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A Sad Surprise: Nobody Wants Your Stuff

Category: Home and Garden

March 23, 2018 — Are you one of the many people who have been carefully amassing, polishing, and preserving all kinds of collections for posterity? Here is some really bad news – nobody wants it but you! As one furniture dealer, speaking about early 20th century goods, commented, “It’s never coming back.”

Recent articles in the New York Times and the blog highlighted this sad issue, which then generated an avalanche of emotional comments. It is very hard for people to part with objects that represent emotional or sentimental ties with the past. Many people develop feelings of guilt about losing objects tied to their ancestors, while others go into denial.

Here are some of the top 10 treasures that you might love, but nobody else wants.

1. Glass and ceramic figurines. Way too old-fashioned and fussy today.
2. Silverplate and china sets. Millenials aren’t interested in polishing silver or storing multiple china sets.

3. Collections of anything, such as antique dolls, clocks, etc. You might have many beautiful objects but folks don’t have the room or interest in displaying them.
4. Oriental rugs. Not light enough for today’s casual lifestyle. Most have little value because they are threadbare, or the owner paid too much to begin with.
5. Heavy and dark furniture. Mid-century modern like Eames or Knoll are desirable, but no thanks, mom, to anything else.

A mid-century modern chair might be worth something

6. Old photo albums. Who were those people anyway?
7. Stamp collections. Unfortunately, a quiet hobby that has no one interested in it anymore.

8. Books. Your Winston Churchill collection is of no interest. Our father-in-law died with a stunning collection of books about Native Americans and their battles with the U.S. cavalry (his ancestor was a West Point Cavalry Officer in that era). Unfortunately it proved very difficult to find the few people who might have had an interest in it.
9. Old magazines and paper ephemera. You might have 20 years of Gourmet Magazine, and every birthday card you ever received, but no one wants them.
10. Equipment older than mid 20th century. Sewing machines, film projectors, etc. There are a few exceptions – phonograph turntables are coming back.

Antique cars.  Nothing seems quite as volatile as the antique car market.  Muscle cars from the 60s seem to be really valuable, while classics from the 50s decline.  The sentimental value of having “dad’s car” might make kids want to have it, but they have to have a place to store it.

What to do about your stuff
There are a variety of things you can do, once you get over the grief you might have that no one wants your stuff. Here are some of the best suggestions we have heard:
Get started planning now, and don’t add any more to the collections. The worst thing you can do is to burden your heirs with disposing of stuff they don’t like and know nothing about.
Find out what is worth. You can search online, hire an appraiser, or go an antiques dealer. That process might find you some outlets.
Hire a service to liquidate it, conduct an estate sale, put it on consignment, or sell it on ebay. is the type of company that will help you get rid of everything at once.
Advertise for takers. Let your children, relatives or friends know what you have and ask them if they want it. Don’t shame the kids into taking it though.
Give it away. Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and church groups will take almost anything except upholstered furniture. At least you can get a modest tax deduction.

Comments? What have your experiences with parting with treasures from your life? Have you had good success doing so? What would be the hardest thing for you to part with? Please share your tips and experiences in the Comments section below.

For further reading
NYTimes: Parents With Lots of Stuff and Children That Don’t Want It
Know What Your Stuff Is Worth
Top 10 Objects Your Kids Don’t Want
12 Steps to Downsizing Success

Posted by Admin on March 22nd, 2018


  1. What I would have trouble parting with are my records, cassette tapes and CDs. Although I don’t listen to them much anymore, they have great sentimental value to me. When I hear those old songs, I am instantly transported into a set of memories from long ago, some happy and some not so much. Few of them are in pristine shape so there probably wouldn’t be much resale value. I’ll probably just hang onto to the ones that my sons don’t want, if any.

