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Dear Alicia Barrington:

It’s been a while since you’ve answered a reader’s question, and I do hope you are still available to assist those of us who face vexing home staging issues!

I have been a home stager for many years now, and although our business is small, we boast a rather impressive portfolio.   Our work is clean, attractive, and affordable.  Most importantly, our work produces results (i.e. quickly sold listings, sold for top dollar).

Over the years, I have been faced with a rather awkward social and professional situation.  When being introduced to strangers (socially and professionally) the topic of my vocation (home staging) often arises.  I am frequently introduced as “Samantha, who owns Samantha in the City Home Staging”.   I’d like to think that I am a rather multi-dimensional personality but my friends and acquaintances seem to think that this home staging thing makes me a little glamorous.  Frankly, I’d rather be called the home stager, as opposed to Mrs. XYZ (Mr. XYZ flew the coup a few years ago, and the new Mrs. XYZ couldn’t stage an accident let alone a six thousand square foot home – but I digress). 

Truth be told, I started my home staging business so that I could take pride in MY accomplishments, and MY name.  I had no idea that the business would overshadow me, nor did I ever imagine being introduced (socially) as a home stager.   I don’t aggressively ‘sell’ myself or my business.  I rarely have business cards in my purse (I know, my bad), and unless asked I never elaborate on my home staging career.  I’m always ready to give free advice, but wait to be asked before offering my opinion(s).  My business does well enough and I don’t need to stand on street corners soliciting the attentions of our clients.

So, here’s the problem (finally):  I am introduced to someone (let’s call her Charlotte the Realtor) and their/her immediate response to me, is “I already have a stager”, or, “My next door neighbor/sister/ hair dresser is a stager”.

I asked: ‘how are you doing?”

Or maybe I said:  “This is a lovely party!”

I most certainly did not enquire about the state of her staging provider.  The most vexing part of “Charlotte’s” response is the (very) thinly veiled suggestion that we’re involved in some unspoken staging competition, and that if ‘Charlotte’ and her ‘stager’ went to Vegas for the Staging Convention, they’d certainly be bringing home the ‘Stager-of-the-Year’ award!

What I really want to say back is:

“Bless-your-heart, I only work with ‘GOOD’  Realtors” …… and then take an ice pick to do a quick frontal lobotomy (on Charlotte or myself)!

What is an appropriate response to this (literally) challenging situation?

Wishing you and your readers a wonderful holiday!

Regards:  Samantha XYZ (nee ABC)

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Dearest Samantha,

This is an unusual situation, and a problem that I too, have faced!  I’m guessing that if you’re throwing a bless-your-heart into the situation, you’re most likely living in The South!  My own (acquired) southern manners would prevent me from receiving your introduction with anything but questions about you, followed by conversation of a non-challenging (most likely) non-professional nature.

I trust you, when you state that you’re not trolling about various social venues seeking misplaced divans, unfurnished listings, and cluttered closets.  So I can’t imagine why you/we receive this type of response?  Personally, I’d love to know who these phantom stagers are.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if ‘Charlotte’ invited you to meet her friend ‘The Stager’ for watercress sandwiches, and tea, so that you could all share exciting, and interesting stories about your home staging experiences.  But, that never seems to be the intent of any of the ‘Charlotte’s’ that I’ve met!

Truthfully, I do have a slight fondness for your frontal lobotomy idea.   The only thing that stops me, is my mother’s admonishment to:

  • not pee on the carpet…
  • keep your elbows off the table…
  • don’t drop cerebral cortex on anything that’s white…..

I suppose the best way to handle this situation, is to do what you’ve suggested.  Throw in a bless-your-heart, on top of a big southern smile, and proclaim how thrilled you would be to learn all there is to know about home staging (as clearly you & I, are complete dullards on the topic).  Then, feigning a smudge on your lipstick, or finding a false need to adjust your otherwise perfect hair,  raise a bejeweled (three carat or more) hand right in front of Charlotte’s face, telling her how your little business affords you the small luxuries in life.   Then, remark how the three charms on Charlotte’s (otherwise vacant) Pandora bracelet are ‘fun’, and how Charlotte must look forward to next year, when her and her stager’s efforts can afford them some professional staging training, or certifications!

Thank you so much for writing! I do hope that your holiday socializing will present you with guests who don’t need to flaunt their staging talents in your face!

Warmest regards for a happy holiday!

Alicia Barrington