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Charles Tinsley of Keys Guild

Episode 95: Helping Clients with Collectibles: Charles Tinsley of Keys Guild

Dec 19

Do your clients ask you “Hey, what should I do with my…” (Grandma’s crystal vases, this antique furniture, this jewelry)? Our podcast guest today, Charles Tinsley of The Keys Guild, is here to help us understand collectibles and how to work with our organizing clients more effectively when they ask these questions.

In this episode, Charles and Melissa Klug of Pro Organizer Studio talk about how the changing tastes of generations are impacting the market for collectibles and how organizers can be educated to be able to assist their clients with options for antiques, jewelry, china, and other items you might encounter in a home.


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Melissa: Hey pro organizers. It’s your co-host Melissa Klug, and I learn something from every single guest we have on this podcast, but I was so excited to talk to our guests today because—I don’t know about you, but I promise you almost every single session I have with a client.

I have someone hold something up and go, “Hey. What do I do with this?” Or “do you think I can get some money for this?” And it’s one of the hardest things that we have to deal with in our organizing business of, is there value to great-grandma’s china or this painting that has been on my wall for 50 years or this beanie baby that I got when I was four years old in the McDonald’s happy meal.

Some of you listening to this may not know what that is, but back in the day, Beanie babies at McDonald’s and Happy Meals were a really big deal. So anyway, our guest today is Charles Tinsley of the keys Guild, and Charles is going to talk to us about collectibles advising. I’m going to let him explain what that is, but Charles is here to let us know that there are resources out there for professional organizers to help their clients with these very difficult questions.

Another little thing about Charles, if you watched hoarders recently, there was an episode, Carmen. And Charles was a guest on that episode. So if you happen to see that episode, the man that was helping Carmen with her department, 56 collection that’s him. So we are thrilled to have him on the podcast and I can’t wait for you to meet him and listen to what he has to say. 

You’re listening to the Pro Organizer Studio Podcast with Melissa Klug and Jen Obermeier. Thank you so much for joining in our mission to broaden the horizons of savvy business women in the organizing industry by instilling confidence and inspiring authenticity. You’ll gain new insight into strategies designed specifically for professional organizers.

So now let’s get started.

we are back on the Pro Organizer Studio Podcast. We are excited to have a new guest with us today. We love learning new things and meeting new people. So I would like to introduce today’s podcast guests, Charles, how are you?

Charles: I’m so glad to be here.

Melissa: Yeah. Well, Hey, you have a very unique business and a very unique set of skills as they would say in the movie taken.

So I would love for you to just tell us a little bit about yourself, about what you do. Just give our audience the whole scoop. 

Charles: Well, like a lot of us, I have worn many hats along my path to the journey I’m on now. I started out as a diamond specialist after I sold my last company. I had a real curiosity about diamonds and yes, I, I was, I didn’t know anything about the business, but I just figured I would learn, took my training in New York and Los Angeles campuses for GIA, which is the Gemological Institute of America and began S.

And selling and losing money initially diamonds and jewelry and gemstones. And as I continued, I began to develop a business out of it. And that leads into all types of jewelry and watches and coins and precious metals ended up with a rather large business and a bank building between Dallas and Fort worth in Texas.

My company was main street, might income me still. My, my collectibles business is still main street mining company, mining the streets for treasures. And because we had private offices we had a little bit of a different relationship with our clients than the normal street buyer who bought jewelry and precious metals, and we would get deeper into the process and we found that a lot of our class.

Needed help with things beyond jewelry, coins, watches, and so on. They would ask us to help with art or all types of collectibles. And I knew I wasn’t going to become an expert on everything. So I began becoming somewhat of an expert on experts, developed a lot of relationships and ended up becoming an auction house that gave me another avenue to help with a wider variety of items, realized we were good at some things.

We weren’t great at everything. As a matter of fact, I’ve found myself at times, wishing I could play some of my client’s items with other auctions that were great at that thing. And that led to me about four and a half years ago, closing down my auction, going private and becoming collectibles advisor, doing what I do today and that in time it was a very successful move for me. Realized more people need to have access to collectibles advisors, as a specialty. And COVID gave me the perfect opportunity to to create a tool, a resource to help other people learn. And that’s when I created the key skills so that I could teach people how to be collectibles advisors.

And so that more markets could have access to people with these skills. And that’s led me to where I am today. 

Melissa: Seriously I’m obsessed with this, cause this is a super unique business. I’m excited to hear all about it. Not to be simple, but can you define what you call a collectible? When I hear that word, I think, I mean, I just think about all the things my clients have and said, they’re like old dolls and China and, you know, cups and all that kind of stuff. But can you tell me a little bit about how you define collectibles? 

Charles: It’s a great question. It’s the question in my opinion, because there are a lot of people that work with collectibles. They may be an estate sale company, or they may be a collector, a dealer, an auction house.

