Help for the holidays
November 30, 2006
This December, Julie Dunlap will send out Christmas cards to people she has never met. She will buy presents for people who are nothing more to her than a name on a list.
Those in the errand-running business are prepared to be their busiest before Christmas and New Year’s. They’ll buy groceries for parties and big family gatherings. They’ll sign Christmas cards. They’ll be on call to let the cable guy in.
Finding help during the holidays for these time-consuming tasks may be a smart buy for some – but it comes with a high price tag.
Dunlap carefully considered her price list, which runs from $25 per hour “a la carte” to the $318 gold package. The Carson City mother of two wanted to stay affordable for working families and turn a profit for all her personal service.
“I know how long it takes to make a nice Christmas for your family,” said Dunlap, 40. “I am a stay-at-home mom. I know it takes an incredible amount of time to do the shopping, host the parties.”
Other local women have started their own businesses with an emphasis on personal care for hard-pressed families.
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Amber Vasquez and Trisha Zinda started Time for Livin’ last month, just in time for the holiday season. Their concierge services range from the five-hour package of $175 to the 15-hour $505 package.
“We got started by helping each other,” Vasquez said. “We traded projects. I’ve been doing it (errand running) for the last seven years.”
Marina Crounk, owner of Dinners Ready, is a mother of six, so she knows how crazy the holidays can be.
At her business, employees shop and prep for a menu of dinners and the customer comes in for the assembly and takes the meals home to cook. The Carson City store also offers ready-to-go assembled meals at no additional cost.
“I have one lady who is having company coming in the week of Christmas and she ordered 11 meals,” which is enough food for a week, Crounk said. “She’s serving that to her guests, and she’s not going to worry about it.”
Meals range from $21 per meal, which feeds four to six people, to $12 for a “grab and go” meal for three.
During a client meeting this week at a coffee shop in North Carson City, Dunlap had her day-planner open in front of her. She jotted on a rainbow-colored notepad. Beside her was a portable filing case.
Presents are still personal even if they’re purchased by somebody else, said Katie Di Lillo, who has the gold-package level of concierge service, which is 15 hours of service.
Di Lillo, 34, anxiously entered data on her Pocket PC data and sipped her grande Starbucks mocha while talking with Dunlap. The single mother of three works 50 hours a week as the co-owner of Sierra Financial Advisors of Carson City. She wants to wisely maximize her time and consider all costs. The $318 is worth it to her to decrease her stress.
“The more relaxed I am, the more relaxed my house is,” Di Lillo said.
Trust isn’t an issue.
“People that have this life, I have to trust people to do these things,” Di Lillo said. “If you don’t, your life will suffer. Your kids will suffer. Your business will suffer.”
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.