Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Quite Day Off

Too many nights up past my bedtime this week makes for a very tired Otter.  Tired enough that I didn't go to work yesterday.  Ron said I could stay home as long as I came up to his office to go out to lunch with him.  Seemed like a plan to me.

After breakfast I checked Google Reader, which is how I follow a bunch of blogs, and found a post with information on a special at an Etsy-alternative,  If mumble people sign up for special deal, they get a Pro account for only $6/month for life, instead of the usual $16/month, and you can cancel any time after the first month. 

This inspired me to take a look at both ArtFire and Etsy.

Etsy is the better-known, at least for me, but does not have a "leather" category, although you can search for "leather".  No monthly fees, they go with a listing fee and percentage.  ArtFire, OTOH, has the flat monthly fee, and there's a link to a "leather" category - I think as what material.  But not as well known.

Well, what the hey, neither of them are exactly expensive, we'll try out both and see where I do better.  OtterNecessities on both, although neither one has anything actually up yet.  I also started the process of getting a GoogleCheckout merchant account, although I'm not sure Google is any less evil-empire-ish than PayPal.  But it's a choice for people that absolutely can't stand PayPal; and I can't blame those that feel that way.

Ron, obviously (?) agreed to this experiment, and made an offhand comment about not doing events.  Not unless on-line business really takes off.

Ron also said he might petition for this very spiffy shooting table ( which we've drooled at before.  The surface is transparent, so you can get diffused lighting from below.  Nor is it outrageously expensive.

Well, something must have been very soft and smooshy inside my head, because I called Calumet, then set off.  After coaxing Eowyn upstairs to her crate: she did not want to wake up and climb up the stairs, dammit.  Shooting table procured, along with two shot bags - those are for something completely different, I've had the shot to make some for a year or two, and decided $10 each for Calumet's were worth mumble month of further failing to find Round Tuits to make my own.

Road construction made the trip down to Oak Brook slow, and was spotty on the trip from there back up to Vernon Hills.  And some back down to Palatine after lunch.  'Nuff said.

The table comes in a nice sturdy carrying bag, with a second lighter-weight bag to contain all the hard bits, which fit inside the rolled-up white semi-flexible tabletop.  The angle of that back bit adjusts, too.  So now Ron's agitating for a ring flash, sigh...

Anyhoo, after I got home I started doing the books from Saturday's event.  Finally, that is.  I'd meant to start them right after checking Google Reader, see way back above.  I hit some snags:
  1. Our cost for the black cartridge pouch (see the relevant SB project posts for pictures).  I'd never figured it out.  
  2. An entry for a "brown belt" in Ron's handwriting.  That . . . covers a lot of territory.
  3. An entry for something unspecified sold with a pouch, in my handwriting.
  4. An entry for a pouch that we sold last year.
#4 I've dealt with a couple times before.  Usually it's an oops in either the tens or ones place, sort the inventory list by price and scan for likely suspects.  It was the tens place, this time.
#3 I decided was a plain black belt, based on price, and the color pouch.
#2 we decided was a havana belt - havana is a brown-brown, the other two are a golden brown and a red/burgundy brown.  Price and memory supplied hardware details.

#1 is still not completely resolved:

Robin and I couldn't find the original pattern, or the photocopy that was cut up for actual use.  We have the pouch made in two colors of brown, at worst, but measuring an assembled pouch is not a fun way to figure costs, especially one that complex.  And we want to make another one.  Aaah, the problem with using Someone Else's pattern.

I checked the Tandy website, but no luck.  It isn't standard Tandy stock, it was something GDI manager Bill carried because he liked it (as I thought).  Sadly, Bill has retired, and when I was last in the new manager is toeing the company line.  Then my google-fu was not helping.  Lots of hits, but all for completed pouches, and the designer's website is really deficient.

