The last two months have been absolutely PACKED with estate organization and private liquidations. We’ve been so busy that it took me by surprise last week when a regular shopper asked if we’ve been on vacation. I was like, VACATION…I need a VACATION! We all do really, but it’s the end of the year so that’s really not an option with all of the last minute wild estate emergencies that will be added to our calendar. Billy left for Tonga today and he was smart to go because starting on November 1st it gets wild. I’m not quite sure how we will handle everything while he is gone because he hasn’t gone on a vacation in over three years and a lot has changed in three years. The staff has doubled and the volume of what we can accomplish in a week is wildly different. He’ll be gone for almost three weeks and I know when he comes back we will all appreciate everything he does for the team that much more.
At this time of year the level of complexity when it comes to location, family dynamics, timeline, gets more extreme and I’m happy that my staff rolls with the punches just like I do. We are always learning something at Kuzak’s Closet which is what keeps it interesting. If the last two months are a warm up for what’s about to come that’s scary and exciting at the same time!
I call it “oh sh..” season because it is when families who have procrastinated all year will finally follow up or call me for the first time to get on the calendar and are in a rush to close the trust or the estate by the end of the year. There are clients who call me on a Monday, they are typically organized type A clients who make lists and have their ducks in a row. Then there are clients who call me on Friday’s who don’t make lists, meant to call me on a Monday, and really needed to liquidate 8 months ago. These next two months will be Friday callers almost everyday. I love both types of clients equally, the Friday callers are slightly more fun because but you can decide which one you might be. I would be a Monday caller, just saying.
For blog readers who also shop with us or live out of the area but follow along on social media…the projects that I am highlighting today are projects that you didn’t have an opportunity to shop at. What! How! Yes, all that means is they were either estate organizing projects or private liquidations. A private liquidation is when the family either doesn’t want the public in their home, can’t have the public in their home due to the location, can’t have any type of sale because of the timeline, and/or doesn’t want to sell anything, they would rather have items be donated. The shopper that I mentioned above who asked if I was on vacation was speechless when I gave him this info, he just couldn’t understand why a family wouldn’t want to sell things. It’s really quite common, especially here in Silicon Valley where the property values are so high and the resale value can be so low with the huge volume of people coming and going and donating and selling along the way. If you feel like you’ve been missing out you probably have, you need to follow along with Kuzak’s Closet Instastories (little circle on top, just press it) to see what really happens each day!
The first project was with a real estate agent we love to work with. She is SUPER organized and she totally understands what sells and what doesn’t. Her clients found their dream home so they needed to move out, liquidate, and get on the market in the matter of days to make the transaction work. Their home had beautiful things but once I helped them realize the potential risks of letting the public in and the reality of the value they would recoup they decided it would make more sense to have their friends and family come to choose items to take home with them, move out what they love, and then let us liquidate the rest. I love projects like this because we can get started really early and potentially fit 2 liquidations into one day. I know our estate liquidations with shoppers start early but the reality is that we can’t get to work until after the shoppers leave which can sometimes be after noon. This last week we had two shoppers who lingered to try to get a better price on a set of glasses that we were asking $5 for. The $5 just isn’t worth the time we will be delayed getting to our charity partners and recycling sites that often close at 5pm. Needless to say, those ladies shopped until 11:45 (the sale ends at 11am, and didn’t buy the glasses.
This next project took up a solid 3 weeks of time for Taylor and a revolving team setup from Kuzak’s Closet. It was a highly sensitive estate and it was such an honor to be asked to organize, catalog, help the children make their decisions, pack up for shipping and storage, and then liquidate the rest. It was probably one of the most memorable estates from the year just because of the cast of characters, quick timeline, sensitivity, and volume of beautiful and valuable items.
It’s really fun when all of the elements of the Kuzak’s Closet business structure can fold into a project a the same time…(Organizing/Hauling/Project Management). I can see that down the road we do less and less sales (we already d0) because the high end estates that we work on just don’t want to sell items or let the public in.
We worked with a fabulous moving and storage company out of San Francisco on many of our estates this fall called Caremore. We started working with them last fall on a big move to Mill Valley and it was a partnership made in heaven. They are sensitive and professional and are always on time and under budget, gotta love that! When we took on this estate I was planning to be there the entire time but it took a turn in a complex direction so I had to pass the baton off to Taylor and Tammy who rocked it. Fortunately and unfortunately I only managed all of the communication and moving day to make sure everything ended up in the right truck with the right label, this was my view…
When we closed out the project it was bittersweet for us, the family, and the house.
The next project was a midcentury estate on the Pasatiempo golf course. This one came in HOT as they say, the agent called me at 2pm and I was at the house by 4pm for a consultation. With the tight timeline and complexity of the family expectations and agent also selling things we offered a private liquidation to help them empty the property so it could be sold in a timeframe that would help maximize the gains on the house. We did sell a few large lots, a collection of over 5,000 books, antique violins, and some costume jewelry and then we helped value the remaining items that were used for staging and eventually sold privately. It was fun to get out of the Silicon Valley bubble for a few days, it really is beautiful over the hill!
