Tag Archives: clientele

Obsessed With the Dress

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Listen up, drama queens…A new TV reality show, Obsessed With the Dress, airs this summer and takes place right here in Omaha. The location for the show, Winning Crown Boutique in Rockbrook Village, is a dress shop that specializes in pageant wear.

This show will not be just another Say Yes to the Dress, show promoters say. Viewers can anticipate seeing the inner workings of the boutique and learn the background stories and successes of clients, as the show follows each girl through to the end of her pageant. But don’t fear—the show will undoubtedly serve up a heavy dose of drama, much like its bridal show predecessor.

Michele Strom, Mrs. Nebraska 2007 and owner of the boutique, got the idea for Winning Crown while preparing to compete in the Mrs. America pageant. When she couldn’t find a local venue to buy a dress, the entrepreneur-at-heart recognized a retail niche that needed filling and started a dress business out of her home in 2007. She moved the business to the Rockbrook location in early 2009.

Strom says she has no formal background in design. “I just have a unique eye for being creative and an ability to visualize what will look good [on a client]. I missed my calling at an early age, but it’s snowballed into this amazing opportunity to find something later in life that I am really passionate about.”20130404_bs_9891_web

The business has been such a success that Pie Town Productions in North Hollywood contacted Strom about her store being the location for Obsessed With the Dress, which airs nationally this summer on WE Networks.

“Our development team reached out to dozens of such shops across the country,” says Jennifer Davidson, an executive producer at Pie Town Productions. “But when we found Michele Strom and her team at The Winning Crown in Omaha, it was obvious that we had a show here.”

There are two types of drama that unfold on Obsessed With the Dress, Davidson says. “The girls and women shopping for gowns are relentlessly competitive and fascinating. But the staff gets into even more crazy drama. There is a villain at the shop, and he is gunning for the manager’s job. These office politics are off the hook!”

Strom’s staff includes Beau Olson, manager, who has a keen eye for fashion; Frances Nefsky, a graphic designer and creative mind; and Sarah Summers, an expert on all things pageant. “When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place,” says Strom.

“When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place.” – Michele Strom, owner of Winning Crown Boutique

“Because we have an hour per episode to tell our stories, we get to take a deeper look at the personalities behind the scenes at the shop, who are equally as fascinating as Michele’s customers,” adds Davidson. “Most of Michele’s salespeople are pageant winners themselves, [while] some are not and have their own agendas. Let’s just say that old pageant rivalries never die!”

Strom promises that the girls in the show are the real deal. “These girls come into [the store] for their dresses…They are all our clients and not manufactured [characters].”

Strom wants to bring awareness to not only what her store does, but also to debunk the negative pageant image. “There have been some shows in the past that have been negative, and I want people to see the positive side of these women. These girls are really smart and do a lot for our community. And it’s not just about the dress; it is about making my clients the best they can be.”

Winning Crown accepts drop-ins, but coaching and one-on-one time with Strom requires an appointment. Check out this unique business right here in Rockbrook Village, and tune into the Obsessed With the Dress premiere Aug. 2. Check wetv.com for show air-times.

UPDATE: The show now premieres July 27 at 8 p.m.

A Square Deal

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Café 110 opened its doors at the corner of 13th and Farnam in March 2012. Owner Allan Zeeck had been at the Benson Grind in the hip Benson neighborhood for about eight years before he closed shop and headed downtown with his eyes set on a space in the Old Market’s business district.

The business, which is known for its catering and live music weekends, serves delicious foods and drinks to its Old Market customers from 7am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Breakfast and coffee are the main attractions, in Zeeck’s opinion, but Café 110 also has an assortment of pastries, a healthy soup and salad bar, and fresh sandwiches.

But it’s not just the food that has Omaha buzzing about Café 110. It’s Zeeck’s implementation of an electronic payment service called Square.

Similar to the Passbook app, which stores coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, and more on a smartphone, Square is the new-age system of business transaction around the country. Rather than using the traditional cash register, businesses that use Square can have their customers pay either by swiping the card through a reader attached to a portable device, like a smartphone or computer tablet, or through the Square Wallet app.

“[Square] keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need.” – Allan Zeeck, owner

With the Square Wallet app, customers can set up a user profile on a smartphone, linking their name, a photo, and their credit or debit card information. When it’s time to pay, all customers need to do is open the app and make a quick payment with the touch of a finger. Receipts are then sent directly to the customer via text or e-mail. The app also allows customers to pay with gift cards and coupons and keep track of business punch cards.

Zeeck, who began experimenting with Square four years ago and has been using it ever since, has nothing but praise for the technology. “The process is very efficient,” he says. “It keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need. It [also] lets me know what sells and what isn’t selling.” He adds that the best parts of using Square are that each swipe is only 2.75 percent with no additional fees and that the money is in his business account the next day.

Though he’s heard some mixed reviews about the Square technology at his café, Zeeck says overall, his customers have received it very positively. “People like that it’s so snazzy and modern. There’s no pen or stylus to deal with; you just use a finger and a phone…It’s easier to retain records of the purchase, too, so if there’s ever any kind of misunderstanding with a purchase, I have the ability to go back and refund without the pain of the bank.”

Zeeck knows there are other systems similar to Square available, but he’s certain that he wants to stick with Square. Down the road, he even hopes that his customers will be able to both order and purchase from their phones with Square. “You always worry about minimizing the personal communication with your customers, but I think as long as [Square] continues to progress at a rapid pace and continues being so efficient, I’ll keep using it.”

Café 110
1299 Farnam St. #110
402-932-4040
cafe110omaha.com

Chad Eacker

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As creative director and co-owner of Delinea Design in Downtown Omaha, Chad Eacker has made it his mission to pay attention to the details, whether that means working on his clients’ advertising campaigns or finding new ways to motivate Omaha’s future leaders.

In addition to overseeing his creative agency, which offers branding, graphic design, advertising, and web development services, Eacker also serves on the board of Omaha Young Professionals, a catalyst organization within the Greater Omaha Chamber whose primary goal is to retain and attract young professionals to Omaha. But how, you ask? By providing “a dynamic, inclusive, and integrated community where diverse young professionals want to live, work, and play.”

Originally from Lincoln, Neb., Eacker attended Southeast High before heading to University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study English. His original plan was to apply to law school, but as his interest in graphic design grew, his desire for law school faded. Graduating from UNL in 2007, he moved to Omaha on graduation day to embark on his business venture with fellow co-owner Matt Bross; however, it wasn’t part of his initial plan.

“I like being my own boss. I didn’t intend on starting my own business. It just kind of happened despite my better judgment.”

“It really took off, and I really enjoyed it,” Eacker says. “I didn’t expect it to. I was working retail, and it was a lot better than that. I like being my own boss. I didn’t intend on starting my own business. It just kind of happened despite my better judgment. At the beginning, I was kind of wide-eyed and stupid. There was no pressure. I was still living in my parents’ basement.”

Five years later, Delinea Design has grown, and Eacker has taken on more responsibility in the community he now calls home. This year, serving as YP’s communications chair, he played a vital role in the planning of the Young Professionals Summit, held Feb. 28 at CenturyLink Center Omaha. The YP Summit featured prominent singer and keynote speaker John Legend.

“The thing about the Young Professionals Summit…it’s broken up into so many committees. My part was really early on in the summit,” he explains. “It had been determined that the past ones had gotten kind of stale. We were asked to liven up the CenturyLink Center. Working with them, they had certain limitations for what we could and could not do. I was in charge of reimagining it. We wanted it to feel less staunch and corporate.”

With Eacker’s assistance, the 2013 YPS was a big success, and next year’s event will most likely be just as intriguing. In the meantime, Eacker can be found making coffee, enjoying premium whiskey, sporting colorful footwear, and working hard on Delinea Design’s inevitably bright future.

