By Larry Grard
Sisters Liz Pattison and Kim Dorsky will share their expertise on the often-daunting process older people can face of moving from their longtime home to a smaller place, during the monthly meeting of the Freeport Woman’s Club on Friday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m., at the Freeport Community Library.
Pattison, 47, and Dorsky, 51, own SimplySized Home, which helps clients with the selling and moving processes. Lois Lengyel of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International also will speak at the meeting.
Pattison lives in Yarmouth, and Dorsky lives in Cumberland. The sisters grew up in a Yarmouth home in which their parents still live. Pattison and her husband, Troy, who also works for SimplySized Home, have twin boys, while Dorsky has two children in high school. Prior to starting SimplySized Home, the sisters worked together in the family’s business in Yarmouth called Downeast Concepts. They began SimplySized Home four years ago, and have five employees.
Dorsky and Pattison answered questions about the moving-management business for the Tri-Town Weekly.
Q: How did you become interested in this type of business?
Dorsky: We were driven to start our own business and working with the aging population appealed to us very much. Coincidentally, as we were trying to invent ourselves, a friend of our parents in Massachusetts learned of our interest and encouraged us to learn about her moving-management business. She thought we had what it took to be successful at a business like this– a genuine interest in working with elders and their families, patience, empathy, and the ability to troubleshoot and manage a multifaceted, emotionally charged project. Having tried to clean out our own parents’ attic, we understood how emotionally and physically daunting this task is for folks. We found a house that needed to be emptied and our parents’ friend came from Massachusetts and trained us. Our business was born.
Q: How do you decide what to downsize?
Pattison: We approach things very logically. If you can tell us a good reason as to why you (or anyone) needs to keep eight spatulas, we just might let you keep all eight. We find that people are very realistic about how much they need or how much can fit in a new and smaller space. Everyone has their favorite pieces of furniture, pieces they can not live without, and we go from there.
Q: Is there criteria?
Dorsky: The criteria is what you love and need versus what would be nice to take if you have room. It is a process of elimination. We do not tell folks what they can and cannot take; ultimately, it is their decision. Decisions evolve as we guide and eventually we all end up on the same page and happy about where we have landed in the end. It is important for us to be extremely flexible during the process.
Q: How do you mediate with family members who might not agree on what to get rid of?
Pattison: Ultimately, it is the decision of our clients. It is their move and their possessions. We have many situations where children offer strong opinions about what their parents should or should not keep. We act as logical, level-headed advocates for our clients. Their wishes, needs and concerns are our priorities during their transition. We work with family members and listen carefully to their thoughts and concerns so we can guide our clients. But it is our client’s decision, not their loved ones.
Q: Typically, your customers are moving where to where?
Dorsky: They are moving from a family home of many, many years to a condo or a retirement community. About 75 percent of our clients move to senior living areas here in Maine or out of state to be closer to family members. And 25 percent of our clients are busy professionals who just need help with the overwhelming moving process. These folks are often moving to a larger home and need help managing all details of the moving process.
Q: How large a geographical area do you serve?
Pattison: We are based out of Yarmouth, but travel both in state and out of state to work with clients. Generally we work within an hour radius from Yarmouth. We have worked with several clients in New York and Connecticut.
Q: How do you determine your fee?
Dorsky: We charge hourly and take no portion of proceeds from anything that may be sold through auction houses or antique dealers.