    My wife and two of my sons are avid readers of books. Between our home and vacation home, we probably have over a thousand books and the number keeps growing. When the time comes to downsize, we have a used book store in DFW called “Half Priced Books” that will give you something for your books that they think they can resell. Most of the collection will probably go there so we can at least get something for them.

    by LS — March 23, 2018

  2. Totally agree with this article topic. However, I just want to comment that some of these “items” may be quite valuable to sell. I recall someone inherited a large stamp collection from an elderly uncle. These were new – never used in pristine condition in the collector books. Some of the stamps were extremely rare and upon research worth thousands of dollars. A single sheet of stamps was listed for $10K – don’t know what the final totals. I say SELL them NOW and enjoy the proceeds! Antique Road Show!

    by JoannL — March 23, 2018

  3. I have been trying to sell some culinary books on ebay and have had absolutely no interest. They are beautiful books and have not even been read. Were part of culinary course price. Books were originally $35 and up and written by chefs from famous culinary school. Trying to sell them for around $14 and not one has sold! So, I may call a local culinary school that teaches basic skills so the students can get jobs in the restaurant industry and donate them. Books are bad news! Trying to down size and can’t get rid of this giant pile of books!

    by Louise — March 23, 2018

  4. A friend and I took lots of stuff from our parents houses to a consigner in a little touristy town know for antique shops. The consigner wanted very few things in her shop – there’s no market. What she would take were some WWII items, some old fireman items, and a few pieces of 30s and 40s accessories like a bakelite necklace, and faux tiger belt. And the pieces aren’t what you’d think if you watch Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers. If you have energy, try a garage sale, but sell the stuff by the box and make it cheap – at least it will save you from having to lug too much to local charity thrift for donation. Heck, even they don’t always want it.

    by jean — March 23, 2018

  5. I agree with some of this article, but not all. Over the last three years I cleared out 2 large homes, my mother’s (that she lived in for 40 years), and my in-laws’ (over 60). Combined house sizes totaled over 5000 square feet.

    Books, records, CDs, magazines and other media? Fuggedaboutit. I threw out a lot and considered myself blessed to be able to donate a small portion. Same is true for collections – they reflect the collectors’ passions and interests, not the interests of their heirs. Donation boxes and trash bin.

    Nobody wants someone’s old photo albums, and that usually include the subjects of the photographs. At a maximum your kids might want a couple dozen favorite photos from their childhoods. (Today’s scrapbookers will learn that lesson the hard way when their children eschew the thirteen books that document their lives from K-12, not to mention the baby and toddler books.)

    As for the rest, good stuff keeps its value and junk doesn’t improve with age. I had no trouble distributing Mikasa and better crystal, Lladro and other high quality figurines, sterling and (high quality) silverplate, well made furniture without plastic or molded areas, “real” jewelry (gold, diamond, precious and semi-precious stones), etc., to the children and grandchildren. Extras were eagerly offered new homes by friends of the grandchildren, many of whom were at the age of setting up their own households.

    My mother, a child of the Depression, taught her children that quality is quality, junk is junk, and to never confuse the two. When it came time to distribute her possessions her words held true.

    by JCarol — March 23, 2018

  6. Absolutely in agreement with this. However, I can’t bring myself to sell the family bone china, crystal, or sterling silver. I acknowledge my kids would never go out and spent thousands on a set of silver or full set of Irish crystal. On the other hand, perhaps grandkids will want these items with family history someday. If they don’t, I won’t be around to watch them be sold, along with other items like Grandma’s WW2 Lane hope chest with the plastic lock (since all metals were used for the war effort) and Great-Grandpa’s gold pocket watch from the 1890s. The bigger heartbreak for me is that my kids don’t want the family jewelry. I was a Timex girl, but my spouse was more of a Rolex Wardrobe kind of guy My daughter is a medical professional and very practical with no interest in jewelry. My sons would never wear heavy gold chains, diamond tie-tacks and cufflinks, or men’s gemstone rings. I do my best to share family stories (Dad gave me this piece when first kid was born; this item was Grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary gift to Grandma; Dad had this piece designed as a Valentine’s gift for me with stones that his parents bought from DeBeers in the 1950s…). Even pieces that aren’t extremely valuable are sentimentally priceless. I’ve made a list of who-gets-what based on value, keep the appraisals updated (items are in a home safe, not in a bank lockbox), and have explained to them that I’d like them to hang onto certain items for grandkids or great-grandkids. That’s all I can do.

