What’s in a ‘home’
I’m sitting in the middle of a million-dollar home in a camping chair wondering how in the world I got here and what am I going to do now.
I gaze out through the titanic tandem windows overlooking a pristine, aqua-blue-tiled pool as the sun tentatively peaks his head over the Catalina Mountains, perhaps unsure if he’s ready for the New Year, or just tip-toeing into it. “I know how you feel,” I whisper to the sun. “But, I don’t have the luxury of tip-toeing anymore. I’m diving in!”
The home we are in, absolutely amazing, is empty but for a few essentials we purchased in anticipation of living a few days in an unfurnished place: air mattresses, kitchenware, towels, food, and, of course, camping chairs. A family of seven can survive, we have found, on very little; as long as we have very big imaginations.
So, back to my New Year contemplations: how did we end up in a soon-to-be furnished million-dollar home (one in which is intended to fund our future) and what am I going to do besides live in it?
Quitting, dreaming and realizing
This part of my story begins back in July of 2016. I quit my fun and successful career in the nonprofit industry, put our most prized possessions in storage, sold our home, and began our adventures in house-sitting. Oh, and I wrote and published a few books in between.
To lower our expenses while starting our publishing business, we lived rent-free for seventeen months by sitting other people’s homes. We averaged $1,500 a month in expenses (food, insurance, clothing, etc.) for a family of seven. It was our intent to fund our new, nomadic, homeless but happy lifestyle through book sales, speaking gigs, and blogging. We made less than a $5,000 in seventeen months but spent more than $20,000 launching the books.
The numbers weren’t working.
The furniture business. Really?
“Time to do something,” my wife and family accountant said. So, we did. We researched businesses for sale. Our criteria were simple: could we afford it, could we work from anywhere, and could I continue to devote a large portion of my time to my passion of writing and publishing books while Denielle honed in on homeschooling.
After a month, I finally found two business models that seemed to fit: a jewelry store and a mattress and furniture business. A meeting with the nice owner of the jewelry store quickly ruled out that option.
So, we turned our full attention to the furniture gig. “Lucrative Mattress and Furniture Business in Tucson AZ” read the ad on BizBuySell. Like you, my first thought was, “Furniture business? Isn’t that a dying model?” I continued reading the ad. Cash flow: $170,000. Investment: $59,000. No employees. No overhead. Warehouse business model operating by appointment only.
Why not, I thought. I replied to the ad. Over the course of the dialogue between me and the CEO of Ideal Furniture, John Bellave, I realized that owning and operating a warehouse-wholesale-furniture-by-appointment business wouldn’t work for us if we planned to move. Our commitment to the condo we were staying in was up on December 31. We needed another house to sit. Could we start a business without a place to stay?
Ideal idea one
“John, we can’t buy in, but I have an idea,” I said over the phone. “We have some money from an inheritance. Would you recommend us investing it in one of your 200 Ideal Furniture Distribution Centers, help them buy more product, and then earn a return plus interest from the sales?” He got that I was in.
John introduced me to the founder, bestselling author, and CEO of the parent company (New Economy Marketing Group), Larry Kozin.
Three conversations and an attorney later, I signed a contract making me the President of Kozy Furniture Direct, LLC, a new division of the family of furniture companies owned by Larry. My investment went into a bank account in which I’ve been made a co-signer.
Initially, my investment was to be used to purchase large containers of furniture and then resell to the family of some 200 distribution centers in the network around the country. Sounded promising. But we still needed a place to stay. And time was ticking fast!
Ideal idea two: the winning one
But that arrangement wasn’t what placed me in a camping chair in a million-dollar home, rent-free, with a truckload of furniture on its way. Larry and his Romanian wife, Angie, flew from Cabo to Arizona to spend a few days with me and the family. We talked overall business strategy.
I was able to see behind the curtain of the business and ask questions. I also learned that Larry and his wife like to fund their million-dollar home-living through furniture sales. Directly from the home. Their home! “We’ve never paid rent or mortgage, we always fund it through furniture,” Larry confessed humbly.
The million-dollar showcase home model
Intriguing. Here’s how they do it. They look for an affluent but unfurnished home, one that fits their lifestyle, for rent or sale. They meet with the owner and suggest a partnership: “We will stage your home with all new, high-end furniture at no cost to you in exchange for a piece of the real estate action once it sells. In the meantime, we will live in it and use it as a showcase to sell mattresses and furniture at wholesale prices.”
Brilliant! The owner gets a home staged Property-Brothers style which dramatically increases the chance to sell it for a higher price. Larry and his wife have fun showcasing and selling beautiful furniture at wholesale costs while living in it. When the home sells, the furniture typically sells with it.
Following their visit, I sent Larry a “what if” email. “What if we prototype your showcase home program here in Tucson for seven months then do it again in Utah (my eldest daughter wants to finish her senior year in high school there)?” You pay the rent and initial furniture for staging, and we will showcase it, help sell it (furnishings and the home), and blog our experience so as to duplicate it for future homepreneurs.
Larry loved the idea. “You’ve become accustomed to living rent-free, so, why not? Let’s do it!”
Finding the perfect showcase home
We found the perfect house. The owner didn’t like the idea. We found another not-so-perfect house. Again, met with rejection. Finally, we found a million-dollar home in the middle of the Tucson desert. It was … ideal! The owner was agreeable to Larry’s plan, Kozy Furniture Direct, LLC signed the contract, paid for the first three months, and put us into an unfurnished dream house, once again, rent-free. I think we’ll call it MOREY’S MANOR!
So, how and what will I do?
Join me on DAY 2 and we’ll discover that together. For now, I’m going to go back to watching the sunrise, welcome in the New Year, and dream that my camping chair is a comfortable, cushy couch.
See you on DAY 2… and beyond!