Comprehensive Assessment

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Our family will forever be indebted to Suzanne,” says Melanie Miller of Suzanne Myers. It was Myers whom Miller turned to when her ailing father needed help. With Miller in New York City, her brothers also living out of Nebraska, Myers, owner of Encompass Senior Solutions, filled in where needed.

“Hands down, she is one of the best people I have ever worked with,” Miller praises.

Myers was basically an extension of their family, caring for Miller’s father in Omaha until he passed away last July. She took care of everything from providing a personal driver when his car keys were taken away to bringing in hospice as his health failed. Myers even helped plan the funeral.

Myers worked with Miller’s 88-year-old father, a prominent lawyer in town who’d been living in his own home, still driving his car, and even going into the office on a weekly basis. Everyone in his life thought everything was fine.

It wasn’t until Miller was in town visiting her father that she realized that things just weren’t right. From bills going unpaid to the house being in disarray, Miller says, she and her brothers knew they needed to find some assistance for their “fiercely independent” father.

“I called Encompass, and Suzanne returned my call that night.”

With a background in social work and experience working with seniors in hospital settings, Myers says that she has witnessed her fair share of seniors being “railroaded” into a bad situation. “I just saw a lot of people giving the wrong information, and I broke out of that.” Three years ago, she opened Encompass Senior Solutions with the focus of giving her clients the whole picture of options available to them, rather than a limited view that may be benefiting someone else’s agenda.

“[I wanted to] make things right for seniors, give them a choice, because some people don’t give them the whole truth,” says Myers. “And, lo and behold, if you give people all the information, they make really good decisions.”

Myers explains that at Encompass, she gives her clients comprehensive assessment, helping them to evaluate the situation that they are currently in and what options will best serve their needs in the future.

“Ultimately, what people want to know is if they can remain in their home and how they can make staying at home a safe option for them.” – Suzanne Myers, Encompass Senior Solutions

Along with an RN, Myers meets with everyone involved in the senior’s care, as well as the senior if they are able. “My preference is for everyone that loves and cares for the person to be available.” Of course, this is not always possible, and Myers understands that. She is very adept at working with out-of-town relatives and considering the feedback and concerns of all those involved.

The Encompass team looks at the medical and psychological history of the senior, their finances, their power of attorney, and living wills. They consider the environment they are currently living in and if the senior can continue living on their own.

“Ultimately, what people want to know is if they can remain in their home and how they can make staying at home a safe option for them.” Things as simple as rugs, stairs, and placement of furniture are assessed, as well as more involved concerns, such as medications, hoarding, substance abuse, and dementia. “No question is too small or too big,” says Myers.

As to what triggers to look for or when is the right time to consider seeking assistance, Myers says the right time is anytime there is a concern. “There’s not necessarily a crisis, but you feel that something’s not right.” It could be weight loss, poor hygiene, lapses in memory, or any number of issues.

Encompass offers full assessments and targeted assessments. “In a targeted assessment, a decision has been made to move somewhere, and we can be brought in to make the best decision regarding that move,” she says.

Changes, no matter how big or how small, can be difficult for seniors and their families to accept. But Myers says that it’s often the family members that are the most apprehensive to address the issues. She says that most seniors being assessed, when confronted with the concerns, realize that there is a problem. “Fifteen to 20 minutes into the assessment, they figure out, ‘Wait a minute…she’s on my side. She’s not trying to pack me up and send me somewhere.’”

She says that often, the senior is able to stay in their own home, even those with memory issues. Myers and her staff make recommendations on what will be best for the senior, both in near and distant future. Rehab may be a necessary as a short-term solution, but they may be able to return to their home at a later time. Myers says she works with all scenarios and with all timeframes.

