The best investment Cindy and I have ever made was to skip advertising and spend our money on creating a massive inventory to loan to clients for their event. Loaning bouquets, bouteniers, wedding dresses, veils, centerpieces and more? Yes! On more than one occasion we have had a bride that couldn’t afford a wedding dress.
When I run across a wedding dress, I buy it because I know someone somewhere might need it. Our clients don’t need to spend money on items and save money by borrowing them from our inventory. We do events differently.
At least once a week I accept a connection request on LinkedIn from someone who immediately “pitches me” about more traffic or more clients. We are so booked and busy that we have no interest in “more traffic or clients.” Thanks anyway. If you are connecting with me on LinkedIn to sell me on more traffic or clients, you haven’t researched me or my client bases. I don’t market clients. I don’t need to.
The truth is that no one could target market our unique client bases regardless of how creative they might think they are. From people bartering to people marrying an inmate to LBGT couples struggling to find a “friendly event vendor,” our clients come to us because they have heard about us and find us or a previous client referred them to us.
We invested in making Dream Events a reality for anyone coming to us and welcomed diversity and our efforts have paid off. Our advertising budget is and always has been ZERO DOLLARS. We spend money on the things our clients appreciate.
While walking a trade at an Appraisal Appointment in Cleburne yesterday afternoon, I had a text regarding updates pertaining to State Prison Weddings in Texas.
For the record, I do not take calls or texts when I’m on location with another client. I focus on my congregation (the client) rather than the caller (the choir).
As of yet, there is no word from TDCJ regarding when visitation will reopen although the Federal Bureau Of Prisons made an announcement that visitation will be reinstated at all of their Federal Facilities “no later than October 3, 2020.”
Like everyone else, I’m frustrated about Governor Abbott consistently avoiding addressing visitation in Texas.
Will the FBOP force Abbott to make a statement? Only time will tell.
It’s now been nearly 7 months of waiting on visitation to be reinstated while only a handful of states have reinstated limited visitation with preregistration requirements in effect.
After answering the text, I received a response that was a bit surprising and unsettling. I waited to respond as I finished up with my client on location in Cleburne.
My client is concerned about her fiancée and his intentions. His letters run from positive to negative.
This has been happening with other clients waiting to marry an inmate as well.
It’s distressing when you are looking forward to a letter to be disappointed upon reading it.
I’m an advocate for my clients and their needs because it’s not uncommon for them to have very little support regarding marrying an inmate from their family and friends.
Convincing my clients to stop feeling guilty about being on the outside while an inmate is on the inside isn’t an easy conversation. If you are marrying an inmate you need to set limits. You are in charge whether you realize it or not.
Clients on the outside do it all and they do it alone. They go to work, they pay their bills, they raise their children, they pay expensive phone calls and make long drives to the Unit and every sacrifice they can to benefit inmates including putting money on the inmates books.
Inmates often overlook the many sacrifices their loved ones make for their benefit. My clients need to recognize and realize that their needs and their lives are important too. They need to put their own needs first. I often remind them of this when they are made to feel guilty from an inmate.
Inmates can be master manipulators. A handful of my clients have encountered a few con artists playing them AND other women at the same time OR encountering an inmate that wants my clients to send more money than they can afford to.
Inmates can be demanding. I hear everything from my clients regarding their incarcerated loved ones behavior. Who can forget the “Coffield Unit Con Man Who Got The Boot?” The inmate was upset his fiancée had been in a car accident and would need to cut back on prison phone calls and visits in order to cover her deductible. My client called me furious about this while disclosing other details that convinced me she should cancel the wedding and re evaluate. She did. We rescheduled months later only to cancel again after the inmate demanded she send saucy photos. This type of request occurs more than you might think. I advise all of my clients not to send raunchy photos for several reasons. First, the mail is carefully screened. Second, those photos are passed around the Unit. Just say no. Establish boundaries and keep them. After the second reschedule, my client decided to skip marrying the man who was controlling her from the inside and accusing her of fooling around on the outside of she missed a call. She had deliberately missed calls to save money but the ongoing arguments continued to such an extent that the inmate iced himself right out of my client putting money on his books, paying for phone calls and renting hotels after driving 6 hours to the Unit for a visit. People have limits. My client made the right decision. If an inmate controls you while inside they are really going to control you once they get outside.
Inmates often use guilt to get loved ones to “do more” for their benefit.
I advise my clients to set boundaries and limits. It’s not uncommon for me to list all of the things my clients do for an inmate and remind them of their sacrifices.
Often these clients are given little if any recognition from a manipulative inmate.
The texts continued for about an hour between my client regarding her concerns, her unnecessary guilt and her frustration about letters that she should be looking forward to reading that are now creating anxiety and depression.
I advised her to explain her feelings on paper to her fiancée and stop feeling guilty. She’s working long hours and doing everything she can. Establishing limits is essential for any client marrying an inmate. If they don’t, a handful of them will be pushed too far financially and emotionally and often choose to cancel the wedding plans altogether. I support their choice of course because marrying an inmate isn’t an easy path. It’s a difficult path that is often one sided. The hundreds of people I’ve married to an inmate were certain of their decision. They knew what they were getting into and carefully evaluated their decision. They weren’t pen pals. I always ask this question because there are very few pen pal marriages that have longevity. A divorce is painful and I prefer my clients not go through one.