    by Kate — March 24, 2018

  7. He who dies with the most stuff has crabby heirs!

    by Sandie — March 24, 2018

  8. Kate, you have put a thoughtful plan together. However, in the end maybe they still won’t want the stuff. What means a lot to you, won’t to the children. They will be happy to be remembered but they will see it as something they have to squirrel away in a drawer never to be seen till they die and someone else comes across it and has no idea what the story behind it all is. As painful as this reality is, maybe you could sell this stuff for cash and buy some stock with it or an IRA to give to the kids. I have no children and was an only child. I inherited Mom’s house, IRA and other stuff but she had no jewels or anything antique that was valuable. I am still sorting thru some of her stuff 5 years later and it is really stuff that is worth nothing. But GUILT is keeping from getting rid of it. Mom would never have guilted me but I choose to guilt myself. Think of it this way, if you were to sell the stuff that made you happy, in turn the buyer will also hang onto the stuff and will love the stuff for years to come. You will make the new owner happy. On the other hand if you give this stuff to your children who don’t want it they will give it away or sell it because they don’t want it! Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but I have also read many articles on this that the younger generations do not want this stuff! What I would suggest is that you take pictures of all your heirlooms and tell a story about each piece. Such as ‘this was grandma’s, this was grandpa’s, etc. Make it into a book and have it printed at Staples and have them bind it. Give a copy to each kid/grandkid along with your generous cash or stock gift. In a way you will leave them with memories that they don’t have to figure out what to do with. Maybe they will regret not taking an heirloom in the end but such is life. Good luck!

    by Louise — March 24, 2018

  9. Great idea, Louise. I also have no children/grandkids. I am selling my stuff, little by little, and will leave money to nieces and nephews. What I have left are things I like and most not worth anything so they can be donated or go to trash.


    by Sharon Alexander — March 24, 2018

  10. Louise, your comment was so true. And also, if you really insist your kids have your items, they will take them. But they will hang on to them out of guilt, and try to get their kids to take them. My parents let us go through everything before they died. My 2 sisters and I took what we wanted. My parents donated the rest. So we were able to use the things before they passed. My husband’s parents( just passed tues, 1/2 hr apart) did the same. I have sold everything of value that I really didn’t need on Ebay& local consignment shops. I don’t have children so have some jewelry to younger women i love. My husband will retire in 4 yrs, and we don’t want much “stuff” anymore. So I’m constantly going through things.

    by Tomi — March 24, 2018

  11. Lots of people I know in Washington DC donate most of their things and get more from the tax deduction than they would from selling it. It is a hassle to set up a sale, advertise it and/or pay a professional to do so. A Wider Circle here in Washington, DC takes furniture and things and distributes those items to those in need. I am not sure if it is a national company, but they will send a truck and pick up gently used furniture and other items and then they will give you a receipt for the donation. Good Luck to everyone. I have downsized and it is not easy as it has been well stated so many things have a sentimental value or bring back a certain memory to us–but to no one else. I will probably photograph items prior to giving them away and that may preserve the value at least to me.

    by Jennifer — March 24, 2018

  12. Louise,
    Forget the paper, do it in a digital format, maybe even a video. Takes up less space, more likely to be viewed.

    by Sandie — March 25, 2018

  13. Sandi, I agree but disagree too. I have lots of things on digital format and half the time I can’t find it on my computer. Maybe if on a flash drive and in some kind of a gift box that could be stored in a safe place. I also have flash drives with this and that too. CD/DVD’s are probably headed for the grave yard too since computers are not sold with the equipment to view them. I had to buy an external drive recently.

    by Louise — March 25, 2018

  14. We just digitized all of our family movies but what do you do when you have suitcases full of pics…way to expensive to transfer all of them!! I guess I won’t be able to keep most of them…..and not having children they’d all end up in the garbage after we’re gone anyways….

    by Mary11 — March 26, 2018

  15. Regarding the downsizing conversation, I had containers full of sports medals that my son had earned over the years from track, marathons and soccer. He did not want them, and it seemed a shame to pitch them. After doing a little research I found a wonderful organization online that accepts sports medals. They put new ribbons on them and present them to children in hospitals who are undergoing cancer treatments. If anyone is interested, there is more information and detail on their website:

    by Barbara — March 27, 2018

  16. Correction on that website address for the organization that accepts donated sports medals

    by Barbara — March 27, 2018

  17. Memories created are the best. Except for a few treasured pictures….just use your cell phone for pics and eliminate as needed.

    by Jennifer — March 27, 2018

  18. Here is a place that will do all the scanning for you:

    by Louise — March 27, 2018

  19. Great idea Jennifer. I’ve actually done that before but it could be time consuming if you have too many pics. I don’t plan on keeping all of them so maybe that would work…

    by Mary11 — March 27, 2018

  20. Really great article, John!

    by Susan Cerulean — March 28, 2018

  21. An old motto to live by…when in doubt, throw it out.

    Cleanses the soul.