After years in the field, she has a wide network of resources allowing her to cover all the bases for her clients. From personal drivers, cooks, and housekeepers, to physicians and living communities, she will contact the right people for the specific situation. “We’ve done a lot of creative things for people to allow them to stay in their home.”

“[Suzanne] understood both sides of [my dad]…that he had dementia and was still a person. She made it the best it could possibly be.” – Melanie Miller

Such was the case with Miller’s father, who was able to stay in his own home but had to relinquish his car keys when Myers presented the situation to him. “Dad was able to accept from her what might have been very difficult to accept from his kids,” says Miller.

Miller appreciated the fact that Myers saw her father as a whole person, not simply as someone with dementia that could be difficult at times. “She understood both sides of him…that he had dementia and was still a person. She made it the best it could possibly be.”

Darold Jordan is another client of Myers’ who has been working with her for several years. Referred to Myers by a friend, Jordan hired Encompass to assist him and his wife when they needed some extra help around the house. “They’re flexible…they’ll do as much or as little as needed.” Jordan explains that Myers would spend four hours a day with his wife, helping her with her needs and tidying up around the house.

“[Encompass has] been very satisfactory and they have fulfilled our needs for a couple of years now,” he says. “They have several phases of assistance, which makes it adequate for most people’s needs.”

When Jordan’s wife died in June, Myers continued to help him with sorting through his home. He is currently in the process of downsizing and moving into an independent living community in the near future. The assistance that Encompass and Myers brought to Jordan and his late wife made a world of difference for which he is extremely grateful. “We actually got to stay in our own home,” he adds, obviously pleased.

Q&A: Amy Boesen

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a designer with Decor & You, Amy Boesen helps clients struggling with decorating dilemmas, frozen with indecision, or just facing empty space, create wonderful environments to work and play—and at any budget.

Q: What is Decor & You, and what services do you offer?

A: Decor & You is a national franchise based in Southbury, Conn. I am the owner/operator of a local franchise territory. Decor & You designers work with clients in their homes and commercial spaces to help them create spaces in which they love to live and work. Typically, clients work with us on projects that fall into the following broad categories: 1) color and finish selections and space planning, 2) window coverings and decorative window treatments, 3) accessorizing, which includes art/mirrors, lighting, area rugs, decorative accessories, and more, and 4) full room(s) design, including all of the above as well as furniture.

Q: Give some reasons why homeowners would hire a Decor & You consultant/designer? 

A: Some people call us because they have a fear of color and need an expert to show them the possibilities. Others hire us because they lack the time and expertise to tackle a decorating project and they fear making costly mistakes. Still, others have concern over the health of their families and the environment and want to work with a professional who is certified in green decorating practices. Many times people need a master plan so they can bring their decorating dreams to life one phase at a time. We listen very carefully to the needs of each client and we design a space unique to their needs and personality. There is no one “look” that typifies a Decor & You design. We’re rather chameleon-like in that way.Living Room After 3

Q: What career/work experience did you have prior to becoming a Decor & You franchisee/decorator?

A: My bachelor’s degree (from the University of Nebraska) is in Textiles, Clothing and Design with an emphasis in fashion design. After graduation, I decided to stay locally, and interior design was not a viable career choice in Omaha at that time. As such, I took a job with a printing company and five years later, began work with First Data Resources, where I spent the next 15 years. A round of corporate downsizing in 2003 gave me the opportunity to choose a second career, and I chose to revisit my creative roots by pursuing interior design.

Q: Why did owning your own Décor & You franchise appeal to you?

A: My husband will tell you that I like shiny things, so being surrounded by beautiful things was definitely a draw! This business allows me to marry my creative side with my background in client relationships and business management. It also allows me schedule flexibility so I can spend time with and enjoy family, church, friends, and community service organizations.MBR After 2 copy

Q: What education, training, and talents do you offer as a designer? 

A: Aside from my bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Clothing and Design, I am a Certified Interior Decorator, a Green Accredited Professional, a Certified Color Expert, and a Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Specialist. My talent lies in seeing the potential in every space and each object in that space and using them to their best purpose. I truly believe in designing with the quote from Louis Sullivan in mind, “Form follows function.”

