Never Let Anyone Dim Your Light
This week started off with a business setback. After years of using EstateSales.net to post advertisements about our pop-up sales, someone reported the ad to them as being a "non-estate sale" and customer support issued us a warning on Monday, letting us know they were going to take the ad down at 8:00 PM. I was in the midst of helping Mother out and was not home, but I dropped everything and rewrote the ad. I then politely explained to ES.net that the sale did follow their guidelines of estate items moved to a store. I do not normally pop up at this time of year but it so happened that our four estate sales were only 5-15 minutes away and we were centrally located in the middle of all the sales. Also, we have a huge amount of estate jewelry on consignment at this time - 300 pounds from an Oak Park estate which was given to us after we conducted the sale at the estate home and another 100 pounds from an Arlington Heights estate which only had jewelry to sell. We literally moved these estate items to our pop-up sale location. Unfortunately I had copied the text from a previous event which included references to the Tucson Gem Show items and jewelry we made years ago but are now liquidating. At the time, I did not know what I was going to have room for. I had every intention of updating the ads the week of the sale once photos were shot and did not think anything of it not being quite correct this time as I have never had issues before.
I let ES.net know that I updated the ad to reflect what was truly going to be offered at the sale. I asked them to please reconsider their decision to take down the ad because this would be devastating to our client who had the most jewelry in the sale. However, they basically accused me of lying and said because the ad originally had references to the other items they were still going to take it down, even though I had removed those references. The way I was treated was definitely very disappointing as I am sure we conduct the most estate sales in the nation and I am an honest person who is not going to do anything to tarnish our reputation as an estate sale company.
After the final verdict came down, Mother decided to go into her "super sleuth" mode and scanned through the listings of current sales. She found an ad for a woman we helped several years ago by bringing many of her items to one of our pop-up sales and to other estate sales because she was not yet ready to have a sale in her home. The source of the items was very unique so Mother immediately knew it was her. For whatever reason, she decided to go with another company which is completely her choice but the ad said that the sale was postponed. ES.net does not allow postponed sales on their site but this ad was still active. While looking for this ad, I noticed another ad with a title of "JUST BRACELETS" which caught my eye being a jewelry fan. There were nothing but beaded bracelets for sale for $3.00 each and porch pickups of purchases only offered. There is also someone who owns a store and posts new ads on a weekly basis - I am sure she is not clearing out her entire store and filling it with new goods every week.
I let a lot of things go - competitors have copied my website, sale ads and attempted to mimic my writing style. Past clients have used my photos and sale ads without permission in order to hold their own sales after our process was completed. I never throw anyone under the bus. I do my own thing and do not worry about what others do. What we do combined with my past experience and education is totally unique and cannot be duplicated. Preposterous things have been said about me in the past such as - I drug potential clients on initial meetings by slipping something into their drinks so I can rob them, every sale we conduct is fake and not for real clients, I could go on and on. Anyone who really knows me knows I literally will not hurt a fly. In the end, I decided not to go another round with ES.net because we really do depend upon them to bring customers to our estate sales.
I was always the highest proponent of ES.net, always giving feedback when asked, filling out the extensive survey every year, attending the last three conferences, always recommending customers visit their site. My thoughts about the company have been tarnished by this experience. As far as my thoughts about the competition - they will never change. Chicago is a huge market for estate sales and there is plenty of business for everyone. Whomever reported me should worry about their own business and not what I am doing. This will not stop us from doing what we love to do - helping our clients turn their unwanted possessions into cash. We do not land every sale we go for and that is OK, we are not a perfect fit for everyone. I always say things turn out the way they are supposed to.
I decided to go on with the pop-up sale because it was already set up and we do still have lots of alternative ways to get the word out. The loss of the ES.net ad did have a profound effect on our pop-up sale's attendance and results though. It caused confusion with customers who saw the ad and then thought we cancelled the sale when the ad disappeared. However, we did have some wonderful customers attend which made going on with the sale worthwhile and their patronage means the world to us!
I brought all of the costume jewelry together in one place for the pop-up sale. I cleared out the breezeway and gathered up the Czech rhinestone collection from the basement. It was downstairs because I intended on photographing it. The first two days of the sale were very hectic so there was no time for busy work but during the second two days I was able to make good progress. Melinda was finally able to get to Scottsdale to pick up the costume jewelry I wanted to have back. We found that in her area, sparkly costume jewelry is not their cup of tea. She shipped three large Priority Mail boxes back filled with Heidi Daus, Sweet Romance, Ollipop and more. They arrived on Friday and I was able to unpack and retag everything. These pieces will start to appear this fall, after Labor Day weekend.
