2018 has been a busy year so far! The Kuzak’s Closet calendar has been packed with the usual services… estate liquidations, private liquidations, estate sales, organizing sessions, relocations, and consultations. Much of my time is spent driving between projects and consultations and my days start early when the sun comes up and ends when the sun is setting. While I’m in the car I’m often talking to potential clients (on handsfree bluetooth of course) and thinking about the business.
It seems like every year we grow as a team and our service offerings expand. So when 2018 kicked off and resolutions were top of mind, it was natural to consider expanding and growing in the New Year. Typically I set wild goals for myself and my staff but this year I felt the strong urge to just enjoy what we do as a team and enjoy the clients and professional partners we have the opportunity to work with.
With this being said, I thought it would be fun to look back at my favorite estate projects from each quarter as this year goes by. We organized and liquidated 25 estates from January to March of 2018. Each project had a different story and set of challenges, most that you would never realize if you shop with us. For me it’s all about the family and the problem to solve, not the stuff inside. The stuff can be a bonus and of course we are the best and maximizing that value with the power our our email list, @shopkuzakscloset, and marketing tools BUT I also love having a hoarded house come my way and have the opportunity to release the stress with a simple solution.
Our first estate liquidation of each year is always memorable but this year it was amazing! Our client Anne had an amazing home that she shared with her husband for over 50 years. The house sat on over an acre in Palo Alto (rare) with a workshop, shed, garage, expansive estate, and wonderful treasures inside. She really wanted to have an estate liquidation with us rather than a long drawn out estate sale because she wanted to move to her new (smaller home) and transition the house quickly to the new owners. With our liquidations only taking 1 day it was the perfect option!
Hope and Billy are ready to take on the project (and the year)!
We always have a huge turnout at the first liquidation of the year because I have a tradition of passing out a New Years postcard with a coupon on the back to each shopper. Well, word either spread about that tradition or shoppers were craving a liquidation after the holidays. The shopper turnout was the largest that we’ve had at a estate liquidation at the time with over 150 shoppers lined up to get in with an additional 200+ shoppers coming after we opened the doors. I only know that because I had 350 postcards printed and I ran out before we closed at 11am. Yes, estate liquidations are only 2 hours long, so fun!
Our first estate sale of the year was a memorable highlight for me because of the variety of services we were able to provide. It was a project we worked on with Terri Couture from Coldwell Banker. She originally had us come to organize and declutter the estate in December, before she put it on the market. We were able to box up paperwork for the family, remove unsellable items for trash and recycling, roll up rugs to be put into the garage along with furniture that the stager didn’t want to use during the real estate sale process. Once the house sold, the family came back in to remove items they wanted to keep. One of the beneficiaries lives in Costa Rica and wanted to keep all but 1 of the rugs (the large rug in the photo) so we coordinated shipping them to him. The stager removed her items and then we came back in to organize the home for an estate sale. We had a one day sale and sold out at the end of the day with the new owners of the home coming at the end to buy the dining set and a dresser.
Our second estate sale of the year was a highlight for a multitude of reasons. The client Stephanie, was a treat to work with. She treasured her parents things but couldn’t keep it all. The idea of having the items find homes with happy shoppers was something she thought both her mom and dad would’ve liked to see. We always give our estate sales a nickname for the marketing campaign and our client Stephanie named this one “living the good life” and she was right on the mark. The home was located on a huge property in Los Altos Hills and once we organized everything it really shaped up to be a fabulous estate sale.
We had the largest line ever when we opened the doors on Friday. I have never SEEN so many shoppers and they just kept coming all day long. We sold $12,000 OVER our goal and the house was sold out by the end of Saturday. Another total success!
The liquidations we have organized this year have been extremely well attended, almost too well attended! They are open to our email list only but that list just keeps growing. By the time I arrive on the morning of the sales the streets are packed with cars, it’s amazing how successful this service has become over the years.
The secret to these lines? It’s a club. Yep, club Kuzak’s. Shoppers on our list have become friends and continue to meet new shoppers and make new friends. They enjoy early morning chit chat over coffee provided by Michelle, a shopper on our list. Then they have the opportunity to go inside of a house that they have NO IDEA what will be inside (neither do we half the time) and they love the thrill of the hunt. They shop for themselves, for each other, and friends, kids, and grandkids that can’t attend the weekday events. On the other side, they love seeing the Kuzak’s Closet team and updating us on what they are buying, their health, and always asking “when is the next one?”
