 10% of our day’s sales, happen after 5pm. The event closed too early.

We didn’t quite make it off the street by 6:30pm – we were gone by 6:45pm and home by 8pm to unload (solo). I had everything back into the house by 8:30pm.

I was able to recover enough the next day to count the money, and that’s when I found the errors in my sales records (and I NEVER make errors).

(Well, normally.)

(According to me.)

When I examined the records, found the missing transactions and counted the money, that’s when I found out how we really did.

Best. Day. Ever.

Too bad it didn’t feel like it when we lost track of things!

New Ideas

  • Double booth, one for Mrs M and one for Mr M … and only two of us were there to handle the thronging masses. Two people, double booth. What could go wrong?
  • We traveled very heavy to this event (and remember who is writing this. Traveling heavy is normal for us. When I say very heavy, be afraid. Be very afraid.) We loaded the truck with more product and more display pieces than we have ever taken to an event.

Observations

  • “Clipboards,” they asked. “Any clipboards?” I’ve never made clipboards … but I had 2 people asking for them within 30 minutes of each other. That was weird. And then it got weirder. A few minutes later, I had a woodworker wander into the booth to check out my work. I asked him what he did. His reply: “I make clipboards.” Timing is everything, and his was just a bit off.
  • You can’t choose your neighbors, as I’ve complained before. Our neighbors to the left and back were great, actually. It was the neighbor across the aisle to my right that was a problem. They were a doggie daycare business, and they had employees with their dogs out in the midway, stopping every dog walker (and there were many) to chat about their pet and their business. They did block passage, and did end up having dog owner gatherings in front of our booth on a couple of occasions. That’s annoying. The fake fire hydrant they put on the other side of their booth … that was plain bad. When you invite public urination, it just can’t end well.
  • I only sold one cutting board on this day, which is very odd. That I still sold over $1,000 in boards in 11 different styles, though, is a testament to the broad range of boards that I brought to this show. Traveling very heavy has its rewards: lifting & sweating being two that I don’t particularly favor.
  • 15 of the 22 boards sold were completed in the last week. I’ve been working on broadening my inventory, and it worked. Thank goodness.
  • This is a regional event, but there were a lot of people embracing the beach lifestyle here. Ventura is different from Santa Clarita, even though it’s only an hour away.
  • The holiday resulted in a party atmosphere most of the day. We made some happy people very happy when they discovered our lotion products and cutting boards. Givers of joy, that’s us.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack in the Box # 24. Velda had the same.

Saturday Lunch: Velda did a good thing. She packed cheese & crackers along with her favorite cheese board. That was laid out on top of the wrapping station for our lunch … just as a rush hit. No customers ate our lunch, but several commented on it. This was a good idea – and a better idea because we never saw real food booths at the event. But then, we didn’t get out much, either.

Saturday Snack: Roasted nuts. We seem to buy them at most events.

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. Oh, and bourbon.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 99
  • Booth cost: $375 … and $10 for the application. That’s so much better than $385 for the booth.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $1,526
  • # containers of product taken: 20
  • # boards available: 126
  • Saturday alarm: 4:00am
  • # transactions: 48 – 31 for lotion, 17 for boards
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least one other within 200′ of us, but really, no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: at least one other that close, but again, no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:0 (Can you believe it?)

Boards sold: 22

  • Small Surf Boards (all new!): 5
  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Sous Chef – Small: 4
  • Large Cheese Servers (previously known as surf boards): 2
  • Sous Chef – Large: 1
  • Custom Order: 1
  • Engraved Board: 1
  • Bread Board: 1
  • Lazy Susan: 1
  • Chess Board: 1
  • Cutting Board: 1
%d bloggers like this: