Archive for the ‘Moving’ Category

Service of Storage: Good or Bad Idea?

Monday, April 8th, 2019


I heard David Levine interview author Gretchen Rubin about her new book, “Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness,” at a Science Writers in New York event. Levine is co-chair. During the Q and A, the topic of storage–that I mentioned in passing in a recent post on moving–came up.


As I wrote, I’ve moved from substantial to small spaces. To counter my groaning about giving away, selling or tossing yet more stuff friends and family have suggested storage. Figuring that it’s doubtful that I’ll be moving to larger apartments or homes anytime soon, I resisted tucking away things in a storage unit. It didn’t make sense, unless the bin was in the basement of the apartment as at times it has been.

I’m either in the minority or folks conducting the storage industry’s forecasts are off. SpareFoot, reporting on the self storage industry, calculates that the US has 50,000+ self storage facilities or 2.322 billion square feet of rentable space.

As I’ve written previously, I believe in storing winter or summer clothes at a dry cleaner’s to address miniscule closet space. Some dry cleaners store suitcases. That makes sense if you own a large one and live in a diminutive studio.

Do you store things? What? Is it expensive? How often do you visit your belongings? What do you expect to do with them eventually?


Service of Gratitude: We are Blessed

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

We are overwhelmed by the support and kindness friends have extended to us in the last week. Phone, text messages, and cards–even a surprise cake and incredible wine– have warmed our hearts and stomachs. Thank you.

We have landed at an apartment house owned by Pan Am Equities that is unlike any other. I have owned co-ops, lived in a condo and in a range of rentals. None compare. This gives you an idea: Management put a rose outside every door for Valentine’s Day. There are over 500 apartments.

Angelo oversees the team. Yesterday is too late for him to grant a request. He’d ordered a new sink the moment he heard ours was cracked and the next business day, after I told him tiles needed caulking, Leroy was busy at the task. Leroy did a superlative job and offered to switch out knobs on kitchen cabinets.

We are surrounded by hundreds of packing boxes and a sinful amount of packing paper. Cheerfully porters Phillip, Leroy and Giovanni have lugged the empty ones to the basement. I did this bit in the condo we lived in before.

Doorman Fred knew our names the second time we walked through the door and greets us. Jerzy, the handyman, repaired a broken light fixture minutes after I reported it. A friend said goodbye to me in front of the doorman’s desk on Saturday saying “Please sit down once in a while and take it easy.” The young doorman on duty piped up, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of her.”

Not only the building has been kind. I changed our pharmacies to one in the new neighborhood and seeing my frazzled state Claudette at CVS [neither of us had our Rx accounts there] pulled together our profiles and within a short while had all prescriptions in the branch’s computer.

My hairstylist, now also a friend, volunteered to work on a day she never does to fit my schedule, so I can look in the mirror. Andrew, our brilliant IT expert, also a friend, stopped by Home Depot to pick up some items to save me a trip. He knew he couldn’t work on our computer when he dropped off the crucial items. It is buried under hundreds of boxes and is slated for a room that is not ready to set up a thing.

We are blessed. Thank you all. I hope that when you’ve needed support you received it–even from unexpected places.



Service of Closets: Why Do They Fill Up So Fast No Matter What?

Monday, February 4th, 2019


I’ve lived in big and small homes and apartments with many or few closets. The main closet in one apartment was so narrow that if we closed the door, one shoulder of each jacket wrinkled.

Somehow, if blessed with lots of space, it doesn’t take me much to fill it.

In the last few years I’ve moved a lot and tossed out bags and bags—the 30 lb size—of belongings. Yet my closets, desk and bureau drawers and file cabinets still look–and are–full.


We’re moving again this week and I’m down to the essence in most categories. Every night, I throw out giant bags of stuff as I have in my previous recent moves. I dragged to Goodwill seven heavy bags and last night started another one. Even so, all the closets and drawers look the same as before. The mover’s rep, peering into one decimated closet asked, “You going to clean out some of that before we come?”



With the exception of using the storage service of a local dry cleaner, a necessity at the end of each season for some given small city apartments, I don’t believe in renting a storage unit for belongings with one exception: If you or a family member is moving to a larger place in a short period of time.

Whether you clean out the files at the office or scour your closets and bureau drawers to toss beloved items—don’t think just do–it’s never enough and makes little visual difference. Have you also found this to be true?

Service of More Born Every Minute

Monday, May 9th, 2016


Sorry to have to share more scams for suckers but it’s important to get out the word.

Moving right along

Did you hear about the Douglas County, Georgia family that hired a moving company through Craigslist and with the exception of one box, lost all their worldly goods?