Q: What is the biggest problem homeowners come to you with? 

A: If I had to choose one, I would say that it’s the lack of a master plan. I also think that’s the biggest decorating mistake most people make. When they take a myopic view of their room—say, purchasing a single item like a sofa hoping it will make a dramatic change in their room—they often find themselves dissatisfied, but they can’t put their finger on the reason why. A master plan helps them see the possibilities for their completed room and gives them a roadmap for how to tackle the project in stages.003 copy

Q: Share a special design challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it. 

A: One of my favorite stories is of a couple who wanted me to display in their great room every family portrait and candid photo taken in their 20+ years of marriage. The husband suggested we frame all of them and run them up the walls on either side of the fireplace all the way to the two-story ceiling. But this solution conflicted with the other request of the couple, which was that I make the space feel formal, yet inviting. After asking them to cull through the photos, they presented me with an envelope with the 200 or so photos most important to them. Through the use of frames on the wall and on floating shelves and the creative use of tabletop photo frames and albums (including a digital frame), I was able to incorporate all of the photos in a tasteful way, but it was a challenge. Whew!

Q: Tell us a bit about you personally. 

A: My family moved to Omaha from Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was a sophomore in high school. With the exception of a one-year stint in Boston the following year, I have been in Omaha ever since. My husband, Dennis, is a banker, and we have two adult sons, James and Derek. We have two Scottish Terriers named Dexter and Stewart and a “mystery” breed of dog whose markings resemble a black and white cow, hence his name “Moo.”Foyer

Q: How would you describe your own home design style? 

A: My own design style tends toward the contemporary side of transitional. I enjoy finding the balance between classic and contemporary furnishings, typically unifying disparate elements through the use of color. I enjoy whimsical touches, especially in accessories. Oh, and I’m a fabric junkie, so I enjoy mixing textiles to achieve a blend of color, texture, and pattern.

Seth McMillan

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Seth McMillan, is a self-proclaimed “accounting nerd” by day at Infogroup and by night he’s owner and renaissance man of the quirky downtown men’s boutique McLovin on 10th and Mason streets.

McMillan considers himself an intense and multifaceted person, which definitely lends itself to his careers in two vastly different fields. “I am an economics nerd, and I like to read biographies, but I also like to watch stupid teen comedies, and I enjoy people. I think you just need a bit of different things in your life.”

Having his hand in a multitude of pots is something McMillan says is not a new lifestyle for him. “Work is great, and the store is off to a good start, and I’m happy, but it’s a struggle to balance. It’s hard work, but at the same time it’s really fun.”

Originally from East Tennessee, the University of Memphis graduate studied both accounting and music. He earned his stripes in accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers firm in Atlanta before being recruited to act as Director of Revenue Accounting at Infogroup here in Omaha.

His path to Omaha wasn’t intentional, McMillan says. “I knew that I wanted to have a segue job into being an entrepreneur. I saw that I could do all these things in my current job that would help me get the skills I need while I’m figuring out my segue.”

McMillan gives big compliments to his boss at Infogroup for allowing him these opportunities to pursue his passions. “I think he’s very progressive and sensitive to unique situations…and he has a really high tolerance.”

“I didn’t know retail, but what I do know is fun, and I do know how to engage people.”

Since moving to Omaha in June of 2011, McMillan has settled in nicely. “In January [of last year] was when things really started cooking. I bought a truck, a piano, and my partner came into my life. All of these things I’ve always wanted started happening.”

McMillan says he also fulfilled a life-long passion of being an entrepreneur with McLovin. “I had never had an interest in retail prior. It was principal, supply, and demand. I didn’t know retail, but what I do know is fun, and I do know how to engage people.”

