Shop Like A Pro: Estate Sale Shopping Tips

Rae Jean Carter has been coming to Queen B Organizing estate sales since she moved to Corvallis in 2014.  

“I made friends with the owner and then I met these people,” Carter says, pointing to her two friends. “Now it’s a thing.”

When she says it’s a thing, she’s referring to their regular meetups at the sales. Carter and other “Regulars” make the sales as much about community as they do shopping. 

“I’ve met some nice people and we’ve become friends,” says Sharon, another regular who didn’t give her last name. 

In addition to visiting with her friends, Ann Leen comes for the sale. “[The prices] are very fair and the sales are very organized,” she says.

Regular Charlie Pebenito echos this sentiment. He says “they are more organized than a thrift store or rummage sale.”

If you are new to estate sale shopping, check out these tips from Queen B Organizing and the Regulars. These tips apply to all estate sales, however we also include details particular to our sales.

Photo Credit: Oregon Media Group

Plan Ahead & Go Early

Look at photos before going to get a sense of what is for sale. Remember which rooms your favorite items are in and start in those areas. Other people may want the same items, so get in line early to increase your chances of being the first to pick it up.

“Focus on one thing at first. Don’t get overwhelmed about all the options,” said Pebenito.

Queen B puts a list of items on the website by Wednesday and photos on Craigslist, Facebook and Instagram on Thursdays.


Be respectful of the neighbors by not parking in front of driveways, mailboxes and garbage cans. Be prepared to park down the street or around the corner and walk to the house if it’s a busy time of day.

Measure Ahead

If you are looking for furniture, it helps to measure your space before leaving home. Also know your vehicle’s dimensions. Bring a tape measure so you can quickly figure out if the item will fit in your vehicle or if you need to come back with a bigger one.

Ask About Deals

Ask if there are any discount days, layaways or auctions. Each estate sale company has a different process. At Queen B estate sales, items $45 or less are half price on the last day. There is a bidding process, too. Talk to the employees at the cash register to learn about the process and submit a bid.


Find out in advance what type of payments are accepted. You don’t want to leave that treasure behind because you didn’t take cash out of the bank. Queen B accepts cash, check and credit card with a 4% fee.

Estate sales are a great place to find collectibles. Photo credit: Queen B Organizing

Enjoy Yourself

Most importantly, enjoy the experience. You will find many practical things, such as small kitchen appliances, linens and clothing. However make sure you have time and cash for the unexpected items. You might find something from childhood that you wish your parents never gave away or maybe you will find pieces you are missing from a collection. 

“I look for children’s vintage and antique books. I like the treasure hunt,” Sharon said.

In addition to finding something that makes you smile, you might make new friends. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check out our webpage for upcoming sale dates and locations.

A Guide to Arranging Wall Art

Where Should I Live When I Retire?

Where Should I Live When I Retire?

Today’s seniors have many options to choose from when it comes to deciding where to live when they retire. With so much to think about, we’ve narrowed down some resources to help you sift through your options. Let’s explore them together!

Retirement Connection

This is great place to start!  Retirement Connection is a guide designed specifically for Boomers, Seniors, Caregivers and Providers. The website lists scores of activities and events related to senior living, as well as a search tool to determine availability at senior communities in your area. The printed Retirement Connection Guide can be picked up at locations such as hospitals, senior and community centers, and libraries around Oregon.

Aging in Place

We’ve noticed trend of seniors committed to living in their own homes as they age. “Aging in place” offers the comfort and familiarity of home, as well as the ability to maintain the friendships and routines established there.

Whether you are living alone or with a loved one, you will want to consider:

  • the safety of your space
  • assistance you may require with tasks such as meal preparation and housekeeping
  • access to medical care, as needed.

Another great resource is the National Institute on Aging. They offer a wide variety of helpful links on growing older at home and advocate planning ahead. It’s important to know what services and resources are available to you in your area.

ElderCare Locator is another handy tool available to you to have your questions answered about support services, transportation, elder rights, housing, benefits and insurance.

“Aging in place” could also mean moving to a smaller home or renovating a home to accommodate single level living. Talk with friends and family, or a professional guide (ElderCare Locator website) to discuss your concerns, questions, hopes and dreams for continuing to live in your own home.