    by Lance — March 28, 2018

  22. With the privacy issue in all the news about Facebook, NBC gave instructions on how to download what FB has on ‘you’. The best thing I discovered by doing the download was that it put all the photos ever uploaded to my facebook in a folder…so now have them in one place on my laptop….the way to get this data is to Go To ‘your’ Facebook page and in the top blue title bar over to the right click on the down arrow to drop down a menu ….Click on Settings ….this will take you to the General Account Settings for yourself. At the bottom you will notice a link “Download a Copy of your Facebook data”. It’s not instantaneous, but I loved getting all the photos in one folder…you do get other data.

    by Coelle — March 28, 2018

  23. My mother and I are sentimental. so, yes. I too was a saver. But, my two grown children are not. My husband and I have been emptying the attic for a year now….one or two boxes at a time. We laughed at the old Sears catalogs from “important” years such as our birth or marriage. Then we dumped them. Some things that I had saved from our children’s childhood, I successfully re-gifted to their children as age appropriate…updating some items or just getting out for fun. Many of the games and toys have been reused at my house when the grandchildren come. Many donated. We giggled over “why” we felt some of the items seemed important enough to keep for 40 years. But, all those other items, from my children’s childhood and from our collectable years….its all gone. Medals, trophies, newspaper clippings, prom photos, baby shoes…gone. I announced to each child that their “stuff” was coming to them at our next visit. I “hoped” they took the time to look through if for nothing but the memories or a good laugh. But, it was theirs now to keep, toss, sell…I didn’t need to know. It was difficult but, I’m down to still keeping their respective baby books and “my” photos which I expect will be burned some day. But, it won’t take them long to do so!

    by MLK — March 28, 2018

  24. I have many trays of travel slides I used in my class lectures at a college and for seminars. My Monterey County recycle center advised: photos-recycle bin with paper; slides & negatives-trash bin; slide trays-trash (so broke them up into plastic & metal components, then OK to recycle.

    by Richard — March 28, 2018

  25. Do Not throw away all of your old photos. As an amateur genealogist I can tell you that they ARE valuable to someone. If you have no one to give them to who would want them, donate the important ones (family members, homesteads, special events, etc.) to online sites like Different sites have different rules, but most must be at least 50 years old and everyone in them deceased. I promise you there will be some third cousin twice removed who will cherish them in the future. Pick thru the old boxes and use the best. If you can submit names, places or dates that is best. Then pitch the rest. The only picture of my great grandfather is a grainy one of him standing with a horse in a farmyard.

    by Sherry52Co — March 28, 2018

  26. When each child left home I gave them all their keepsakes in boxes. I went through the photos and made a book with the photos that were mainly of them and mixed in some other family and pet photos. I had them go through what they wanted and they got rid of the rest. Surprisingly somethings I didn’t thing they would want they did so it was good I had them take care of it. They really kept it at a minimum. They don’t want to move the stuff across country. Large pieces of quality pieces of furniture that I know they love I just give it to them now. They aren’t going to want or need it years down the road when they’ll have already bought something. This way they get to enjoy now and I still do too. My mother left a four bedroom house packed with stuff. I swore back then I would never do that to my children. Plus it’s seems embarrassing having people go through stuff that’s not worth the effort. I’ve slimmed down holiday decor too. I’m young enough and healthy enough to organize my life the way I want it. If down the road I decide to move it won’t be physically or mentally draining. I think it’s rather self to leave a mess for others to clean up.

    by Kate — March 28, 2018

  27. Forget about Half Price Books. They will only pay you 5% to 10% of THEIR shelf price. They are the only business I’ve ever seen that has a 90 – 95% Gross Margin. Donate your books to a library. You may not get a tax deduction you can use but at least you’ll feel better knowing your books are available to be read.

    by Ken Fuss — March 28, 2018

  28. Good point Ken. One tip though from someone who is a veteran library book sale volunteer. It is not very often that your used books will end up in a library collection – by the time you offer yours up they are no longer in that great of demand. Most will end up in a book sale for the library, but that is a good source of revenue for always cash-starved libraries.