When I became a collectibles advisor, I decided I wouldn’t represent any single solution, but rather I would focus on being an advocate for my client, send on their side of the table. And as I helped them discover what they had. Helped educate them on what’s going on in the market. It’s not 

Melissa: good. We’re going to get to that 

Charles: too.

And and then depending on what they had, they may be, for example, going to have an estate sale. I don’t do estate sales. But my role in that case is to help them figure out if there are any items that might accidentally be squandered in an estate sale environment. Maybe I’m even when I’m done and say, everything’s great for an estate.

So, but usually what happens is I would say that painting that you have there about the. Well, that’s, that’s a special painting of that artist, as well. As a matter of fact, I know the auction house specializes with that artist, this place, that piece with them and make sure that we maximize the return on that.

So as a collectibles adviser I’m unencumbered by any relationship with any service or recent. Yeah. So the world is our oyster. When it comes to figuring out what’s the best way to get the most bird, any item that client has. And that also gives us access to more knowledge from these different experts in these resources.

So collectibles advisor is someone who is in the business of advocating for their claim. To help them navigate these choppy waters of the getting rid of these collectibles and basically everything inside their home. 

Melissa: Right. Well, I’m just thinking about what I struggle with with my clients and what a lot of our listeners are going to be struggling with is that we get the question every single time we work with someone, is this valuable?

Should I sell this? Should I just donate this? And the hard part is that it’s really impossible for us to know. We can give a little bit of advice and we can say in our experience, these are things that do well on eBay, or these are things that don’t, but it’s really, really hard sometimes to answer those questions.

And then. The other thing that we run into a lot is people who think they have something that is very valuable, but in fact is not valuable. And that is sometimes a very hard thing to manage for 

Charles: us. It’s challenging, except after you do it awhile. One of the reasons I think that it’s important for industries like organizers and move managers, and even eventually realtors for people that work with, with folks that have decisions to make about their stuff.

If you learn more about how to find the value of something, if you learn more about the market and the resources available, just your ability to convey that with competence to the client is powerful. My clients love what I do, even if it’s bad news, because quite often I’m sharing with them. The truth is at rocker.

That’s it have a good value in the secondary market. I know your grandmother rocked your mother and your mother rocked you and there’s these emotional attachments. And now your millennial children have no interest in the rocker. And, but, but the truth is there is no value really in that rocker. And I’ll show them maybe a few simple comps on that and the comps tell the story.

And once they know that. You just sense that they have this load. It’s like, you know, I kind of knew that anyway. And so they don’t feel so bad maybe releasing that piece or a lot of items. So, so they, they love, they’re willing to hear the story and the more confident we are, as we share this with them, the more information we can give to them about.

The easier it is for them to take the news either 

Melissa: way. One of the things that I’ve always said about organizing when I’m coaching people in their businesses is you can make yourself valuable by having regular organizing skills, right? You make yourself invaluable when you go to a client and you go, I know exactly what this screw is.

It goes to this thing that’s over here. And I know exactly what to do with this old doll that you have. And I know exactly what to do with this diamond ring from your grandma. That’s what really sets you apart and makes you such a valuable resource and advocate to your clients.

So your point is educating yourself and being able to be that advocate is really something that takes it to the next level for you. 

Charles: Right. Well, I have a number of my keys, my members who I help that ask, well, at what point am I at collectibles advisor? So when can I say that and really believe it even myself, but I think it’s a case of when an individual like yourself decides I’m going to make it my business to take on this challenge for my clients, I’m going to begin adding resources solutions that can help me accomplish this.

And I’m going to do it as a Serious part of my business. It’s like when you became an organizer, there are organizers out there that just are organized people. And they like helping people organize. But once they decide I’m going to do it professionally, I’m getting involved with associations so I can learn more and bring more skills when I’m helping someone.

Well, that is just simply that act of making it making a bigger deal out of it, making it a real thing that, that makes you a professional organizer versus someone who doesn’t assign it. Same thing with collectibles advising just beginning to make it a serious part of your business and adding resources constantly to help you get better at doing it.

 I’m just going to take a brief break from talking to Charles to tell you about another way that you can be super valuable to your clients. And that is our inspired organizer program and a bonus that we have for pro organizer studio podcast listeners, which is between now and the end of 2021. We have an extra special bonus that no one else is getting.

It is 150 stock photograph. And 30 done for you. Completely finished with captions, Instagram posts, ready to go. This bonus will be for anyone that joins our inspired organizer program between now and the end of December. And we would love to have you in our course and our private online community, where you get so much support, cheerleading and advice from hundreds of other organizers.

If you are interested, please come to inspired organizer dot. Slash join, or you can email For more information now back to chatting with Charles. 