Finally, I had the sense to ask Robin to check the other patterns we have by the same designer.  Distributed by Hide Crafters (who I don't normally shop with, since the first few times I tried over a couple/few years I experienced found  not-low prices, when I could even get their website or PDF catalog to work at all).  Success!  I went ahead and ordered the missing pattern, and three more (different) patterns (tries to look innocent).

My logic?  The missing pattern is, at this point, not going to show up unless/until I replace it.  I could prolong the process, but by ordering a new one ASAP I can get on with finding my old one sooner.

Robin suggested that the missing pattern would show up last night.  We explained no, not until the new one ships, at best.  Probably not until the new one arrives and is opened, and maybe not even until it's in use.  If it had shown up last night, I could have called first thing this morning and cancelled the new one.  Murphy's Law does not work that way.

Anyhow, except for the cost of the cartridge pouch, the books for Saturday's event are done.

Back to Etsy and ArtFire, my plan is not to spend much time rooting through merchandise bins.  I think we'll start out with new pouches, etc., as we get them done.  I think I'm going to keep comparable selections on both (some items can be identical - like X-style all-black pouches or belts) for a while and see where the best return comes from.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in the Hunt at Fox Hunt

Friday and Saturday were mostly successful.

I got out of work a little late Friday afternoon, and thus didn't get 
home until about a half-hour after Ron and Robin. But I'd sent Ron the packing list, so they had started packing the truck. I went through some of the bins in the trailer and the bin of finished pouches from in the house, deciding what to leave home and what to take, and consolidating where I could. Taking the 2 Easy-Ups meant that much less space for other stuff. Truck packing was accomplished without incident, or even snapping at each other.

Then we moved inside, and I started packing up tools and the other things in the house, like price list sheets, receipt books, etc. I once more went through some bins of odds and ends that had been going to events and decided what we really needed and what we didn't, and consolidated.  Still no snapping.  We must be growing up or something.

Robin took the results of the indoor packing out to the truck, and then we went off in search of dinner. On the way home we stopped for snacks - getting up at 0-dark-thirty AM generally means the hungries before what most people consider lunch time.

Up at 5 am, and off for Earlsville, IL. The site is waaay out in the boonies, a place called Stonehouse Park, which bills itself as being a dedicated site for re-enactors. From a very quick glance at the a month or two of their calendar it looks like LARP groups use the site about half the weekends, also saw this SCA event a WWII event, and an Airsoft event. Some things the park is closed for, it looks like others it's open, altohugh I'm not sure what exactly they mean by open. Website is

We weren't too far from the front entrance, across a dirt road from a big old barn, which was used for morning court, A&S, and feast. Down said road was a house/cabin where I think feast was being cooked. Down a little further was the bathhouse with flush toilets. There was a port-o-let by the barn, which was taken away presumably for cleaning, and returned Saturday about mid-afternoon. Some areas were paved with cobble-ish pavers, and on the way in there were several pallets of additional pavers and retaining blocks. Nearer the entrance was a shed-ish building with windows (think farmstand) that had a "Troll" sign, although the SCA group wasn't using it. Looking at the website there's also an old inn/farmhouse on the property, but I missed it.

The campsites where merchants were had water and electrical taps. The water tap by the breakfast/lunch pavillion was marked as non-potable, but it appeared I wasn't the only one who used it for hand-washing. There was no hand-sanitizer dispenser in/on the port-o-let, which I've gotten used to seeing. I didn't get any farther than the bathhouse, can't comment on the various fields.

All in all, it seemed like a decent site.

The morning was drizzly, but the out-and-out rain held off until we were set up. Happy happy. We discovered that a mouse had nested in one of the EZ-Up bags. In 20/20 hindsight, leaving dog betting and rope toys in the trailer in folded-up wire crates was pretty stupid. (They were sent to the garbage or washing machine as appropriate on Sunday) The rain and later sun and wind seemed to have quickly eliminated the bit of mouse-funk. Turned out we could have left the handtruck at home, we could pull right up to our space and the ground was not squashy.