Moving van plainThe movers had stolen the U-Haul truck [that the vehicle didn’t have the name of a mover painted on the side would have given me immediate pause]. According to Richard Elliot of WSB TV, after loading the truck the movers “appeared to be heading to the family’s new home in another county. But along the way, the homeowner said, the movers ditched her and vanished.” Estimated loss: $75,000. The box was recovered on a sidewalk by Cobb police two days later.

The homeowner was grateful. She’d said “If I don’t get anything back, I want that box, because it has all of our social security, birth certificates in it. It has death records from my mom and son,” she said, as well as the family Bible. The iPads and phones were missing from the box.

The naïveté of the customers made me sad: Most would have kept small electronic items and personal papers with them or stored them with friends. No wonder they were easy marks. I have to give it to the movers: They cleared the house in four hours. That’s lightening fast. Given my recent experiences in moving, I’d guess they didn’t pack or protect much; they must have tossed the furniture and other belongings in the truck.

Vote by hanging up

Telephone town hallHave you been invited to attend a town hall meeting on the phone with a political candidate? Take care warned Catherine Fredmen on where she shared intel from David Dewey, director of research at Pindrop Security, a firm that sells anti-fraud detection technology to call centers and others.

If you’re enticed by scammers that take advantage of the season and you give your credit card number to donate to your favorite pol, “Not only have you handed over money to an unknown entity, you have opened the door to identity theft.” She advises if the call is unsolicited, don’t play ball.

Not playing around

V TechWrote Fredmen, “Scammers are after more than your credit card number. Instead, they glean personal information to build detailed profiles that can be used for sophisticated forms of identity theft that may not be immediately obvious.” Her example is VTech, a toymaker. She continued: “For example, scammers could exploit the VTech data breach, which compromised the profiles of 6.4 million kids around the world, to hack identities for years. Because kids have no credit history and their parents generally don’t check their credit reports regularly, the theft might not be noticed until the kids grow up and apply for a credit card or financial aid for college.”

Mobile wallets on the move

“Dewey put the security of mobile wallets to a little test,” such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Android Pay and PayPal, added Fredmen.  “First, he secretly copied credit card numbers and expiration dates from a few colleagues at Pindrop. A little Google investigating revealed the answers to ‘secure’ identification questions (such as a colleague’s mother’s maiden name) needed to activate the colleague’s card under Dewey’s mobile wallet account. Within minutes, Dewey had strolled over to Whole Foods and bought lunch for the office—paid for by his unwitting colleague. (The colleague was reimbursed.)”

Are you familiar with these scams or potential breaches? Know of others?

Android pay




Service of It’s Never Enough

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Falling short 2

There are certain situations and circumstances that occur that no matter what I do, I miscalculate. Either there’s never enough or I haven’t accomplished as much as I thought.

Here are two examples:

flower flat 3When I buy impatiens or other such flowers for a garden border, to surround a tree, or to fill planters and pots around our property I can buy far more than anyone might ever need and then some and yet I always come up short. Why does it matter? It means I usually can’t match the colors or types of annuals when I go back to the landscape place for more plants the next weekend. And not finishing a chore all at one time is annoying.

packers 2Here’s the second example. In preparation for a move, I combed through my belongings night after night for weeks and weeks and threw out over 100 plastic bags worth—the 30 lb size. I also brought to the fabric collecting place at the farmer’s market even more. The apartment had a clean, Zen like look to it as did almost empty drawers in bedroom, kitchen and living room cabinets and furniture yet it turned out that I should have tossed much more. Three trained moving company wrappers worked an entire day just to pack the “little” that remained which shocked me; it took days to unwrap it all from hundreds of boxes. I tossed even more after the unpacking.

I mentioned this to an acquaintance who shared a similar story. She owned a vacation house in Massachusetts that she visited only a few days a year. It had no clothes or food in it and was practically empty. When she sold the house, she ordered a small dumpster. The rental place didn’t have a small one free so she took the large size. A crew filled the large dumpster to overflowing which stunned and baffled her.

leftoversSuch lack of judgment doesn’t happen to me all the time. I buy and make enough food to give some away after a dinner party—which is what I want to do–and get all my Christmas gifts bought, wrapped–and shipped, if needs be–in time. What is it about estimating flower flats and moving that makes/made me fall so short? Has this kind of thing happened to you?

 falling short

Service of Moving

Thursday, April 19th, 2012


Deborah Brown is a newly retired [ha] award-winning marketing and communications professional whose focus ranges from retail and home furnishings to publishing. She’s been a buyer, sales promotion director, retail merchandising editor at House & Garden, director of home furnishings, ad and marketing director at House Beautiful. She’s sat on countless prestigious boards and committees and is currently a mentor in Baruch College’s Executives on Campus.

