Today we’d like to introduce you to Lee and Tiffany Parson.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was merely a lad when the appreciation of anything antique and vintage took over. Since the early days, when at the age of 9, I would make the rounds at flea markets with my parents identifying vintage toys by brand, my adoration of antiques and collectibles grew into a career and lifestyle my family and I now share. My past included working at auction houses, antique and secondhand stores, buying and selling high-end antiques and doing marketing and branding work for antiques, collectibles and secondhand goods industries. My wife, Tiffany, and I met in 2010 and knew we wanted to eventually create something together.
In 2013, the entrepreneurial bug was driving us nuts, and we knew we wanted to get into a new industry. We had never gone to an estate sale before and happened to stop by one being held in a nearby city. The unprofessional presentation, the messy and unorganized state of the house, and their pricing system of using masking tape and markers really stuck in my head. I had done everything but estate sales. So we began dissecting the estate sale industry to find its problems, and how we could position ourselves as one of the top companies in the industry. We knew there had to be a more professional approach to putting on an event like this. We visited more and more estate sales over the following months putting together a business plan and developing a website from scratch. In late 2013, Aether Estate Sales was born. We grew quickly and knew we were on to something, opening additional branches within our first year.
Tiffany and I have conducted hundreds of estate sales and now oversee four branches of our estate sale company, located in Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis and Naples. We recently started franchising our business model across the US.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When you’re an entrepreneur entering an unregulated, outdated industry – nothing seems to be easy! I think if things were too simple, everyone would be doing it. It’s the struggle that makes you succeed. People want to be entrepreneurs, but they sometimes think that means opening up, hiring a few employees and then enjoying owning their own business and having more free time. Well good luck with that! We worked long and hard on everything from carefully choosing colors for the logo to our service offerings, policies and procedures.
I knew to be successful we had to go against the estate sale industry norms, and would most likely get a lot of resistance along the way – and we did, that’s for sure. A lot of people would have thrown together a logo, bought some supplies and called that an estate sale company, but Aether was built with a vision of changing the estate sale experience. A focus on exceeding customer satisfaction and integrating modern technology was a result of questioning the status quo. What should customers experience as they walk into an Aether Estate Sale? How should they feel when they are walking throughout the home? How should the checkout be designed to maintain a healthy flow throughout the home? What music and colors are congruent to the space and support the brand vibe? In the process of answering these questions, our brand was developed.
Please tell us about Aether Estate Sales.
Aether Estate Sales is a franchise that offers full-service, in-home, modern estate sale experiences. We offer full point of sales, including inventory tracking and bar coding systems. Through our services, we provide the most efficient and profitable way to sell a lifetime of possessions. We are changing the way people think about estate sales. In this day and age, why buy new and pay full price when you can go to an estate sale and save?
So, who needs an estate sale? An estate sale, also called a tag sale, is a way of liquidation the belongings of a family or estate. They are used when someone is in need of a way to sell items due to downsizing, moving, divorce, bankruptcy or death. The public is invited to the home and given the opportunity to purchase any item that is priced for sale. Most estate sales sell an all-encompassing range of items, from the cheapest (board games and glasses) to the most expensive (exotic cars and sterling silver). But what’s junk to one person may be something highly sought after by another.
Since the beginning, Aether Sales have attracted crowds. With opening lines averaging 150-300 people, regulars show up hours early to sign in and wait, but they don’t mind. Our customers know they are getting great deals on a vast assortment of items, coupled with the stellar experience the Aether crew brings to each and every sale. We found that we were really changing the landscape for the estate sale industry, which is mostly outdated, with little regulation.
One of the key advantages that Aether Estate Sales offers to clients and franchisees is a robust technology platform that catapults Aether beyond other companies in the business. Our refined pricing system allows us to value and price every item in a home with a very quick turnaround – and a typical 2,500 square foot home might 3000 unique items for sale. Our process makes it much easier to do this efficiently.
What separates us from the competition is our mission to revolutionize the estate sale industry. Tiffany and I have poured ourselves into Aether Estate Sales, and we’re thrilled with the wide range of people who have found us and come back to our sales again and again. Based on what we’re hearing, we believe we’re succeeding. We are focused on providing the highest quality estate sales to our customers, and that will never change.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Oh my! We definitely made a lot of mistakes along the way, but for a new business and an emerging industry, that’s bound to happen. As they say, you learn from your mistakes and that’s especially true here.
Soon after starting our first branch, I knew this model was perfect for franchising – so I started recording everything. What started as some notes scribbled on paper has transformed into a beautiful, visual representation of every aspect of Aether’s business model. When I say comprehensive, I mean COMPREHENSIVE! We’ve tried to include an explanation of every process, every technique – everything we’ve done to make us successful. We designed our SOP so franchisees would actually want to read it.
- For Clients: free consultations, commission rate of 30-50% of gross sales, no other surprise costs
- For Franchisees: $42,000 franchise fee, 5% of gross sales
- Website: www.aether.estate
- Phone: (800) 965-2707
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: facebook.com/aetherestatesales
Aether Estate Sales