    But, don’t waste the time of the volunteers by donating books that will instantly go in the trash (and that costs money too). Textbooks, magazine collections, technical books, Readers Digest condensed books – nobody wants those. Recycle them as paper.

    What they want
    But libraries can sell your recent best-sellers, paperbacks, etc. And if you have rare or very old books, they usually bring a good price. Anything left over after the sale usually is donated to a prison or the like, although sometimes they have to be thrown away.

    by Jack — March 28, 2018

  29. I have a bunch of books from the Culinary Institute of America written mostly by chefs and trying to sell them on ebay. I sold one in more than a months time. I give up on them! There is a small culinary school in my town that teaches the basics for people to get jobs as short order cooks and to be able to work in professional kitchens. I was going to offer the books to the school, but not sure they are suitable for students only learning basic culinary stuff. The books aren’t for rocket scientists, they are basically full of recipes and techniques. What do you think would be better, donating to the culinary school if they are even interested or donating to the library which might get sold.

    by Louise — March 28, 2018

  30. One year ago I moved my mom into an assisted living home. At the time she insisted on keeping her condo, so it was left as-is when she unhappily went out the door. In October she wanted to sell it. We live in another state, so off we went to clean out the condo. I remember one time she waved her hand in the air saying, “someday all this will be yours to deal with.” Piles of notes, baggies of green twist ties, pamphlets from all her travels, a pristine set of Encylopedia Brittanica with gold gilded pages. It was difficult. Even though my mom was not present, I felt like she was watching me with accusation saying ‘what are you going to do with that?’ I felt so inhibited that we packed everything up and, over a series of trips, brought it all to our house so I could go over it on my own turf. What’s left is furniture and a whole functioning kitchen. Last year there were hundreds of people in California ruined from wild fires – and here is a whole house of stuff I could donate to help someone refurnish a home, but how do I do that? What do I do with this furniture? Some is Drexel mid-century modern real wood furniture and 60 years later is in almost perfect condition. I tried some consignment stores and they said sorry, can’t sell it. My mom inbued even the most trivial thing with ‘preciousness’ that even donating a coffee mug her deceased sister gave her for a long ago Mother’s Day is almost sacrilegious. And the fine English bone china my mom sacrificed to buy as a gift for her mother that my mom got back when her mother died… and how it’s in my garage instead of the china cabinet that is still at her condo. I agree with the earlier writer – I will not do this to my children. And if I am unable to get rid of my stuff on my own, I hope to write a note of what to do with it and where to donate it where it could do the most good. It sure makes me think about why we cling to our stuff and what it says about us and our lives. My ‘things’ are for my pleasure and I don’t expect my kids or grandkids to value it like I do.

    by Pam — March 28, 2018

  31. I loved my grandparents (as most kids do) and wanted to help my children understand that connection. I gathered all photos of earlier generations of my family and made a scrapbook notated with their dates, relationships and identifying information about each photo. I copied the photos and made duplicates for each of my siblings.
    Turned out, my own children were interested enough to look through the scrapbook once or twice, but my youngest nephew who is more of my grandson’s age, is a genealogist at heart. His interest inspired me to dig out other things to share with him. I am the oldest sibling so I can recall things that my brothers have foggy memories about. It has been a great experience. Don’t trash the stuff. There might be someone longing to find it someday.

    by judy engle — March 28, 2018

  32. Vietnam Vets Association will pick up at your doorstep most donated things. Jewelry (valuable) and gold coins should be sold (NYC. Diamond Exchange mid 40’s West Side ) and proceeds invested for heirs or spent before they close the lid.

    by Gerald Lenaz — March 28, 2018

  33. Pam, you could try to sell some of the bigger or fragile stuff on Ebay. You could advertise as a local pick up. No shipping because of size and fragile nature. My Hub and I sold a garden tractor and another large piece of equipment on Ebay. I do not like people/strangers coming to my home but these were sincere people who paid first and then came to the house to pick up the stuff. I did NOT want to exchange money at the house. Too many weirdo’s out there. Craigslist is another option but I have heard of some bad things using that. My girlfriend gave away a couch and chair. She had no problems.

    For your China you might check out this website. They will buy China and other stuff.

