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Downsizing can be a lot easier than you think

Call in the experts to help manage the hardest part of the moving process

Created date

January 22nd, 2015
Charlestown resident with Let's Move company.
Charlestown resident with Let's Move company.

Downsizing is probably the most difficult thing about moving—especially when moving from a large space to a smaller, more manageable one. The Tribune gathered three experts on downsizing together and asked them to share their expertise. We spoke with Sharon Baksa, regional sales director at Erickson Living, Kimberly McMahon, co-owner of Let’s Move, a downsizing and moving service in Fulton, Md., and Susan Coyne, a project manager at Let’s Move. 

Tribune: How do you approach downsizing?

Baksa: We know firsthand how challenging it can be for someone to move from the house where they have lived for decades. Our goal is to take as much, or as little, of the to-do items off of their list—giving them the freedom to manage what they want to, with little to no stress. It’s important for anyone considering a move with us to understand that we will take care of whatever it is that they don’t wish to manage themselves. 

McMahon: We are very sensitive to the fact that when working with our clients, we are helping them release their history. That is a process. We honor their history. Some clients need to touch everything before they get rid of it. Some clients don’t want to look at it because it draws up emotions. Our job is to understand what our clients’ emotional needs are through this process and to honor those needs.

Coyne: When we come in, we really bring a lot of positive energy to the process. We keep the focus on all the great things they are going to love about their new home, not all the things they are leaving behind. 

Tribune: What is the first step in the process?

Baksa: The personal moving consultant (PMC) is given a tour of the house to understand the personal and, oftentimes, monetary value associated with furniture, collectibles, antiques, etc. Once there is a decision as to which items will be part of the move, the PMC can make suggestions and resource referrals for the remaining items that will need to be donated, shipped to family, sold, or disposed of.

Tribune: How do you know the monetary value of items? 

McMahon: We really have to take a look at what the goods are, understand the marketability, and then we work with appropriate resources to sell those items. We try to explain that emotional value and monetary value are two very different things. We check different resources to find if something is marketable. If it’s not, we have donation resources that are available to our clients. If it’s not right for the donation resources, sometimes, in the end, it just needs to be pitched. It’s a hard thing to say, but we sometimes get to that. 

Tribune: What about antiques? 

McMahon: An antique is not just something that’s old. Really, an antique is something that is over a hundred years old and is in pristine or original condition. We can consult with an antique dealer to see if he or she has interest.  

Tribune: What are dealers currently interested in?

McMahon: “Big and brown” doesn’t sell. That type of furniture, even though it’s been great in the guest room, doesn’t have much value in the marketplace. What’s trending right now is mid-century modern. It’s amazing what a sofa from the 1960s or 1970s might do. We have to keep up with the trends. We have many resources that we will then send pictures and descriptions of the articles in question to, so we represent the client’s interest. 

Tribune: When is the right time to call in the help of a moving consultant?

McMahon: We work with people years before their move, and we work with people two weeks before their move. Certainly, it helps to have more time, but if they have a sudden need to move, then we can make it happen very quickly. We are there to help clients move forward into an Erickson Living community, and we let them set whatever pace they are comfortable with. 

Coyne: You can’t do it by yourself. It’s a huge undertaking—physically, mentally, emotionally. We are your advocates. We are the intermediary between you and the junk haulers and the movers and all the different people you have to deal with. We keep them organized so you don’t have to. 

Tribune: Final thoughts on downsizing?

McMahon: It’s important to shed the things that are no longer adding value so you can have the things that do add value in your life. We are really about effectively utilizing the space so we are representing their lifestyle. That’s key. We are not just about downsizing or moving, we are really there to represent your current lifestyle needs. 

Coyne: We work well with Erickson Living and our clients get the benefit of that. After the move is over, people are always amazed with how well things went—it takes the entire team to achieve that.

Baksa: With the largest and most difficult part of the move process being accomplished through downsizing, and the opportunity to allow our team to pack and unpack the boxes, it’s then just a short amount of time before people can start enjoying their new life and home.

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