Melrose Estate Sales: Easing the Transition

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By Tracy Shevlin | Photos by Amanda Causey Baity

With the U.S. Census Bureau estimating that 38,430 senior citizens live in Greater Prince William, it’s no wonder business is booming for Melrose Estate Sales, which specializes in helping the elderly as they transition from larger homes. Whether this means moving into the home of a family member, assisted living facility or smaller home, the process of downsizing pre-move can be overwhelming, said Melrose owners Sue Howell and Regina Pickett.

Via email, the two entrepreneurs told Prince William Living how they have spent the last 20 years preparing clients for a new life
phase by sorting, selling and repurposing items accumulated over the decades.

Melrose Estate Sale owners Sue Howell and Regina Pickett.

Melrose Estate Sale owners Sue Howell and Regina Pickett.

PWL: Tell us about what you do.

Howell and Pickett: Melrose Estate Sales specializes in assisting seniors who are downsizing from their family home and moving into smaller places or a senior living facility. We also help families who have lost their parents in liquidating the contents of their home. Our clients are often overwhelmed by the moving process. It is our goal to ease their anxieties and remove much of the burden for them.

Preparing a home for sale that a family has lived in for an extended period of time is a lot of work. We have found that in most cases, it is easier for our clients if we sort through everything for them. However, different clients have different comfort levels and we involve our clients in this process as much or as little as they desire. We also tailor our services to their specific needs.

PWL: How does the process work?

Howell and Pickett:Once we are contacted by a client, we schedule a free consultation at the home to evaluate the best way to liquidate the contents. No fees are required upfront and most of the time our fees are covered by the sale proceeds. For most sales, we provide the following services:

  • Remove all items the client wants to keep.
  •  Sort through remaining contents and dispose of unsellable items.
  • Organize the sellable items, set up for the estate sale, and price everything.
  • Hold sales for three days, typically Thursday through Saturday, and advertise them online at estatesales.net, Craigslist and on our webpage approximately a week in advance of the sale… and [we]will advertise all sales online and with ground signs.

Occasionally, we are asked for additional help either coordinating the move or unpacking and arranging furniture at the new location. We are happy to help however we are able.

PWL: What happens to the things you cannot sell?

Howell and Pickett: Items that don’t sell are generally donated to a charitable or non-profit organization of the client’s choice.
Clients still receive their tax deductions; we only coordinate the donation and don’t take possession of the goods.

On occasion, however, we purchase select pieces that we think are appropriate items that can be sold in our shop, Melrose Place, located in the Bull Run Antiques Mall located at 7217 Centreville Road, Manassas.

Prince William Living Dec 14TCOB December Melrose Estate Sales 5

Items purchased at client’s sales or other estate sales sometimes make their way into Melrose Place, Howell and Pickett’s Manassas shop.

PWL: Describe your business partnership and how it utilizes your individual talents.

Howell and Pickett:We both do many aspects of the business such as consultations, preparing and running the sales, etc.

However, Sue has been in the Manassas area for almost 50 years and has developed an extensive network of professional
acquaintances. This is a great asset because some of our business comes from real estate agents who know her. Additionally, we have a network of movers and donation centers that we like to work with that help our business run as smoothly as possible.

Regina does more of the marketing and bookkeeping. She manages our webpage, www.melroseestatesales.com and places all of our advertisements. The business definitely requires both of our talents.

PWL: What is the most challenging aspect of your business?

Howell and Pickett: The most challenging aspect of the business is dealing with the emotions that come with the job, both our clients’ emotions and ours. For the clients, it’s a very emotional process to go through. We try to guide them through gingerly and provide support when needed. It can be an emotional process for us as well; we are sorting through people’s lives, quite literally.

PWL: What then is the most rewarding aspect of running Melrose Estate Sales?

Howell and Pickett:We both find a great deal of personal satisfaction in helping our clients transition to another stage of their life as easily as possible. We don’t take our responsibilities lightly. We understand their emotions and anxieties, and want to help facilitate the best solution for them.

For additional information on Melrose Estate Sales, contact Regina Pickett at 703-217-4741.

Tracy Shevlin is a native Virginian and long-time Manassas area resident. She is a full-time administrative assistant and part-time
student at George Mason University completing her degree in Business Communication. She can be reached at
tshevlin@princewilliamliving.com.

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