In January we had a few really beautiful estate liquidations. One was in a wonderful estate in Menlo Park (line above) with a great book collection and a packed kitchen. The other was in the below Atherton estate that was modern on the outside but packed with antique furniture on the inside.
We opt to do estate liquidations when there isn’t enough time, parking, or value for an estate sale. Also, many of our clients don’t want to have an estate sale that drags out the process of getting the house on the market.
Much of my time in January was spent in the car going from project to project and consultation to consultation. I meet with a lot of people and I enjoy the process of guiding them through the process and offering a solution when no one else is willing to.
Speaking of no one else being willing to, my favorite consultation from January was at this amazing hoarder estate in San Jose. We will finally be organizing it (private liquidation, no shoppers) in April but the delay was mostly due to the trustee not being able to find another vendor to put a bid on it. Well, another vendor that plays by the business rules like I do (insurance, payroll, workers comp, etc). I cannot wait to dive into this one!
We ended the month of January with a fabulous private liquidation in Los Altos. It was memorable for me because it was a repeat customer. We organized an estate sale for this client’s parents in Los Altos Hills a few years ago and she asked us to come back to organize and liquidate her aunt’s home. It was a sparse home with some amazing midcentury modern furniture. Instead of having a wrestling match with shoppers over the teak treasures we listed them on @shopkuzakscloset. We had the house sold out, empty and broom swept within two days.
February was a jam packed month with some really memorable projects. We kicked off the month with an estate sale in Saratoga. Again, crowds for days at this one!
It’s always great to see shoppers really enjoy the collections that someone accumulated during their lifetime. Whether is crafts, books, or furniture…
Billy and the guys love estate sales because they actually get to chat with customers more than they do at our estate liquidations and private liquidations. It’s nice to see how they jump up to help a customer load their car or carry out a heavy bag of books for a customer. I would say it’s because they are well trained but it’s also their wonderful nature, they love to make a shopper smile!
Our first liquidation of the month of February was a highlight for me because I LOVED everything inside! The house belonged to the mother of one of our shoppers who is an antique dealer in the business. We did marketing on Instagram through Insta-stories (the little circles on the top of the page, if you press the circle videos and photos might show up, I post stories daily if you want to follow along behind the scenes). Another huge line!
Inside there were treasures worth lining up for! We listed some really special items like this plate rack ahead of time on @shopkuzakscloset. Shoppers have really been enjoying the opportunity to shop ahead of time through the app and it’s surprising me to how many of the shoppers that come to pick up are faces I’ve never seen before. It’s a great value add for our estate families for sure!
With February hosting Valentine’s Day and my birthday shoppers often arrived with gifts in hand. So thoughtful!
Our Summerhill liquidation was memorable because of the estate and property alone! It was a custom built home in the 1960s and had a ton of midcentury details and charm. It was on a huge lot with a pool and a pool house so even though the family ended up removing more than we expected it was still worth the trip for this crowd of shoppers…
With February being such a busy month we felt the pains of being short staffed so I tried my best to not double or triple book projects like I typically have to. For liquidations especially I often have to leave after shoppers leave to go and check on an organizing project or attend a meeting or consultation. In February I tried my best to stay at a liquidation project from start to finish, I even gave Billy a break and took Big Red to the dump on a few occasions.
This is the empty pool house at Summerhill! Getting the pool table disassembled and loaded into the shoppers car was a memory all by itself!
Our Los Altos Parma liquidation was a highlight and a lowlight for the month. It’s a house we’ve organized since 2011 so I’ve spent a ton of time there. Our clients decided to move out separately so we organized and packed up each of them and the kids and got them settled into their new homes/condos and then liquidated what didn’t go. The move process went on over 2-3 months and then the liquidation came. It is a gorgeous house and shoppers loved it which was a highlight, it’s not everyday that you get to shop and tour an 8,000 square foot estate! It was just the end of a chapter for my clients and it tugged on my heart a lot. I am just glad they had a resource like Kuzak’s Closet that could handle and organize the entire transition.
What’s behind that door? The thrill of the mystery is always exciting but often disappointing at our consultations so when this blue door opened and I walked in to see…
a midcentury time capsule I was in shock! It was as if I entered a time machine and I knew shoppers would love it! The only problem is that the estate was perched on a hill with no more than 3 parking spaces. It would’ve been one of the best estate sales ever but we had to opt for a private liquidation on this one due to the lack of access for shoppers.