I sold a ton of costume jewelry over the weekend but still have so many wonderful pieces in my own collection. I started the process of retagging everything and decided if the piece had my round sticker on the back with the consignment number and price I was not going to retag it. Retagging would involve Mother having to make a new card because the round stickers are not removable. Many of the pieces have an inventory code as well as the consignment number and in the case of the clip earrings and pins, the tag is attached to the item as opposed to the card. I am using the P-touch to create labels for those items. If they are designer signed, the designer will not only be listed on the label on the back, but I am creating a separate label in a script font for the front. I also have been creating these labels if the earrings are clip and for cufflinks. I will fill some medium size cases with costume jewelry and the rest will do into backstock in the wooden storage cabinet. I received a lot of compliments on the cabinet over the weekend! The project of filling the cabinet has been years in the making and I am really looking forward to it being all ready to go.
For now the costume jewelry will stay in Mount Prospect, I will not be taking it to Arizona this winter. I know I will have my hands full posting the vintage Native American jewelry and Tucson Gem Show finds to the online store. This is the priority for me because these pieces have the most value. Once everything is posted, it will be so easy to shop the collection and no matter where I am, I can ship worldwide!
Speaking of Tucson, it has been on my mind to book the next Gem Show trip although it is five months away. The Gem Show is the premier event in Tucson each year and Airbnbs go fast! Especially since the plan is for all three of us to attend, I wanted to make sure I could find a place which would meet our needs. We need a place with 3 bedrooms, 3 real beds and 2 baths. There are so many places in Tucson where the hosts count air mattresses, futons, couches and lounge chairs as places to sleep. I have been scanning through listings and there are listings with bunk beds, twin beds and I wanted to find three beds which were at least full size. I found a few places which fit the bill and were also pet friendly but got busy with the pop-up sale. When I checked on them again they were all gone!
So I thought I guess I need to take pet friendly out of the equation. I found what looked like an exquisitely decorated place filled with charm and located in one of the best neighborhoods in all of Tucson. Sometimes with Airbnb a booking request goes right through, other times the host wants to approve it first. I do not have hundreds of stays under my belt but have nothing but great reviews. We are perfect tenants and any host would be lucky to have us. However, asking two simple questions caused this host to ignore us. The place had two baths, one being a clawfoot tub and the other was not photographed. I asked if it was a shower or bath as Mother cannot use a clawfoot tub. The photo of the dining area did not have a dining table, only four chairs lined up two by two on each side of the room. I asked if there was a dining table as I needed a small place to price the jewelry I purchased and use a laptop. Hosts have 24 hours to respond and I never received a response. This has never happened to me before so I went to post another inquiry. It was then that I found 6 of the 7 days I requested were blocked out. They appear to have accepted someone else who wanted less days. How rude!
So when I had a spare moment during the pop-up sale I decided to use the Airbnb app on my phone to look for a new place. Almost instantly a wonderful option popped up! The home is a 1903 mansion in downtown Tucson and the homeowner is a retired architect. She completely redesigned and built out the upstairs, creating a 3-bedroom penthouse-like space with 2 baths and multiple terraces. I could not hit the book button fast enough! Luckily this one was accepted right away and it will be ours for the days I wanted. The listing says there is some train horn noise in the distance and that some will find this romantic, others annoying but she has not received any complaints yet. I did not notice until later that the space does not have a kitchen, only a wet bar but that is perfectly fine, we have rarely used a stove on any of our short-term rental stays. There is a large dorm-size refrigerator, microwave and sink which will be great for breakfast, lunch and heating up leftovers. There is also a dining table! If either Mother or Kuochun decides not to attend a show with me, the place will be extremely pleasant to stay "home" in. This will be our first time staying in downtown. Mother is normally worried about safety but when I showed her that the property is secured she felt great about it, as well as having the homeowners in the main home downstairs. See what I mean about everything happening for a reason!
This experience led me to think I better finalize all of the plans for this winter and book the Las Vegas trip as well. Las Vegas is more challenging to book as it is easy to end up in a bad neighborhood. I have been there many times, mostly before short-term rentals existed and so I have never stayed in an Airbnb there before. This will be the longest I have ever stayed there as well. I prefer to live like a local in Las Vegas and only spend a little time on the Strip or Downtown. I am looking forward to taking day trips to Boulder City, NV and St. George, UT. There are awesome Native American and Western stores in both cities. We had a great time exploring these areas last time, although we ran into an accident on the way to St. George which shut down the highway for two hours, limiting our time there and making it too late to go to the lunch place we planned on. I will be doing a lot of searching for jewelry and other goodies at the many antique malls too.
Again, it really helped to eliminate the pet-friendly requirement and I was able to find this 2-bedroom, 2 bath condo in my preferred neighborhood. Kuochun and I had great luck staying in a condo of this format in Oro Valley, AZ although we were on the second floor. This is a first floor unit, it looks very clean, updated and is in a gated community. The price was very reasonable as well. At least we will not have to haul the computer up any stairs!
I am happy to have all the plans squared away and things worked out for the best. I think this will be plenty of travel and although they are for the most part business trips, we will enjoy our time at all three locations - Las Vegas, northern AZ and southern AZ.
Well I think this is enough for this week, see you next time!