Five years ago, folks laughed who didn’t understand why my twin sister and I merged Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins Events to create The Pawning Planners. A barter option? You guys are crazy. How will you make any money? People who lack imagination are always sarcastic of those who don’t. Bless their hearts.
Due to the pandemic and changes to employment of clients who were previously booking through Texas Twins Events or TDCJ Officiant, clients are now wanting to switch to the barter option of The Pawning Planners.
First, I’m going to go over why we don’t and can’t switch bookings for destination events outside of Texas for Pawning Planners clients. Travel is expensive. The barter option was created to address local clients five plus years ago. It was never meant to address clients outside of the DFW area or the state. We can’t barter an event without factoring in the cost of travel and bartered items often require a box truck rental, refurbishing expenses as well as storage until the item can be sold.
Bartering is a risk for Cindy and I because there are no guarantees the item will sell. We also take a risk and financial nose dive when making a barter deal. No one wins all of the time and we don’t either. Reality bites.
While we have clients wishing to marry an inmate in numerous states, we cannot control visitation limitations preventing us from doing so. Like you, we must wait for an all clear at any State, Federal, ICE or County Facility.
Why do we “stack states and Units?” Travel is the primary reason although many states only allow weddings 1 to 2 days per year which is why we do a number of states only once or twice a year.
Texas is an exception. TDCJ schedules inmate weddings 2 days per month. Based on the Unit, I can often stack clients at one Unit in 20 minute windows and address several clients before heading to my next Unit. I frequently schedule Huntsville and Tennessee Colony Units on the same day as many Units use Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for scheduling days. With careful planning I can address clients at up to 4 Units on the same day. Polunsky only schedules ceremonies after 5PM. Polunsky is the only Unit that does this due to their visitation schedule. Because Polunsky schedules late, I can start out at Units in Tennessee Colony or Palestine, move to Huntsville then to Polunsky in Livingston. I do not perform group weddings in Texas. Each client has 20 minutes.
For years now, Cindy has been my copilot whenever possible and helps me with bridal or groom photos after leaving a Unit. Cindy is also an Approved Prison Officiant. Because she has custody of her twin granddaughters, often their school schedule has interfered with her ability to join me during the school year. The twins turn 16 next month and Makenna is excited to get her drivers license. Maryssa is happy to not get her drivers license. Our twin friends and followers will understand why one twin is ready and the other isn’t. In fact, I got my hardship license at 15. Cindy didn’t bother getting a license until she was 19. Cindy prefers for me to drive although based on staff and inventory we do occasionally need more than one suv. In those situations, I’m suv A and Cindy is suv B. Because Makenna will be driving soon, Cindy is free to take on separate bookings for inmate weddings once visitation is reinstated.
My niece, Leigh Ann is also an Approved Prison Officiant and bounces between TX and CA as Cindy and I bounce between numerous states. Leigh Ann will be in TX this Friday for a month of you’d like to book her for photography or traditional officiant services.
Due to my schedule of rebooking previous clients who were cancelled due to Covid-19, I’m holding off booking in 2021 to accommodate 2020 bookings first. The pandemic has caused an “accordion effect” of my clients and as my dedicated readers are aware, I operate on a first book/first serve basis and will not line jump anyone ahead of a previously booked client.
We do not take items on consignment or pay cash for items. We do not operate a pawn shop. We take trades from clients after an appraisal appointment to walk the trade and evaluate the investment of making the item marketable. Meaning we appraise on site and only after viewing an item in person. Photo uploads to this site do not constitute a client relationship. Please be aware of this.
Texas Twins Treasures local delivery has a fee associated. We do not offer free delivery or freight. We do offer free local pick up meaning the buyer is picking up the item at our location.
“I have an old sofa and like the fabric you use on your items. I would like to buy your fabric.” We do not sell fabric. Our fabrics are bought in bulk on a minimum requirement order from abroad. The investment of silk loomed tapestry fabrics combined with customs fees is expensive. Most people asking about buying fabric have no idea of the cost. Further, our fabrics are unique because they are not available at Walmart, Hobby Lobby or other big box locations. Our fabrics are heavy, durable and an investment. Quality fabric and tapestry is expensive. We do not skimp on quality when investing in refurbishing a furniture piece.
“I didn’t think bartering would have a market in this industry but after this pandemic, I’ve changed my mind. What can you do to help me get started in a unique venture like yours?” Wish you luck buddy. I’m not a teacher and I don’t work for free. I have several successful businesses that warrant my time and my attention. Study the industry and educate yourself. Experience matters. In this type of business you will also need a nest egg. If you can’t afford to take a hit don’t consider getting in the flipping business.
“Prison weddings? I laughed and laughed at that. I’m not laughing anymore. You perform up to 20 weddings a week? How in the heck can I get into that business?” I love it when people laugh at me. Ignorance is bliss. Again, I’m not in the “creating competition that I don’t have industry.”
What we do and who we do it for are referral clients from happy previous clients. We have never advertised any of our businesses or needed to. Our reputation is one of dedication, loyalty and exceeding client expectations.
“I’ve been trying to find a way to earn additional income and think you are the best person to give me advice. What advice would you give someone wanting to earn side hustle income?” Find something you love to do. If you enjoy what you are doing it won’t feel like work.
“I’ve read your blogs and want to start a blog of my own to promote my business. What advice can you give me about creating unique content?” Write about your own experiences. Only by writing from personal experiences can you create unique content. Be honest. Be transparent.
“How do I create a social media following like yours? No one follows me or shares my content.” Listen Buddy, if you aren’t promoting others they won’t promote you. Social media requires interaction. Put some effort into your social media campaign.
“How did you take an idea or concept of making events affordable and make it work for you?” Cindy and I knew that most vendors had effectively priced themselves out of the industry. There were donut hole people who couldn’t afford traditional cost points. We did events differently. We made them affordable and then created a massive inventory at our own expense to loan to booked clients. Others laughed. We are familiar with people laughing at us while they are trying to book business while we are overbooked to the point of turning people away. Do more. Be more. Exceed your clients expectations. You will then be in high demand. Always give your clients more than they expected at a price they can afford.
“How do you think the events industry will change after this pandemic?” Size will matter. Cutting the guest list will become the norm.
When we created The Pawning Planners our goal and our role was to address clients no one else in this industry wanted to take on. We became friends of the friendless. We understood the low to middle class customers needs and limitations. When you work in the sales industry as many years as we did you learn the value and merits of customer retention.
This pandemic will pass and when it does only the strong will be left standing. Only the resourceful and resilient people and businesses will prosper. People will learn the virtues of being open minded and willing to entertain creative ideas and ways of generating new clients and new bookings or sales.
Cindy and I were way ahead of this curve. We welcomed diversity. We entertained new ideas and ways to address any economic level of client. That made us different. It also made us and our services sought after. We don’t fit in a box and like it that way. Our clients don’t either. My sister and I set out to “change the wedding and events industry one family or barter at a time from Fort Worth, Texas” and we have. We do the laughing now at the very same people who used to laugh at us…
Comments by Wendy Wortham