Carla Matherson's strategy of pricing everything at $5 or less paid off.
Matherson, 40, joined with about a dozen other tenants of Keswick Park in Crofton one day recently to sell their castoffs at a group flea market in the complex's parking lot. She came away with $61 in sales.
"It's nice here, it's like family," Matherson said. The government worker moved to the apartment complex about two years ago. She sold her house in Bowie to make the move and has continued to downsize, shifting from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom with a loft.
During the flea market, leasing consultant Rik Anderson brought residents chairs and a pitcher of cold water. Matherson said she appreciates such service, as well as the help the staff gave her when she shifted apartments. "You feel comfortable when they come into your apartment. I know all the maintenance men," she said.
Judy Colbert, 64, is a freelance writer who has lived in the Anne Arundel County complex for 11 years. "They pretty much watch over everything. They'll pick up packages and hold stuff for me," she said.
For example, when some of her furniture needed repairs, she called the maintenance department and maintenance director Curtis Goddard took the furniture away and brought it back the next day. "I think about moving into my own place once in a while and then I think about Curtis and not mowing my own lawn."
Colbert lives in a two-bedroom, roommate-style apartment, where the living room is in the middle. "I just need less stuff," Colbert said about her sales at the flea market. "I made money today, but mostly I gained space. If it has to be moved or dusted, I don't want it."
Colbert said she likes her apartment, except for the kitchen. "Whoever designed it doesn't cook," she said. "Other than that, certainly it works well."
But for Say Gattoni, 20, the kitchen is one of the strengths of her apartment. "Our last place didn't have a dishwasher. We had four cabinets," she said. Her Keswick Park kitchen has a large pantry cupboard and plenty of storage space, as well as a dishwasher.
Gattoni, a Harley-Davidson employee and part-time college student, said that she and her boyfriend, a government worker, picked the complex largely because it seemed safe. She added, however, that the dishwasher, plus a full-size washer and dryer, cemented their decision.
High-quality service, convenient location and a neighborly feel have been bonuses. "Everybody who lives here is really personable. Everybody is out for everybody, not just for themselves," Gattoni said. On top of that, she is just 15 minutes from work in Annapolis.
Keswick Park's location also appeals to Colbert. "I'm 15 minutes from Annapolis, 24 minutes from D.C., 30 minutes from Baltimore," Colbert said. There are also several grocery stores, a drug store and a gym within walking distance.
There are also a country club and park nearby, said Tara Callandrelli, assistant property manager. "Crofton Elementary School is directly across the street. They have tennis, basketball and a playground. They just built the playground."
Keswick Park, built in 1991, is made up of 406 units in 28 buildings. "We're a very big property, very spread out," Callandrelli said.
There are manicured lawns, established flowers and trees spread over 23 acres of land as well as a small wooded area in the center of the property with a little bridge over a brook.
"I like the landscaping. Our apartment looks down on the garden. They have huge iris plants and they're all green and purple," Gattoni said.
Retired pastor Henry K. Brown, 74, has lived in the complex with his wife for six years. He uses the fitness center in the clubhouse and his grandchildren use the pool. He said the convenience and level of service from the staff are important to him. "In general, we've found it to be a very good experience," he said.
After helping residents clear up after the sale, leasing consultant Anderson opined that service is the reason people choose Keswick Park. "We might not be the newest property. We might not be the flashiest property, but we make up for it with customer service."