Monday, September 20, 2010

Reflections on a Yard Sale & The Acquisition of Stuff


The Golightly’s yard sale was a success. To my pleasant surprise all visitors were cordial and didn’t attempt the vicious low-ball on price. Perhaps it was because we varied our music from Miles Davis Kind of Blue to Billie Holiday’s Songs for Distingue Lovers to Stan Getz and Bebel Gilberto. You know, keep it mellow.

Or, perhaps it was because all shoppers had to “pay the Piper” as Little Pie sat at her post as money collector. In addition to playing money collector she also sold her sets of homemade pastel pies, book lanterns and a few mason jars of specially selected buttons from her collection. It was a very long day and she was in the throes of it the entire time. What a trooper.

Upon reflection, most of my learning happened the week of pricing. It wasn’t that I learned more about product information or online values, I learned more about The Acquisition of Stuff.

As a family, we're very good about keeping our clothes closets clean. We just were not aware of all the stuff that had collected in the home at large.

Here’s a few things to consider so that you need not end up with stuff you don't need.

Just because it's on sale and a fantastic bargain doesn't mean you need it.

Newlyweds and new parents buy picture frames. Loads of them. After a while photos are taken down. If you fit into either category, get thee to the thrift store and save but also have some awareness that you might be purchasing more than you really need.

With silent auctions now a popular fund raising method for the PTSA’s about the country, I learned that I don’t value the items that come home from such auctions. The one exception is a beautifully framed class sketch of Piper’s Kindergarten school garden. That is a treasure and it hangs above the fireplace mantle. But most those items were bought out of a sense of duty. Given all the work it takes to acquire auction items – and I know because one year I rounded up $5,000 of stuff – I think I’d just rather write a check. How I wish schools would be elevated to the level they deserve when it comes to government spending. Our PTSA raises a lot of money each year and the majority of it seems to fill budget cuts.

When you move from one home to another, don’t just put stuff away to be done with the move. Yes, there is a pressing urge to finish the damn job. Moving is very stressful. But, as you unpack items while standing in the new home, consider if it’s still going to be of value. Ideally it’s best to purge items before a move. But sometimes, whether or not an item will work in a new home cannot be determined until it’s in that home. I had items from our former home shoved in the backs of cabinets from our old home. Ugh, we moved to Denver in 1998. One can have a yard sale before and after a move.

If it hasn’t seen the light of day in a year and it’s not an heirloom, it’s gone.

Take caution on items you intend to save for your children’s children. Mr. Golightly had a huge stash of such items. When seeing the complete pile, we realized we were hoarding items for our grandchildren that we don’t even know if we’ll have. We hope to but there’s no guarantee. Pile was purged with a few meaningful items tucked away.

Often times when you buy a new item, the old goes down in the basement. Na-uh. It’s off to the thrift store! Purge! Be free!

Toss emotions aside. You may have an emotional attachment to an item, like how I love the beautiful solid brass candelabra that hold’s seven candles. But, it really doesn’t work in our home. Poet was so excited to see it and thought she could use it in her Halloween costume, until she attempted to carry it. It weighs more that a meteorite I’m certain and it's really too big to hold and not look like you just might topple. Once you let go emotionally, you become motivated to sell.

Watch out for piles. They can clog you up. [Wink.] I had piles of table linens. When we purchased our dining set from an estate sale, I failed to purge the linens to the old table. It was difficult to open and close the buffet drawers. Not now!

Don't feel bad about abandoning unfinished projects. So what if it didn't come to completion. It happens. Be rid of the guilt and dump the supplies, chances are good that this project will be finished by another and you'll have less clutter.

When you finish a phase, clear out the equipment. Before the girls, Mr. Golightly and I ate sushi at home. We had time to prepare the fish and roll it. The making of it was as important a ritual as the eating of it. One of my kitchen cabinets was full of sushi serving supplies. Thankfully not any leftover fish.

I am very glad that we did this. The week leading up to it was not fun and I was a bit grumpy, partially because I had all this stuff and felt rather, ugh, stupid for acquiring it and the constant price checking on EBay gets tiring. But, I feel cleansed and have a nice chunk of change that I took to the bank this morning. And, I know there are a few people in Denver who found a few items they needed at a fair price.

