We purchased our house in Tucson in 2001. It was a place with some deferred maintenance issues. We bought the house in April. In June, when we returned from our first European adventure to find that the remodel on our Bellevue house had been … we’ll just say, somewhat delayed. Between the kitchen remodel and our double-paned window replacement, things were so bad that we couldn’t even unboard our dogs, Nikki and Tess back then. (Named for Nicolai Tesla, by the way.)
So since we had this new (old—vintage 1954) house, we de-boarded our dogs, loaded our stuff (bedding included) into our 1994 Suburban (which we still own, by the way) and headed south. As we neared Tucson, we called our favorite hotel, the Arizona Inn, and discovered that dogs weren’t welcome. (They still aren’t.) And so, remembering that there was a mattress store in town, Bedmart. (Closed now.) We called them up, and asked if we bought a mattress that night, would they help us load it on to the top of the Suburban? “Lady,” the guy said, “if you buy a mattress from me tonight, I’ll deliver it myself.” We did. He did.
But before we went to the mattress store, we stopped by the house. The dogs raced into the living room and rolled like crazy on the orange shag carpeting. (Note to real estate purchasers: Neither one of those things is a good sign.) The carpeting in the other rooms was equally unacceptable. So we went to the mattress store and bought a mattress and a bed to go with it. On the way home, we stopped by a carpeting store and asked if they would come out the next day and measure our house for new carpets. We told them, “Whatever kind of in-stock Berber you have on hand.” Then we went to the house to meet the mattress guy. The library was the only room that had parquet flooring instead of filthy carpeting, so we put the bed there.
Then the rehab began. Over the course of the next week, we fixed things. The new Berber carpeting was installed. We had the ducts cleaned. (We broke one vacuum and had to have them bring over another. The duct-cleaner guy told us he didn’t think the ducts had ever been cleaned. (Since 1954!) We had AC installed, two units to replace the piggy-back AC/swamp cooler system that had been used before.
By then, we had already been to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and done an amazing Sunday morning buy-everything shopping trip that involved THIRTEEN CARTS! (By the way, at B,B, and B, you have to break orders like that into two transactions. Don’t ask me how I know.) We called the mattress guy and bought three more bed and mattress sets. He obligingly agreed to move our first mattress out of the library and into our newly carpeted master at no charge.
And then what did we do? Because I seem to thrive on pressure, we invited company (two couples) to come visit. There was a problem, though. Other than the four beds and an outdoor dining table with four chairs (Which we still have, by the way!) we had zero furniture. And so, on Saturday morning, with our company due to arrive around five, I went shopping. I went to a second hand furniture store, Terri’s Consign and Design, on Wilmot at Broadway. I went through the place like a dose of salts. I had them put sold stickers on all kinds of things—chairs, lamps, end tables, side tables, and a couple of flower arrangements. Then I went to get Bill so he could pass judgement. He added in a dining room table and six chairs. We paid for the whole lot—not much more than two-thousand bucks—and it was all delivered by three that afternoon. And voila! By the time our company arrived, that new (old) house was fully furnished.
A couple of years passed. We remodeled the house. We went back to Terri’s Consign and Design on occasion, looking for bargains. At one point, we found a table—a former corporate conference table—that would work for our newly designed dining room space. We bought it for $1200, found a collection of leather chairs, and brought it home. The old dining room table, the $600 one, moved to the library. It’s still there. When we’re in Tucson, that’s where we usually eat. The dining room table is reserved for … well … company.
We’re snowbirds. We are part-timers in Tucson. The next time we went back to Tucson, Terri’s Design and Consign was gone. When we asked around town, we were told that they’d gone through bankruptcy. We were sorry about that, but with no further information, that’s how things stood. Until last week.
I’ll confess. I watch ID Discovery. I watch Dateline. I watch Forensic Files. I watch 48 Hours. So last week, on ID Discovery, the intro said something about a consignment furniture store. And so we watched. It turned out that Terri’s Design and Consign was a partnership between Terri and her mother, Loretta. It was a booming business. At some point Loretta hooked up with a boyfriend—a great guy, to all appearances. For the next several years, he “handled” the finances. When Loretta gave him checks to pay taxes or make mortgage payments, he washed them and made them payable to himself instead.
Eventually Loretta caught up with him. On the day she realized her house was about to go into foreclosure, she disappeared. Initially the case was treated as a missing persons case. Before there was any resolution, Terri’s Consign and Design was swallowed up in bankruptcy proceedings. Years later, when the boyfriend’s duplicity was discovered and he was about to be arrested, he committed suicide. End of story, right? Not quite.
Years after that, Loretta’s skeletal remains were found in the desert—with a plastic bag still over her head. It wasn’t a missing person’s case. It was a homicide the whole time.
It was good to know the real story. It was awful to know the end of the story. Terri’s business is gone. Her mother is gone. She’s still grieving.
We still have all that wonderful furniture, but I’m sorry, too.