    Selling old furniture:

    Pam, I feel your pain with the stuff you dragged to your house. I had to get rid of my Mom’s whole house full of stuff. I contacted this place that was a charitable organization. They came to the house and took everything. Even clothes. There were a few things that they didn’t take like mattresses and one chair with mouse damage and a recliner with some damage. It was really heartbreaking to see it all go but I knew all that stuff would help someone else. I couldn’t store all that stuff and sell it piece by piece. I would say to you, free yourself of your guilt and find a solution you can live with and get rid of the furniture. Maybe you can find some other picker place to take the furniture but in reality, the place in my area, if they take an item on, they allow something like 60 days and if it sells you get 60% and they get 40%. If they don’t sell it you either pick it up and take it back home or they will dispose of it. You are never going to make a fortune on it. Maybe you could call you local fire department to see if they take donations for a yearly auction. You could donate the furniture and feel good you did a good thing for fire department or church. Good luck!

    by Louise — March 29, 2018

  34. You know it will not work when you leave your treasured memorabilia at Goodwill and you get a citation for littering……

    There is also danger of your stuff owning you rather than you owning your stuff. Nonetheless, there may be a business opportunity in marketing tee shirts that read “I am not a hoarder but a collector.”

    When my mother died in New York and I had to bring her items out of her place, I spent days looking at an old and torn leather purse that she carried with her until the day she died. It is heartbreaking and guilt hovers over you, but the time has to be made if it does not come on its own to let go……

    by Bob — March 29, 2018

  35. My 80 yr. old mother has always liked “nice things”, and she has plenty of them. She was willing to pay for good quality. About a year ago, I began mentioning to her that it will be a real chore to go through everything in her house after she passes.

    So, she has now begun giving me her “beautiful clothes”. (Mom was a clothes-horse) Yes, I can see the value of them, but most were “high fashion” during the time period when “Dynasty” was a popular prime time t.v. show. (eye rolling). With some adjustments, I’ll be able to wear about 1/2 of the skirts, but the tops with the thick shoulder pads and big puffy sleeves? Not so much. Additionally, about 1/2 of the clothes are too small on me, even though when mom foists another armload onto me, she INSISTS that they’ll all fit me. (another eye roll). I’m retired now, myself, but mom doesn’t seem to hear me when I tell her, “I have no place to wear your ‘like new’ suits to”.

    I could stop here, but I have a related story to tell. Shoes. Recently, mom insisted I take about 12 pairs of heels with me. The style of most of them survived the onslaught of 20-30 years (quite amazingly), but after I got them home and tried them on (walking my kitchen floor), the heel tips of 3 of the shoes crumbled under my 125 lb weight. Also, the leather was so old that the leather cracked and peeled on many of the others.

    You may wonder why I bother going down this road with her. The answer is two-fold: 1) Rather than hurting her feelings and/or starting an argument, it’s better to just acquiesce and take the clothes home with me. At home, I’m in my own territory, where I can put the articles into piles and decide where it’s all going to; 2) It’s easier to wade through all this stuff a portion at a time while she is still living (and I can ask her questions), rather than to have to wade through it all at once, after she passes.

    After all the clothes have been gone through, maybe we can start on some of her other stuff, too. There’s just so much of it, neat and pristine, carefully packed away in closets and drawers. Unfortunately for me, the realization of “You can’t take it with you!” has come to her a bit late. I hope my story helps some of you think about your own saved “treasures”, and the effect that the passage of time has on them. It’s just not a good idea to wait too long to start the unwinding process.


    by Monni — March 29, 2018

  36. I think I should clarify, somewhat. Mom would like me to value all of her things with the same gusto as she does. But, our tastes clash in most everything in life. At the beginning of this unwinding process with her, she would insist that whatever she gave me — that I not give it to anyone else. This desire of hers was about as unrealistic as it could possibly have been. Luckily, during the past year, we’ve made great progress on this front. Mom has come around to the idea that, while I’ll keep some of her things, the rest will have to parceled out to other people I know, and/or go to consignment. This is a struggle for her, which I understand (to a degree). The older we all get, the harder it is for us to adjust to change, and to let go.

