Stories From The Field – Endless Dolls

Here at College Muscle Movers, we move a lot. We move couches and chairs and desks, but we also move guitars signed by Joe Cocker (RIP, you magnificent man). We move stone lions. We move mobile saunas and automated salsa manufacturing machines.

There isn’t a lot, in fact, that we don’t move. That being said, tell your movers in advance what they’ll be moving! It’ll make the whole experience much smoother (and in some unusual cases, significantly less horrifying)

Anyway, when you move a lot, you end up with stories. Some interesting, some just plain weird. Some are bone-chilling. We thought it might be nice for those of you facing moves to get a little taste of some of the things we’ve dealt with in the past. All the names and any pertinent personal details have been changed.

This story takes place during the early autumn, on one of those spectacularly beautiful Minnesota fall days. It was a pretty standard move, one storage unit to another, from south Minneapolis to the northern suburbs. The movers arrived in the morning, and met the customer at the entrance. Luckily, the origin point of the move was an unusually large complex, and the movers were able to drive the truck right in and park by the unit. They went through the paperwork, worked out the details for the destination of the load, and got started.

Then the customer opened the door, and there was a moment of perfectly shocked silence as the movers gazed into the stuff of nightmares. Buckets of blood and dismembered body parts littered the storage unit, which was stacked besides from floor to ceiling with transparent boxes full of eyeballs and heads and teeth. It took a moment to realize they were all fake.

Turns out the customer was a well-established set and prop designer, and CMM had been contracted to move her Halloween items. A whole room full of unsettlingly realistic horror items. There were chattering skulls, plastic casts of corpses, and small-scale replicas of dilapidated houses, complete with tiny little murderering families.

Scary stuff.

And once the movers had really begun to dig into the unit, they found the scariest part. The dolls. The storage unit was 10’ x 30’, with a very tall ceiling. That’s big. You could park a whole fleet of delivery vehicles in a storage unit that size. And it was full of dolls and doll parts. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall. The dolls just didn’t end, and with them came dollhouses. Doll clothes. Doll accessories in every shape and size.


Once they’d gotten through the gory stuff, the move wasn’t so unusual, except that everything was really small. Tiny couches, desks and chairs. Movers don’t generally get a chance to pick up and move an entire house, but miniatures make it possible. It was a big move, with little items. There was a lot to move, and it took awhile, but the movers made quick work of the endless dolls. After three full loads of the truck, the dolls had been entirely re-located to a new home, and none of the movers had suffered any lasting psychological damage. At least we hope not.

So remember, give your movers an accurate inventory before the move begins! You never know when one of the movers suffers from pediophobia (a fear of dolls). You wouldn’t want to give any fine young men a heart attack, would you?

How Does Insurance, Valuation, and Licensing Work?

When you’re looking to hire a moving company, the first thing you’ll want to do is check out the MnDot booklet on the subject. After you’ve gotten an idea what you’re looking for, start your search with the Better Business Bureau and Yelp (CMM has an A+ and a 4 ½ star rating, respectively.)


But how do you know what you’re actually getting when you hire the services of a moving company? A company representative will be able to tell you, certainly, but if you’re the skeptical or inquisitive type, you might want to know more. What does it mean to be licensed and bonded? What are the mechanisms by which contracts are guaranteed? If you’re not a fan of dry contractual details, be warned: this post gets a bit technical.


When a moving company says they are licensed, this usually refers to a business license. A business license is granted by the federal or state government, and indicates that a company is approved to legally conduct business, in the form of being hired for the purpose of moving services, within their state or country or across state borders. In Minnesota, this means a “Household Goods Mover Permit”. Check with MnDOT’s Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations to make sure the company you’re considering has a permit to operate and is licensed and insured.


Many people mistakenly confuse bonding and insurance. Being bonded means that the company guarantees that they will perform the work you hired them to do. This means that a third party will ensure reimbursement if a company or contractor fails to meet their end of the bargain.


A professional moving company (like CMM) will offer valuation. This is the rough equivalent to insurance, but legally speaking, it isn’t identical. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.

Valuation is based on transportation and transit laws. It’s a level of liability the carrier agrees to assume and, depending upon the level of protection requested by the customer, may result in higher transportation rates. Valuation limits liability to the time in which the goods are in the care, custody and control of the carrier’s actions or failure to act that are not excluded by the provisions of the Bill of Lading and tariff.

Essentially, valuation means that should your items be broken in transit, while in the carrier’s care, you will be compensated. The level of valuation, however, is not always clearly understood by the customer. Some moving companies have base-level insurance policies in place that compensate you for breakage or loss of items on a per-pound basis, the industry standard being for common carrier household goods shipments being $.60 per pound per article. At CMM, you always receive this base-level coverage, and have the option to purchase additional coverage besides.

In closing, be sure you fully understand your coverage before you sign a contract and request additional coverage if necessary. Believe it or not, the company you’ve hired wants to keep your possessions safe just as much as you do!

Zooming In On CMM: TJ Palme

Here at CMM, we want to provide the best possible service. We want to make sure the people moving your stuff are strong, smart, and dedicated. That’s why we employ college athletes and recent graduates— they know the value of hard work.