We were able to sell everything on @shopkuzakscloset within two days and leave the estate empty and broom swept. It was a three level estate so it was a lot of work but a fun challenge. It was also a treat just to work together as a team without a ton of shoppers in and out. We tackled this liquidation and the next one in Santa Clara with one of our favorite Real Estate Agents, Don Sabatini.
It was a very memorable estate as you can see. This is at the end when it was empty. The basement stairwell opens into the party room in the basement, I can only imagine the parties in this place over the decades!
March was kicked off with two huge estate liquidations with shoppers and they loved it despite the rainy weather we had.
Our Santa Clara liquidation was right up my alley with lots of antiques! The clients were in the antique business but due to the behind the scenes legal issues we opted for an estate liquidation over an estate sale. It will be a memorable liquidation for many shoppers for months to come because it was so packed with goodies galore! Again, we sold items on @shopkuzakscloset to be picked up at the liquidation sale. This large sugar shaker collection was popular…
As was this lot of antique banks…
And don’t even get me started on these vintage sleighs! I totally wanted to buy one but I don’t have the space at my house. They remind me of the oh so memorable Castle Estate Sale. It was great to see two of my favorite antique dealers leave with one in hand…
Our Menlo Park liquidation was memorable because of the odd design of the house. It was a yurt house built by Bonne Raitt’s brother that was later added on to with another yurt. Our clients moved to Paris and we had the opportunity to liquidate everything they left behind. The weather was HORRIBLE on liquidation day, raining cats and dogs. The neighbor was also one for the record books. She yelled at all of the shoppers who were lined up in the morning and then requested that no one be able to drive down the driveway (flag lot). We honored her request which made it for a very long, very muddy day.
At the end we had to steam mop the floors because of all of the mud and we finished 3 hours later than we needed to (thank you neighbor). It was not fun but it was memorable. The realtor and the clients were so happy with the results and how we handled the angry neighbor so that made it all worth it.
We sold a handful of cars in Q1 and the most memorable was the 1976 Mercedes 300d. It belonged to Lew, a client of mine that I had an estate sale for in 2015 after his wife passed away. In early 2018 we liquidated Lew’s condo when he moved into independent living and he turned into a 3 time client when his kids took the keys away and wanted to sell his wheels. The car was listed for $1,000 and sold in a bidding war for $2,700. You can imagine that Lew and his son were very happy! The new owner was equally happy and just sent another text to let us know how happy he is!
Hope has been “promoted” to working the door at estate liquidations this year and she’s been doing a great job! I say “promoted” because no one really wants the task of doing crowd control but I get a kick out of hearing her chit chat and lay down the law.
The estate liquidation in the photo was in Mountain View on a corner lot, it was a memorable one for me because the client stood on the corner across the street to watch the action. He was like a character out of a TV show.
Our black and white Eichler liquidation was memorable, obviously you can see why…
It channeled a bit of Beetlejuice which is one of my favorite movies. The estate was neat and tidy and shoppers really enjoyed it. It was a neat twist to be in a 1980s furnished Eichler. The clients lived in it for a long long time so I wonder what they did with their original furniture, they must have had teak somewhere!
We spent some time over in Lafayette in March at an estate we are planning to have an estate sale at in April. It’s a large 1941 estate on 2 acres, talk about wow! The family is still removing items that they are keeping so there is no telling what will be left for the sale, I’ll be going back this Thursday to take another look.
Here is a peek at the den! I want everything inside! We typically don’t venture out of the Peninsula for estate sales but this family said I had to do their sale and I’m a sucker for that. Fingers crossed that there will be enough left to have a great sale!
The rain came down for most days in March, especially towards the end so we opted to liquidate most estates through private liquidations. There is no need to risk a slip and fall or damage a house with mud with our crowds.
So, you’ve missed the opportunity to shop some nice estates (like the one below in Los Altos) towards the end of March but there will be plenty more for you in Q2 so get ready!
So, as you can see Q1 was a busy quarter (even when we aren’t trying to ramp it up) so we are resting this weekend before April officially kicks off. On Monday we have consultations, a private liquidation on Tuesday in Cupertino and an estate liquidation on Thursday in Palo Alto. Stay tuned for the details!