Brian Williams, a friend of McMillan’s and one of his best customers, says it’s his personality and passion that have made his transition into his jobs as well as into the community so smooth and rewarding. “It’s his drive more than anything. He puts in a lot of hours, and I don’t know how he does it,” Williams says.

“One of my mottos is whatever you do, add value,” McMillan says. That seems to be his plan not only for his career but as a larger plan for Omaha.

McMillan says that down the road, he hopes to help brand the area south of the Old Market, where his shop lies, as well as brand Omaha as a whole. “We need to recruit more young professionals here, so they don’t move to Chicago, Denver, New York, or Los Angeles. The way to do that is to do cool things here. We need to have fun, and we need to invite more people to the party.”

“He’s not afraid of new challenges like bringing a new business to Omaha,” Williams says. “He’s very driven and outspoken.”

McMillan says what he wants to do is simple. “If I can help take care of people’s needs along with helping elevate Omaha’s cool-factor, it’s enough for me. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun.”

Mattie Knihal

January 25, 2013 by

Mattie Knihal, 30, says she always loved to play with hair when she was little. “I’ve known since I was 7 years old that I would do hair,” she says. “Whenever anyone came over to our house, they would get a ‘Mattie Hair-Do.’”

Knihal, the oldest of three children, was born and raised in Omaha. She graduated from Millard North High School in 2001 and immediately went to Capitol School of Hairstyling, from which she graduated in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she started with Gloss Salon & Day Spa where she has been for ten years.

During her time as a stylist, Knihal has become a Redken Certified Colorist, which means she has been recognized for her expertise and commitment in Redken hair color and hair care products. She has also been recognized in both the 2012 and 2013 Best of Omaha™ contests in the Hair Colorist category.

“I want clients to look at me and think, ‘She cares about her appearance, and I want her to make me look good.’”

She believes her clientele—which includes KETV’s Brandi Petersen—keep her on her toes. “[They] all like to look and feel their best when they leave my chair,” she says. “Some like to change up what we do every time to keep it new and exciting. Some like to stay with what works best for them.” She adds that she prefers to be upfront with her clientele and tell them what will and won’t work for them based on their face shape, lifestyle, and time they want to spend on their hair.

Knihal, who has two daughters, Emma and Elaina, with husband Ryan, describes her own personal style as clean and professional. “I want clients to look at me and think, ‘She cares about her appearance, and I want her to make me look good’…I’m simple in the fact that I think black is the best color. It goes with anything and looks great when paired with the right accessories.”

Her favorite styling products and tools include:

  • Redken’s Color Extend Shampoo and Conditioner—“The shampoo provides color retention and anti-fade protection while maximizing color vibrancy and strength. The conditioner allows for great detangling and smooth conditioning without weighing the hair down.”
  • Redken’s Guts 10 Volume Spray—“It lifts up the roots of your hair to provide all-over volume. It allows for a lasting flexible feel and look.”
  • Redken’s Align 12 Protective Strengthening Lotion—“It has anti-frizz technology and heat protection. It allows for a naturally straight look.”

Greenbelly

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Trying to find somewhere to meet up with your girlfriends during your lunch hour that will have delicious, healthy fast food? Perhaps you should try the Coconut Chicken, Grilled Chicken Bruschetta, or Asian Peanut Crusted Chicken at Greenbelly. You might think we’re talking about some hearty entrées, but these are actually salads!

Greenbelly originally began as The Cooking Club, Inc., a catering company whose sole purpose was to share their love of fine metropolitan cuisine. But today, Greenbelly is the host of some of the healthiest, most mouthwatering salads in Omaha, as well as an eco-friendly restaurant environment.04 January 2013- Greenbelly Restaurant is photographed for Her Magazine.Manager Stacey Eckley explains that Greenbelly’s eco-friendly environment means that all of the silverware, cups, containers, etc. are all made from plants—like corn and potatoes—which makes them 100 percent environmentally safe. As for the food, Eckley says, “We try to get food as organic as possible, and as local as we can. For example, our tomatoes are from hot houses in O’Neill, Neb. What we’re trying to do is provide a healthy fast food.”