Melissa: So let’s talk a little bit about something you touched on, which I know again, I see all the time. I know that our listeners see it all the time and it’s about that. I call it the push pull between generations like my parent’s generation, their parents’ generation, you pass things down and now that’s not, like you said, millennial children, even gen X children don’t want that stuff.

And so then that creates a market for if people are downsizing they have all of these things and then there’s really no outlet for it. Can you talk a little bit about how the markets are changing because of that? 

Charles: Absolutely. It’s a huge change. It’s a fascinating change.

I’m I’m a father of five millennials. Oh my gosh. I used to speak on downsizing to elderly audiences. And when I mentioned millennials, there’s a lot of hissing and booing about you don’t appreciate anything, there are throw away generation, but the truth is when you stop and think about the fact that we had one generation that symbiotically nationwide took on the same feelings and approach to stuff in general, it lets, you know, there must be a need for this.

It had to change at some point. So millennials came along and decided I don’t want, I don’t need, and I really don’t feel compelled to take my parents and grandparents stuff when they no longer need it or want it, it just was no longer desirable to them. I think in fairness, one of the things that I would say is I’m going to go back to that painting above the couch and you know, a millennial would say I love that blue bonnet painting that hangs above grandmother’s couch in her sitting room.

And I I really love that painting being on her wall in her house. And I enjoy it the most when I’m sitting there with grandmother, it’s the combination of these things, but this generation says without grandmother, I don’t need the painting by doing that. They’re allowing themselves to say every time I see a painting, we believe on it.

So I think your grandmother, I don’t just tie that all into that one painting. So they’re very experienced, driven, and it’s not changing, the millennials have made it clear that This lower importance of stuff in general is not a cycle, but rather a trend it’s a complete change in sentiment. Towards things. So that’s why we’ve seen a declining market and collectibles and almost all collectibles. And we don’t expect it to change. There are a few I’ll share with you a few things that are contrary to that, but in general, we do believe that this is a trend that will not change 

Melissa: well. I had a client recently who was moving out of a house downsizing pretty significantly.

She and her husband had collected furniture, like really beautiful furniture and some things from all over the world. I was helping her and went to three different. Sale places where she lived in all three of the places were very kind of very polite, but they’re like, this furniture is brown.

We don’t have an outlet for it. It was, like more old fashioned antique type furniture and very high quality. And they paid a lot of money for it, but there was no market for it. So that’s what I think a lot of us are seeing a little bit more often.

And then people are sad that not only do their children not want it, but no one else seems to want it either. And, that’s that push pull that I think is really hard for people emotionally to deal with. 

Charles: It’s really a strange thing. Isn’t it? When you stop and think about the fact that that people would expect that they would buy their furniture and assume that you would want it.

So, but that came from there is this depression effect that happened generations back where people felt lucky if they kept anything. And if they ever got something new that they really cherished, they really had a much stronger relationship with these things than they ever had before. And this depression effect was strong for a couple of generations, but with each generation, since then, there’s less of this unexplainable attachment to stuff.

And this generation just seemed to be born free of any attachment to stuff for the sake of stuff. So it is an unusual thing, but it makes a lot of sense. That each generation would have their own journey and they would surround him things with the things that are important to them along their journey.

And more importantly, the millennials have this wonderful sense of look when I buy a new couch. It’s not til death. Do we part it’s not a permanent commitment and they don’t mind saving money, buying it and buying something that probably won’t last forever. They’ll go buy it for my kid and then said they get tired of it.

They’ll give it to a friend and not feel bad about the investment. 

Melissa: So a friend or Facebook marketplace it and resell it and then get a nicer couch and work their way up. And what I’ve seen too is, and I don’t think it’s just millennials because I’m gen X. And I definitely feel this way. I’m in my forties. I don’t need anything. Like I don’t need my parents’ furniture. I don’t need my in-law’s furniture. We’ve all developed our own styles and we got married probably a little later in life. Like we’ve set up our own homes. Like it’s not that it’s not, that passed down thing.

So it’s, it’s very interesting. 

Charles: I think it’s fascinating. And I think that the millennials being so vocal about. Allowed a lot of us generate prior generations to maybe feel more comfortable saying, well, if they don’t want it, I didn’t want it. I don’t have to save it. You know, there was a study that was done in California university did a study that was designed to determine how much space a family uses on average in their home.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, but 

Melissa: I use it all the time in presentations. Yeah, 

Charles: absolutely. So, so, you know, when you realize my take on that, cause I can understand the different industries way of of interpreting the results of that. But in my case, the fact that the average family or couple uses approximately 40%.

Of their home means that they have approximately 60% dedicated to climate controlled storage. Well, why are they not using that other 60% on a regular basis? Well, quite often it’s because the things that are in those spaces are not things that they would do. They deter them from actually taking advantage of that space because they’ve filled it with something that’s really not a part of their lifestyle.