We are in a pandemic. Many people don’t know if their jobs are secure. Many people are struggling through this pandemic. That’s not to say that inmates aren’t fearful or concerned about Covid as I know from my clients that inmates are fearful of this virus too but clearly inmates have structure, predictability and far more leisure time than their loved ones on the outside doing everything they can to provide for the inmate. Inmates have a lot of time to call or write and often expect my clients to write everyday if the inmate isn’t authorized to make phone calls. Video calls are now available at only 12 TDCJ Units.
My clients need someone they can vent to and I’m that someone. I hear everything and occasionally a client just needs to vent but just as often a client needs to draw a line in the sand and establish that they are sacrificing for the inmate. They are in charge of their finances and their generosity. They have the upper hand. I remind them of the importance of knowing how important their self care is and the need to put themselves first.
There are many cracked windows at visitation cells from inmates slamming their fist on the glass in anger. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a CO to move an inmate for a non contact wedding to another cubicle that doesn’t have cracked glass. There’s too many times. The cracked glass hurts my heart. An angry inmate taking out their anger on the person who went through so much to get there bothers me. In fact, it angers me.
Anger at the person who sacrificed their day to drive to a visit. Stand in line at the shakedown area. Hurry up to wait along with many others. People who should be celebrated for coming to visit by inmates that instead are angry. It’s tragic.
I’ve heard of inmates screaming at their loved ones on phone calls the loved ones are paying for. I instruct them to hang up. No one deserves misdirected anger. Especially someone paying outrageous fees for a phone call.
Occasionally people are confused about who my client is. It isn’t the inmate. My clients are on the outside. Inmates are on the inside.
The diversity of my client bases shocks people. Years ago, my clients were mostly LBGT. For several years now the vast majority of my clients are marrying an inmate at a state, federal, ICE or county Unit within the United States.
I limit coordinator and officiant bookings to referrals only. The time involved to coordinate an event is too trying to my existing schedule.
The number of bookings shifting to bartering from Texas Twins Events or TDCJ Officiant to The Pawning Planners has been a bit of a surprise since traditionally less than 3-5% of our bookings are bartered. Covid-19, the pandemic and job loss has caused an influx of booking changes in Texas.
If you have initially booked through Texas Twins Events or TDCJ Officiant, please contact me to shift your booking and schedule an Appraisal Appointment. We are not taking deposits for prison weddings in any of our service area states at this time. Why? Because I have nearly 50 people who were books prior to Covid and visitation shutdowns that will be scheduled first. All other inquiries will be scheduled in the order the request was received. In March the only state that had clients waiting was Texas. Cindy and I had already addressed all other service area states. I often go to 3 or 4 prisons in the same day and effectively stack Units. If your Unit isn’t an existing booked Unit or within 1-2 hours of an existing booked Unit, you are being pushed into 2021.
I’m going to once again clarify that Cindy and I do not buy items from prospects. We do not loan money on items from prospects. We do not refurbish items from people who think “we love reupholstering furniture.” We aren’t a pawn shop or an upholstery store.
What we do is take items in trade and either list them as is or refurbish them in order to make the sale more profitable.
It should be noted that we also do not sell our heavy upholstery tapestry fabrics either. Why? Because our fabrics are imported and easily run $40-60 a yard and the average consumer has no idea what quality upholstery costs that’s why.
Our upholstery and attention to quality is what sets us apart and why our clients come back to buy refurbished antique furniture time and time again.
Why did we start taking trades? A minority of our clients years ago didn’t have any money. They wanted a service but had no way to pay for it. Cindy and I have been flipping items many years and decided to merge Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins Events to create The Pawning Planners and an opportunity for people with no money to book a dream event. Bartering opened a window that hadn’t ever existed in the events industry.
With bartering comes a different set of rules and entirely different contract. An appraisal appointment is required. This appointment must be set a minimum of 30 days prior to the event date. The location of the event must be within 1-2 hours of our location in Fort Worth, Texas.
We do not barter destination events. Why? Travel expenses. Destination events are booked through TDCJ Officiant for inmate weddings or Texas Twins Events for traditional bookings.
When you are in the bartering business, you must have the income to cover the expense of the service and transportation of the item to our storage units until we can refurbish and then sell the item taken in trade.
Box trucks are often necessary to move large items. You will also need to pay storage on your inventory. Bartering costs money.
A lot of people are confused about the process or believe “anyone can make money in the flipping business.” No you can’t. It takes money to make money.
My husband has been a builder and developer for fifty plus years. He would never even consider flipping houses. Why? In the 80’s he tried it and was unsuccessful. He’s very successful in the custom homebuilding business.
