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Back to Tennessee – Will this be the last time?

If being an entrepreneur means I have to travel 9 hours one way, just to make an income, then I must be doing something wrong.

Tennessee doesn’t feel like home.  It feels more like a place where Wesley and I show up show up once in a while, only to leave again.

I want this estate sale to be the one that launches our business in Tennessee.

Wesley and I had just finished working an estate sale in Maryland.  It has been like this since 2009; back and forth, back and forth.   A short time in Tennessee and a long time in Maryland.

It really doesn’t feel like we have roots anywhere.  Our job causes us to travel and we have stayed in countless houses in Tennessee and Maryland.

My heart longs to be in Tennessee but my bank account requires travel.

What happens if we just say no more? What if we just make this trip back to Tennessee our last one, and we see if we can earn enough income in our own state?

Our Little Coffee House ready to open

Is it a homestead or not?

Our Little Homestead came about as a desperate plan to grow produce for Our Little Coffee House, which was failing miserably.

We closed down the coffee house because we couldn’t find suppliers willing to work with a start up business, and we couldn’t meet their minimum shipment requirements.

We were buying our ingredients at retail prices and that is not a wise decision for any entrepreneur.  Nope… it doesn’t work, and especially not with a business that requires perishable inventory. 

We had no idea we would end up back in estate liquidation after we opened that coffee house. We thought the coffee house would be our career until we retired.

We also didn’t know Our Little Homestead would turn out like it did.

It’s impossible to be an estate liquidator and a homesteader if you have to travel for work.

I was planting my first garden, small as it may be, when the call came for us to leave again. The homestead garden would die, again, like the many attempted gardens before it.

By the time we return from Maryland the weeds will have take over.

What difference does it make when it doesn’t feel like a homestead anyway?

We wanted nothing more than to stop dividing our attention between estate liquidation and homesteading, because the two do not mix well.

Homesteading requires a commitment to plant on time, harvest on time, and do all the chores in between. If one plants seedlings, then goes on a road trip for work, one comes back to dead seedlings.

But still, there is no way of knowing how long we had between estates. Truth be told, we wanted an estate in Tennessee but that wasn’t happening.

There is so much to tell about Our Little Homestead and Our Little Coffee House and there will be time for that, but right now, something has happened that must take priority. We have to look at an estate in Tennessee, that we may or may not get.

Estate liquidation pays the bills…sort of.

A few years ago, we were in Maryland and drove home to Tennessee to look at an estate. As with every estate, there is a decision to make on whether or not we will take the account. But first, we have to at least look, so we made the drive home.

Back to Tennessee, hoping to stay home

The estate was in Oak Ridge, not too far from Our Little Coffee House.

We were thrilled when we arrived at the estate!

It was a house full of stuff and so we accepted the account and drew up a contract agreement.

We were relieved to have an estate sale in Tennessee, and all we had to do was wait a short time for the start date.

The start date is usually when the client had left and we would have full access to the house so we could get it prepped for an estate sale.

Devastated is an understatement as I looked around in disbelief. The house was nearly empty.

“What happened?” I asked, not caring what the answer was. I already knew.

Family spat. We see it a lot.

Someone has to empty a house out, but another family member wants to go shopping. And shop they did!

There was nothing left for us to do because all that was left was yard sale stuff.

It was a long way back to Maryland but at least there was work there and we had to pay bills.

Not yet a wasted trip…

Today we get another call.

We have another estate to look at in Tennessee, so we make the drive back home, and once again, we go through the second process of getting an estate (or rather, a sub process of a major process).

Property assessment – which is a sub process of marketing in the industry of estate sales.  While you are marketing your talents you are continually looking at properties and negotiating your talents and fees with potential clients.

Just because you look at a property doesn’t mean you will get the account, and so the marketing process continues.

If you’re wondering what the first process is, it’s business management.

You still have to file tax returns even if you have zero income.  In fact, Tennessee will charge you a $15 late fee if you forget to file by the 20th.  Zero income means nothing and forgetting to file means you have a negative $15 net worth.

Marketing is why we don’t have a successful Tennessee estate liquidation business. We don’t market it enough to matter.

It’s easier to go where there is a steady income, even if your own dream of setting up a homestead goes to the weeds.

Could we have abundance in Tennessee?

Will we ever know if we could have had years of success in Tennessee if we would have just marketed Estate Freedom.

Sometimes fear gives way to logic and you take the less frightening path in life. We did.

Like I said, there is so much to tell about the unknown story behind Our Little Homestead and the coffee house. We’ll get to that, but first, there is another story that is happening right now, and so we will tell that story first.

It’s the story about a country farmer who moved to the city; and he brought his country farming dreams with him.  And then the city found out.

Lessons Learned

  • Just because you have a contract it doesn’t mean your client will honor it.
  • If you don’t market your business then no one will know you are in business and you better find something else to pay your bills with.
  • Don’t give up on your dreams.  Just because things didn’t go as planned it doesn’t mean your business failed.
  • Look for opportunities that can change your direction towards something better.
  • $15 late fees can be avoided if you have a better filing system (or a bookkeeper that does it for you).


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Wesley and Colleen Crawford

Colleen Crawford

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I write because I have a lot to say, and City Homestead is my canvas.

I have a few regrets in life, and if I could start life over again, I would have pursued fine arts, learned how to dance, learned the language of music, learned to play the piano, the Native American flute, and never would have tasted sugar.

But the days go by quickly, and then the years fly by. And then I find myself in my 50s and wonder if it is too late to learn all the things that I put on a back burner.

City Homestead, but more importantly, Secret Haven, is a place where I ended up face to face with a challenge to blossom where I am. With that said, I am pursuing the rest of my life with the hope that I can change the course of my life and learn the things I dream of learning.

  • YHWH
  • Art
  • Gardening
  • Music
  • Writing
  • The kudzu jungle overtaking the South

Featured in this video:

Wesley Crawford

Colleen Crawford

Sophia Nicole Crawford (a.k.a. “Sophie Bear”)

Projects mentioned in this post include:

Estate Freedom

Our Little Coffee House

Our Little Homestead


We don’t know anyone yet, so no mentions in this post.

No products mentioned in this post, but please consider products in our shop.