So this, this getting rid of things, this rethinking this need to just keep things for the sake of keeping them has has a huge ripple effect on even our lifestyles. So yeah, 

Melissa: I, this is a slight detour, but I’ve actually done math before for clients about, Hey okay. So let’s say your house is X number of dollars per square foot.

And this is the amount of space you have devoted to storage, essentially. Like you said, climate control store, and I go, you have a very expensive storage unit in your house. You’re, you’re not running it. You’re not running it at a different place, but it’s in your head. So certainly. So you said that there are some collectibles that are still kind of retaining their value. Because I know when I’m working with clients, a lot of times they’re talking about like, grandma’s China, things like that. And it seems to me like, With probably a few exceptions. Those things are not really holding their value, but tell us a little bit about like specific collectibles and what isn’t is not working.

Charles: Let me make a real quick general statement and save that, that it’s all about rarity. And so in today’s market, there, there are less rare items available. Now, if you do encounter something that is truly rare, it’s worth more. And then it’s ever been because it’s so rare to find something that’s rare. So that’s an important thing to understand that, that there is still a great market for rarities, for collectibles that are not easy to get held up well, and I’ll 

Melissa: just, I’ll jump in really quickly and say, I think sometimes when we’re working with clients, they have seen like antiques roadshow for instance, and they’re convinced that like this one thing may be that thing that comes up on antiques roadshow and is worth like $750,000.

And so they’re petrified to give it to Goodwill because while it might be that one thing, so that that’s the rarity thing that you’re talking 

Charles: about. Absolutely. And I run into that all the time. We all do. I work with a number of antiques roadshow experts. And so I bring them their knowledge to bear on my client’s items.

 So let’s talk about like a formal diamond. It’s a, it’s a real easy target because generally speaking, that is almost an obsolete practice. So all things related to formal dining, whether it’s the furniture or crystal or China, silver these things are terribly hard to get rid of and the values continue to decline.

There are people that are figuring out ways to upcycle or repurpose these things in a wonderful way, but that’s only really addressing a finite percentage of the material that’s out there. So it’s easy to see how the formal dining room, everything related to that is, is a big climbing and continues to climb in the market.

Contemporary is a positive thing mid century modern the Danish style, and maybe this came from the Ikea influence and some of these things that we’re seeing, I love mid-century modern. So I can, you know, I love the fact that it’s that you can get a lot out of a very sweet smaller design.

So, so contemporary continues to do well. So unwell for, for a very long time. Certain Asian collectibles are, we have to watch closely as a collectibles adviser because. Although there’s a ton of Japanese decorative art items in the market, because so many of our grandparent’s generation served in that region have brought these things back.

What we’re seeing is that items that come came from China or Vietnam, or that region, have been higher than normal for quite some time, because those regions have come up financially so much. And a lot of these folks are repatriating a lot of their items. So that’s an example of an item that we watch a little closer.

I use Lark Mason for the antiques road show to help me in my keys with items. And it’s amazing how he’s able to find that special reason that that special thing is valuable. So that’s an example of something we have to be careful about. Our original art there’s that rare D factor that every original piece is the only piece.

So art quite often has that opportunity to be special. Although most pieces are not I guess, an interesting things happening. I don’t have you heard of grand millennial style, 

Melissa: please tell me more. 

Charles: Well, in, in this market where forever, we just see this constantly declining value and lack of demand.

We just are looking for any glimmer of hope. And recently we’ve began to hear this term grand millennial style, and it’s referring to millennials, skipping a generation and going to their grandparents. The decorating style opponents from their style and intermingling it with their more contemporary and modern design.

So you may have a really old fashioned couch, maybe a Stripe pattern with fringe along the edge with an Ottoman in front of it. That’s got zebra print that they match these things up in such an unusual way. And you would just simply have to look up grand millennials style to see. What a, what a wonderful look this is.

And what a comfortable look at is it’s also referred to as grainy chic, 

Melissa: I have heard of granny 

Charles: and grand millennial style. Well, it’s the first time that we’ve seen suddenly. So there is some hope for at least that period items. I was debating with someone recently in the industry about how big of an effect that will have.

I don’t think it’s going to change the trend because there’s only so much of that material that’s being plucked out for these styles, but it gives you at least that hope that some of these, these things will be reused and love and become part of someone else’s journey. 

Melissa: Right. I love that. So my kids are teenagers and I see them and all their friends, like they really love thrift store shopping.

You know, they’re very conscientious about, I want to not shop new necessarily. And so I could see a little bit of that trend of I’m going, like you said, upcycling all of that kind of stuff. People being really creative with how they use older things, but again, it still comes back to like people who are looking to monetize.

