Cass; Feminine Treasures

I was fortunate, a job and then a career was essentially laid in my lap. I had just completed college, made average grades, but other than that nothing noteworthy. Being an average male, I dated some, but nothing came from the dates. One girl that I thought was the one, after dating her three times, she had to move out west, her father getting transferred there for his job.

I took general courses, not really having any idea what I wanted to do in life. Truthfully, I was just meandering through life, seeing what was out there and experiencing some of everything that was available. After graduation I got a part-time job helping a female that bought and sold goods. Darlene, bought lots at self-storage companies when the rent was not paid. Then she would resell the good items to others and dump the rest. She did well with the business making quite a comfortable living off of it.

My job was to empty the storage units back to her warehouse, sort out the junk and dispose of it. Torn and tattered clothing, plastic goods, personal papers, those comprised most of what I got rid of. Then Darlene would come through, separating what was left into piles for her customers to come and look at it. She had several dealers who would buy what she had, and then clean it up and resell to the general public.

Some of the storage units were wasted money, but then some were gold mines. One in particular netted her almost ten thousand dollars, a storage unit that she had bid one hundred and ten dollars for. I always went with her to the auctions or to the storage facilities when they didn’t hold an auction. She was well known, everybody knew of her and her reputation. It was fun, always bidding on the units sight unseen, then after the auction cutting off the locks and seeing what you had purchased. I drove her bobtail truck, bringing back what I could get into it, then coming back in the next few days to get the rest. Her warehouse was quite large, almost forty thousand square foot under roof.

Things changed when she found a male that she couldn’t live without. They dated quite a bit over the next few months, then she told me that they were going to get married. He travelled extensively, wanting her to accompany him on his travels.

“Cass I have a proposal for you. You have worked hard for me, making my life much easier. Now I want to offer you a chance to make something of this business if you want. The warehouse and truck are paid for, so you won’t have to put out for them. If you want to continue with this, but as my partner I will welcome the help. I want ten percent of what you make to pay be back for the warehouse, truck and the starter fund I am giving you. Once you pay off the total it is all yours, lock, stock and barrel.”

“Would you be interested in something like that?”

“Yes, I would thrilled to be able to show you what I can do on my own. What kind of interest do you want on what you are loaning me?”

“No interest, the warehouse is worth about eighty thousand dollars, the truck about five, and I am giving you fifty thousand to start with. That is a total of one hundred thirty-five thousand dollars. Pay me some each month depending on what you make, as little or as much as you want. You have watched me at the auctions, I think you have a fairly good idea of what you need to do to make a profit. So are you game, no papers to sign, just your word that you will do your best? If all your attempts fail, I will sell things off and we will be square.”

Instead of saying yes I attacked her giving her a huge hug. “Okay we have a deal, we will set everything up tomorrow, since I have plane tickets out of town this Friday.”

“So soon, I will miss you so much. I have learned a lot from you, and will do my best to pay you back real soon. This job has been fun, opening the units to who knows what, a real thrill. Well I need to get back to work, I have lots to do now, can’t spend all my time yakking.” Darlene giggled at that last statement, a favorite phrase of hers that she used quite often. She told me I will see you tomorrow at eight and we will make the transfers.

I walked through the warehouse looking at what was currently there and what needed to be done with it. Then to her office to see what auctions or sales were coming up. I had some plans already for some of the merchandise, items that she usually discarded, that I could sell for scrap. A dollar here and there adds up. More work but then what have I got but time and effort to invest. I made a couple of calls to a scrap dealer asking what he paid for rags, also one that recycled plastics.

The recycled plastics might not be worth it, but the rags looked promising. I had two or three truckloads in the back corner, ones that I hadn’t put in the dumpsters, a very expensive necessity that I need to eliminate or, at least, downsize. I worked till late, getting the first truckload of rags ready to go the recycling center, planning to take them over there first thing in the morning before I met Darlene.

I stopped to pick up something to eat, then made my way home to relax and think some more on what I wanted to do with what was handed to me. I got a salad from a deli, loaded with tomatoes, onions, several kinds of lettuce and lots of chicken chunks on top. They furnished a dressing of my choice, and I had iced tea at home. The chicken was braised over a grill, adding to the taste, making it almost melt in your mouth. A nice meal that was healthy and fairly good tasting.

