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Good Riddance Hauling has seen – and junked – it all in Sonoma

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Your mom’s china. That huge oak sideboard that belonged to your grandparents. They are just the tip of the iceberg of America’s “stuff” problem. But what to do with it?

Maybe you want to move to a smaller home now that the kids are gone. Maybe the day has come when you need to move your mom into a smaller home.

Or maybe you just moved into a beautiful new house and realized you just have too much stuff. Do we really need that old davenport? Who needs a mint mid-century Swedish stereo console anyway?

Good Riddance Hauling and Salvage is one of dozens of North Bay companies doing gang-buster business helping their customers to literally take a load off.

Since 2009, owners Leslie Boutell and Simon Purshouse have overseen a company that hauls and salvages, but also assists people with another issue of modern life: having too much stuff.

The two can wax on for hours with stories about S.A.S. (Stuff Acquisition Syndrome). And how most of our “stuff,” ends up in the garage. Or a “she shed.” Or a spare bedroom, attic. Or under a bed.

There are about 50,000 storage units in the U.S. That is about three times as many as there are Starbucks or McDonalds.

Good Riddance Hauling can move stuff, donate it or dispose of it. Most jobs involve some combination of the three. Everything that can be recycled, is.

The necessary separation of the different types of debris can be done on site or at their yard near the company’s facility on Stage Gulch Road.

Lately, Boutell and Purshouse have been busy moving people in and out of Sonoma Valley.

“There are a lot of people moving into Sonoma,” said Boutell. “People buying a second or even third home. They are coming up from places like San Francisco, looking for a more rural setting. A better place to raise kids.”

Hauling and salvage companies also help people with aging family members. Mom or Dad just can’t quite fend for themselves anymore, and an assisted-living residence provides a better level of care. Moving from a house to a studio-sized unit typically involves disposing of a lifetime of belongings.

One of the most emotional aspects of moving elderly clients is finding personal letters they’ve kept.

“We throw away boxes and boxes of cards and letters,” said Boutell. “Some of them are so hard to throw away. These are long letters with beautiful penmanship.”

“Looking at these mementos is kind of a step back in time,” added Purshouse.

Sometimes the younger generation can’t hold on to such mementos.

“They say, ‘Oh, that’s so cool! No, I don’t want it,’” Boutell said.

The trash removal business has been busy since last year’s wildfires with jobs clearing away debris. Remodeling homes also creates debris that needs to be hauled away.

Hauling companies typically provide a flat bid on the job. The couple has been in the business so long they can “eyeball” what might be required for a job.

Factored in to the flat rate are labor costs, plus transportation to the different disposal sites and the fees that the county assesses for different types of refuse: tires, mattresses, electronics, pressure treated wood and yard debris.

Good Riddance recently expanded its moving services to include packing, loading and delivery.

Purshouse said that he wishes he had kept a journal documenting all the unusual things he encounters during his days at work. He said there is certainly enough material for a “Hoarders of the Valley of the Moon” TV show.

There are frequently clothes hoarders with dozens of outfits with the tags still on them. There have been food hoarders with countless boxes of cornflakes.

Touchy situations abound, including a guy with a “gun safe” that resulted in a call to the Sheriff’s Office, a woman with no running water and a “drug house” in which packers had to watch out for dirty needles.

“Every day, every job and every situation is different,” said Boutell. “We meet some really interesting people that you never would normally meet, and see beautiful places on the hills that you would never get to into.”

Purshouse added that in their line of work, they deal with a lot of transition.

“People downsizing and people moving. People passing, sometimes divorce, so that’s the nature of the business,” Purshouse said.

How did they come up with the name of their company, Good Riddance Hauling?

“Simon came up with it,” said Boutell. “It’s the way most people feel about getting their stuff hauled off.”