    To all of you out there, have a great day! 🙂

    by Monni — March 29, 2018

  37. You know…..some theatres might be grateful for clothes, bags, shoes and jewellery. It’s worth a few calls. Rep theatres have few funds….schools with a theatre group….colleges??? Organisations with no funding might be grateful for many items, including furniture. Also, museums……just think. My father’s best friend was killed at Pearl Harbour, and I regret not keeping his letters…….just be careful, and try to take your time.

    by Joyce — March 29, 2018

  38. Monni, yours is a very relevant, elegantly stated story that has me thinking about all this wth greater urgency (as I lay here just starting recovery from a knee replacement ? ). Thank you for sharing — it’s important. That “?” above was a smiling emoji — at least on my phone.

    by RichPB — March 29, 2018

  39. The Hub and I have no one to leave anything to. I am trying to weed stuff out. I don’t have a lot of sentimental stuff and if I had my way I think I would dispose of everything, move and buy all new furniture. It would be nice to start out new again like we did as newlyweds. We had so much fun!

    by Louise — March 30, 2018

  40. Louise, thank you for your helpful suggestions. I take some measure of comfort knowing there are many people going through the same things with our parents, regardless of the causes that brought us to this point in our lives. I have a couple small mementos from my great-grandmother that are meaningful to me, and perhaps that’s enough to pass down from one generation to the next – a small item, photos, and family stories, not an avalanche of household stuff. The day I braced myself and threw out the perfect set of Encyclopedia Brittanica was liberating. I kept one book to make a ModgePodge craft from, but even that might get thrown out. Truly, no one wants that, even the library.

    by Pam — March 30, 2018

  41. I happen to have a boat load of culinary books from CIA and some other famous chef books. Tried to sell them on ebay and sold 3 in over a months time. TOO time consuming and it is become beyond annoying seeing this pile on my dining room table. I have contacted a local culinary school that teaches basic culinary skills and asked if they would take the books as a donation. I hope they do. If not, the next step is the library then Goodwill! I already contacted Animal Welfare to see if they have an annual tag sale and they did away with it! I think these books are the books from HELL! No one wants them! Even for free! Each one is worth $35 or more! LOL! They are going to find a new home very soon and I will take back my dining room table.

    Pam, good for you on the encyclopedias! It is hard to toss ‘good’ stuff but sometimes we have no choice. Just donate as much as you can. Goodwill and Vietnam Vets will give you a receipt so you can claim the donation on your taxes. If that will even work with this new tax thing starting this year. I always feel when I donate, I am giving more life to an item and I always hope some person who is on hard times will enjoy it and give the items a good home. I guess the good thing is that we will never know. I have to get my butt in gear and start decluttering.

    Pam, you said you have a whole kitchen worth of stuff. Maybe you could contact some organization like Vietnam Veterans and they will take the appliances. You could help so many people and it would make you feel good. You could also contact a church to see if there are any needy people. Some young couples or a single mom who is having a rough time or an elderly person. You will find the right place to give to and will be freed of this stuff you have no use for! Good luck to you!

    by Louise — March 30, 2018

  42. HURRAY! The culinary school contacted me yesterday and they are happy to accept the cook books and they offered to pick them up if I so desire! Happy Dance!

    by Louise — March 31, 2018

  43. Louise, were you CIA? 1976 here. Left the biz after 20 years, moved to IT (and civilized hours).
    Sorry for the thread drift, all… 🙂

    by Peder — March 31, 2018

  44. Peder, not quite sure what you are asking! My Hub went to Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for one day courses in different cooking skills. He learned how to prepare poultry, meat, seafood, grilling meats, one dish meals, soup prep, knife skills and so on. Each class included a hardbound book.

    If you are referring to the government CIA, No! LOL!

    by Louise — March 31, 2018

  45. Louise – I meant the culinary school, I’m a Hyde Park graduate. Good career for the young, not so much for the family types. Carry on.

    by Peder — April 1, 2018

  46. Peder, you should consider working in research and development with your culinary education! I worked in R&D and we had chef’s to create the Gold Standard recipes then the recipes were handed down to the technologists to make them cost effective and factory friendly. It was really a fun atmosphere, beyond excellent pay and great hours M-F. All holidays off, week off at Christmas. Perks, perks, perks! I was a technician and they treated me like gold too. I traveled all over the USA and once to Switzerland! Unfortunately, the company moved out of state and I didn’t go. Wish I had but circumstances at the time didn’t allow.

