Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Michael Van Jones. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Michael , appreciate you joining us today. What do you think matters most in terms of achieving success?
My partner Luisa & I own Vintique Mall in Taylor. I think there are many factors and avenues for someone to be successful. For me it’s always been the determination and drive to get things done. Even if I fail, I’ll figure out a way to make it happen. On the other end it’s how bad do you want it? I always wanted to work for myself and be my own boss not realizing that I had no idea how to actually run a business. They don’t teach you that sort of thing in school so I learned by experience (doing it) and making a ton of mistakes. But after a year in or so I had a good system in place and the business has been running smooth ever since. I also think luck plays a part in all of this too…
Michael , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Luisa & I got into the art of buying and selling when we first met in Queens in the spring of 2016. We started doing local sidewalk sales in NYC for a couple of months before we decided to start fresh by driving across the cross country to Oakland, CA. We had nothing lined up out west but we wanted to live there for a month or so and experience everything that California had to offer. We had a room available in a house in Oakland but no jobs or income. We started a house cleaning company and a dog walking business from the app Nextdoor. We did both those things for a couple months, man was it hard work! We then noticed that the wealthy neighborhoods of the Bay Area would toss very useable & nice items on garbage day on their curbs. So we started to pickup said items and clean them up and sell them at the Oakland coliseum flea market. At that time a spot would be $15 for the day. We started to make some profit week after week so we then decided to start buying at estate sales on the last day for a heavily discounted price and flip at some of the other local flea markets which were a bit better like the Berkeley flea and treasure island. After a while we reached the Mecca – the Alameda Antiques faire which is one of the biggest outdoor markets on the west coast: it was there where we made most of our money because we dealt with collectors and thousands of people buying cool stuff! At the end of the year in 2016 we decided that California is awesome and all but it’s just way too expensive so we needed to move somewhere more affordable. At that point we had spent 6 months in the bay, we told our families that we would only be gone for 1-2 months max and come back to NY, well plans don’t always go as planned because we opened up the US map and picked Austin to check out next, Neither of us have ever stepped foot in Texas but in early 2017 Austin was shaping up to be the city to go to. In Austin Luisa walked dogs, I worked at Carmax and Dell and we bought and sold vintage items on the side selling at local fleas and online.. We had our own apartment at the time so we needed to make ends meet. After about a year of that, we quit our jobs and decided to open up our own estate sale company: Vintique Estate Sales was born in 2018. We started conducting sales in peoples homes and selling all of there belongings. We hired temporary workers off Craigslist and the business was good and we were starting to make a name for ourselves in Austin. We did a full year of estate sales every other weekend, business was flourishing. We also had booth spaces at three antique malls in Austin, Round Rick and Salado selling our treasures! It was in late 2018 that we thought to ourselves, “we’re paying so much for all our booths in other malls, why don’t we start our own antique mall?” With that thought we found an abandoned Sears appliance store in Taylor for rent on Craigslist, we saw it twice, met with the landlord and worked out a deal to lease the building. It’s a 12,000sq ft building that was completely empty and we did not know one single person in Taylor, TX. We did know that the location was great, right off highway 95 and that we had the determination and perseverance to pull this off. We signed the lease in late 2018 and that’s when Vintique Mall was born. On January 2nd, 2019 we opened our doors for the very first time. We had an open house a few weeks before and signed up 25 dealers to rent booth spaces from us. To this day we have over 45 dealers and every inch of that 12,000sq ft building is packed with treasures! We are now fully staffed for the last year and a half so that Luisa & I can continue running our estate sale business, I remember coming back from a trip and not being at the mall for say a few weeks or months, I walk into our mail and it just hits me, like I can’t believe we built this and that we even own it; it’s like so surreal sometimes. It goes to show you that hard work, believing and chasing your dreams do pay off!!
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
I do all of the advertising and marketing for Vintique Mall & Vintique Estate Sales. I post photos everyday for the malls Instagram and Facebook accounts to engage customers. My advice is to post everyday, I also post the same photos on our google page. The more photos taken equal the more potential customers to shop with you. There are some days I’m over it but I have to do it, my dealers and customers expect it.
We’d love to hear the story of how you turned a side-hustle into a something much bigger.
I’ve been buying and selling & flipping things since I was teenager. It all started when my family moved from Long Island ny to central jersey- we moved near a golf course so I used to pickup the golf balls from the pond and sell them back to the golfers when they were playing that hole. I also went to Sam’s club and got mug root beer and candy in bulk and sell that too. Then in my 20’s I started to buy and sell bicycles all over the tri state area, the best place for sales was in Manhattan when I was selling at the uhaul in Chelsea. That was fun, sold thousands of vintage bicycles for premium bucks!! My dad loved going to garage sales so I would ride with him and he would always find cool things. He taught me everything that I know and he was super proud that we started Vintique Estate Sales & Vintique Mall. Sadly he passed last year but I know he’s here with me guiding me. When I met Luisa in 2016 we turned our side hustle of buying and selling into a real business. The rest is history!
- Website: www.vintiquemall.com
- Instagram: Vintique_mall_taylor
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/356156661878621/
- Other: www.vintiqueestatesales.com
Michael Van Jones