 Needing Assistance as You Age

If you discover your needs don’t allow for independent living in your home, don’t fret. There are still plenty of options to choose from. Typically, you will need to think about your health, expenses, and lifestyle choices. Whether you’re looking for yourself or a loved one, understanding the different types of living solutions available can help you locate the best fit.

This Senior Living Spectrum grid is an interactive tool that references levels of care and supervision with cost and has a great deal of information about retirement living near you. They provide unbiased research from a team of experts to help seniors “age with grace.”

Making the Choice that is Right for You

We know that this can feel like a huge decision to make and can be a stressful season in your life. So be sure to take advantage of the many resources available to you.  We would love to hear how these resources have helped you or let us know if you have a favorite that we didn’t list!

Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember to look for the people and professionals you are comfortable with, who will help make this season in your life a time to thrive!

Questions to Ask If You’re Thinking About Retirement

Making the decision to retire is not always an easy one, and many factors, including health, lifestyle, family concerns, and finances all need consideration. In the last half of 2020, more people retired than was expected due to the pandemic-fueled downturn in the economy. Not everyone was able to take the time to think carefully about this important event. If you have the luxury of planning ahead, spend some time answering these questions by yourself or with loved ones.

What does retirement look like to you?

Retirement is an important life transition, so it is a good time to evaluate what it is that you want going forward. Your very first question might be “what does retirement look like to me?” Are you hoping to spend more time with family? Do you expect to travel? Are you planning to move?

If you are shifting from a full-time career to not working at all, it will also be important to think about the kinds of activities you want to participate in to keep your mind focused and your body strong. Fortunately, even during the pandemic there are scores of resources for classes and programs that you can attend online. Check your local senior centers and community colleges for free and inexpensive options to learn something new. Give yourself some freedom to explore.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

Another thoughtful question from the U.S. News article linked above, is “how do you want to be remembered?” Giving thought to the legacy you want to leave behind will likely lead you to what you value most and help you set goals and priorities. Maybe you will volunteer, or write a memoir, teach your grandchildren to bake, or climb that mountain you’ve been thinking about for years. Whatever you set your sights on, take your time, and let it evolve into what it is you truly enjoy.

Retiring can also bring many health benefits such as a reduction in stress and having the time to eat well and exercise. In the words of an ancient Roman poet, “Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings.” If taking care of yourself hasn’t been a priority for awhile, making even small changes to your lifestyle, such as cooking at home more or walking each day, can bring you lasting results.

Prioritizing your health and contemplating what a life in retirement might look like for you can start anytime. The more you can plan ahead for this important life change, the more you can simplify some of the other decisions you will have to make along the way, regarding finances and retirement housing options. Exploring these questions can get you off to a good start.

Follow this blog for more information on planning for retirement in 2021.

Preparing to Downsize

Preparing to Downsize

At a certain point, because of retirement, health issues, or lifestyle preferences, many seniors consider downsizing their home. Sometimes, it is loved ones who initiate a conversation because of concerns for older adults’ safety or financial health. Being aware of the challenges you may face with this important decision can help you prepare for downsizing smoothly.

You’re Not Alone

Nearly 4 out of 10 retirees move, and just over half of those numbers are downsizing. Downsizing, even for positive reasons like moving to be closer to family, can be difficult because it represents how are lives are contracting, according to Gary W. Small, founding director of the University of California at Los Angeles Memory Clinic and director of the UCLA Center on Aging. Most of our lives we are building and growing, and downsizing represents a reversal of this trend.

Moving, as most of us know, can be stressful. For seniors who have spent a lifetime in one place, the emotional and physical stress of downsizing can be overwhelming. Besides having to make decisions about what to keep, what to give to family members, what to donate, and what to throw out, we have to process the emotions of attachment we have to our homes, our stuff, our loved ones, and possibly, our independence.

Downsizing can be less stressful with preparation. It is important to focus on the positive aspects of the change, and to get help navigating the more difficult parts of this transition.

