Monday, December 8, 2014

Boar's Head Report

Boar's Head, an SCA event we've been merchants at many many times, was on Saturday.

Sales were good. I think it's likely to have been our last Boar's Head.

Yes, those do seem contradictory.

First, the overview of the day:  

The weather wasn't particularly cold, it was dry, and there was only a little snow in the parking lots and no ice, which is much better than some years. There was road construction, but it didn't introduce any delays that I noticed. We got there early enough that they opened a garage door and had Ron pull the truck and trailer into the hall to unload, which made it really easy.

Our space included a pillar, but it was roughly in the center of our space, so it wasn't nearly as annoying as last year, when the pillar would have taken out about a quarter of our usable space. This year we just wrapped gridwall around it and carried on. We didn't use all the gridwall. 

Sold a little bit of everything, except belts. Only sold one belt. I think we were being undercut price-wise by another merchant. We sold a half-dozen tails, which was a surprise. We also sold several bottles. The amphora bottles were the most popular. Despite having yarn, patterns, knitting kits, needles, and notions on sale (20% off), we only had one fiber-related sale. Which kind of reinforced the decision to discontinue the knitting stuff, which I now have to figure out what to do with (knit, duh, but that still leaves me with multiple copies of some of the patterns, needles, and notions). 

Although we'd brought food, we ended up (buying and) eating the lunch that was offered. And don't ask how much cookies and fudge, because the SCA group that hosts the event does a cookie-sale fundraiser that's just plain evil. Canadian butter tarts were this year's particular evil, IMO. In the usual afternoon dead period I worked no sewing swivels onto tails.  We forgot to check the mail Friday evening, so although Ron did bring some scales to play with, he didn't have the order that was delivered Friday, d'oh!

Tearing down and leaving was relatively uneventful, other than that we were all varying levels of tired and sore, and one of the UPSes took a bold leap for freedom (appears to be OK). Dinner at Cracker Barrel, where a couple fox Christmas ornaments and a chicken stacking teapot/teacup combination followed us home.  I drove from the north side of Milwaukee to Antioch, since Ron's back was very Not Happy. It was the first time I'd driven with this trailer, which behaves much better than the big old white one we had before. 

This torque also followed me home (shown with the arm ring I got last year), from World Tree Hoard.

I was lusting after a sterling silver arm ring, with pretty black patina, but I didn't see it until after it had been set aside for someone else to come back and pay for (I did get first dibs if they didn't come back, but they did, drat). I have favorited his Etsy shop. 

We were tired and sore zombies yesterday, although I did get a few new things cut out. I also ordered more tails, and more bottles. I got more dark amber amphora, plus clear and a violet, and violet ball bottles. I was going to order some really big amphora bottles at Ron's request, but they're out of stock until January.  The ornament bins I got seem to be working for bottles, some of which were also packed into the ammo cans that we were using for yarn. The 4' tall gridwall and front fence we had Robin make worked reasonably well for containment. 

So, why was this likely to be Otter's last year at Boar's Head?

The problem is that Otter Necessities has grown over the years, and a lot in the last couple years. Once upon a time we could do either setup or tear-down (including packing the truck/trailer) in an hour. Not any more. Not even with 4 people. Getting up stupid early in the morning, driving a couple hours, setting up, selling most of the day, tearing down, and then driving home (with a stop for dinner) is a lot of work. A LOT of work. 

If we're going to keep doing the occasional SCA event, we're going to have to do one of two things:
Switch to a 2- or 3-day event, most of which are in the summer, and involve camping.
Simplify setup, by reducing the amount of gridwall we're erecting to just the belt display and anything not on that to tables, and/or limiting what we bring and sell.

The problem with #1 is finding a weekend event that fits the schedule, especially in the summer, which is dominated by ACen (May) and MuseCon (July-August). And camping is not especially attractive when one considers bad knees, bad backs, CPaP machines, and general dislike of heat, humidity, and mosquitos. And the lesser issues of dealing with tents and weather. And security, if we elect to sleep off-site. Which we do for conventions, but having a storm in the middle of the night is less of an issue, since convention venues are less susceptible to weather-related issues than tents. 

#2 is possibly the more viable solution. As Ron currently has the trailer configured, he can get the Things, Max, and the Grinch out without unloading all the gridwall. So we could bring in them, and just a few pieces of gridwall to display belts, and maybe contain glassware, and set up on tables only. We might also consider limiting what we put out for sale, although as the unexpected tail sales and lack of belt sales showed, we might not be as smart as that. Or maybe we could/should skip the belts, and stick to pouches and all the other stuff. 

We have time to think about it, the lead time for SCA events is typically in the range of a couple-few weeks, not many months like conventions. 

Next thing on the schedule is Con-Alt-Delete, the weekend before Christmas, in Rosemont.  We're in the Hyatt Regency, instead of the Stephens Convention Center, need to contact the organizers and see where we need to go for setup and teardown, etc. 

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