We work on a ton of private liquidations with a senior relocation company that helps seniors transition into senior living. Once they help the family pack up what they want to move we determine if there is enough for an estate liquidation with shoppers or if we should just do a private liquidation because of the lack of time/parking/value. This project in Hillsborough was originally slated for a liquidation with shoppers but in the end became a private liquidation because the family wanted to be there during the process. Obviously it’s fine with us if that is the preference BUT we just can’t have the family and the shoppers there at the same time. I mean last week I caught a shopper using the toilet with other shoppers in the bathroom. Talk about nutty! He was removed from our email list in the meantime but I will say that I’ve had over 500+ sales in my time in business and I’ve never had to deal with that!
In the mix of everything going on I flew home to help celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday and to say goodbye to my grandparents (and great-grandparents) home in North Branch Michigan. I always envisioned living in this house someday and maybe I will at some point. I had someone ask me once when I was in law school (a therapist, God knows I needed one then) what is my first memory of love and instantly I said my grandparents. I absolutely loved spending time with them and I’m lucky I still have my 93 year old granny to visit and I think that is what makes this goodbye so weird. Typically you say goodbye to your loved one, then goodbye to their belongings, and then goodbye to their home. In this case I’ve said goodbye to my grandpa, I still get to say hello to my granny (who now lives happily in assisted living) which is most important, but then I’ve said goodbye to her belongings and home. It’s given me a whole new perspective on what my client’s feel like which I already knew was awful but now I know it’s double awful.
Most of the house was empty when I went back which was surreal. All of the pictures on the wall, furniture from distant relatives, and collections my grandparents had accumulated were gone. This was the bedroom that my sister and my cousins and I always slept in when we visited my grandparents. Click here to see a blog post I wrote years ago sharing photos of this room the way I’ll always remember it…
The next estate was with a client we’ve worked with for years. It was at an independent living community where my client was living until she was moved to memory care. Her daughter really wanted to preserve the items and postpone her decisions because it felt out of order (just like I mentioned above so I could totally relate) so we worked hard to organize, catalog, pack, and manage the move of the items into private storage. Some items will be shipped to family and other items were donated. It was a really smooth project because of miracle worker Tari Vickery from Life Matters Financial Group who partnered with us to get organized and accomplish our goals.
There were some really gorgeous things that I’m glad I had a chance to see before they were packed up. Many of these treasures traveled with her parents from Washington D.C. to the Bay Area in the 1960s.
We also partnered up with Caremore on this project because they could offer moving and storage for the client. We also worked with Neale and Sons, our favorite appraiser. Austin came out and was able to give our client an idea of value for insurance and future auction.
Another empty estate!
The next project was a liquidation at the Park Regent in Los Altos that has a lot of rules and regulations so we always offer a private liquidations to families. This one was really smooth and fun because it came up last minute and we tackled it in record time. I worked by myself with the guys so it was like the old days. Less people managing, more digging in which is always fun.
We finished early enough to have lunch and margaritas at one of my favorite local Los Altos spots, Fiesta Vallarta. The boys loved it and asked if we can have our holiday party there, I’m not sure Fiesta Vallarta is ready for us!
The next project was in Woodside, a totally over the top estate custom built for our client who was almost seven feet tall. I did the consultation at this house the day after I bought the stone form new house so I had a real perspective for how much time/effort/money went into the finished material, I mean, just check out the mantle in the photo below!
For this project we couldn’t offer an estate sale or estate liquidation because of the location and lack of parking but we were able to provide extra services like removing all of the window treatments to make up for it.
We did have shoppers come to pickup items that we advertised on @shopkuzakscloset and a few online websites so that was also a bonus. At one point the buyer for the dining set and the buyer for the patio set came at the same time so it was a juggle to get everyone parked and loaded. I can only imagine what kind of a nightmare a sale would’ve been especially with the crowds that come for our estate sales and liquidations.
This project was the second estate for the week with one more MEGA project to go. When I walked into the living room and saw Hope’s legs dangling from the custom made sofas I laughed to myself, this image pretty much sums up perfectly what we are all feeling right now…
Another empty estate!
The finale to the last two months was a recent project in Mountain View. The real estate agent that referred us to the project said it would be one of our largest private liquidations to date. When I went for the consultation I knew what she meant, it was MEGA is so many ways. This home was all about entertaining when my client’s father was alive. After he passed it transformed into what it was when we tackled it. Our goal was to locate family photos, valuables like jewelry and money, and anything special or memorable that the family indicated with a list before we started. This is the backyard looking at the house before we started…
This is the after! We were able to sort and organize all of the contents, the good…the bad…the ugly, and even remove the large shed/storage structure that was blocking the view from the screened in patio to the yard.
This is the reverse view….before…
And after! The value of this home is in the large lot so it was really smart of the real estate agent to ask us to open it up by removing the structure. Typically we are not a demo company but when we are already on-site for such a large project we are happy to add that service on.
I didn’t take a photo of this garage before we started because I couldn’t access it from this same angle because of the boxes and piles. There is nothing better than another empty estate!
Well, that is the long answer to that shopper’s question asking if we’ve been on vacation. Nope, we’ve been doing what we do best, organizing and liquidating almost 7 days a week! We are looking forward to a busy last push of the year and if you have you are reading this thinking “hey, that is the same situation that my families estate is in” or “wow, I didn’t realize they did all that”, yes, we offer custom solutions for each and every project and we are always happy to help!