Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Promise that Lasts Forever

It's hard for me to focus on real estate, the economy, or even our business when we are so close to Easter. Last year like now, we were still debating whether or not to keep our apartment buildings (even as they were listed with agents). We would be convinced to sell them because we had been paying into them every month since the closings in 2005. Then we'd hear the promises of our property managers and decide to give them more time to recoup our initial investments and subsequent losses--only to be disappointed, frustrated, and worried all over again. I can't even remember last Easter due to all of the stress that we were under.

This year we may not have any money, but we don't have the stress, either. I've been hearing about the inevitable fall of the major banks due to their large exposure in the sub-prime lending market. People are debating about where to put their money. Some recommend various trading sites as being relatively "safe" to transfer investments into. We have two rentals that are still worth much more than what we paid for them and are occupied by long-term tenants. This is not a bad time to be sitting on the side lines. I don't worry about where my money is--because I already lost it last year. After living expenses, any profit left over is put right back into our growing business. That's an investment that I don't worry about because it's under our complete and total control.

It's so easy to prospect clients for promotional products. As some businesses start to flounder in this economy, they need to advertise more than ever (OK, so they may not be a long-term customer). They also want new and unique products to sell in their stores. There are not many promotional product companies that actually cold call on prospective customers. Most rely on mailings, storefronts, and/or word of mouth. Not us. My husband's degree, training, and specialty is business and sales. He's just doing what he knows best to support his family--and it's really paying off. We don't have a fancy web site or slick ads, but we do have awesome customer service and support---not to mention low pricing on most competitive products.

Wow! I feel like this post is a commercial, but that isn't what I set out to write about. Sometimes when I get started, I never know where I'll end up! However, if you've noticed, I don't tout the name of our company. I have shown you some of our products, like the compressed tees, and they're still selling well, especially our awesome San Diego designs. But there are thousands of other items that we market now.

I can honestly say that, without the complete failure of our apartment endeavors, we would have never been motivated to start this, or any other, enterprise. As I see it now, being physically in charge of our business while it's new (whether it's managing properties ourselves, running a retail establishment, consulting, etc.) is the only way to ensure its success. We had to trudge through all the muck to get to where we are supposed to be, which is right here, right now. Slow learners, aren't we?

This blog is about real estate (the good and the bad), our recovery from investment losses, and a bit of family life thrown in for some good fun. However, my story cannot be complete without the mention of my faith (which I have done on occasion). If I avoid the subject in fear of offending someone (although I hold no judgments whatsoever), then you'd never have a sense of who I really am. And, if I expect you to take valuable time from your way-too-short days to read these posts, then the least I could do is be real with you.

Now, as we emerge from the ruins, and during our most serious time of crisis, our faith was the only thing we had to hold on to. At any moment, we could have lost our houses, apartments, and most of our possessions. Our friends could have even disowned us in disgust. But we knew that God would never abandon us as long as we cried out to Him. And cry we did. The act of prayer alone gave us peace and hope--two things money can't buy. It seemed to take forever--and we certainly didn't make the money that we desired--but, at the eleventh hour (much later, actually), our apartments sold and we were relieved of a majority of our financial burdens. So, we may not have earned the profit that we wanted (and felt we deserved), but we were given exactly what we needed.

Tonight is the beginning of what Catholics call the Triduum (trid-yoo-uh m)--or the Three Days (from tonight through Easter night). This evening we remember the Last Supper, tomorrow we commemorate the covenant signed in Blood (the Crucifixion), and on Saturday night/Sunday morning we celebrate the Resurrection (the Easter season continues for 50 days, ending on Pentecost Sunday). It is a promise of eternal life--one that never leaves us disappointed, frustrated, or worried. Christmas is a big Christian holiday, but not nearly as important as Easter. So, with that very insufficient explanation, I will not be posting again until Easter Monday (or just Monday for my non-Christian readers).