Sort Toss Pack Helps Seniors with the Difficult Process of Downsizing

Jodi Laliberte in her shop, Odds & Ends Again.

Every home is a collection of memories. From a child’s artwork and an assortment of hilarious cartoons cut out from the Sunday paper to acquired furniture and everything in between. When it comes time to downsize, letting go of any of these carefully collected memories can be overwhelming.

When White Bear Lake resident Jodi Laliberte, a licensed realtor since 1999, began to notice many of her aging clients were struggling with their downsize, she became inspired to help. “What I was seeing—in the homes of the seniors I was working with—is their home often has 50 years of memorabilia, treasures,” Laliberte explains. “They’re so overwhelmed they don’t know how to start the process.” So Laliberte created Sort Toss Pack, a company that helps seniors with the entire process of moving—from those difficult decisions of what to keep and what to let go, to the physical process of moving everything to the new home. “We’re the catalyst that gets the move started,” Laliberte says. And as a realtor, Laliberte and her team will also handle the sale of the home.
For Lynn Chebanyuk, Sort Toss Pack was a lifesaver. When she and her husband had a financial hardship, they were forced to move unexpectedly. “I’ve moved quite a bit in the past,” Chebanyuk says. “When I was younger, it was quite a pain but it was doable. I’m 61 now, and I don’t have the energy to do all that stuff I used to do.” Adding to the difficulty, Chebanyuk and her husband both battle chronic depression, and during the move, Chebanyuk’s husband was going through a particularly rough time. “He couldn’t help me at all,” she explains. “All he could do was lay in bed.” Chebanyuk found Sort Toss Pack while doing some research and, after speaking with Laliberte, felt almost instant relief. Sort Toss Pack assisted Chebanyuk through the entire process of the move, from getting a dumpster to donating items and packing things up. “It was a hard day, but in one day everything was packed up and ready to go,” Chebanyuk says. “They’re like angels coming in. They make it so easy.”

Sort Toss Pack also offers classes, including one titled, The ABCs and 123s of Tending Your Treasures. The classes aim to help clients with the challenging process of deciding what to keep when the space in their new home might be limited.

But what happens to the items that aren’t chosen to be packed? They nearly always find a new home. Blankets might be repurposed and donated to places like the Animal Humane Society, and some items are placed in Laliberte’s store, Odds & Ends Again, where the clients make some money off the sold items.

The shop, located in Shoreview, is filled with vintage art, furniture spanning multiple decades and a plethora of other items longing for a new home. You might see a collection of Russian nesting dolls or an assortment of multicolored Champagne glasses, but Laliberte says the selection ebbs and flows with each day. Staff members and customers never quite know what surprises they are going to see next, and each sale goes toward a good cause—helping clients with any leftover expenses from the moving process.   

In the course of the extremely stressful event that is moving, sometimes it’s nice to know everything is handled. “This is making a difference,” says Laliberte. “It just lightens the load—literally and figuratively.”