Some of these very old things sometimes are going to be a little disappointed, unless it’s a very specific niche of things 

Charles: and SS a collectibles adviser. We may be aware of these things, but it doesn’t change how hard or how easy it is to help our clients with that silver plated tea set online. You can see wonderful examples where the very creative people, right.

May I take a silver plated teapot, which has no value. There’s no acceptable silver, but they may paint it in the most wonderful the most creative way. And it becomes a great piece of decorative art for them. And. But even though my client has seen that I’ve had a client refer to, well, what about this?

I’ve seen what they’re doing with them. I’m like, well, there’s too many you know, that’s, we still have to figure out right now how to get this out of your home. Right. We love these trends we like to be aware of them, but most of them today are still not changing. The challenge that you described with older dark wood furniture.

And just all of these things that we’re encountering in our client’s homes, it’s still very difficult. And the solution comes from really. Having a wide range of resources to help people and, or talking to them about the fact that even if they had to donate it or gift these items, that might not be a bad in for these things to consider as well.

Melissa: just remind people sometimes that you know, obviously you have to consult your accountants because the laws changed a few years ago on donations. But a lot of people end up getting more of a value by donating it and doing the tax write off because if you try to go sell it, then you have the time that you put into it.

If you pay someone else to do it, then you’re reducing the value even further. Like it really, there there’s a lot of that that you have to do the cost benefit analysis of does this make sense to sell versus does it just make better sense to donate and then let someone find that treasure and be so excited by it 

Charles: right in Texas.

And I know there’s a lot of markets now that real estate is really doing well. So almost every client that I work with, I’ll make the statement of you understand that your home values are up far more than your contents are down a good base. That’s right. And so I just encouraged him. So don’t let your frustration, this sense that you need to figure out a way to get more for your items.

You slow down or get in the way of that real treasure, that real transaction, that is your property, your home, because fortunately the combination of content. Yeah, real estate just go higher to the, in the 

Melissa: past. Now that is an exceptional point that I had not ever thought of. That’s that’s really, really, really smart.

Especially when you’re working with someone who is moving her downsizing, that the cost benefit analysis. I always do try to tell people again, are you willing to put the time and energy into this? And if you are great, like if you’re doing this, because this sounds fun to you. That’s great. But I had a client once whose husband had passed away and he had.

Thousands and thousands of baseball cards and football cards and all sorts of things. And she’s like, oh, he says that these are super valuable. And in fact, sadly, they were not, are there any like really specialized parts of the collectibles market that are, used to be really important and now they’re not anymore, like I’m just looking for interesting stories of specific collectibles markets.

Charles: Well, there are a lot of interesting stories and collectibles and one of the reasons I’m so excited about getting more collectibles advisors across the country is because can you imagine these things to treasures these massive collections that will we all encounter along the way? The baseball cards is a great example of a family.

Have what they consider a treasure and the person who was collecting it obviously was passionate about it. And that’s all the other people in the family know is, well, it meant a lot to him. He wouldn’t have put this much effort if there was no value. I use this analogy sometimes when I talk about things like the baseball cards, 

I have a client, for instance, that may have a large coffee can full of pennies and they would ask me, what would you give me for these pennies? I mean, they’re, they’re collectible pennies. And then I’ll tell them I’m going to weigh that those pennies. I’m going to determine based on the weight and divide it by one how many pennies you have, and I’m going to offer you 3 cents a piece, and this analogy, these are weaknesses.

And so I’ll pay you 3 cents because I can get four or 5 cents a piece when I sell them into the market. And they’ll say, but wait, what if there is a 1909 S BDB penny, which is a particular collectible penny, I’d say, well, I’ll never know now, if you want to go through your Kennedy’s. Yeah. And if you find that penny, I have the best resources to help you get the most out of that penny, but I can’t go through all your pennies to find that one, whether the same scenario happens when somebody contacts me and says, I’ve got a million baseball cards.

They’re probably not valuable, but there could be something in there. 

Melissa: There might be a rookie card from, 

Charles: but you’re going to have to find it. And your best tool to do that is to look each one up on eBay and who has time for that. So I just let him know I’m perfectly willing to help them get more for that card.

It’s just, I can’t go through all the cards to do that. So that’s a, that’s an example of this mass collection that someone may have. The, and the way we have to reason with the client about you’re not going through them because you don’t have time and I’m 

Melissa: not even about, I’m not either. Right? Yeah. And I think sometimes clients don’t realize when they ask us as the organizer, maybe to do that, then they’re adding a hundred dollars an hour or whatever, like they’re actually going to end up losing money because they’re going to ask us to do that for them.

And you know, it again becomes that cost benefit analysis of is this 

Charles: right? And of course, one of the things I’ve tried to teach people when they consider being a collectibles advisor is also, you have to be careful with your time. You have to make sure that if a client has. Items that they’re wanting to you to work with, that you can’t change the reality that they have no value.

