Making life’s transitions easier
In Clarion, Smooth Move helps seniors embrace change
CLARION — Moving from one home to another can be a challenge for just about anyone. Making all the necessary decisions and arrangements is time-consuming and frequently more than a little stressful. For older Iowans who face transitioning from a home they have long inhabited to a smaller house or apartment or even to a nursing home, that life change can be especially challenging.
That’s why Cheri Comstock, of Clarion, has created a new business with the mission of easing those transitions for senior citizens. Early this year, she launched Smooth Move, which is based at 1605 160th St. in Clarion.
“I was seeing a lot of senior citizens that didn’t have any family around here and they are all alone,” Comstock said. “They didn’t know where to begin to try to get their things to a downsized home or apartment or a nursing home. They didn’t know how to get their stuff there. For an older person, looking at everything that needs to be done and not having a clue about what to do first has got to be mind-boggling.”
The goal of the team at Smooth Move is to turn what can be an intimidating situation into a liberating experience for older area residents. Additionally, the business also helps families liquidate estates.
“The downsizing is where I spend most of my time,” Comstock said.
The business is much more than a moving service. It provides advice and assistance on a whole array of issues that may need to be addressed when a major life move takes place.
“I just try to come up with solutions and address any problems or questions that they may have,” Comstock said. “I provide all the way from packing a person’s belongings to helping them arrange for the sale of their home. If they need to downsize, I’ll sell things on the Internet or … sell at an auction, tag sales. I’ll unpack them in their home. If their home needs cleaning I’ll take care of that. I use a lot of third-party contractors for whatever the case may be.”
The process of working with a prospective client begins with a free consultation. At that time, Comstock explains all the things Smooth Move can orchestrate and gains an in-depth of understanding of what issues are particularly important to the would-be customer.
That initial meeting gives Comstock an opportunity to get a first look at the client’s existing living situation and to learn how the planned move is viewed. Getting to know the people who are relocating well is a key part of her approach. She said what makes Smooth Move unique is that she takes the time to personalize the services it provides to each client’s situation.
“I want to make sure that I understand how much the things they have mean to them,” Comstock said. “I kind of feel out their comfort zone because a lot of people really like their stuff.”
She said that enables her to craft a downsizing plan that puts a high priority on keeping as a part of their life those items that seniors value highly.
At an early stage in the dialogue, Comstock also checks out the house, apartment or nursing home to which the move will take place. She gets the dimensions of the destination dwelling and helps the customer analyze what furniture and possessions can be accommodated as well as what may need to be eliminated.
“I measure some of the furniture that they can’t live without,” Comstock said. “I’ve got a computer program that shows them how what they are thinking about taking will fit and what they are going to have to leave behind. It kind of prepares a lot of people for having to let go of stuff. … I can do a 3-D model of their new space. I can actually put their pictures on the wall. It’s a really cool program.”
When the decisions have been made about what furniture and other possessions must be eliminated, Smooth Move overseas the process of selling, donating or discarding the items.
How complicated that turns out to be varies. Comstock said she works hard to make certain that items selected for sale bring her clients the best feasible financial return.
“I have friends who are antique dealers,” she said explaining that the sale of high-value items can take a while. “I try every means to get the most money for them.” Sometimes the possessions are things no one wants.”
She said, however, that getting rid of those things that must be discarded can be accomplished fast with a minimum of fuss.
“I can liquidate quickly if that is their desire.” Comstock said.
She said helping clients accept that there may be no market for some of the things that they value and that disposal is the only realistic option is part of the dialogue that occurs.
All aspects of the move are overseen by Smooth Move. That includes coordinating with professional movers as needed and getting everything unpacked, in place and operational at the new abode.
Comstock has a reassuring message for people who might need to avail themselves of the wide-ranging services Smooth Move offers.
“I care,” she said. “I not just a moving service or a packing service. I really do care about how they feel and try to make the end result what they want.”
Meeting a need
Comstock said there has been a strong positive response to Smooth Move. She said it clearly is fulfilling a need that is being underserved in the marketplace in rural Iowa. As a result, her business is attracting customers from well beyond Wright County.
“I’m serving a broader area. It’s central Iowa,” she said. “I am considering buying another trailer and doubling my staff.”
Comstock said Smooth Move typically has several jobs at various stages in the process underway simultaneously.
“I have had maybe this month 25 different people call me,” she said.
Comstock said that as people have become aware that Smooth Move exists they have told her that they are “grateful that there is someone to take care of them. They have all really been very thankful.”
She said that undertaking this work also has been exceptionally satisfying to her as well.
“It makes me feel good at the end of the day when I leave and see that (clients) are able to relax and not be stressed out. At the end of the day, I can’t wait for the next one to start. I love this.”
Comstock can be reached at 515-851-0333.