Find A Good Reason

Graying With Grace is a website dedicated to “seniors, the elderly, and those who love them.”  The author identifies 5 steps for planning a downsizing move, starting with a conversation about the benefits of downsizing. For instance, we could have more time available to do things we love if repair and maintenance issues are minimized in a smaller space. Identifying positive reasons for the change helps us set a goal for success and provides the motivation to begin.

It is also important to note that downsizing takes time, both for the physical aspects of sorting and packing a household and for negotiating the many feelings that result when we go through our belongings. One suggestion from the AARP is to start in a spare room or perhaps an office, a space that has the least number of important memories. Starting small helps us build resilience so we are more prepared for tackling places like the kitchen where many family memories live.

Find Some Help

Tackle decluttering with a friend or family member. They can provide a listening ear as you sort through your feelings. They can also be objective and help you stay focused on the task at hand. When you come across items that you don’t know what to do with, or what their value might be, both the AARP and Graying With Grace agree that trusted professionals like appraisers, movers, and organizers can provide useful insight to save you both time and energy.

Find the Right Professional

When you search for your local professionals, seek out those with positive reviews and testimonials.. Find those who are not only knowledgeable and efficient, but who treat their customers with respect. Queen B Organizing has successfully assisted clients with downsizing for the last 10 years.  A recent client had this to say:

“There is a great deal of emotion that goes with emptying and selling a family home of so many years. Queen B Organizing really made a challenging task survivable. And they did it with respect and consideration. I recommend them without reservation.”

Queen B Organizing can help you prepare for the challenges of downsizing your home so that you can focus on the people, places, and things you enjoy. Consider calling us at (541) 231-6964 to plan for the move ahead.

One Question, One Goal and One Habit for Your One Life…in Twenty Twenty-One

Everyone wants to start 2021 on a positive note. What is one thing you want to happen in 2021?  Perhaps your goal is to shed some pandemic pounds, or to start a new hobby, or pivot a business, or meet “the one”. Whatever you are planning for, keep it simple, and get started with just one thing.

Whether or not you set New Year resolutions, January 1 is a good time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be.  If you are stuck for ideas of how to begin something new, here are three book recommendations from business owners in the mid-Willamette Valley. The best part of each of these books is that you don’t even have to read the whole thing to find something new to try!

Start By Asking Questions

Andrea Beem, realtor and owner of The Beem Team in Albany, Oregon suggests, “start by asking questions.” Great questions cause people to pause, and in the pause, perspectives can shift. A change in perspective allows new thoughts to emerge. She recommends The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger as a springboard for creative thought.  Asking the right questions, at the right time, can change lives.

In a 2018 blog, Berger suggests first asking the question, “why?”  Children do it all the time. It’s how they make sense of the world, and how they grow intellectually. As adults gain knowledge, we often lose this ability, trapped in feelings of embarrassment at not knowing an answer. To be a “beautiful questioner” you have to be comfortable with not knowing and being willing to learn.

If you aren’t quite ready to start asking why for yourself, try asking questions of others around you. A pro tip from Beem is to not ask just the usual question. Instead of “how are you?,” try asking:

What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

What are you excited about in your life today?

What are you most looking forward to?

The answers might just surprise you and provide you with a new perspective or creative idea.

Find Your Purpose

Another local Keller Williams realty company, Sue Long Realty proposes ways to think differently about what you already love to give your life new direction. Their blog post about the book, The One  Thing by Keller and Papasan, outlines three steps for achieving new outcomes. Changing your habits to change your life is not easy, but it does not have to be time-consuming or stressful.

For example, a change to improve your health, or work-life balance, or get your creative juices flowing could be a 20-minute walk outside each day, or if you already do that, taking your usual walk in a new direction each week. Be open to surprise encounters, new information, and other people’s questions to you. What is just one small thing you can change starting today?

Stop Worrying…and Make a Decision

If you are having difficulty answering a question about your business or your life, Kristin Bertilson, founder of Queen B Organizing, offers this advice: stop worrying and make a decision! Kristin shares her productivity tips in chapter 42 of 1 Habit for a Thriving Home Office. Making a decision, even if you aren’t sure it is the right one, is a productive step forward.

