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.
Everyone 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.
In 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.
I 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.
I 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?