One of my keys sent an email yesterday that says, I have a client that has 300 beanie babies. That’s the best way to help that client? Well, of course, she’s trying to get me to tell her where’s the best place to sell them, but the best way to help that client is to let her know there’s no real value in being.

And so maybe a garage sale donation, children and so on. So I try to encourage them that you can’t change the outcome and you need to focus on the things that us and our resources and our knowledge can actually get them a return. They can’t get on their own, but not spin unnecessary time on things that nobody can change.

That reality is a big part of what we do. 

Melissa: And I think BD babies are a great example because I’ve run into those. My mother-in-law in fact had a big collection of beanie babies, and those are the things that they were valuable for a time. Right. And people remember that and baseball cards were valuable for a time.

People remember those things as like, no, no, no, no. I know someone that got $500 for this rare beanie baby from McDonald’s in 1991, but unfortunately in 2021, Those things don’t have the same value. And that education I think is hard. 

Charles: Well, and the fact that people accumulate so many really works against themselves.

It’s kind of a side note. I’m on an episode of hoarders. The reason I was there was because the lady hoarded department 56, Christmas and Halloween decorations.

And she absolutely destroyed her own value because she has thousands of these pieces. And there’s no way to put that kind of volume of something into the mine. It’s already tough for, ceramic decorative items. But, but then to put that many in the market at one time, just wipes out the value of each individual piece.

 So that was a tremendous challenge I encountered trying to help in that situation. And so when we encounter these massive collections of things that have moderate value to begin with, and then try to figure out what now, what do we do with this. 

Melissa: Now that is fascinating, that scratches all my itches of its professional organizing and economics and supply and demand.

And I mean, that’s like a fascinating look into that market because you’re right. If you have thousands of things that go into a market, it decreases all of their value. 

Charles: Right. And then of course, another thing that I think is really important about this topic is that as a collectibles adviser, as someone who is making, you know, making this their responsibility to help, sometimes we have to, we will focus more on our client’s situation, then the resources that are available to them.

Well, I’ll give you an example, one of the. Things that really began to open my eyes up to this challenge, to this opportunity was a client that was going to have an estate sale, but she thought she had some interesting items. These items were some Tiffany lamps and some very special artwork. I had more time to spend with the client and to advocate for them. So I began to do more recent. And we found out the Tiffany lamps actually were real. And the art she had was art that was done by Theodore Geisel, who Dr. Seuss the client’s grand father lived next door to Theodore Geisel, in La Jolla, California. And they had a family relationship, a friendship. So he did these unique one-off pieces of art in his anamorphic style for this family, because they were close to. And these turned out to be extremely valuable pieces that he had done that had never been seen, including a self portrait in anamorphic style of himself, which had never been on the market so well.


Melissa: and we’re getting to the crux of the question, which is how can we help our clients better? So I’m going to ask you in a second, you know, about how we can be better advocates for our clients.

But the thing that we are all afraid of is maybe we would tell someone gently, like, I understand that these things are important to you, but they probably don’t have very much value. So, you know, maybe you want to consider donating it. And then you’re the person that accidentally just donates the rare, unique Dr.

Seuss, self portrait, like that. That’s like a very scary thing to say well, I don’t think these things usually have value, but like maybe that’s the one in the million thing it’s very stressful. 

Charles: So that can happen. Even when we have the greatest of resources, if we’re doing our best, we’re trying to help them.

And but what helps us avoid that is by constantly adding resources to, to what we experts in these different areas. The person doesn’t have to be a part of the key skill to be a collectibles advisor. The person could simply say, look, as I said earlier, I’m going to begin trying to find more resources.

I would encourage someone who wanted to do that, to maybe get others business buddies, to take on the same challenge so that each of them can help add to their resources, local and regional national, the brave contact, large auctions constantly seek out. If you find items that like what your client has online and you see that item was sold through a large auction house, you can contact them and they’ll be very helpful.

So it’s really a matter of little by little, you just find yourself having that name in your black book that, that you would call for that type of. And and be able to get someone else’s expertise, not ours. I’m an obviously a jewelry and coin watch expert, but I make it very clear to my clients.

We’re not limited to what I know. I’m going to try to get opinions and information from people far more knowledgeable than me. And that’ll be what we’ll make our decisions on. That’s what I’ll present to you. And that’s what helps us be able to hold our head up high when we walk away. We just did the best we could to bring good knowledge to bear. 

Melissa: Yeah. Well, and it’s all about having resources. So it’s all about having someone to reach out, to, to say, I don’t know about this, but I can ask this person, this person, this person, and I know that this person is a jewelry expert and this person is a China expert in this person is a beanie babies expert, whatever that looks like. Well, tell us a little bit about Keys Guild and what you do, and just, just give us the lay of the land of what, what you do with collectibles experts. So 

Charles: the keys Guild is a site that. People who want to be collected with advisers can join and immediately begin to have access to all the experts that we already work with.