Some of the most popular meals at Greenbelly are their salads, but they also have whole-wheat or white Ciabatta paninis, whole-wheat wraps, and grilled pizzas rolled in olive oil. Eckley says their most popular pizza is the Greek, which has Gyro meat, tomatoes, onions, feta, kalamata olives, Greek dressing, and Tzatziki (white cucumber) sauce.04 January 2013- Greenbelly Restaurant is photographed for Her Magazine.

With seating for over 100 at their new location on 114th & Dodge, Eckley says Greenbelly’s ever-growing clientele includes people from all walks of life. “Some days, you’ll see a construction worker, and the next you’ll see a vice president of a bank. Also, we’re close to Nebraska Dance, so we get a lot of young dancers, as well as their moms, coming in after their classes to get healthy salads.”

As they say at Greenbelly, “Great food makes a great company.”

Greenbelly
210 N. 114th St.
402-334-1300
thegreenbelly.com

Distressed About Downsizing?

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Moving out of your house can be challenging for anyone. But when the house you are leaving has been your family home for the last few decades, it can be even more daunting.

The idea of packing up items accumulated over the years is, at first, a logistical nightmare. Then the sentimental factor sets in and it can be seen, by some, to be a nearly unbearable task. For others, letting go of all this “stuff” can be freeing and symbolizing a fresh start. Either way, it is undeniably a big undertaking.

Many seniors are facing this very situation for a variety of reasons, including simply downsizing, restricted mobility, and being unable to maintain their current home. Just as there are a variety of reasons for moving, there are a variety of services designed to help seniors and their families achieve this goal.

Kris Kircher, owner of Caring Transitions, is one of several local businesses that specialize in helping seniors and their families pack their belongings, spruce up the house, and get everything ready for the old house to sell and the new home to be move-in ready.

“We get [the house] completely cleaned out,” she says. “We [can] do it all for them.” For nearly 20 years, Kircher has been helping seniors and their families sort through all kinds of items, preparing them for an estate sale, for donation, or just to de-clutter and downsize. She can also help to get them settled in their new location.

Kircher explains that, to get the process started, she encourages her clients to focus on their goals. “Normally, it is to clean out the house so it can be sold,” she says. Often, the secondary goal is to make some money by selling unnecessary items through either an estate sale or through consignment. “I try to make sure I’m working with them to meet their goals so that they can have a say on what’s going on.”

Liz Ryan, owner of Once Upon a Time Estate Sales, has been in been the business of offering estate tag sales since 1981. Through her years of experience, she has seen that making this transition can be hard for all those involved. Just like Kircher, Ryan and her staff are determined to make the process as smooth as possible for their clients. “We try to accommodate…a person who is feeling overwhelmed about the potential move,” says Ryan.

Kircher adds that since this can be an exceptionally emotional time, she is careful to be respectful of the client’s feelings about the move. “There is a lot of loss and some mourning when you’re looking at giving up your home that you’ve lived in for 45 or 50 years,” she says. “You’re also mourning the fact that you can no longer live in your home…you can’t maintain it.”

“There’s a lot of sentiment attached to material things,” agrees Ryan. “The idea of moving and leaving the place you called home for many years is daunting, so we try to make that transition as smoothly as possible.”

Both Kircher and Ryan say that they often act as an advocate for the senior, as well as for their family, when a client has decided it’s time to move to a new residence. “When [the client] is looking for someone to work with, they’re really looking for someone to take care of all the details and someone who can do it respectfully,” says Kircher.

In being the advocate for the family, both businesses can take the entire process from start to finish, leaving the family time to focus on other, more enjoyable things.

“[My team] will work with someone in the house; or in many cases, we’re handed a key and we go through everything [in the house],” says Ryan. “We separate everything. Then we clean it, polish it, shine it, set it up on tables with velvet table clothes.” She says that they have sold everything from cars and boats to pots and pans.

