BUSINESS PROFILE: Smart Organizing Solutions (SOS), Sauk Rapids
Smart Organizing Solutions (SOS) helps families and businesses tidy up, get organized
By Jillian Kellerman
Smart Organizing Solutions (SOS) is a professional organizing business that specializes in estate liquidation, home organization and small business solutions. They help tidy up your physical space to make room for what matters most, and they will even help sell your belongings if you so choose.
“Seniors are a big portion of our clientele. Families whose parents have passed away and they have a house that has 50 years of stuff in it, they’re grieving, and they’re overwhelmed with ‘where do I start?’” said Julie Braun, owner of SOS. “So we get called in a lot on situations like that. When there’s that much stuff in a house, that’s when we decide that an on-site sale is the way to go.”
SOS will sell what they can on site and bring what’s left after the sale back to the store.
“Our clients like that idea too, because with the on-site sale they get 100 percent of the sale proceeds – we don’t take a commission on that. We get paid by the hour to host it, prepare for it and manage it. I think our clients are pleased with that, so that’s been my model.”
Every client and project is different. Often people are dealing with an illness or health issue or have a disability and just aren’t able to keep up.
“Life happens – and I get that,” she said. “We all have struggles in our life. Our goal is to implement systems for them, especially when we’re doing an organizing project, so that it’s easy to maintain.”
Julie and her team work with the clients’ availability and schedule so they can be involved in the process as much as is wanted or needed.
“If clients help and want to be involved, that cuts the cost of our services. The sale of their items is also going to offset the cost of our services,” she said. “This is a service, we’re not doing this to make them money on their stuff (although most of the time they do make money).”
Smart Organizing Solutions started in 2019, and Julie said it actually started as a dream.
“One night I had a dream, and I woke up and wrote down ‘home and business organizing,’” she said. “So I started Googling it and discovered there was nothing like that in the St. Cloud area, but a lot of it in the Twin Cities metro. At the time I was working with a job coach at the Career Force Center, and I said, ‘I think I want to start my own business.’”
Julie hooked up with the Small Business Development Center and some other programs and they helped her get her business started.
By October, Julie had her first client, which was a garage organizing project. From there, she helped a lady organize her sewing rooms (she had three of them!) and then she got connected with an attorney who hired her to clear out a client’s home.
“At that point I hired my daughter and two other people to help me clear out the house on weekends and I worked during the week, and we had our first ever estate sale, right off the bat,” Julie said.
And then Covid hit.
“So that was like, ‘What are we going to do now? People don’t want us to go in their homes,’” she said.
She had proposed to a local painter to organize his supply room and inventory it. Part of the contract was to sell a semi-trailer load of antiques when she had time.
“That saved us,” Julie said.
It didn’t take long to grow, and she quickly realized their need for more space.
“Initially we were doing it all out of my garage. Nothing was in the same box, so we had to sort it all. That brought us to needing a place to work out of and that’s how SOS Treasure Chest came about,” Julie said.
The store opened in June of 2020.
“From there, we have evolved. I now have 17 employees on payroll, and we’ve hosted at least 20 estate and moving sales – it has become a niche for us. We are known for our sales. We have followers. We have a mailing list of probably close to 2,200 that we email the sale flyers to. We also market it on Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, hang up flyers all over town, gas stations, restaurants. We have become very well known,” Julie said.
SOS does a lot of marketing on Facebook Marketplace and Craig’s List, as they don’t necessarily have room for large furniture in the store. So larger items they’re selling for clients are often posted on Facebook. Some other items, such as a Peter Rabbit plate collection or other specialty items, sell better on their eBay store, which Julie’s daughter Kelly heads up.
“We research the value of everything and price it accordingly. We price it to sell,” Julie said. She added that Kelly sold a set of bag pipes recently for a client and an accordion – items that wouldn’t necessarily sell well in the store.
While SOS gets referrals by word of mouth, they also attend events such as the Expo for Seniors, the D-CAN (Dementia Community Action Network) Conference, and realtor expos.
“Realtors are one of our best referrals,” she said. “We help a lot of people who are moving or downsizing to a smaller home. I think a big reason for the success of SOS is because our clients have a way of getting money back from the items they’re parting with. I take a commission, but they’re getting money back rather than just donating it. I think that’s one thing that sets us apart from most organizers in the metro, not a lot of them do that, they just simply donate it.”
While her organizing clients get first dibs on shelf space at the store, Julie said she does also sell on commission only for some of her clients. She noted that a lot of the items they sell are brand new and haven’t even been opened yet, or maybe only used once or twice.
“We have inventory coming in every week,” Julie said.
SOS currently has four jobs going right now and they also do cleaning services for clients on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, as their schedule allows.
“One thing I just want to say,” Julie said, “is that, with the growth of this business, I cannot do it alone. I have an amazing team. They work their butts off – I can let my project managers go to a job and I don’t need to babysit. They are in control, and they run the project efficiently. Having a good team is so important and I have got a very good one. It’s very important to me, we’re like a big family. And both of my daughters work for me, so that’s kind of cool too.”
SOS Treasure Chest is located at 24 7th Street North in Sauk Rapids. Their store hours are Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to request a free and confidential consultation, please visit www.sosmn.net or contact Julie at 320-248-6694 or Julie@sosmn.net.
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