Lemons to Lemonade – Run your own stand!

Sometimes writing these blogs makes me feel like I’m telling on myself and perhaps I am.

At any rate……Today, just a bit ago my eldest daughter Rachel called to chat on her drive home.  I vented of what is and I love how encouraging she is.  She kindly and patiently allowed me time to share and said mom you’re so strong, you’ll pull through this too.  You know you always do!  You were left with four kids to raise and you did a great job!  You lost your husband who died without life insurance and still you made lemonade from the lemons you were handed.  You’ve helped many when they were down by sharing your stories of strength.  All because you’ve always made lemonade from the lemons you’ve been dealt.  Just remember to run your own stand and make lemonade like you always have.

Hmm, out of the mouths of babes.  Run your own stand.  What an interesting lilt of strength my baby spewed on this very exhausting day!

Yes, indeed!  That was certainly what I needed to hear!

I do run my own stand!  Why would I allow a bend in today’s journey to fluster me so?

I’ve run my own stand since I was eighteen and by golly I’ll continue to run my own stand until I can’t!

Thank you my sweet Rachel for gifting me this huge nugget to added strength.

Lemons into Lemonade certainly equals strength!

Let’s all run our own stands!


My Babies – what a blessing!

This widow of 27-years has been blessed with four wonderful adults.  Sure there’s been times where I wanted to pull my hair out raising four kids by myself, two sons and two daughters, but the blessing’s far outweigh those hair-pulling-days-in-the-road, to be sure!

Yesterday, Saturday 9-26-2015, was one of those fabulous gift-days!

While I was fast at work handling an estate sale, my sweet daughter Ashley, fiance Doug and his father Duane all drove to a rental house she and I own.  The renters moved out last Wednesday, without notifying me, which was a blessing from above!  It meant I didn’t have to obtain a lawyer, the expense and angst to get them out.  They hadn’t paid their rent for September and left a mess!  Ashley met me there on Thursday to replace broken fixtures etc. in this gorgeous Victorian style home we built in 2007.  1-house 1-kit-dining room 1-lr with measurementsScribbles abounded on the white outline of the bay windows and sills and on many walls.  Plus a host of dings in the walls where the untaught 2 & 4 year old threw things puncturing holes in various places throughout the house!

I worked hard to build this home and it took me to my knees last Thursday.  How was I to repair all of this mess and restore it to it’s original splendor!  My Ashley, grabbed my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said, Mom, don’t worry we’ll repaint and fix everything!  We just need to clean it and make it shine!  That was what I needed, a partner who gets it!

Now, I’d have my condo rental and this house payment, argh!  But I know the grand Universe always provides and is always on time.  With that thought we methodically moved forward buzzing through the cleanup.  She in her youth whisked all the left behind trash and kids clothing strewn throughout the home into black trash bags, out of the house and into the waiting garage.  Some for Goodwill and the rest for a one-time trash hauling pickup.

So yesterday, she masterminded a massive primer paint job on the first floor!  All the holes were filled throughout the home by Doug and Duane while she cleaned all birch cabinet doors and bathrooms throughout.  They all primed the entire first floor walls too!   What a grand blessing via my Ashley!!!!  And they worked from 1 till 6 p.m.

She did this knowing after work I had my 45th class reunion dinner and told me to just relax and enjoy!

What a blessing – my baby!

Thank you!

Love you so, momma.

Cardboard barrels….

This estate was interesting because here I felt a calmness of energy.

MR and MRS at Green Slope pic 2007 OVAL FRAMEAnd I learned from the lawyer handling this estate that the Mr. & Mrs. were without children and loved to travel. The fact that they traveled often was instantly confirmed when I found a host of luggage from various time periods.luggage at Green Slope ES 2007

Also, in the basement I found these cardboard barrels, which held various blankets and clothing, which brought back a childhood memory. Green Slope cardboard barrels 2007 OVAL PIC

The neighbor lady down our lane every single spring held her four children captive for a few hours instructing them to change out their winter clothing for the previously stored spring/summer items and house them in like barrels, which I found odd. Why, because my mother always hung up our clothing into the tiny closets and or our chest of drawers in our 2-bedroom bungalow home in St. Louis County.