Have course courses on the key skill for people to learn about different topics. I have a private Facebook page that Keys Guild members are constantly posting pictures of items that thought, what is this? I need help. I don’t even know how to look it up. I don’t know what to call it. And that’s a great resource and then just additional abilities within the site for people to communicate back and forth and, or get private time with me.

And so, so the Keys Guild is, a mastermind community to help people avoid the challenges you’re talking about, about having to build it themselves. And it makes a huge impact. You know, the first courses on the side are about jewelry. Precious metals coins, because these are the most common items that most are we, you have them, your clients have these things, your family and friends have these things.

And when you help convert those items into cash for people, it’s a great starting point. And quite often it generates additional revenue so they can buy more of your organizing services. But so I have the course material to teach you how to work with jewelry and how to value it and identify it. But then I also had the relationship with the national refiner so that you no longer have to encourage your client to go to the local. Silver or gold buyer. You are the gold and silver buyer or broker for them, and you’re able to deal directly with the refiner. At the exact same rates that your biggest competitor out on the streets is doing. So now your client gets, have you worked with their precious items like this in the safest environment in the world, they’re home with the safest person in the world do to do that.

So that’s an example of how the site gives you the knowledge of how to work with an item and then the resource to be able to be the solution and deal with that item directly. 

Melissa: Okay. And then tell me a little bit about the people that are in the keys Guild are these like a mix of people who’ve done this for years and years as collectibles collectors, professional organized, like who’s, who’s in your.

Charles: There’s no one in the group that was a professional collectibles advisor. Although most of them did try to help that they might have that local auction that that’s, that they would call in to help with an item. They would just dabble in it because they were trying to help the client. But we’d have, and we have one from California to New York. So we we’ve enjoyed seeing how this works in a number of different markets. And it’s interesting. I’ve had some of the members that have joined that want the knowledge so they can communicate it well, but they might actually refer it to another key scope member for sure.

Melissa: A hundred percent when I would do 

Charles: so. So that’s interesting. And they’re there learning and staying part of the group because they want the knowledge, they want to be able to educate themselves. Then we have some that jumped in and they’re just little by little working with the few more items at a time and learning how to do it.

And I have some that jumped in and I’m so proud and impressed that they just dove in and instantly started doing all types of business even made me nervous because I’m, I’m trying to keep educating them faster than have to stay up with all the things that we’re encountering. And so we just have a real mix, but almost all of them came into it with, with just the most basic Understanding of collectibles, but a strong desire to add that to their tool belt.

And that’s 

Melissa: good to know because I, that, and that’s why I wanted to know, because I think there might be people listening who are like, well, I mean, I’m, I’m a professional organizer. I’m not an expert in this. Are you supposed to be a collectibles expert to be in this? And no, you’re actually promoting that.

We’re getting educated about this so that we can better be a resource for our clients. And it doesn’t mean you have to start selling silver and gold. It means that maybe you just get the knowledge and can start helping your clients more effective. 

Charles: Absolutely the courses include glass and art and so on.

 So there’s a wide range of things in the courses, by the way, are not designed to make you an expert, to make someone expert they’re designed to give you an understanding so that you know what to call something, you know, who to call about something. And so yeah everyone has their unique way of approaching it.

But I really think that a, an organizer or a move manager who knows about the items they’re organizing or moving has an advantage over the same industry that doesn’t know anything about the items that they’re moving. And I’ll tell you what the most fascinating thing I encountered was I did this thinking I’m going to help a lot of business owners make a lot more money, but giving them a new revenue source.

And teaching them how to help their clients. So it’d be beneficial to their clients and to them, I have learned with organizers in particular that most of them are not doing this so that they can make a lot more money. Most of them are doing this as it turns out because they can help their clients.

Then they could otherwise, and the fact that they make money doing it is just icing on the cake. So it really changed my whole marketing. I had to realize these people are not as are not as money motivated as as I thought they might be. And so I need to do. Why they’re doing that. And that was something that really, really caught me off guard as far as their motivation, but most of them start out wanting to be able to do more help their clients more than, 

Melissa: and I think like the way I would see it being used for some of our people is you get these additional resources, you get the additional education, you are able to actually market yourself not as an expert in this, but I have a, I have resources that I can come to bear.

If you are in this situation, if you have a lot of these things, it actually becomes a marketing tool for you. And yes, it makes you a more valuable resource to your clients, which may end up actually making you more money because of how you can market yourself. So it may be that the revenue implications are broader than just I’m selling this one piece of silver.

