Boomer’s 4-Step Guide to Closing Down or Downsizing a City Apartment

Middle-aged man holding cardboard moving boxes while woman places one on stack.by William Beavers

Many city boomers downsize when they find themselves with an empty nest, or they simply decide to trade their home for a more compact living space. Or perhaps they are faced with the task of closing down their parent’s home, filled to the brim with possessions amassed during a long life. But how do you jettison what you don’t need when having an estate sale in the apartment is not an option. The trick is to approach the task sequentially, by following these four steps.

1.) STORE IT

After you go through everything, you may decide there are some things you absolutely want to keep, maybe for your younger family members. Fortunately, the city offers a host of storage options, including many companies that pick up and deliver. Two of the best known are Manhattan Mini Storage and American Self-Storage.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of items you store to make an easy record for future reference.

2.) SELL IT

Consider Consignment Shops for Clothes and Furniture.

Unless your new place is blessed with cavernous closets, you will need to discard clothes, furnishings and decorative items. Luckily, New York has a phalanx of consignment shops that will take your discards and sell them. Here are a few:

Michael’s, The Consignment Shop for Women, in the heart of one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, is one of Gotham’s legendary resale shops. At Michael’s, consigned merchandise must have a label from the creme de la creme of designers— for example, Chanel, Prada, Hermes and so forth—and pieces must be in pristine condition. You’ll get about 50 percent of the sale price, which will be reduced about 20 percent every 30 days.
1041 Madison Ave., New York, NY (at 79th St.); phone 212-737-7273.

INA is another well-known consignment store in New York. It sells only top-notch and current items in its six Manhattan locations, three of which also include men’s merchandise. You can make an appointment with one of its buyers, or you can ship them your merchandise by filling out an Online Consignment Form and they will reimburse your shipping costs on the first sales check, minus their commission. INA accepts merchandise from the last five years from a variety of contemporary and high-end designers.
Stores in NoHo, Nolita and SoHo are for women-only. Click here for info; phone 212-228 3844.

Decor NYC is a luxury home furnishings consignment store located in Chelsea. It sells new, pre-owned and period furniture, carpets, fine art and decorative accessories that are of high-quality, in good condition and fit current decor trends. This 6,000-square-foot gallery was featured in New York Magazine’s “The Best of New York 2013” best shopping guide.
159 West 25th Street, New York, NY (bet. 6th and 7th Aves); phone 212-488-4977.

Online Auction and Estate Sale Outfits

You can make a little extra money by selling items in good condition on eBay.com or Craigslist.org on your own. But if you are pressed for time, there are a number of reputable companies that will come to your home, inventory what you want to get rid of, and either make you an offer on the spot, or put the items online or in their shop and give you a guarantee of how the item will be priced as time goes on.

ProSellers, for example, is a professional eBay auction selling service specializing in selling items of moderate to high value. If you have valuable brand name electronics, jewelry, collectibles, musical instruments, china, or appraised artwork or antiques, ProSellers might be right for you. They will come to you, value your items, photograph them and create the listings, and they are fully insured. ProSellers’ standard commission per item is 35 percent of the 1st $1000, plus 20 percent of $1001 to $2000. This includes all eBay listing, transaction, and PayPal fees. You collect when the auction is over, minus commissions. Check their website.
510 Broadhollow Road, Suite 301, Melville, NY 11747. Contact email: auctions@prosellers.net; phone: 631-393-6493.

Auctions Shipping and Packing (ASAP) is an eBay seller, too. They will judiciously estimate the value of your items, photograph them, write detailed descriptions and list them. They will then track the auction and take care of all customer service matters. The commission is 30 percent of the first $500 and 25 percent of the amount over $500. You collect when the auction is over, minus commissions.
Contact email: asapsellsit@aol.com; phone: 917-584-5150.

3.) DONATE IT

After storing and selling your excess items, the next step is to donate. After your family and friends make their picks, consider donating to local thrift outlets. The city is filled with shops that benefit various charities, however, be aware that some are very selective in what they accept, so contact the charity first before hauling in your items. If they accept your donation they may arrange for a pick-up. You will receive a receipt on which either the charity or you estimate the value of the in-kind donation for tax deduction purposes up to $5000. Gifts exceeding $5,000 require a formal appraisal.

Donation Outlets/Thrift Shops

The three largest donation outlets are the national charities Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, and Housing Works Thrift Shops. These organizations will either pick up your donation or direct you to a nearby drop-off location. Other such organizations, there are hundreds, that will to take your items include:

Lighthouse International, a leading non-profit that helps people of all ages who are at risk for, or are experiencing, vision loss. The Lighthouse gratefully accepts new and gently used designer clothing and accessories (men’s, women’s and children’s) for sale at their annual May “Posh Sale.” They also accept collectibles in perfect condition and linens in the original packaging. You can call to arrange a pickup. They will determine fair market value and send a tax receipt.
111 East 59th Street (bet. Park & Lex.), New York, NY 10022. Contact email: in-fo@lighthouseguild.org; phone:(212) 821-9445.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Thrift Shop, dedicated to promoting the wellbeing of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing public education on the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. The shop accepts designer and vintage clothing, home furnishings, accessories, children’s clothing, books, and artwork.
1440 3rd Ave. (bet. 81st & 82nd St.), New York, NY. Contact email: society@mskcc.org; phone: 212-535-1250.

New York Cares serves a range of needs, but it is perhaps most famous for it Annual Coat Drive. You can donate your gently used coats in December at Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station on the LIRR and Amtrak concourses, or just go to any police precinct. For more on their mission and additional drop-off locations visit their website or call.
214 West 29th Street (bet. 7th & 8th Ave.), 5th Floor, New York, NY. Contact email: in-fo@newyorkcares.org; phone: (212) 228-5000.

4.) RECYCLE OR JUNK IT

At the end of your downsizing journey, you’ll be still left with items that family, friends and thrift shops would not take. If you believe that the remaining stuff still has some usefulness left, sign up with your local freecycle.org group. It will connect you with people nearby who may take it off your hands.

Finally, there is the New York’s Department of Sanitation. They provide free curbside removal of large “bulk” items (those too big to be discarded in a container or a bag) from residential buildings. The Sanitation Department will take bulk items such as mattresses and box springs, old carpets and rugs, and other items. Check your building’s super or click here for information about the rules of collection.

William Beavers is a New York writer and author of the “New York City Culture Catalog” (Abrams/Alliance for the Arts).

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