During these 26+years of estate sales, I figured out the reason for the barrel storage in many homes. Homes in the early nineteen hundreds barely had one closet as opposed to the mass amount of closets we now have in our homes. Also, from the research for my fashion shows over the years, taught me that ladies rarely had an endless supply of clothing like today, thus little need for large closets.  And the fact that no one even knew what a charge card was back then to purchase numerous clothing like today.

Barrels indeed, made a great deal of sense!

The Lifesaver!

S HOOK 9-16-15

Why is there a picture of an S?

No, it’s not an S but it certainly is a life saver!

How so, you ask.

Most of my estate sales have some kind of a hanging light generally in the dining room and often in the kitchen and yesterday was no exception.  This estate sale has three hanging light fixtures!  Thus the life saver comes to the rescue!

I carry a host of various sizes.  Some large, some tiny.  The large ones of course are for the heavy light fixtures.

Why do I call it a life saver?  This small angular fits-in-the-hand piece of metal, a life saver?  Yes, indeed!

Simple, yes.   Life saver, yes.

Over the past 26-years I’ve, of course, perfected my process, which now hosts the S-hook.

In the beginning my crew and I’d scurry around an estate to locate wire among a heap of tools. Or to find wire strewn on the floor from family rummaging through the late families items, to wrap the light up so no heads were in the line of fire!

Finally, I hit my head and the proverbial imaginary light bulb came to the fore.  No, not the forehead, which was throbbing, but finally I knew I had to find the appropriate device to hold the fixture above and beyond ones precious forehead.

Saves foreheads, yes.

But a life saver?

Yes.  Enter the wonderful S-hook!

I’ve not only used the S-hook for light fixtures, but often to hold purses or jewelry or scarves etc.

These little curved devices are a must while setting up and handling an estate sale.

Many men have thanked me for this very simple but mighty life saver invention!

I applaud you oh-mighty life saver!  May you ever reign above our heads!

Victoria Signature 9-17-15

How it All Began

Early 1989 my second husband of almost four years left this life, leaving me with two more children Ashley and Blake, which added to my first two children, Rachel and Caleb.  Plus no life insurance!  Argh!  But I’m one of those women that pioneer new frontiers and that I did!

I attended many seminars on business building and real estate buying and the one that caught my interest was one concerning auctions.  Immediately, I purchased all the information and readily read it when the patter of little feet were off in dreamland.

Soon, I hired an auctioneer and began my new auction business!  Not sure where to begin I contacted the local probate court system and a host of real estate agents.  The main probate gentleman stated I could visit homes when they had them that were full of contents and bid along with others for the contents, which I did. And the real estate agents, I informed them that when they had a full house of contents to clean out before they’d place the home on the market, they could utilize my services, which thankfully they did and do so and often!

Then I had to sell the items, which is where the auctioneer came in.  I knew him from a group I was a member of and the new business began!  With his help and another worker we bought, packed, moved and sold all the items.  Taking the miscellaneous items to what I call junk auctions.  Much to my amazement the items flew off the tables and the money landed into my pockets.  Soon we were hired on with the local post office reclamation center to handle their items and again the money began to flow!  I also, placed Ads in the local paper, which brought in a host of families in need of the contents of their homes and or relatives homes to sell.  I’d say over the past ten-years I never place Ads in the local paper unless a family feels it’s necessary.  All sales now come from word-of-mouth and an online sites called estatesales.net, LinkedIn and Craigslist!  Pretty cool!

In the beginning, I began to attend other auctions sitting in the audience noting every items name and the price it sold for.  This was my home schooling technique, if you will.  I learned so much that I then began to share it with the auctioneer so that when we had our own auctions, which we did once per month, he’d know what to call the item and the price range that we should expect.

We purchased and sold up to 100 sales per year during the latter years and began a high-end auction the third Tuesday of every month, which was during the last five-years of the ten-year auction biz, allowing customers to consign items as well.  This too, flourished!