Charles: Oh, absolutely. And I am hearing a lot from organizers that are. They do it a few times. They get that client money. The client didn’t expect. They really feel great about that. They make some money and I begin to hear this, you know, as I’m getting further into my career, I may find myself wanting to do more collectibles advising and less of the hard physical work of organizing with our knowledge and our resources. And, and again, it is extremely lucrative. I don’t, I don’t want to beat that up because the collectibles advising is is an industry that is very lucrative for clients and very lucrative for people that do it. 

Melissa: If someone is interested, if someone has listened to this and their interest is peaked and they’re like, Hey, I want to know more. Tell us a little bit about how we can get involved with you and with key skilled. 

Charles: Well, first of all, I want to throw this out there in that.

Are the cost to join? The key skills are $500 a year or $50 a month for anyone who’s listening to your show. If they decide they’re interested in trying it, they can use a promotional code, the word unlocked. As a coupon and they get the annual membership for $300 or $30 a month.

So yeah, you know, in most people, truly, most people who do this make a far more return on their first transaction than they would spend in multiple annual memberships. So, so I’ve tried to keep it really inexpensive for people to get in. 

So that’s one thing. Another thing is I am doing Thursday Q and A’s for people that are interested, if they reach out to me and want to participate in that, just zoom Q and a to where I can answer specific questions for them. Let them hear what other people are asking every way that I can to just help, let more people hear about it.

And then there may be some of your listeners that. Well, I just want to get Charleston’s help with this client. I have, until I get where I just no longer had time to do that. I find myself doing that almost every day, helping someone that’s not going to join the caseload, but they do have a need and I’m happy to try to help them with their clients.

So, so they’re welcome to contact me and I’ll help them at whatever level they would do. 

Melissa: All right. I love that. And I am not just saying this because you’re on the show right now, but I am a hundred percent joining because I am very fascinated by this. I’d really love to be able to help my clients a little bit more effectively.

And, you know, I still have organizing clients. In addition to the work I do here at pro organizer studio. So I I’m definitely in for this because it’s something that I encounter enough that it’s a piece of education I don’t have so 

Charles: well. And you know what, we’re all surrounded by these things ourselves, and it’s just fun learning about items and it’s, it can be fascinating.

And then the knowledge, the people are wonderful. And so, and I’d love to have you as a. As a collectible as advice, how well you would do so 

Melissa: I’m in, I’m excited. So, we are going to link for our listeners in the show notes. We’re going to give you all of the links. We would love to have you join.

You can join me as a new member and I’m just so excited to be able to dive into this a little bit and get a little bit of extra education. So what you do is seriously, it’s so unique and I’m very excited. You were able to join us today. 

Charles: So I appreciate you having me on, I’m excited about getting the message out to more people.

We need, we need people in every market. And so this, anything that helps accomplish that is really exciting to me. 

Melissa: Well, this is a question I was thinking of earlier, like when you said you were in Texas, for some reason, I don’t even have a reason for this, but I feel like a lot of the auto options are in Texas.

Maybe I’m making that up, like Fort worth, like a huge area for 

Charles: that. I don’t know why. I don’t know. I don’t know why that, why that is, but. A lot of auto auctions in Texas, there’s a lot of auto auctions in the Dallas Fort worth area. I don’t know if that’s the way it is in every major market, but it certainly seems that way to make, 

Melissa: and I’m glad that we’re having this conversation because I’m in Minneapolis.

And I feel like there have been times that I’ve reached out and tried to find like, you know, auction houses or whatever. And I’m just like, I sometimes don’t use my brain and go, well, I could use a different part of the United States, but like, I don’t have to be like tiny located just in my area. It might be that, you know, there’s something that, I could ship something to Texas or whatever.

So I think like expanding our work a little bit and realizing you got to find the best expert. So 

Charles: we knew we have national entities, like everything, but the house, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them where everything, but the house has a wonderful online auction. They did expand into 29 markets, but they grew too fast.

They couldn’t manage it. And to salvage their business, they retracted back to Cincinnati, Ohio. But they still run a huge operation. They have a huge database of followers. There’s a lot of reasons for why they’re successful, but I send things to them quite often because they’re one of those examples of an auction house that with certain items, they are just beating the market and they, and they recognize the key skills and give us special discounts on our sellers fees.

So, so the nice thing about as you expand your collectibles, advising business, you get these special relationships, special discount, special treatment, and that you will definitely get that from more national opportunities than regional. Although you need a mix of both. 

Melissa: Yeah. Right. Well, is there anything that I have not covered?

Charles: I think I probably have told you more than you need to know about. Oh, 

Melissa: I love it. Seriously. This is awesome. and I think it’s going to be super, super helpful to our listener.

So we’re going to link all of your information and we are excited to learn more about valuable ways we can help our clients.

And just thank you so much for joining us 

Charles: today. Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure. I’ve enjoyed it. 

Thank you so much for listening into the pro organizer studio podcast. If you’d like to get our roadmap for success as a pro organizer, head straight to

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Photos of jen by ANGELA ZION