Refurbishing a sofa can take up to 12 yards of fabric. Combine the expense of fabric with the cost of the upholsterer. You are either paying a pick up and delivery fee or renting a box truck or van to drop off and pick up. The expenses of refurbishing furniture are incredibly high which is why my twin sister has never taken an interest to any prospective trade involving furniture. I assume all of the risk and I’ve taken a few really substantial “financial hits.” I can afford to. I’m really picky about what I will take in trade. If the structure is unworthy the trade is declined. Furniture structure is critical. I look at structure first and design second. I’m interested in something I haven’t seen before.
I have no interest in big box furniture or home furnishings. I know what I’m looking for and I know what sells.
The prospective client doesn’t set the value of the barter we do. Why? Because we know the market and we know what the future investment on our end will be.
If someone tells me “it’s worth $500” in an effective argument to the appraisal less rental trucks, upholstery cost, labor and storage, I advise them to sell the item for $500 and book through Texas Twins Events instead. I don’t argue about a barter. No one else is going to barter your item. Think about it. We don’t have any competition in the bartering or prison weddings business.
A few people may think that they are making the rules on a barter but they have no idea of the overhead involved. “You’re so good at it that I think I can do it too.” Okay buddy let me know how it works out for you.
People often think that their item is worth more because they are “guessing at the value.”
One guy had moonshine. We can’t flip moonshine. “It has value!” I’m sure it does but we can’t resell alcohol.
We don’t “guess at a value” or what we will be investing on a trade. We look at all the angles.
Condition, construction and cost to transport, refurbish and store as well as whether there’s a market for the item or not are key to making a deal.
There have been people sending or texting photos of items thinking that a photo constitutes a client relationship and it doesn’t. A barter contract, appraisal appointment and deal are struck to create a client contract.
Local pick up means you come to Fort Worth, Texas. Local pick up and free delivery are two different things. Delivery within one hour of Fort Worth for sold items is at an additional cost.
If a truck rental is involved because the item is too large for one of our fleet SUV’s, the cost of the rental is combined with the cost of delivery at the buyers expense.
We are happy to have someone meet you at our storeroom or rental unit. Many buyers prefer the “pick up option” and arrange their own pickup. We are happy to make arrangements to meet your shipping or freight company.
Based on Cindy and my own schedules with existing clients from Belltower Chapel, Texas Twins Event’s, TDCJ Officiant or The Pawning Planners, delivery is at our convenience rather than your own which is why we strongly suggest local pick up. Buyers from Texas Twins Treasures are scheduled like everyone else. Yes, we have a schedule and are happy to work you in.
Someone else on my staff will meet you and assist you with loading of large items.
Items that fit in a USPS priority box or mailer are shipped within 24 hours. Please be aware that priority mail isn’t free to us and it isn’t free to you either.
Furs taken in trade are glazed and stored in climate controlled conditions. We do not store furs bought “off season” as a courtesy until winter. Storage for furs is expensive. Sold items are shipped immediately.
We often discount furs “off season” specifically in order to move inventory. Climate controlled storage is not included in short sale items in our storefront. If you wish for us to hold and store your fur until season, a fee for climate controlled storage will be included in your sale.
Marriage is a merger. Second thoughts about changing your mind about marrying are becoming common during this pandemic. This pandemic won’t last forever.
It’s essential to remember that everyone is under stress right now. Your fiancée’s behavior or attitude may be due to job stress or financial fear. Communication is key to your relationship surviving a tough time.
I currently have a pregnant bride who discovered her fiancée was having an affair after she was furloughed. Being furloughed is tough mentally for many people who feel rejected. She was already depressed about being jobless when this “other woman” entered the scene not knowing my client was at home on furlough and taking a home pregnancy test. Yep. She’s also pregnant.
The issue of moving her fiancée into her home was why and how she happened onto this very upsetting realization. The woman on the outside blew the cover off this “side hustle.” The timing of this situation couldn’t be worse for my client.
She is now in Florida with her mother and her aunt and we are considering flipping her November Wedding to a family reunion since the event is already paid for.
My angst over this tragic situation with a wedding two months away combined with my concern of how my client will confront and hopefully evict this Don Juan who was having this affair under her roof is a volatile situation. She is fragile. She is under heavy stress and she shouldn’t marry but she loves him.
Will she change her mind and raise her child alone? I have no idea but I’m hoping she does. Her fiancée has broken every ounce of trust she had.
The thing I want all of my clients to realize is that if you go into a marriage with emotional baggage, that baggage isn’t going anywhere. It’s a permanent fixture in your life and in your home. Infidelity is a deal breaker for me.
Trust is a primary and necessary component to a happy marriage. Without trust your foundation falters.
I’m already scheduling Federal Prison Weddings in October. Missouri and Oklahoma Clients please be aware that preregistration is required. Masks are also going to be required at all Federal Detention Facilities.
Sales of our LV and Chanel masks make it impossible for us to keep these items in stock which is why we haven’t listed designer masks in our Texas Twins Treasures storefront. Cindy or I will both have disposable masks with us on site in the event you arrive without a mask.
Please let me know if you have additional questions regarding pick up, delivery, or bartering by emailing me Wendy@texastwinsevents.com or by using the contact us link on any Wendy Wortham website.