Debby wrote “Service of Responsibility”  about a retail experience for this blog in December 2009.

She learned so much from her recent move that she kindly shared highlights with us:

After Walking up four flights (78 stairs) many times a day for over 40 years, opportunity knocked when a ground floor apartment opened up in my NYC upper west side brownstone.  Newly renovated into a duplex (note the small’d’) with a garden in back, I decided to approach the landlord about the possibility of relocating.  How hard could it be, moving within my building, just downstairs, I thought!  Once the final lease was vetted by attorneys, I had a two week window to prepare for, and actually complete the move. Here are 10 things I did or wish I had done.  And yes, it was worth it after settling in one month later!

1.  Talk to everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing. 

womentalkingEveryone knows someone who can help, offer resources, information or shared stories of their own moving experiences.  From my network of dog friends, one introduced me to a top real estate attorney who helped me negotiate the lease.  Another offered to call a friend who had recently undergone a renovation and expansion with issues similar to my new space.  The information that came back was invaluable in knowing what to ask my landlord. Who knew I should ask where the boiler was located to ensure that there would be no issues that might affect my ground floor apartment; if there was a drain in the basement in the event of flood and if permits had been properly filed and inspections passed so that there would be no surprise digging through my freshly painted walls?

2.  Keep a notebook with you at all times dedicated exclusively to the move

Document every phone conversation with each company involved in your move.   Include phone numbers, account information, confirmation codes; time, date and name of person spoken to.  In the event you have a problem or questions down the road, you can document who told you what and when. 

I also included in this notebook room dimensions and measurements of furniture I expected to fit into the new apartment.

3.  Line up your phone/cable/Internet/gas and electric services ahead of your move date. 

My phone provider at the time, (rhymes with “Horizon”) managed to turn off my landline the morning of the move, promising to have everything up and running by 5:00 PM.  After three days of excuses why it was not reconnected, and being stonewalled, they promised to send a technician between 8:00 AM and 5:00PM.  No one showed.  After being given the run-around again, I finally got to a supervisor who insisted nothing in their records indicated a problem with the line, and there existed no paperwork in the system to send a live person to search the problem!  I am now with another provider but wish I had arranged this crucial connection before the move date.

4. Get written estimates or Email confirmations from everyone providing you a service. 

written-estimatesIn actuality, the moving company part was the easiest.  I ended up using a Russian-owned firm with professional and efficient movers who delivered both services and fee as quoted on the phone and in a follow up Email.

5. Don’t move “stuff” you don’t need or want

Get a shredder; donate, toss or recycle the rest.  It’s true.  If you haven’t used it, worn it or looked at it in more than five years, out it goes!  This can be clothing, china, Tschokies, etc.  I surprised myself with countless king size garbage bags of shredded materials I had held on to, “in case I needed them,”  including decades-old tax returns, letters home from camp lovingly saved by my parents and of course, passed on to me; outdated files and lists of “stuff” I’d never use again. 

6.  Create a punch list for your landlord and do a walk through before you sign anything. 

If needed, take a digital camera along to document the issues.  It was here I had to point out unfinished electrical work with exposed wires in an unfinished wall, a recycled toilet seat, missing light bulbs, intercom system not connected; then making sure all appliances were in working order.    Look in every cabinet with a flash light for open holes that need to be plugged, evidence of roaches or worse to come.

7. Best money spent: a custom closet that accommodates clothing, linens, china and other possessions.

custom-closetI also decided to pay for lights on dimmers and a screen door to the garden that would allow fresh air and additional security.

8. Next best investment:

Signature TJMaax shopping bags at .99 each in which I toted everything from dishes and books to last minute “stuff” that just kept cropping up.

9.  Biggest mistake: not following my instincts. 

murphy-bed1I was talked out of a Murphy Bed in lieu of a day bed. I bowed to a furniture placement design recommended by a professional that ultimately didn’t work and I had to change it back to my original vision for the space a couple of weeks later. The day bed went back to the store, I switched the furniture arrangement and I now sleep on a Murphy Bed.

10.  Thank your neighbors, friends, family and everyone else who helped, gave advice or actually schlepped your stuff.    

Gift cards to Star Bucks, Pain Quotidian and Fairway as well as wine is always appreciated.   

Do you have any questions for Debby such as whether she feels the slightest twinge about the things she tossed? What if she needs the camp letters for her memoir? Did she consider selling any of her belongings on eBay or through an eBay drop-off? Do you have moving tips to add to Debby’s?


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