Everyone generally agrees that family, friends, and pets come first in our lives. During a pandemic, those connections became stronger, although perhaps a little frayed at times. It was a struggle to find fun things to do at home. And the space to do them.
An unexpected (and unwanted) discovery was how much “stuff” the average household has accumulated.
A lot of people are now learning there’s a big difference between junk, clutter, and (supposed) heirlooms.
What’s age got to do with it?
Traditionally, parents and grandparents inherited family heirlooms from their ancestors and treasured them as a legacy of their family’s travels through history.
Adult children were not only happy to get the family “stuff” but in some cases fought over it or sued to get it.
Sometimes they were quite valuable items – thank you, Antiques Roadshow. Functional items were made to last. And the price often reflected that level of detail.
But furniture, in particular, could be big and a bit clunky.
In later years, mass-produced items brought the price down. But also, the quality.
And the value of items can increase or plummet according to current tastes. And no matter how well made it is, if no one wants it, what is the true value?
True heirlooms are quality, well-made pieces or something that has unique or sentimental value to a family. Unfortunately, that won’t apply to every cherished piece of family lore. Increasingly, younger family members (adult children and grandchildren) are opting for a less encumbered lifestyle. They may want the freedom to travel, have limited room for large pieces, like a “clean” look, or just want to make their own memories.
If you’re sure your items have some market value, have them appraised or do some research to see what’s selling on auction sites, social media, garage sale groups, or by doing internet searches. Talk to antique shop owners, consignment shops, or specialty second-hand stores.
If the kids don’t want it and you find it’s not worth as much as you hoped but still has possibilities, it’s time to get creative. There are a lot of small (and large) businesses that do a fine business in upscaling old items. They repurpose dated items into unique, functional pieces that fit into any decor.
If it’s not an heirloom and it’s still functional, but no one wants it, it may be clutter. There is such a thing as too many candles, wall art, books, or any number of other things that are too good to be thrown out.
- The old standby – a garage sale. These can be “live” or online. You won’t get as much as you paid for anything, but items can go pretty quickly.
- There are a number of posting websites, consignment shops, or second-hand stores that take clothing and accessories, but they have to be checked carefully. They may only accept fashions from the past few years or certain brands.
- Post on social media marketplaces. There’s a great market for popular items at a discounted price. Depending on the item, posting a free curb alert will generate some interest as well.
- Donate to:
- Goodwill, Salvation Army, churches
- Many will accept books for resale
- Clothes closets, often run by religious or non-profit groups, for disadvantaged individuals or families
- Depending on the items – schools, shelters, free clinics, animal shelters
Unfortunately, some of your cherished possessions may not be wanted by anyone. Old style TVs are a common example of items that may still work reliably. But why bother with a bulky, older model when you can buy a flat-screen TV at a great price? Nobody wants old National Geographic or Reader’s Digest magazines either.
There comes a time when you have to make those distinctions and hard decisions and take action.
With so many challenges in our lives today, we owe it to ourselves to streamline our lives. Try using time-saving devices that will make your life easier. Cut out anything that doesn’t add value in your life and focus on what’s important.
Rather than adding to the burden on the environment, call a specialist who can remove haul away junk that doesn’t bring you joy.
It’s worth it.