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Friday, July 27, 2012

Stagers are not Salvage Companies - Stop Calling us to Get Your Old Stuff

I am going to rant a bit here – I got a call yesterday from some homeowner that has been storing their furniture and has decided it costs too much to do that so now wants to sell it off. In her words, “Our stuff is too good to just give away so I am hoping we can make a deal.”  In fact I have received this same type of call many times over the past 10 years.


As a Stager why is that people think that we are a repository for their rejected furniture items or things they feel are "too good" to “give away” or donate? I know that once in a while a Stager might acquire an inventory piece from a homeowner, but for the most part, what they are rejecting is not anything we could use. Is it the TV shows that are confusing people or just that they do not get our industry? Yes we can use what a homeowner has when Staging a house – and yet for vacant houses where we are in charge of the look, we are going to create a more modern look and color palette than using Grandma’s antique furniture and doilies as accents.


I had another person contact me because he had been an investor and had all this, in his words, “Wonderful furniture that is top of the line.” I took time to go check it out. I wanted to say, “Hey mister, 1980’s called and they want their chunky white wood with gold trim coffee and end tables back.” I did not – I was honest and said I could not use most of what he had – dated, dusty, heavy. But it annoyed me that I not only wasted my time, but that he thought I could use any of his stuff!


For all you homeowners that would like to unload your things and “get a good price” – here is a news flash: We don’t want your stuff! That may sound mean but even I have to sell my stuff at garage sales when I am done with it – and you know what? I don’t get the price I want for it either – but I am happy to be rid of it. Unless your stuff falls into the following categories, go ahead and put it on Craig’s List or post those neighborhood sale signs:


1. The style of whatever you are unloading is up to date – traditional - transitional to modern. Whatever the trends are for TODAY – not 20 years ago. Whatever I use for Staging must be able to be used in the houses I Stage for today’s buyers – clean lines, not fussy.


2. Your furniture is CLEAN and in new or like-condition. This means Fido cannot have chewed the legs or Fluffy cannot have used the side and back as a personal scratching pad. Forget kids stains and food stains. There is a reason we tell you to remove those pieces for Staging as buyers don’t want to look at that either. Telling me I can just put an accent pillow over the cigarette burn is not going to work for me.


3. Your furniture is a neutral color/fabric. Yes you loved the floral printed sofa but Stagers, not so much. Why do you think we invest in slip covers? There are exceptions but if I am going to use something with color it is not going to be your mauve sofa or hunter green lazy-boy recliner.


4. Your furniture is light-weight and easily moved from house to truck. You may have invested in that hide-a-bed to help create more space for guests but we don’t want to get a hernia moving your sofa around from house to house. If I cannot lift it with one other person, it’s off the list.


5. Your artwork is something I can use in any house for sale. You loved the print of Yoda from Star Wars and paid a lot of money for it – but guess what? It is not going to work in a house for sale today. That also goes for any Thomas Kincaid, Monet framed in brass, or other old wood framed “collectible” you’ve been toting around for years. Today’s art must reflect the style and colors buyers are looking for – and that is why most Stagers weed through their artwork annually and eliminate anything that has not gone to the show or is no longer useful.


6. Your accent d├ęcor has to be useful. I don’t want your dusty silk plants that you dragged off your cupboards. Or your old dusty silk tree with lights on it. Same can be said for your old roosters that you collected back when that was the fad. If you haven’t noticed, with Staging we have a saying, “Less is more” so I want less of your used items and more of what will “pop” for Staging and make a statement. I am constantly turning over my accessory stash because things get dated or damaged.


Do you get the point? It’s not that we don’t appreciate you thinking of us – but please be realistic about what we do. We are not the Sanford & Son's of Staging – salvaging your junk because we are desperate for something to stick in a house. Not only that – do you realize that if I have large pieces I have to pay to store and move those items – so I don’t want to be storing items that will be used once in a while – they have to be on rotation constantly.

I cannot speak for ALL Stagers and I am sure there are those that would be happy to acquire your things for “a good price” – but for me – I would rather invest in a piece that is going to pay me back many times over. That’s smart business strategy.


In the future, please spare me the calls to come rescue your furniture and decor that is “too good to give away” – just put your Craig’s List ad together,have a garage sale, and be happy that you are free from storing all that stuff – and use the money to buy some new things. I CAN help you with that – so call me when you are out with the old and ready to bring in the new – I would be happy to help you.