Let’s say you’re 92 or 80 or 105 and your time comes to move on to the next existence. All that stuff you lived with, the stuff that was your life…furnishings, books, tokens and tools of living….it all has to be dispersed now that you no longer need it. Some to family, then dealers, neighbors, charities…right down to the shampoo bottle you left half full.
My business is at times related to what it takes to dismantle a past life. One customer touched on it the other day at the shop, “I’m looking for a Chanel suit that a woman my size wore once before she died.”
More to the point, I have some friends who know just how big the job of disposing of a household can be, because that’s what they do. Liz and I had dinner together with them the other night, and they posed for a low-light photo.
That’s Fran Horvath on the right, owner of Greenout Cleanout, an estate cleaning service committed to sustainable, responsible, repurposeful disbursement of goods. This means Fran has a long list of contacts and organizations that can help recycle most anything her clients wish to sell or donate.
Fran has stories. Like the painting nobody thought was worth 20 bucks but sold on ebay for $3,000. Or what she found stashed deep in the basement. She’s also one of those people who picks a pivotal word each year. Last year’s: found. This year’s: established, her goal for being top-of-mind professionally for her caring and trust.
Fran doesn’t do estate sales, so when a client wants to monetize possessions on the premises, she calls in Mara. Mara Lazar, left in the photo, is the founder of Organizing Options of Illinois.
Like Fran, Mara helps clients with no-longer-needed goods. Her avocation is philanthropy, Mara says. She first got into the business as a favor, but when she found it 360’d many of her skills, she kept going. Uncovering hidden value, whether sentimental or monetary, is a rewarding aspect to the job, she says.
Mara and Fran share solutions and contacts for their parallel businesses, though Mara’s old-school dad remains suspicious of the competition, she says, smiling.
M and F invited a third uber recycler to dinner, Susan Kremers, left in the photo. A girl after my own heart (but decidedly more talented), Susan takes cast-off furniture and turns them into worthy household members. She then unites them with new owners under her business name, Chic Retiques.
Susan scavenges for pieces at estate sales and online, which is how she first met Fran and Mara.
Susan used a tablecloth to stencil the green chest.
“Each piece is an experiment,” she says. In her 2nd year of business, Susan has cultivated a sales channel on Craigslist and Etsy. She also recently set up a space at the Vintage Vault in Kenosha. She looks forward to trading new tips and techniques as her business grows.