Take a deep breathe. Make a decision. Check in with yourself and see how it feels. If it is a positive one, keep going!  If it turns out to not be the best decision at that time, then you will have the opportunity to change your path. But all staying stuck in indecision will do is keep you from getting you where you want to go.  What have you got to lose?

Your One Life…in 2021

Ask questions. Find what inspires you. Make one decision today to set the tone for the new year.

It’s your one life. The more engaged, and curious, and willing to make mistakes you are, the lovelier it will be. Why? Let that be the guiding question of 2021 and see where you end up.


To learn more about Queen B Organizing and the decisions Kristin made to grow her business, listen to this podcast.








Transform Your Garage Into a Winter Wonderland

Transform Your Garage Into a Winter Wonderland

Don’t let this year’s pandemic derail all your winter plans! Creativity and resilience abound, providing many ways to safely gather and celebrate with a few loved ones this season. If you need more space or are feeling cooped up inside, why not consider transforming a garage into a useable space?

Use What You Have

If a family in chilly Manitoba can transform a garage into a Winter Wonderland to host their Christmas celebration (note: pre-covid-19), then why not you?  All it takes is some creative thought, time, and shared resources to make it happen.

There are three main considerations for revamping garage space: storage, light, and warmth. How you design and decorate it is limited only by your imagination!

Storage – Chances are your garage is a catch-all space for decorations, tools, and household items you don’t use on a regular basis. If you don’t already have adequate storage and shelf space for your things, now is a good time to get them organized and out of the way. Think of it as a Christmas gift to yourself to have items carefully stored away and labelled for easy access.

Shelving is key to eliminating clutter in a garage and having items off the floor will protect them from weather and other potential damage. If you are clearing out someone else’s garage for a small get-together, what a wonderful gift you would be giving them, a gift that will save them time and energy for many years to come!

Light– Chances are, the overhead lighting in the garage is functional, but will not provide the kind of ambiance you want for your new room. This is where Christmas lights, patio lights, and strategically placed lamps help set the mood for your space. Do you want a bright and sparkly space, or a warmer and more subdued environment? There are so many lights to choose from!

If colored Christmas lights are your thing, string them around with abandon. Borrow strands from friends or family if you don’t have enough of your own.  You can choose to have all your lights be the same or mix and match them according to your whim.  Battery operated candles can also provide some light in windows, on shelves, and on tables. Hanging light colored curtains around the garage can make the space feel cozier and will also reflect some of the light.

Warmth – Depending on whether your transformation is meant to be short or long term, several fairly simple and inexpensive options for heating or retaining heat are available to you, such as insulation, weathers stripping and electric space heaters. Be sure to consider the number and ages of visitors when locating heaters of any kind and be sure to only use an electric source appropriate to the heater.,

Additional heat may not even be necessary if folks wear their favorite ugly sweater or Christmas hat. Be creative with your dress code and laughter will warm the hearts of all.

Setting the Scene

Now that your space is organized, warm, and well-lit, consider placing furniture in ways that best suit your planned activity. Are you hosting a small meal? Or having close family over for cocktails to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop? Perhaps you want to set up space for gift drop-offs or cookie exchanges or other holiday activities?

Keeping recommended social distancing regulations in mind, plan the amount of seating (if any) you’ll need around the space you have.  Some indoor/outdoor carpeting can help provide both warmth and decoration. You can bring patio furniture in or living room furniture out or set up folding tables and chairs that can easily be cleaned and stored between events.

The Rest is Up to You

Decorating is optional, of course, but why not go the extra mile and make the space special with holiday décor, family memorabilia, a Christmas tree, or mistletoe?  You can do this as a gift to your loved ones, or plan to do something together in your newly arranged gathering space. (Friendly gingerbread house competition, anyone?)

Having an organized and welcoming space to share holiday memories during this unusual holiday season can help bring those “in your pod” together in creative ways.  If you are unable to host any visitors at this time, this project can can help you prepare for the new year when everyone can gather safely together again. Why not plan ahead in hope for 2021?

If you need help planning or organizing this project, or have another year-end need, please reach out to Queen B Organizing and let us bring you the gift of peace that comes with having a project completed. Wishing one and all a safe and happy holiday!

