The economy is tight, the housing market is soft and selling homes is hard.
Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal
Stager Melissa Douglass (left) helped make a Binghamton house a cozy home for Mary Abram, her husband, Shun, and their children. Memphis home stagers joined forces for the project, as they will in redesigning two apartments for Habitat for Hope.
Which makes it a good time to be one of about a dozen professionally accredited stagers in the Memphis market.
"There's way too much business for only 12 people," said stager Jennifer Jones, who like the others is active in the local chapter of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals.
Sept. 19 is World Wide Staging Day, and on that day the local chapter will continue what has become a tradition: reaching out to help the community.
This year's beneficiary is Habitat for Hope, which provides rent-free apartments for families with seriously ill children who are receiving ongoing treatment at area hospitals.
The local IAHSP chapter will be "re-designing" two Habitat for Hope apartments.
"We've been talking up the project the whole year, collecting new and gently used items from clients along the way," Jones said.
"It's funny, we are competitors," said IAHSP chapter president Melissa Douglass, "but this
project is good to pull us together."
Previous outreach work on World Staging Day has included refurbishing and redesign at the Memphis Family Shelter and sprucing up a home in Binghamton being rented by a young pastor and his family.
Shun and Mary Abram moved into their Binghamton home in June 2008, but it was hardly move-in ready.
"The walls had holes in them," Shun said.
"It was pretty rough-looking, needed a lot of work," said Mary.
Today, the Abrams and their four children -- ages 5 months to 5 years -- live in a tastefully decorated house transformed into a cozy home.
"I didn't have the time or money to do it," said Shun, who is a student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and founder of Binghamton Community Church.
"We were looking for a project in Binghamton," Jones said. "It just fit."
The Memphis Family Shelter fit too. Executive director Donna Fortson said they moved into the two-story Downtown-area building nine years ago, but fully furnishing and decorating the building's lobbies wasn't a priority.
"The money goes to help these families," Fortson said of the shelter, which houses women and children.
Fortson fondly recalls the day the stagers -- and companions -- showed up to perform what amounted to a building makeover.
"They brought two or three of their husbands for the honey-do work," she said. "They showed up with furniture, pictures, accessories, and you could tell they were having a good time. And now we have a beautiful, inviting lobby."
Next up: dramatic and decorative change at Habitat for Hope.
"It will make a house feel more like a home," said Mylissa Horrocks, Habitat for Hope co-founder and director of family care.
"People who know what they're doing, they change things around, add a pillow or two, and it's completely different," Fortson said. "It just made everything so much warmer."
-- Don Wade: 529-2358