|Mark Wiens offers cotton candy at baseball tournament.|
|Tents advertise Wiens' services in both Chinese and English.|
It would have been hard to miss the message, given the huge lettering on the signs in both English and Chinese. But just in case, one of the tents also offered a cotton-candy operation, and it wasn't hard to deduce that one of the people stirring the pot, a tall guy in a suit, was probably Mark Wiens. I took only a couple of pictures before he spotted me and strode busily forward, proffering a cone of pink fluff.
To him, I probably looked like an owner of one of the neighbourhood teardowns just ready for demolition. To me, his name had rung a little bell, and besides, he was a curiosity. With the Vancouver market bursting with Asian money and plenty of Asian real-estate agents who speak Mandarin, what was the big deal about another Mandarin-speaking agent? Even if he was Caucasian? So I asked.
Wiens couched his words, but he got his point across. Groups of Asian buyers talk among themselves assuming the white guy can't understand, he said: Sometimes it helps. Not that he hides anything; it's on his card that he speaks Mandarin, but....I asked whether he could point to any specific case where his Mandarin meant a quicker sale or higher price, but he said it's more general than that -- sometimes things just lead to other things.
But there is one definite advantage, he said, and that is that he stands out. When buyers are seeing a large number of properties, things blend together in their minds, but they might remember the place where the white guy spoke Mandarin.
I went on to my coffee date, but the bell in my mind kept tinkling. Later, when I researched Mark Wiens, I was sent back to a night last summer. I'd hired a company to get rid of the chafer beetles that had been destroying my lawn, and the man who showed up for the late-evening task was an easy-talking, pleasant fellow who was studying for his real estate licence. He asked me to pass his name on to anyone needing an agent; I figured he'd do well. The man, of course, was Mark Wiens. From bugs to real estate-- a true Vancouver progression.
From Mark Wiens' website: "Before working in the real estate business, my start up business, Community Lawn Care, grew in four years to become the top rated lawn service in Vancouver, grossing a quarter of a million dollars in revenue and winning several industry awards. During this time I learned many lessons, and each opportunity has allowed me to improve myself."