If you have any purging tips, please share in the comments. If every household in America purged, just think of how full the re-use market would be! Perhaps so big, it would crush new products for awhile and the country could stop taking on water. This stuff has led us into debt, let's not allow it to sink us.

14 comments:

Sonya --Dime Store Thrift said...

I am so proud of you. I admire and respect. Nicely worded post! Actually all of them pertaining to the pending sale have been great:)
There is a book by Karen Kingston called Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui and is WONDERFUL to help push you along in the de-cluttering mode. I typically declutter and then wait a day and do it again to get all the stuff that tried to stay.
Blessings to you and yours!
Sonya
PS...Sioux City is a great place to raise kiddos;)

Kim said...

I need to purge...I know I do. We currently rent, but will be buying a home in the near future and I always find great things at the thrift store that I know will work "in our real house". I will purge prior to moving and probably again after. Hard to pass up great items at a great price. I am guilty of this.

Shopping Golightly said...

Sonya, how true. I will extend my seasonal arranging of closets to the home. Right now, I look out into the dining room and farther to the living room and I see functional furniture, lamps and books. Perhaps in three weeks, I'll see something different.

Laurie said...

I'm purging this week! Clearing out a camper that became a storage shed along the way. We're going to clean it up and sell it. Yay! Your posts have inspired me.

Ms. M said...

"If it hasn’t seen the light of day in a year and it’s not an heirloom, it’s gone."

I need to turn that into a big poster and hang it on the wall.

I'm constantly decluttering, but there are some things I've been hanging on to because I think I might use them. Or more honestly, I feel guilty about the fact that I haven't made use of them.

These things (and the guilt) need to go.

Thanks.

Shopping Golightly said...

Ms. M.

"Or more honestly, I feel guilty about the fact that I haven't made use of them."

That's a good quotation for a poster too. I purged those things from my life - well almost all of them.

I still might learn calligraphy. Yeah right! With all the fonts available and my fear of my own ugly print. In the words of my matriarch, "Like hell I will".

Calligraphy pen, you are so gone!

dogsmom said...

I come from a genetic line of pack rats (I can not bring myself to admit to the H word) and then attached myself to a family with tendencies as strong as my birth family. I see potential in everything. And even I am learning that HAVING is not the same as enjoying. Unless one can use and enjoy, you are decreasing the value of any item. Then it is better to value the space you can enjoy when excess STUFF has moved along to others who hopefully will again increase its value.

UrbanCottageDecor.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daisy said...

Daughter just moved home from college and hopes to move out again soon. the worst part? Her piles! We can't purge them, because she will need them again - soon. That's the key word -- soon.

marketing said...

A really great way to make money is going to a garage sell and buy stuff that you know people would love at a flee market. Loading up and having a mark up on things is a great way to make a profit

Sherrie said...

I admire your hard work! Very smart, playing jazz to shop by. Well, I'm not there with you yet. My cabinets are filled with thrift shop things that I still feel attached to, even though I don't use them. I know I should purge because we intend to sell this house within the next couple of years, and what will I do at the last minute with all of this stuff? We want to move to a smaller house. Ack! There is supposed to be a fund raiser rummage sale at church some time in the near future, so that will be my opportunity to take a hard look at my things and deicide what stays and what goes.

Sherrie said...

My word "deicide" in the previous post was a Freudian slip! :-O

Saver Queen said...

I love the tip about "when you finish a phase..."
when i moved a few months ago, I purged a lot of stuff that was left over from my past relationship. they were items that served me at that time but just became burdens - reminders of the past. Sometimes I wonder if I should have purged as much as I did, but I think it was an important symbolic move. Also, I'm a believer that it's better to purge too much than too little, especially because if your'e a good thrifter you know that most items can ultimately be purchased again at a low price if necessary.

erin said...

we practice the "one in, one out" rule as best we can. i was just given some lovely kitchen items from the 50's--a glass turkey baster, an aluminum cookie press and a thermometer set still in box. the "modern" (a.k.a. "crappy, built-to-break) versions of these items were placed in the "out" pile. there's no sense in having more than one of items like these, especially when they're used pretty infrequently.