We figured a quick interview session with some of them might help you get to know us a little better, so we’ll be running a series of these interviews. This time, we tracked down TJ Palme.



So, TJ, where are you from originally?

Des Moines, Iowa

And what brought you to the Twin Cities?

I attend the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, so that brought me the Twin Cities.

What are you studying over there?

My degree will be Biblical Studies with an emphasis on Ministry

Awesome. Do you think you’ll try to stick around here after you finish?

I hope so, I really love this area.  Some things would need to fall into place but I certainly have my fingers crossed!

How’d you end up at College Muscle Movers?

Before attending UNWSP I looked at their student jobs website and saw a thread for CMM.  I had some moving experience in the past so I gave it a shot and got in contact with management.

Well, we’re glad to have you. Also, I hear you may have some passing interest in football. True?

Sure is. I have a long history with the game.  I played a couple years of D1 football down at Western Illinois university before transferring to UNW.  I now play football at school up here and am an avid fan of the game.

What position(s) do you play?

I play left tackle on offense and a few special teams

Would you say that your history in football has helped you off the field? I have to imagine it’s nice for moving.

Yeah, it sure has.  I spent a lot of time in the weight room for many seasons of playing and it turns out that squatting weight on a bar and squatting to pick up a piano are not that different.

Speaking of pianos— what would you say the craziest or most unusual thing you’ve moved was?

That’s a tough question, the people we move always have really interesting stuff but I would say that the most unusual thing was a large stone statue of a lion

Woof. Sounds heavy.

It certainly was.

What’s your favorite part of working at CMM?

Honestly its a combination between the guys that I work with every day and the flexible scheduling.  It is very nice to be able to work around a busy schedule of school and sports without worrying.  Also, all of our employees are hard working guys who are very fun to work with

Well said. I couldn’t agree more with you. Now, you’ve already mentioned how busy you are with sports and school— do you ever get any time for any fun stuff? What do you do in your free time?

In the free time I get I enjoy taking trips down to Iowa city to visit my beautiful fiancé and I also enjoy playing video games

Fiancé! Congratulations. It sounds like you lead a charmed life, TJ. Let’s finish this interview with a zany curveball. If you had to get rid of one U.S. state, which would you choose and why?

I’m going to go ahead and say Wisconsin, I really really really dislike the Green Bay Packers

But the cheese, TJ! What would we do without all that cheese?!

I think I’d manage without cheese if it meant no more Packer fans

Yeah, we can always get more cheese. Well, it’s nearing the heart of the holidays, I’ll let you go. Thanks a ton for the chat, TJ!


Packing Lamps and Paintings

During the moving process, people are often concerned about possible damage to paintings, lamps, and glass items. Don’t worry! Today we’ll talk a little bit about what you can do keep paintings and lamps unscathed. (For glass, see previous posts.)


Artwork, mirrors, and pictures should be packed in mirror or picture boxes, unless they are very small. Small flat pieces can be carefully wrapped and stacked in other boxes (Muscle Boxes keep things safer than cardboard). You’ll also want corner protectors to put on everything, so that frames or corners of canvas don’t get scuffed.

You can pick up these specialty boxes from a home supply store (Lowe’s, Menards, Home Depot) or get them right from the source: that’s College Muscle Movers, in our case. We can even offer packing services that will help ensure your stuff gets packed safely.

  • Prepare a picture box for the artwork by layering the bottom with packing paper.
  • Wrap each individual artwork, then wrap them in Bubble Wrap®.
  • Fill any loose space in the box with something to pad it. Typically, wadded up newsprint is used, but light blankets or bubble wrap will work well too.
  • If two boxes are needed for the glass top then put the second box on top of the other by telescoping them together and fill spaces with lightly wadded newsprint paper.


For most lamps, you’ll want to purchase individually sized boxes for each lamp. Extra tall boxes can be purchased through one of the stores listed above, or from CMM. Measure all your lamps first and buy boxes that will accommodate the tallest lamp.

  • Take the lampshade off and set it aside to pack separately.
  • Be sure to also remove any lightbulbs and metal framing wire around the lamp itself. It’s always best to remove anything that can be easily shattered or bent.
  • Lampshades should be individually packed in an appropriately sized box, unless they can be safely stacked atop one another in one box.
  • Make sure there is something padding the bottom of the box before you put the lampshades in. This is another great time to use our Muscle Boxes: lampshades are very delicate, and it doesn’t take much pressure to dent them.
  • Secure any loose power cords around the lamp and then wrap it all up with blank newsprint paper or bubble wrap. Again, if you don’t have this stuff or you’ve run out, you can use blankets or sheets in a pinch.
  • Label your boxes well (this goes for everything, especially fragile items) and be sure to let your movers know if they are moving a box with a lamp. Knowledge is power; communicating with your movers will help ensure that they can keep the boxes safe in transit.

One last thing: paintings and lamps come in all shapes and sizes, so:


If you have an oversized painting or lamp, try to let your movers know in advance so that they can plan accordingly. Sometimes disassembly or special equipment will make your curiously sized work of art a breeze to move, but only if the movers know in advance!