WEEKLY BRIEFING: Chasing His Fortune in Dumping People's Junk

by David Greenberg

After earning an art degree in 1985 from American University in Washington, D.C., Brooks Pallmer moved to Chicago where he had a series of odd jobs for more than a decade mostly in sales but also a two-year stint as a mover. When he moved to L.A. in 1998, he took that experience and started Klutter Buster, a Hollywood business that helps people discard the accumulated detritus of their lives.

"I came up with the idea when I was moving people's belongings out of their apartments and houses. Many boxes were unopened from previous moves. That told me that people hang onto things unnecessarily they didn't want to look at them but they still kept the task of carrying the weight of their past with them.

"My art professors were adamant that the desks we worked on had supplies organized in a neat and orderly way to keep you focused. Clutter is pretty universal. There are clients everywhere. I get them through networking, just by meeting people and talking to them about the nature of clutter and how it interferes with the nature of their life. People that I've actually helped refer me to their friends or business associates. I advertise infrequently in the newspapers.

"I go to their house or business and survey the whole place. I find the worst area first and go through every bit of clutter and ask them is this item necessary or can we let it go. If it's moveable, we'll take it to a dumpster. If it's something large, like sofas or chest, we'll give it to a charitable organization that picks it up for free.

"I get on average eight to 10 clients a month. I charge $60 an hour. Sometimes I give them a reduced rate if it's going to be lengthy task. Sometimes people or businesses hire me for a couple of weeks and sometimes for a few days or one day. The first part of the year is the busiest because people really want to let go of old things and old ways of looking at things.

"There was a woman who was married for 17 years and divorced for two. She loved to cook but her husband hated her cooking. So she had hundreds of crumpled up wads of paper stuffed under her counter and in her cupboards. It turns that they were recipes that she would have loved to have cooked over the years but hid away, like she was hiding her emotions. She must have thrown out about 400 recipes but kept about 100.

"I work alone so my overhead is very low. It's a very personalized skill. I might hire some people in the future if they have really good people skills."

David Greenberg

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