Not in your wildest dreams, scratch that, In Your Wildest Dreams, a superstore filled with a variety of treasures awaits shoppers, recyclers and collectors alike.
Dixie Brewer, owner of In Your Wildest Dreams, had a wild idea to pursue her passion of antiquing and joy of meeting new people by purchasing a small consignment dress store on H Street in 2001.
Originally she bought it as a real estate investment but after a couple weeks of watching the business she decided to keep it. She then started adding furniture and other items.
Going to estate sales with her family was already an enjoyable pastime so she built upon her knowledge. Brewer, born in Mississippi and raised in Bakersfield, attended North High School and later went on to get her real estate license. She used her real estate and media sales knowledge as well as her background in shopping for antiques to help her business expand.
“I took a leap of faith when the opportunity presented itself and I did it,” she said. “It was something I had a passion for.”
Now topping off at a whopping 21,000 square feet, the consignment mega store, located in downtown Bakersfield, has everything a shopper might need or want. One can browse a large 3-story showroom full of brand name, designer labels, vintage clothing, costumes, jewelry, art, antiques, home décor, and furniture but don’t forget the new and gently-used costume department in back.
It accepts consignments year round, where it markets, merchandises and sells items for consigners both in store as well as online. She has to train her staff to know what to look for when accepting or declining articles, as they often assist with consigning items in the retail store and in on-site estate sales.
Long hours are a way of life for Brewer as she looks over all operations of In Your Wildest Dreams Consignment and Antiques as well as Wildest Estate Sales. Brewer also started an estate sale company so she goes on house calls to help customers in planning the liquidation of estates, traveling statewide to help customers. “Everything I do is a gut reaction,” she said. “I travel a couple hours based on a picture so it could be a waste of time or a good sale.”
She was liquidating stores and then as a business owner she started being invited in homes. Already having her business license and living in the world of estate sales, it was a natural evolution.
Brewer says when the market turned people made life changes and had to downsize. People started having in-home and business sales. Everyone has different reasons to liquidate, the top ones being elderly parents going in senior living and death so she just tries to lend an ear.
Seeing the sadness from an item leaving one family to the happiness of going to the other is an interesting dynamic. For this business owner, meeting the people is the favorite part of her job; hearing what is happening and why they have chosen to liquidate. Many are grief stricken, so she lets them fall soft in her arms while she gets all the work done. People trust her with house keys, belongings and jewelry.
“My business is only as good as my reputation,” she said. “It is all I have to run my business on.”
When customers don’t have enough for a sale, she tries to let them down gently and help out in other ways including setting up and pricing a small sale or arranging for someone to bring the items to a dump. For her it is about helping people so she shares her resources. She doesn’t mind helping people at no cost at times because customers refer friends.
Consignment events are another option for customers. She started it two years ago for those who don’t have enough for an estate sale, live in a gated community, or have properties too remote for traffic. Several times a year when she gets enough customers to participate she moves belongings to the third floor for a four day estate sale.
“I enjoy other people’s collections,” she said. “I don’t have to own it because I can enjoy it from job to job.”
Wildest Dreams has many loyal customers like Carolyn Bork who help the business thrive. “Whether I am shopping at an estate sale or in the downtown store, I can find an eclectic mix of items at reasonable prices! Their customer services are warm and helpful,” Bork said.
Candace Ann Brown is the retail manager who has worked for Wildest Dreams for the past 6 years. Brewer is not only Brown’s boss but her friend. “She is more than just a boss to me, she is somebody I aspire to be like in the future, I truly respect her and value her presence in my workplace but also in my life,” Brown said.
She recalls the time when she was in a bad car accident and was unable to work for a week. Brewer not only called and texted to make sure she was okay, she drove her around to a couple appointments. “It was so nice how patient she was with me to get back on my feet. I am forever grateful for her selflessness,” Brown said.
According to Brown, Brewer is the hardest working woman she has ever met. A workaholic who eats, sleeps, and breathes Wildest Dreams. Between daily house calls, working side by side with her staff and then working at home handling the ins and outs of the business, she is always on the go. “My business evolved out of hard work,” she said.
For an estate sale to take place she needs to coordinate sales, hire people to help with the estate sale and price items to make sure clients make as much as possible. Estate sales used to be all about antiques but now every day items such as pots and pans are popular. A lot of people are refurbishing and repainting furniture instead of collecting antiques.
Brewer said many think she gets artifacts from estate sales to go into her shop but that isn’t the case. It sells at the event, she is then done and on to the next.
Wildest Dreams provides a service, it is not just a retail shop but rather a double sided business. While people are dropping off belongings to sell, others are shopping. “I love the idea of it all, the whole recycling process, in a way it is a big recycling project,” she said.
It has an eclectic mix of inventory stocked full, wall to wall. Vintage and designer clothing, what the store started out with, are its top sellers.
The store turns away 80 percent of what people bring in and the list of what to not accept changes based on what’s trending or the economy. The Wildest Dream team has to learn research mechanism to know what to buy. Brewer also teaches how to intuitively determine a products’ longevity and other factors to know what to buy.
Additionally the same product does not sell at the same price in Bakersfield as it would in San Francisco so a lot of research goes into her work for her to come up with the prices. “One thing about my business is it is not a business that everyone can do. Every sale is a risk, I have to think about why I should sell it. There is a whole formula involved,” Brewer said.
The first customer she met when she first bought the store was Bakersfield resident Tina Miller. She said she will never forget her because she stood and prayed for abundance. For Miller the reasons are endless why she shops there. For starters she knows she is going to find something to buy. “You can always count on amazing deals on high end clothing and more. It’s safe to say that more than 50 percent of my wardrobe comes from In Your Wildest Dreams,” Miller said.
The store offers unusual one of a kind items that according to Miller are too good to pass up. Another reason she shops there is because of the atmosphere. “The customer service is unreal, I feel like I have my own team of personal shoppers. When I come in they sometimes have items already picked out for me. I have really bonded with the employees there,” she said.
Brewer started her own charity a couple years ago in Bakersfield. Purdy’s Kids is a service in which young adults who are too old for foster care get supplies. For example, shoes for a job interview are donated.
Brown said Wildest Dream is always growing. It’s a company that helps the community in many ways.
Wildest Dreams is located downtown at 1723 18th Street. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information call (661) 324-6484.