Too bad… It’s likely that no one else wants your furniture, china, or collectibles. At a presentation called “Keep the best and get rid of the rest” sponsored by the Arlington County, VA 55+ program, presenter Matthew Quinn of Quinn’s Auction Galleries gave a “State of the stuff” status report.
The 20th century Great Depression led to accumulating, and sometimes hoarding, tendencies. People saved and collected, thinking “You never know. It might be useful or valuable someday.” It’s a generational thing that influenced the consumption habits of the Silent Generation, born in the World War years (1945 and earlier) and their Baby Boomer children (born from 1946 – 1964). With these two cohorts downsizing, the market is saturated with material possessions.
Times have changed. Instead of lack, we have bounty. The US, and much of the first world, is shifting from a material to an experiential society. We want to collect countries and adventures, not artwork or dolls, partially fueled by social media: “What exploit or journey will generate the most “likes”?” and finding that the answer to “What feeds my soul?” isn’t stuff.
Quinn stated that the buying public tends to be a 25-45-year-old female. She is interested in minimalism, pieces with clean lines. Mobility is a factor, since if a person is still moving regularly, less is better
Most “brown” furniture ends up being just firewood, having little resale value. He explained that wooden items that don’t qualify for auction will be deconstructed and ground up, with the sawdust fueling power plants. Even antiques are selling for about a 90% discount. He gave the example of a dresser purchased in the 1980s for half a million dollars that recently sold at auction for $45,000. Except for special years or brands, collectible plates sell for about 50 cents each, making them comparable in value to clay pigeons for skeet shooting.
From an environmental perspective, that hurts. Think of the raw material, energy, craftsmanship, and labor that went into that expensive firewood or target. But, as a businessman, Quinn wants items moving — auctioned, sold, gone. Storing stuff is an expensive proposition.
Releasing is a painful process. Keep something for two reasons:
- Utility: Do I need it?
- Memory: Does this remind me of a peak life experience?
While some may consider beauty as a third criteria, that can easily lead to excess. Focus on matter that matters, and not too much.
Think of the letting go process like peeling an onion. A hierarchy of disposal includes these steps:
- Start with yourself. What do I want and need?
- What might family and friends like or want?
- What has monetary value? Consult with a professional.
- Donate to charity.
- Dump it.
Quinn’s Auction Galleries doesn’t charge for a consult. You never know what hidden treasures might lurk in dark corners. Quinn invited participants to visit an auction to see how the system works and evaluate their possessions against what sells.
So, those Beanie Babies gathering dust? Sorry, nobody wants them. Although, you may be able to redeem your “investment” if you find a child who delights in plush creatures. As you move forward, focus on what you need, some of what you want, and be willing to let everything else go. You can’t take it with you.
© Joan S Grey, 10 OCT 19
IndexCardCure™: more joy, less stuff