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Porch & Parish

4512 Virginia Street, Zachary: Chapter 1: The Beginning

Jan 21, 2024 02:16PM ● By Jen Gennaro
4512 Virginia St. in the beginning [6 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
In mid-October, 2023, we (Mike & Jen) made a deal to purchase one of Zachary’s most historic homes, relocate our offices there, and lease the entire first floor to Counterspace Bakery to open another location. 


 You can read more about it on page 6 of our January issue, but here's an excerpt:

Mike: Jen got a call from her sorority sister and real estate client Sarah Joy asking if she knew of a house zoned commercial to operate as a test kitchen.
Jen: “Can you come to Zachary?” I asked, and she was up here an hour later. We then ran into each other the next night at Assembly Required in Baton Rouge, and suddenly everything just started coming together really quickly.
Jen & Sarah Joy Hays, October 2023

The building had been rezoned commercial and most recently operated as a toy store, which had been closed for more than a year at that point. There was an unbelievable amount of inventory left inside. Mostly kid clothes, bubble mailers, and balloons. Lots of balloons. Like thousands of dollars worth of balloons, according to the prices marked. 

As a Realtor, I opted to take inventory in lieu of commission, which was a bone of contention between me and my work husband, who’s also my husband IRL, but I’m happy to report that I sold enough of the inventory in one month to make up for the commission forfeited. More importantly, I proved him wrong, suckaaaa! Most of the money came from removing and selling the slat walls and their accessories that lined nearly every wall in the 4200 square foot house, hundreds of little tee shirts sold for five or ten dollars, and random office supplies and fixtures. I meticulously tracked the buyers in a spreadsheet. 93 transactions logged. After day 1, Venmo shut me down for suspicious activity, but I improvised (shoutout to you, PayPal!). From October 20th, my life was essentially one giant, daily garage sale, and people showed up every day to look for one thing, and wound up spending $100 or more. It got to the point where I stopped pricing things and just told people to make a pile and make an offer. Just get it outta here. 


I also took a turn selling stuff on eBay. That’s not for the faint of heart. Shipping was a bit of a nightmare, way more expensive than I anticipated, and several deliveries had to be refunded because I kinda suck at selling stuff on eBay. Oh well!

Weirdly, though, very few balloons were sold. That’s a “later” project. I did have an intern inventory them all and box them up, so if you need, say, a 53 inch rainbow balloon shaped like the number four, I’ve got (checks spreadsheet) about seven of them left

And while we were cleaning out, we were cleaning up. My oldest son Max and his best friend Luke worked their tails off doing seriously hard manual labor. Digging up cypress knees in the front yard to make ADA compliant pathways, cleaning out a disgusting shed loaded with empty boxes and mouse turds, hauling things to the dumpster. I also had help from my parents and my inlaws, plus friends and the gals from work. And my uncle the priest. It takes a village. 



My Apple watch definitely knew something was up, congratulating me daily on not being a lazy sack of potatoes. I don’t know, though, something about the mess and the vision we had for the place was energizing. I couldn’t wait to get back over there and throw more stuff away! Sell a few more tee shirts! 

By the time we were on our second 30-yard roll off dumpster from Parish Dumpsters, it was time to call in the big dogs–Servpro–and cash in that house cleaning I’d bid on in a recent ZEPTO auction. They did some great work! The downstairs floors were positively gleaming, and it was so rewarding to walk in and see just how much had been accomplished in a little over a month.

But it wasn’t long until the smell returned. It was a dusty, musty smell that only bothered me, and I felt certain it was coming from….to be continued