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Thursday, June 24, 2021
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With each client I take on, I like to think I learn and grow, gaining knowledge and experience. At the beginning of my career as a professional organizer, it was important to learn how I could best use my organizing skills to work for my client. Now I see a shift. One of the new skills I am learning is to assist clients to locate a business or service that I have not yet put into my “tool box.”

Currently I have a client who is downsizing and has asked me to help her sell an in-demand-brand baby grand piano, most of her art collection and many of her high-end designer clothes. Each of these requests allows me to stretch myself and learn about a category that I have not yet explored.

Up until now, my experience with clients’ pianos had involved upright pianos that the family had bought second hand or was handed down from someone in the family. They were ready to get it out of their house; however, they wanted the piano to go to a family to enjoy, especially to one who could not afford a new piano. Knowing the piano movers charge a high price, and not wanting to scare off an interested family, the most my clients would ask was $50. I now face a very different scenario. My client has a gorgeous, very high caliber, pristine baby grand. Buyers of pianos in this category require an owner registration card proving authenticity, which my client has. My homework was to locate reputable second-hand piano shops or estate sale companies, which involved some searching and googling. In cases like these, I have found it is wise to seek out several sources, because some will not respond, thus narrowing down the choices. One piano store responded immediately. I texted the store manager photos of the piano—outside and inside—as well as the vital owner registration card. The manager recognized the quality of the instrument, and a price and pick-up date were negotiated. It is interesting to note that the seller does not have to clean and polish the piano or tune it in preparation for the sale. I was told both of these services are provided by the store.

What do I know about selling fine art? I once had a client with two old and somewhat noteworthy paintings. She wanted to donate them to a museum. So, I got my feet a little bit wet communicating with a museum curator. In the end, the museum rejected the paintings. Aside from wishing I had taken an art-appreciation course in college, I am at square one. I am in the process of finding the best way to sell my client’s fine art. So far, I gained some valuable information. After emailing photos of several of my client’s framed pieces, including close-ups of the signatures, I received a response from a kind owner of an online auction house. I learned the commission structure goes by the piece of art, not by the total pieces in a collection. The consigner is charged a $25 illustration fee for each auction listing and an insurance fee and, if a work sells for less than $1000, the auction house earns a 40% commission. (I don’t know what the commission would be for an art object over $1000.) This would be considered only a modest profit for the consignor and possibly a disappointing conclusion, considering what was spent on the acquisition of the art. The kind auction house owner advised that my client avoid the middleman when selling art below $1000.

By now my readers know I have a special place in my heart for organizing my clients’ clothes, and when appropriate, consigning some of their clothes for them. For some time, I have been hoping to have a client that would want to work with The Real Real, a luxury consigning online service. That time has finally arrived. The Real Real only accepts clothing labels from a specific list found on their website. If a consignor puts together a minimum of 10 designer items from the names found on the list, a messenger will pick the clothes up at no cost. If the consigner has fewer than 10 items, those can be shipped via UPS. All clothes must be clean, however, The Real Real will steam each item that is accepted for sale to make them look fresh for the photos. Each consignor is assigned a Real Real rep to help them as they go. Our rep has been amazing. She has clarified everything for us and with her upbeat personality she has made what could be a tedious process actually smooth and fun. This necessitated a couple of FaceTime sessions and numerous emails. I am able to view the stages of my client’s items as they go from “accepted” to “listed” to “photographed” to “sold” and everything looks oh-so-impressive. Although I know I am not techy, I found it easy to sign on and to use. My client and I are really enjoying monitoring the progress of each of her items.

Spring is the earth’s time for growth. We, however, don’t have to restrict our opportunities for growth to a certain time of year. We can choose to learn new systems and take on new skill sets at any point of the year. Other things we do routinely can be improved through trying new processes or reframing our thoughts. Like cleaning for Pesach, for instance. With the right frame of mind, we can all accomplish amazing things!

Wishing you a sweet and kosher Pesach, a chag kasher v’sameach.


Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s kosher organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 13 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary consultation at [email protected]

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