I took a relaxing bath, washed my hair and slipped into some pajamas. Back out to the kitchen, a piece of fruit for something to nibble on and parked myself in the recliner in the front room. I went over everything in my head, looking for ways to improve, maybe other uses for some of the merchandise that was obtained at the sales. One thing that interested me one was the one estate sale Darlene went to. She bought a bunch of trunks, mainly clothes, but they also had jewelry. Her friend that sold antiques bought the whole bunch, Darlene making out quite well for her five hundred dollar investment.

Maybe I could try my luck at a few of those estate sales. I was well aware that a lot of this was pure luck, nobody really knowing what is in some of these units or parts of an estate. If some do know they don’t seem to do anything with the knowledge. Maybe I should watch more closely what happens at some of the auctions, maybe there is some kind of communication on what are good ones to buy. I will ask Darlene tomorrow, I know she pays a lot of attention at the auctions, but never has said what she is looking for. I slipped off to sleep, getting up five hours later to go to the bathroom and moving to my own bed after that.

I was energetic this morning, dressed and had breakfast, ready to head out at seven AM. We agreed to meet at the warehouse, so a few minutes before seven-thirty I was turning the key in the lock. I retrieved the keys to the truck and headed to the recycling place. When it opened at eight I was there waiting, they unloaded me promptly and I headed back to the warehouse eight hundred dollars richer. The fact that it was paid in cash an even better deal. I parked the truck at the receiving door and was loading it again when Darlene came in. I locked up, I knew she would not want to waste her time, so we climbed into her car and we were off.

She suggested that I use her same bank, they were familiar with her business, if I needed an additional loan later they would, at least, be familiar with how I do business. We just transferred names on the account, her name off and mine on. The account was in the name of Hidden Treasures, so it would fit what I was thinking of doing also. From the bank we went to the courthouse to change the name on the business license. Again a fairly simple task, a ten dollar fee for the change. To the state satellite office for the tax number and I was ready to take over.

I offered to buy her lunch, she smiled and we agreed on a small Italian place that served some of the best calzone in the area. After placing our orders I pulled out my wallet and paid her five hundred dollars. She looked startled, but then smiled. “I knew I was right with my hunch on you, what did you sell to make this so quick?

I told her junk, the old clothes sold as rags for recycling. That big smile on her face once again. I asked about clues of whether a unit is worth bidding on. “It varies with every place, some of them peek into the unit before the sale, those you will find two identical locks where they cut off the customer’s and put their own second lock on. Most of it is hunch, a feeling about whether it is worth the investment or not. As long as you keep your spending in line, buying more units will usually yield more return.”

Then we talked about estate sales. “I saw those big eyes when we went to that estate sale, I knew then you were hooked. Most of the buyers who go to those are looking for antiques, or high end items. Trunks of clothes or boxes of clothing are not in their sights. They are looking for the one or two pieces that can be sold right away to another dealer in a different part of the country. I lucked out that the jewelry was there in the trunks mixed in with the clothing. It might be worthwhile for you, just don’t get carried away.

Before we separated she wrote me a receipt for the five hundred, then handed me some deposit slips for an account that she was keeping here in town. When I wanted to pay some just take a deposit slip, fill it out and take it to her bank. It was the same bank as my account now, so it would be convenient. She gave me her new cell phone number, her fiancé giving her the phone with an unlimited minutes and calling plan. Anytime I had a question she would help. I got hugged, both of us leaking water from the eyes. She drove off, to finish her packing, her flight out tomorrow early in the morning.

To keep from outright bawling I went back to load the second truck with clothing, finished it a few minutes before one in the afternoon. I decided to pick up something to eat, then dump this load. I had piled it a little higher, nine hundred and fifty dollars this load. There was still some left, but I could wait for a while to gather up a bigger load before I went again.

I looked through the warehouse for other things to sell, some small appliances were my next target. One of her customers had a secondhand store so I called them to see if they might be interested. An hour later they came to look, but told me they were short of cash, maybe later in the month. I asked if they had something they wanted to trade, maybe we could handle this that way. I followed them back to their store and then to their warehouse looking for something I might be interested in. I noticed over in the corner a pile of clothing racks, all just piled up parts and pieces but quite a large pile. I pointed to the pile and he smiled. “Yeah I was just saving them for scrap metal, if you want to trade I will more than happy to accommodate you.

I told him I would bring the small appliances tomorrow, if he would help me load the racks. We agreed on a time and I drove off. The racks might just come in handy, a couple of the ideas I might explore involved clothes and having something to put them on would be a great help.