After morning court everybody seemed to head out of the barn and across the way to the merchants. Specifically, to us. I'm not complaining, but I wouldn't have minded people browsing at other merchants or otherwise spreading out the busy-ness time-wise, so I could pay more attention to everybody.

Packing, it turned out, had been deficient. I grabbed the small bin that looks just like the one that holds hole punches, even though it's clear and you can see that it does not. Nor did I pack the rotary punch, or a mallet. So we may have lost a couple sales of buckled belts, since we had no way to put the holes in them. Although we did still sell a couple, to people who had or could borrow hole punches. We also forgot to put out the dog leashes and collars, which was a D'OH moment, as the Queen had said she wanted hounds at the event.
Note: a half-grown Borzoi has a wonderfully soft wavy/curly coat and is very good at the "nobody loves me" face.

By lunchtime the sun came out, and in the afternoon the breeze picked up. By mid-afternoon I'd taken down the walls we'd hung, because of the wind. The scaffolding/belt rack attacked Ron in the afternoon, because non-centered loading (intrinsic to how we have the actual belt-rack part of it), gravity, and wind pressure are like that. A nice customer helped stand it up and hold it while Ron made the short walk to the parking area for stakes from the truck.

I had a minor fail and bought some "butter" amber. Need to take it with me tomorrow night and see about getting it re-strung with a clasp, currently it's on two separate bits of fishing line.

Very tired when we got home, but happy.

Sunday Ron supervised Robin unpacking the truck, while I ran out for more small bins, to re-pack some of the things that are in big bins, which just get too heavy when full. We also retired our very first merchandise bin, which is about the size of a footlocker trunk, but maybe 2/3 as tall. I remember the days when it held *everything*, sniff sniff. It's still in good shape, just has that heavy-when-full problem, and it really isn't modular with the rest of the bins. Now we're down to two heights of Rubbermaid Roughneck bins.

I didn't update inventory with the new pouches before we left, but I did print out the list of pouches, so once I got everything else put out, I went through the new stuff, and got it on the list. Ron and I had the price list and sales tax cheat-sheets as PDFs on our phones, but I also need to remember to bring a paper copy of the price list, in case of low batteries, etc. And pack the hole punch and a mallet.

Haven't done the books from the event yet, but I need to get working on making more stuff. Some of the types of pouches were looking rather sparse by the end of the day...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Waffle waffle

My incentive to work on the pouches kinda fell off - I think finding the stash of finished ones had something to do with that.  So did the whole truck question, even though I had a contingency plan (and friends offered a contingency plan to my contingency plan).  Most of the pouch cutting-out binge is still unfinished, never did look any more for the frogs, and I didn't even go through the finished pouches (both recent and the found stash) and update inventory.

But we did get the truck back in time!  Wednesday afternoon.  There was much happy.  I think Ron was secretly disappointed not to have it totalled and try to replace it with a big pick-em-up truck.  But there we are.

And even once we got the truck back, there was more waffling: 
  • Who would go, who would stay home?
  • One-day, or stay tonight?   Where and how stay, if so?
  • One person stay, other commute?
  • Whole big damn trailer, or just a truck load?
  • Weather 
  • Ron and I don't actually like spending our weekends apart
The staying home question is dog-related, in part.  Too long a day for them to be home alone, and taking them requires either taking both vehicles or the big damn trailer, provided they're even welcome.  I'm not assuming they are.

At one point my preliminary plan was to take Robin and a truck-load of merchandise and two easy-ups, and leave him overnight.  Then I looked at the travel time - closer to one hour than two.  Plus the weather thing: easy-ups are not good when it comes to wind and any but straight down plain rain.  Leaving Robin alone overnight to deal with weather could be Bad.  Hotels can get expensive.  Ron and I are getting too old for this camping shit.  Yadda yadda.

And we still haven't packed the truck, or even started hauling stuff out of nooks and crannies and sorting.  Although we finally did decide that Ron and I would do a get up ghu-awful early daytrip and leave Robin home.   

Yesss, precious, it's gonna be an interesting evening around the Otter den, oh yes indeedy...