There are two things I hear, almost without fail, when I tell someone I am a Senior Move Manager. “I could have used you last week (month, year) when we had to move my Mom/Dad/Grandmother/Aunt…,” or “What can I do with my (or Mom’s or grandma’s) china/curio cabinet/collection of fill-in-the-blank?”
While it’s too late for me to be of any help with the recent move, people have high hopes that I know a secret place where the family treasures can be sold for top dollar. I smile and say, “yes, it’s a challenge to sell these things, isn’t it?” And then I decide whether or not to be the bearer of bad news.
The truth is that nearly everything we buy loses value the minute we buy it. Like the new car driven off the lot, your household goods are not worth nearly as much as you paid for them. Exceptions exist, of course, if you happen to own collector-quality, American antique furniture, for instance, or a fully verifiable painting by a master, or famous maker mid-century modern pieces. Chances are, however, that what you are looking to sell is good quality, mass produced furniture, china or decorative pieces. In short, items that are worth pennies on the dollar.
As if that isn’t bad enough news, there is more. Actually, a lot more. As in too much of the same stuff being offered up for purchase as a generation begins to downsize and disperse their belongings. Even worse? The generation that should be in acquisition mode, scooping up these beautiful treasures, isn’t buying. They aren’t feathering their nests with china, “antiques,” or collections of figurines. They want natural, distressed or painted finishes not cherry wood. They want simple clean lines, iron and reclaimed wood not Queen Anne with brass hardware.
I can see in their eyes that they are thinking, “sure, but MY stuff is in excellent condition/was really expensive/is so pretty.” It is beautiful and loved, of this I am sure. I try to steer the conversation to talk of using what you love. Eat meals on the Limoges dishes on a Tuesday night. Admire the curio cabinet and turn on the inside light so your collection of Hummel, or Waterford, or Depression glass, shines.
If that stuff of theirs is weighing them down, I suggest they give themselves a reasonable amount of time to find a buyer in the classifieds or on their local Craigslist, or a social media sale site. If it doesn’t attract a buyer, then I suggest they give themselves permission to let it go. This item is no longer serving them in a useful way, so move it on to someone else without the worry of what it is worth. Give it away and feel good that it can be useful and beautiful to someone else.
For my clients, I offer up a couple of dispersal options for all the items that won’t be joining them in their new downsized home. Managing their expectations is a big part of that process, but a secret, magic place where re-sale items are worth far more than yard sale prices is not. I find, however, that most people are ready to be unburdened by their stuff when the time comes and happy to see that it ends up somewhere in use rather than in a landfill.
Are you one of the 42% of Baby Boomers who are thinking about downsizing their home? Are you doing a lot of “thinking,” because the actions required to downsize are so overwhelming and you don’t know where to start?
Houses aren’t just filled with our belongings, they are filled with our memories, treasured traditions, reliable routines and family folklore. How can a person move from “thinking” to “doing” the job of downsizing 3,000 sq ft of stuff to fit inside something half as big? Or less?!
I understand and have great compassion for your worries! My clients are often relieved to have found someone who will walk them through the downsizing process and provide a framework for the tasks. Allow me to suggest you start in the least emotional space.