The next day I made the trade, taking the racks back to the warehouse. There was an estate sale tomorrow morning, followed up by an auction later in the afternoon. My first days of this on my own, I sure hoped I have been paying enough attention to Darlene to keep my head above water. Sleep came eventually, I was wound up that was for sure. The anticipation just too much to keep calm.

I showed up at the estate sale, signed in and got my buyer’s number. I looked around nothing in the furniture caught my eye, but there was a large stack of boxes, luggage and several trunks in one bidding lot. I noticed that everything was fairly old, probably an older lady or couple, her children just wanting everything to go away, they didn’t want to deal with any of it. I noticed several of the antique dealers enter the house, their fascination on a dresser and dining room set. From the number of people that touched it or rubbed it I presume it was going to be a very popular item.

The larger items always went first at an estate sale then the lesser items at the end. When it was time to auction off my lot there was only two buyers left. The other buyer was a lady slightly older than me nicely dressed, but I had noticed her car when she drove up, a clunker soon to be in the junkyard. I let her place the first bid then I doubled it, she went ten dollars higher, I went ten above that and I got the lot. I arranged to pick it up the next day, making a list of the number of boxes and suitcases to make sure it was not tampered with until tomorrow. The guy overseeing the auction told me that the house would be locked shortly and I was the first pickup tomorrow morning. I thanked him and left for the storage unit auction.

I was about an hour early, this one had the units open for inspection but you could not enter the unit or handle any of the merchandise. There was an off duty officer at each unit. I had been with Darlene to one similar, but Darlene elected not to bid on any of the items saying they were bidding well above what she might be able to recuperate. Several of the units had a large number of boxes, some store display materials that were obvious and one had a few more racks for clothing. I will see what kind of interest these two would draw. I bid on another one, one that I had just glanced at while walking around, the bids almost nonexistent. Surprisingly I won that one, placed my lock on the door and moved to the next one.

Two more that went for some outrageous price and then my two came up, the ones that I was interested in. I got the first one for next to nothing, I was the only one bidding. The second one there were several bids, I noticed a few nods of the head between the auctioneer and a couple of the bidders, so I stayed in the bidding. Finally they had reached their limit, and I was awarded that one too. I placed my locks on the units and wrote a check for the three units I had won. With my receipt I headed home, planning to get an early start in the morning. I would pick up here first, since I could get in any time after seven AM. Then over to the estate sale for my eleven o’clock appointment there. Four units for a little less than fifteen hundred dollars.

I just hoped the contents would warrant the investment. The next day it was kind of like Christmas, wanting to see what I had received for my investment. I was early at the warehouse, cleaned out the truck, then went and gassed it up. I was at the storage unit before eight, I unloaded each unit into the truck, swept out the unit and left the door up. I was tempted to look into a few boxes, but figure a couple of hours more would not make much of a difference.

After finishing at the storage unit place I headed to the house. I had to wait for an hour till they came to open up, but quickly took my dolly and moved the items into the truck. All four lots nearly filled the eighteen foot bobtail. Nothing much of weight, all packed into the boxes or luggage and sealed up. I made my way back to the warehouse and backed into the dock. I had grabbed some tacos on the way back, so that I could take my time and unload tonight taking a peek into every box or piece of luggage. It was like Christmas, most of the clothes in quite good condition. They were folded nicely with tissue paper in between the layers.

The clothes from the estate auction looked expensive, designer names for the most part. More than half were evening dresses or gowns of some kind. Then in one of the last boxes from the estate sale, a jewelry chest loaded with sparkly delights. I counted fifty-seven pieces, necklaces, earrings and bracelets included in the mix. They looked expensive, but my knowledge of jewelry was nil, so I would have to take the pieces to a friend of Darlene to have them appraised. It is possible that they were just good costume jewelry, one never knows.

Each box I opened that afternoon and evening contained clothes, or shoes, or some type of female apparel. I did have two boxes of male jeans and t-shirts, but in poor condition, as far as I was concerned they would go to the rag place, After all of the boxes, suitcases and assorted containers had been opened I started hanging some of the items on the racks that I obtained before. I could see that I would need a lot more hangers plus someone to hang and sort the merchandise. I quit with things when I ran out of hangers, locked everything up and headed home.

Story Incomplete At Present

© 2016 thru 2021 Fran Cesca Walker

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