Back in December of 1983, Newsweek featured a cover showing a young girl wearing a high-collared frilly blouse and a bad hair-cut, clutching a ginger-haired, dimpled-faced doll while kissing her cheek. The headline read: “What A Doll: The Cabbage Patch Craze.”
Remember the Cabbage Patch doll? I remember it ... like a bad dream. I worked retail during this horrible epidemic — and make no mistake about it, it was an outbreak. Unfortunately, at the time, no vaccinations had been created for this highly communicable disease. Taking no thought of social class, sex, race, color, religion or age, it swept the nation quicker than the creator, little 21-year-old art student Xavier Roberts, could make them.
In the world of retail, this couldn’t have happened at a less convenient time. Of course, for Xavier as well as the retail executives, the timing was perfect. For me, the retail peon, it was not. The nightmare frenzy created by bringing these bug-eyed, adoption paper-toting babies into the store mere weeks before Christmas was nothing less than a circus — not the P.T. Barnum kind, like we talked about last week, but the scary clown kind.
The second these creepy fat baby aliens came off the truck, swarms of people would line up by the stock doors awaiting the wheeling out of the cart, where the shoving, trampling, grabbing and name calling would ensue. They would then line up in the layaway line to stow them away until just before Christmas, when they would come to collect and we would have to break the news that we could, in no way, locate those babies they had paid for weeks on in the mess that this particular retail company, which has since gone out of business, called “layaway.” That’s when the real violence would supervene.
Last week, I listed a home in a very desirable area. The owner, an amazing and independent 93-year-old woman, was being moved to an assisted care facility. Their children were all there to help with the move and get the home ready to sell.
As they were moving furniture out, some neighbors dropped by and offered to purchase their home. Just a few minutes later, some more neighbors dropped by and made a verbal offer as well. My client’s daughter called me frantic. She was in tears: “Jen, I am feeling so much pressure and we don’t have the house even on (the market) yet, and I can’t make these decisions right now.” I told her to give them my card and have them call me. I then directed her to tell everyone who asked that we were not going to have showings until Saturday. That is when they would have all the moving done.
By Saturday, I had 29 showings booked for the home. When I woke up, I had this horrible visual running through my head of hordes of buyers — some with, some without, agents — parading through the home, turning on lights, opening doors and losing keys. I decided I better do some crowd control.
Had I known what I would have walked into, I would have provided peanuts and popcorn. Seriously. There were at least 24 people in the home when I walked in. This was a few minutes before I had any scheduled showings. It was exactly as I had visualized that morning. By the time 4 o'clock hit, we had eight offers in hand and two more coming. I kind of wish I had worn my clown suit. There were three agents present when I left. I asked the last one to lock up. Minutes later, he called. “I can’t lock up because someone took off with the key.”
Fortunately, because of the type of key boxes we use, we have a record of who accessed the box last. I called the last agent and told him to check his pockets and run his body back over immediately and put the key back. He did.
As I met my client that evening to present all the offers we had received, I was once again reminded of the circus — the P.T. Barnum one, not the scary clown one. The one where the show goes on, the crowd having no idea what it took to get it there.
Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at email@example.com or 801-645-2134.