Jim Holland - Journal Staff
PUBLISHED RAPID CITY JOURNAL December 4, 2017 Updated Dec 5, 2017
Jim and D’Lynn VanValkenburgh own the Caring Transitions Franchise, based in Rapid City. Their business also helps with moving, as well as organizing and downsizing household items for estate sales, online auctions or donations. Courtesy Photo
Leaving a lifetime family home is stressful enough. Add dealing with years, or even decades, of accumulated belongings, and it can downright debilitating.
A move to a smaller residence, especially with a need to let go of family heirlooms with strong emotional attachments, can be daunting, especially for seniors.
"The population is aging quickly, and it’s becoming more and more of an issue,’ said D’Lynn VanValkenburgh, who along with her husband, Jim, recently opened a local franchise devoted to helping people organize their belongings, pack for a move and resettle in a new home.
Both the VanValkenburgh’s Caring Transitions franchise, based in Rapid City, and Method Organization Co., owned and operated by Melanie and Spencer Brewer of Rapid City, will not just help with a move, they’ll also organize and downsize household items for estate sales, online auctions or donation.
“We do all the packing and unpacking and staging, putting pictures up and making sure the TV and computers are hooked up and working, making a new home feel like home,” Melanie Brewer said.
But the issue with many family heirlooms, especially china, glassware and antique furniture, is they aren’t as treasured by the new generations as in the past.
Items that were formerly passed from generation to generation in many families just aren’t in demand anymore.
“We live in a consumerist society where people buy what they want when they want,” Brewer said.
The era of instant consumer gratification means no need to wait for a parent or grandparent’s heirlooms to be passed down.
“Really, now people don’t have room for grandparent’s things or the sentimental attachment,” Brewer said.
Changes in the way people entertain have also altered the demand for china and silverware settings.
“Most of it is not dishwasher safe, and you can’t microwave it,” Brewer said said of fine china and glassware. “People aren’t having formal dinners at long dining tables anymore.”
VanValkenburgh said a level of sentimentality for family heirloom items still exists in the rural Midwest more than in other parts of the country.
Talking with other Caring Transitions franchisees, demand for antiques and other heirlooms is way down, she said.
“They really don’t want any of it. I see that here, but not as much as other parts of the country, at least not yet,” VanValkenburgh said.
Melanie and Spencer Brewer have owned and operated Method Organization, Inc., in Rapid City since 2011.
Earlier this year they expanded to the east side of the state, opening an office in Sioux Falls.
In addition to helping with downsizing, packing and unpacking, they also host estate sales on Fridays at their warehouse on Deadwood Avenue, along with selling items on eBay and other online auction sites.
VanValkenburgh will help sort and organize items and guide a decision on an estate sales or auction.
“Sometimes donation is a better financial option,” she said.