Q2 Estate Highlights

The process of compiling this quarterly blog post involves reviewing the calendar, cross-checking dates, and reviewing the behind the scenes photos from the last three months. In total it takes me 5-6 hours before I can hit publish and share it with all of you. Each quarter flies by faster than the one before and that we definitely the case with Q2.  With our Naglee Park project capping off Q1 we should’ve taken a breather when instead we picked up the pace and took off in a complete sprint.

Our organizing schedule has been a whirlwind with relocations and maintenance sessions throughout the Bay Area with local travel to Carmel and not-so-local travel for a project in Montana. With those projects on the books it’s simply amazing that we were able to pile 29 estate projects on top. To say I’m tired is an understatement, for the first time in 15 years I’m simply feeling burnt out.

In years past I could judge the pace based on the number of estates but the actual number doesn’t seem to matter as much now that are consistently organizing and liquidating complex projects that can take 2-3 days in some cases. By the time we open up the doors for shoppers or post listings on @shopkuzakscloset I’ve shared dozens of emails and phone calls with families to make sure we are organized and ready for service.

In April we were able to offer 6 estate liquidations open to our email list and our email list rejoiced! The lists for entry often looked like this…

It was fun to see shopper piles stack up at each project.  I learned early on in this business that you never really know what people will buy and if you can sneak a peek at shopper piles at one of our estate liquidations you see it with your own eyes.  Shoppers love everything from vintage collectibles to half-used Windex.

Our private liquidation service had many of your refreshing your Instagram app on @shopkuzakscloset on the daily as well.  We were able to liquidate 5 estates in April including this vintage toy estate that I originally started working on 9 years ago when my client’s husband passed away.  Back when we started I was able to sell collections for her using sites like Cragislist and eBay and the process took weeks.  Fast forward to now, we were able to liquidate the entire toy collection in 2 days.  Love it!

We only had one estate project that met our estate sale requirements in during Q2 and it was our Los Altos estate sale that was a home run.  We had ten days to complete the project and it ate up all of the time we could give it.  I’ve gotten into the habit in recent years of working late on the eve of the estate sale to finish pricing and putting final touches on the setup of the sale.  Sometimes I work on my own and many times Sarah will come to help me. It’s like our Joanna Gaines moment at each house, it is really the last time we get to enjoy the estate and the clients we have gotten to know and love during the process.

At this project I had more company that just Sarah! Mike D and Billy were there to help too!

We left around 1am and there were already 8 people lined up to get into the sale.  By 7am the next morning the streets were filled with cars. It’s always rewarding to be greeted by a crowd of excited shoppers, it’s one of the few times where I feel like my hard work pays off.

Kuzak’s Closet is definitely more “tech-forward” compared to many other estate companies. We’ve got our email subscription service, @shopkuzakscloset and multiple social media platforms that are extremely active.  I love that we are able to stay heads and tails above the rest with these tools BUT I also love the following of shoppers that are able to keep up with us with good old fashioned phone calls and hand drawn maps.

I intercepted this map from Mark G. to Military Al and had a chuckle.

The map was to one of my favorite estate liquidation projects of all time, the home of Mr. Baker.  We were hired by the probate attorney to organize and inventory the estate prior to the estate liquidation.  Mr. Baker was an organized hoarder who suffered from paranoia, hence the amazing surveillance setup he had in place.  It was amusing during the inventory process but I didn’t fully appreciate the cameras until they captured shoppers at the estate liquidation sale.

Mr. Baker didn’t have bedrooms, he had tinker rooms.  Living at the house took a backseat to his priority to engineer and create.  His sister told me that he was a mechanical engineer but I’m certain he was retired from the CIA.

Shoppers appreciated Mr. Baker’s collections and piles stacked up outside in our hold section.

And for shoppers who forgot “sold” stickers, Mr. Baker’s lack of housekeeping came in handy.  This dust sticker really made my day.

Goodbye tools and electronics…

Goodbye one of many scooters…

Mr. Baker’s empty estate.  My buddy, like many of my favorite clients, that I will never be able to meet in person.

One of my favorite outtakes from April is this photo of Haleigh organizing a list of items sold with buyer details from a private liquidation.  If you feel like it’s wild to keep us as a shopper, it’s just as bad on our end managing the listings and the messages.  Shoppers don’t just message “I will buy the bird bath and pick it up today at 2pm”, they message details about doctors appointments, opinions on the items, requests to hold items or bring items to our office for pickup.  It’s simply a lot of chatter.  In most private liquidation scenarios there are 2-3 staff members photographing and drafting listings to prep for the posts to go live at a set time.  At that point one staff member will take over the messages and the additional staff members will continue to photograph and list items for sale.