Oh, There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays!

There is no way around the news that 2020 has been a difficult year. And now here we are preparing for Thanksgiving, and Christmas is only a few short weeks away. For many of us feeling stuck at home, finding ways to be in the holiday spirit may be challenging this year. But good planning can help rejuvenate the experience.

Make a List. Check it Twice.

Start with making some lists. Who is on your list to connect with this holiday season? What are the most important parts of your holidays? Where can you make changes? What activities can you creatively adapt?  Taking stock of what is available to you in this trying year may spark some creative solutions to celebrating at home, with or without your usual company or traditions. Try visualizing your lists using drawings such as these to brainstorm ideas for planning gatherings in and out of your home, and virtually as well!   Ideas might include:

  • Cleaning out a garage space for a socially distanced gathering. Hang lights for ambiance.
  • Arranging a covered backyard or driveway space for picnicking. Add heaters, if required in your area.
  • Share favorite holiday recipes virtually using zoom, google hangouts or an app like Signal. Then you can share pictures of your creations after you make them!
  • If gift-giving is on your list, send gifts early and schedule time to open them together. Homemade and locally purchased items are particularly meaningful this year.

For more suggestions for entertaining virtually and at home, check out this article from the LA Times.

Consider Your Space

Whether you will be alone or celebrating with your select family or friends, consider spending some time organizing and decorating your space. It will lift your spirits and can also create some wonderful background for your virtual connections. Festive décor that is easy to change and to store is a wonderful way to reshape your surroundings and provide some respite from the difficulties of this year. Lights, candles, and greenery are simple and inexpensive ways to add some joy to your home.

Consider Others

During this season, many of us consider how to help those loved ones or strangers who have had economic and emotional difficulties through the year. With the pandemic and Oregon wildfires, many more people need assistance this year. Consider using your resources to provide help through one of the many agencies supporting holiday giving this year. Encouraging your family to agree on a local charity to support is a wonderful gift to others.


Make your lists. Check them twice. If you need help with the process of planning or organizing your holidays in a meaningful way, Queen B Organizing can provide expertise and a caring attitude to make your holiday spirit bright. May we all find some holiday joy.

Trains, Planes and….No, Wait! Just Trains!

This week, Queen B Organizing offers a treasure trove for model train engineers and enthusiasts!

Hundreds of pre- and post-war Lionel trains and more!

A client’s collection includes hundreds of pre-and post-war Lionel trains, and also several of the coveted K-Line brand, along with track, controllers, collectible scenery and more.  All will be available at our  “Beehive” multi-family estate sale the weekend of Friday, November 20-22nd.   Sale event at 2409 NW Kings Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97330 at the former “Maurice’s” retail location. Hours: Friday, Nov 20th-8am-6pm, Saturday, Nov 21st-9am-4pm, and Sunday, Nov 22nd-9am-2pm.

What is it about trains that captures our imagination?

Model train collecting began in earnest in the Depression years, after savvy retailers used them for Christmas displays in their department store windows. What child has not looked on in wonder as a train rolls by, wheels clacking, and whistle blowing! Tiny reproductions bring that sense of awe into your living room, garage, or entire home!

Who Plays with Trains?

And model railroad collecting is not just for children. Men and women around the globe participate in this activity. Why? According to the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), it’s educational, family-oriented, and fun!  Just what is needed in our world today.

Not surprisingly, Oregon boasts several model railroad clubs for serious engineers, hobbyests, and beginners. In the Willamette Valley, you can check out the Corvallis Society of Model Engineers and A&P N-gineers Model Railroading Club in Eugene on Facebook, among others. The Willamette Valley Model Railroad Museum in Salem has a wealth of resources to spark your imagination and help build your collection. (Call for hours and availability due to Covid-19 State restrictions).

Fascinating Fun

Whether you investigate model railroading for its historical significance, engineering possibilities, or just plain fun, you will learn a great deal about our nation and our people.  See model trains in action here!

Are you looking for a fun way to spend time learning about our nation’s history and the railroad industry? Then visit our Beehive sale this coming weekend and explore the possibilities!