By the tenth year I decided to go it alone and let the auctioneer go due to conflict of interest.  I handled many estate sales during that ten-year stretch and decided to handle estate sales in the homes from that point forward, thus eliminating the need of an auctioneer and the need to pack, move, reset up etc. etc.

The birth of Estate Sales by Victoria technically began in 2000, including a vast array of foundation knowledge gained since 1990 and now a host of followers to boot!

I had no idea in my early twenties that I’d begin such a helpful business to so many!  I love it!

I’ve had so many opportunities to help families that are and were floundering as to what-to-do with their relatives items.

Enter Victoria!

I ease each families worries with my organizational and appraisal skills.

So often when a sale is over and all items are cleaned out, I see such peace in the families faces.  New relieved smiles inhabit their once perplexed faces.

I just love that look!

Seeing an Entity

Off and on within this career, I’ve seen and or felt a presence at various estates.

One such time soon after arriving at a house just outside the hub of St. Louis city, it happened again!

I instructed some of my crew to work in the basement and another lady to work with me in the shotgun side of a 2-bedroom home.  This estate was packed to the gills!  This meant we had to stay focused in one area, pulling out all items within a room as usual, but this one had so much that it took extra days to finish.

After about two hours we pulled out and set up all items in the the living room where the entrance door was. Subsequently, we moved to the adjoining dining room.  Again we took all items from the very full china cabinet, buffet, side shelves and table tops to neatly begin setting up items on the dining room table and a table I carried in.

Just about the time all items were out and the setting up began, I felt a presence, looked over my right shoulder and turned around to see a dark whoosh at the entry door!  I saw a male figure wearing a red and black plaid shirt that quickly darted into the home and vanished just as quickly!

I turned to my co-worker and exclaimed what I saw.  She calmly said, again?

Yes, again!  This time the entity was certainly male wearing a red and black plaid shirt.  It kind of looked like a loggers shirt made of flannel and then he disappeared.

She went on about her work, not fazed by my vision because it’s happened quite a few times over the almost 26-years in this business.

I knew in my heart he was worried about his wife.  He left this life the year before, which the estate lawyer handling the estate informed me.  And the lawyer added that the wife was in a retirement/assisted living establishment and was doing okay.

This too is an important element of this true story, that we only handled the three rooms that first day, when inside, on the left side of this house.  The living room, the dining room and a back bedroom.  In these three rooms I noted several family photos perched on shelves and on the walls of a man and woman in business attire.  No plaid shirts were visible in any photo.  But I knew this entity was certainly the late husband.

The basement was so full that the worker downstairs pulled out some of the items on one side as well.  We generally work from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., which is what we did this Tuesday.

When I went home that evening, I knew I had to talk to this entity the following day and devised what I’d say to him.

The next day, Wednesday, my crew and I entered the house once more to continue with the setup.  I directed the workers to various rooms and or the basement and went back into the living room for the one-sided chat.

I stood at the entrance where he came through the day before.  I noted a slight coolness in the air, was he there?  I believed so.

Sir, I saw you here yesterday and I felt you’re worried about your wife.  I’ve handled numerous sales over the years and will make sure your contents bring as much as possible to help your wife.  I learned she is in a retirement/assisted home and is well taken care of.  Yes, I know she misses you as much as you miss her.  And I feel you’ll be reunited soon.

With that statement the temperature raised and I felt he almost nodded a thank you as his energy left.

It was divine, to say the least!

Now what happened next clinched the deal that it was in fact the husband.  I sent the lady worker to the kitchen at the back of the right side of the home to work and I entered the front bedroom.  Here I began pulling many beautiful quilts from the trunk to set them up on the now cleaned off mattress (a staging point).  After which I went to the closet, opened the door to find…..a closet full of plaid shirts!

I kid you not!  There were thirty or forty plaid shirts in that small closet!  I searched for one like I saw and found many red and black plaid shirts and one was actually made of flannel!

Yes indeed, that entity was the husband!