The usual estate sale lasts three days. “For the final product the customer gets an entire inventory, piece by piece, of everything that has [left] the house with the item priced.” She says that Once Upon a Time Estate Sales is one of only two local estate sales services that provide the customer with the original cashier’s book. “It’s fun for people to go through because they’re incredulous at what some of [the items] will bring.”

For those who may have items better suited for a collection than a consignment shop, Holly Hackwith with Corporate Art Co. is a certified art appraiser through the International Society of Appraisers. She and her staff work with clients who want to find out the value of their artwork.

“Often, the client will want to know what it’s worth [in terms of] the fair market value because they want to gift different pieces to grandchildren or children, and they want to be fair about it,” she explains. “In other words, they want to be equitable in dollar amounts and they don’t know what [the piece is] currently worth.”

Hackwith also works with clients who are downsizing and are not sure whether to keep something, sell it, or need to have it insured. “Seniors would [also] want to have appraisal…if they want to give it as a charitable gift to an institution. I am accredited with the International Society of Appraisers to appraise anything that needs to be overseen by the IRS or for legal work.”

The idea of packing up a lifetime of possessions and moving on from where memories were made can seem monumental. But when the task is put into trusted hands of experts who respect your feelings and your belongings, it becomes a little easier to bear. And while letting go of our material items can be difficult at first, thankfully, the memories are easily carried with us wherever we go.

Good Drinks, Good Music, Good People

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“We keep it mellow but fun,” says Joanna Murzyn, one of the owners of Myth, a martini bar in the Old Market at 11th and Howard streets. “We like to have a calm feel. Nothing dancey or headbanging.”

Guests sit back on chocolate-leather couches and converse over craft cocktails while acoustic or jazz sets play in the lounge’s front window every Thursday night. The club sends out events news and promotions to anyone who texts “Myth” to (402)-965-0230, or guests can check Myth’s Facebook page to find out who’s playing next. If it’s the first Thursday of the month, you’ll find local musician Chris Saub with his guitar, a microphone, and folk rock sung with slight gravel. “It’s a sort of relaxed kind of rock,” says regular John Lewenthal. “He plays his own music, but occasionally he’ll mix in a cover.”

Myth is a rewarding place to be a regular. “We have a great crowd here,” Murzyn says. “You really develop relationships over the years.” Regulars know they’ll have a place to escape the downtown crazy on New Year’s Eve, and a special rum stays behind the bar for the only patron who drinks it. “Only one customer wants it, and we get it for him,” she says.

Owner Brian Murzyn

Owner Brian Murzyn

Murzyn credits her husband and co-owner, Brian, with a talent for bringing guests back for more. She recounted the story of someone freshly moved to Omaha who walked into Myth one night. “He said he knew he had to force himself to get out and meet people,” Murzyn recalls, “and there was Brian behind the bar. He’s been a regular for a couple years now.”

Regulars and newcomers alike should feel free to ask the versatile bartenders to make them something off-menu if none of the Myth suggestions sound quite right. “They love that,” Murzyn says. She estimated that roughly 80 percent of the cocktails served over the stained concrete bar are unique to the lounge. The Mystique, for example, has been a favorite since Myth opened in May 2007. The sweet pink drink is comprised of X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, mango rum, and pineapple.

“They have a really good feel for various drinks,” Lewenthal says. “They have such a large repertoire of things they’re able to put together, even for somebody that may not know they enjoy drinks like that.” The average cost of a Myth cocktail is $9, though there’s wine and beer (bottled and draft) for those with simpler tastes.

A couple menus from next-door restaurants are kept under the bar in case patrons need a pizza from Zio’s or an appetizer from Stokes to go with their cocktails. There is one TV behind the bar, positively small in comparison to what you’d find at a sports bar, for taking a break in conversation to check a score.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Myth is no longer open.