We each take turns managing the messages, in most cases buyers will be coordinating purchases with Sarah, Haleigh, or myself. It’s amazing how popular this little account has gotten over the last two years.

So, in total that gives us 12 empty estates in April.

That’s a lot of loads delivered to donation sites…

And not enough sunsets in my hot tub, ha! In addition to all of the organizing and estate action I found time to meet with 13 families for consultations and we sold 2 cars.

Moving on to the month of May.  Mr. Baker met his match with the most organized crafter I’ve ever met.  I love vintage organizing tools and labels!

I also love pulling up on the liquidation scene to see shoppers tailgating before the sale.  The two shoppers on the right side with their books and camping chairs crack me up!

In May we were able to liquidate 7 estates with 5 estate liquidations and 2 private liquidations on the calendar.  We also sold 4 cars and met with 18 families for consultations. The estate numbers seem thin but with many of the projects being on the complex side so seeing these boys roll off with a truckload of trash or donations was a common occurrence.

The organized crafter made my favorites list because of her perfectly labeled vintage home.

A large estate project in Cupertino made the list because of the volume it offered shoppers who came to the estate liquidation mixed with the value of the items we were able to list on @shopkuzakscloset.

It was also a favorite because it was perfectly timed with the Los Altos United Methodist Church rummage sale.  The volume that didn’t find a way home with shoppers was delivered by the van load and the happy volunteers that helped us unload helped the project move along ahead of schedule. I snapped this photo while unloading one of the four loads we delivered that day.

We liquidated a jam packed estate in Santa Clara that was memorable because it was Aloi’s last day of work.  She resigned from her position as an estate specialist in March because of a desire to join the Navy. Yep, joining the Navy is a better option than working at Kuzak’s Closet, ha! She is training over the summer and set to leave for camp in the fall. Military Al’s goodbye card was a hit.

We had a goodbye party for Aloi and also celebrated another empty estate…

The final push of an estate is always a highlight for me.  It often looks like this…

Or like this…

During the final push all of the lingering items that didn’t make the first round of trash, metal recycling, chemical recycling, donation, or sale and pushed outside to be sorted and loaded into our trucks.  To an outsider it looks like a disaster but to us we know it’s almost time to call it a day.

The project where this fridge came out of was a favorite for so many reasons, don’t the bumper stickers give you enough of a clue why?

Taylor, Aloi, and John spent two months sorting and packing with our clients to get them moved to Arizona.  It was a long process so seeing the empty estate was even a greater highlight than the Limbaugh sticker.

We sold 4 cars during the month of May over the course of 10 days.  It cracks me up that we sell as many cars as we do but we honestly do a great job! We sold a red Dodge truck to a family who traded in a Jetta for the sale which cracked me up even more! With the volume of cars for sale during the short period of time I opted to stack the test drives so buyers could test multiple cars during the week which meant our office was humming with action.

We ended the month with two wonderful estate liquidations, one in Portola Valley with a wonderful view….

And neat architecture…

And the other in Los Altos right across the street from an estate we liquidated two years ago on Patlen Drive.

Both estates featured MidCentury items, artwork, and household items that we were able to feature on @shopkuzakscloset in addition to our email only liquidation sale.

The Los Altos estate was also the home to a golf lover so I got a kick out of that…

Billy gave the welcome announcement which was also a highlight in Los Altos.  I often welcome the shoppers but it’s always a treat when the line is welcomed by a “guest star”.  Billy is a hoot and loves an audience.

That’s a wrap on May!

June brought the heat and we are still recovering! We liquidated 11 estates, 2 with our estate liquidation service and 9 with our private liquidation service.  Many of our private liquidations could have been estate liquidations or even estate sales for that matter if the families were more organized.  Family drama took the lead in June which unfortunately forced my focus unnecessarily refereeing between rival siblings rather than doing what I was hired to do, sell and organize estates. Apparently there was a full moon?

One estate project that didn’t have drama was our Morgan Hill estate liquidation.  The attorney that we worked with was organized and fabulous, shoppers came out in droves, and although it was 100 degrees both days plus 3 flights of stairs involved, we all still managed to have fun.

When I say all of us I mean it! Even this mannequin was excited to go home with someone new. Don’t let her blank stair fool ya!

June also means intern season and Julian is back for his second year.  He has really blossomed after his first year of college and I joke that I think he actually likes me this year.  Ha!

This is the after from the packed garage up above.  There is nothing better than another empty estate!

Especially when it starts like this! Yikes!

We organized an estate that has been in the works for about a year.  The beneficiaries are three younger children, all in their late 20s-early 30s.  I find that this demographic requires additional services BUT they also follow the guidelines that I lay out for them.  For this project the estate was in an overwhelming state making it difficult for them to determine what they wanted to keep prior to our liquidation process.  Because of this, I asked them to provide me a “wishlist” of items that we would look for and collect into a central location.  We also used our expertise to add additional items to the list if we thought they required review.

This is the “wishlist” created by the executor. She did a great job!

Sort, sort, sort!

We were able to located many of the items on the wishlist plus bonus items for the beneficiares to review in the three days between our initial sorting/organizing day and our final liquidation.

Let’s play a game.  What has more value? This piano?

Or these puppets?

The puppets! Yep, they went home with a buyer when the piano couldn’t even find a home for free on Craigslist.  This is just another example of why hiring a company like Kuzak’s Closet is worth every penny! We understand the value of each item, even the scary puppets!

This is a look at the Redwood City estate before…

And after!

We took a break from the crust and dust to liquidate a beautiful home in Mountain View. We helped organize a relocation for these clients to a new home in Woodside earlier in the month.

The estate was spotless, featuring like new furniture from Room and Board, Land of Nod, and West Elm.

Part of my job is creating opportunities for staff members to work in new dynamics.  It sounds weird but it’s important that we all appreciate each other’s talents and expertise.  We naturally partner up based on our work (lifting, sorting, hauling, organizing) and I try to help perk up everyday tasks by changing it up a bit.  This trio rarely gets to work together so I sent them on multiple deliveries from our Mountain View estate so they could spend some time together.

We got over the hump of June with an estate liquidation in Portola Valley that had shoppers pumped.  It was packed with leather jackets, mens shoes, hats, and loads and loads of household items.

The estate seemed like the picture perfect home but the family dynamics did not match the exterior.  A big part of my job is enforcing rules and setting timelines and this family opted to ignore everything I set into place in our contract. Working with four siblings who do not agree and point fingers took a toll on me in June, especially when we really should have nothing to do with the items that they are keeping or the relationships they have with each other. My normal work load got a heap of group emails, text messages, and phone calls layered on top.  At one point one of the daughters sent an email outlining all of the complaints she had with my website, my profile photo, the fact that I call myself a CEO vs. a business owner, the list goes on.  Let me just say that I’ve had “feedback overload” from this project.

Just when I was about to throw in the towel after the ulcer June was starting to create this note from Military Al was dropped through the mail slot at our office.  I had a good laugh when I saw it and an even better laugh when I called him back and he realized he had been calling the wrong number the whole time. Instead of dialing 4343 he had been dialing 2323!

We ended June with three mega private liquidations.  The first was in East San Jose at a neat estate in the foothills.  We were able to publish over 100 posts on @shopkuzakscloset in a single day, a pretty awesome feat considering all of the items are dug out and photographed in real-time. This Princess Diana wardrobe collection was my personal favorite item from the estate.

Our Saratoga project could’ve fallen into estate sale service with all of the beautiful items inside but the executor (the son) had no interest.  He and his wife were a hoot to work with, so appreciative for our service always available for questions. The cul-de-sac was packed with cars and trucks loading up goodies for two straight days, love it!

You’ve also gotta love this vintage wallpaper and shag carpet!

Our Saratoga estate project wasn’t completely wrapped up yet when Sarah and I had to hit the road to head to Carmel for our final private liquidation of the month, don’t worry, we left Billy in charge of the final cleanup back in Saratoga!

We previously worked with this family in Woodside in 2018 so it was a compliment when they asked us to come down to liquidate a home they recently purchased just off Ocean Avenue.  Sarah and I arrived at 6pm and started to post the items for sale by 8pm.  We enjoyed a cup of chowder and a glass of wine while we messaged buyers to coordinate the deliveries and pickups.

We stayed in Carmel that night so we could be ready bright and early to meet Caremore Moving and Storage who worked with us to pack and deliver most of the items.  It worked out really well and I look forward to future projects like this!

A view like this makes all of the moving and shaking worth it!

Just to recap, here are the numbers from Q2:

Estate Liquidations: 13

Private Liquidations: 15

Estate Sales: 1

Car Sales: 6

Total Empty Estates: 29

Estate Consults: 45

We kicked off Q3 with a much needed break! The estate side of the business has been closed for the last week and it’s felt so good to have a breather, not just for me but for the rest of the team! The rest of the month is jam packed so stay tuned to your email inbox for shopping schedules and estate previews!
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