    I worked with other Hyde Park graduates too in R&D. The Hub went to Hyde Park for the one day cooking enthusiasts programs. I also went to a one day cooking class at Hyde Park for a dessert course.

    by Louise — April 1, 2018

  47. My brother died and left the house a total disaster. Four large dumpsters later and we’re still pitching things out. Please get rid of unneeded junk now! We pitch out stuff from our house regularly- a good practice is to see how many trashcans you can fill when you go through your closets.

    by Lee Paquet — August 24, 2018

  48. I agree, Lee. My sister died leaving a hoarding nightmare that we had to hire people to empty since it was 1000 miles away. My mother went into a nursing home and even though I begged my dad to let us get rid of some of the crap in their house, he wouldn’t even let us remove used paper towels. He would laugh and say “I pity the person who has to get rid of this house when I die.” I assured him that person was going to be me. Nothing. When it finally happened it took weeks to dispose of everything, most donated to a city mission, the rest in dumpsters. My spouse and I would return home after each trip and empty room after room until we were down to a bare minimum. My daughter will not be burdened as we were. Isn’t it odd that the clutter-bugs never have to go through that grueling stress, at least not the ones in my family. It’s a shame you can’t just lock the door and auction the house like a self-storage unit.

    by Daryl — August 25, 2018

  49. We went through a time-consuming and overwhelming 9 months of sorting through my mother and aunts “treasures” who lived together the last 17 years of their lives and believed that who ever died with the most crap won. I would have been very surprised at the thought that family members did not want photographs as pointed out in this great article, except when talking to a nephew and asking his thoughts about having all their slides, photos and videos transferred to CD’s , he said “whatever is easier to take to the recycling center or curb”. I have since decided my children should only have to deal with my fine collection of dust bunnies.

    by darla — August 25, 2018

  50. I’ve been following these down-sizing/de-cluttering discussions for some time now, but have to say “thanks” to Lee, Daryl, and Darla. You added that extra little “kick” that rings true.

    We’ve started, but it’s mostly the obvious junk or excess stuff. The hard part is the photos, etc. but af least it will be all in a “clump”. The attic and stuff stashed in other rooms is next. We’re to the point of saying, “if you don’t pick it up by dd/mm, it’s gone”. We don’t need to be stashing stuff for family who don’t have the interest to come get what the “want”.

    by RichPB — August 26, 2018

  51. My concern is figuring out if what you have is valuable. I have things that were expensive purchases years ago but how valuable can it be if nobody wants it? I think that people who come in and do in- home sales may not know the value of antiques, etc. Are estate auctions a good way to go?

    by Staci — October 11, 2018

  52. Staci, If you think your items might be valuable hire an appraiser assess them. As a general rule, people who go to estate auctions or house sales want bargains so f there is anything of great value it might be best in a specialized auction.

    by Jean — October 12, 2018

  53. I have found this blog article to be so true. We are sorting and stacking hundreds of tubs full of collections in my mother’s house and have found sure enough no one wants photos, oriental rugs, old dishes or books. (One thing that surprised me was the interest in tools, they were by far the most popular item for family member). I gave away the stamp collection which gave me a headache just looking at all the unopened envelopes from a stamp company, the coins were assessed and as expected, not worth anything. The silver bowls, plates, and trays we tried to give to the younger generations but they didn’t bite so the silver went to the church. The containers of mishmash which I dreaded going through turned out to be the easiest after all when a nephew suggested he sort through them and sell on his established ebay store. This has worked out perfectly as he gets a larger percentage since it is a lot of work on his part and he does the research. The first week he sold an old, dark light fixture for $400 and a pair of oriental bookends for $200, (both bought by my mother at yard sales for a few bucks). Maybe nothing else will sell like that, but it is better for us than hiring an appraiser and we are actually having a little fun. What is left will go to a charitable organization. I have to admit I sort of forgot about ebay but so far it has worked out just fine with no problems with buyers or payments.

    by Janet — June 21, 2019

  54. How about old cars – does anyone here collect or restore antique cars? Some look so great compared to the everything looks the same styling of today. Me, how about a really stylish Studebaker or a 50’s Packard convertible like our family doctor drove. I have several friends with old MGBs and TR6’s, and they drive them almost every day. Do these cars hold their value? And would one of your kids want one?

    by Admin — October 17, 2019

  55. Admin, the guys on American Pickers frequently haggle for old cars on the show. The amount their experts say they are worth is all over the place. The condition is a factor and if restored, the quality of the restoration is huge, a less than museum quality restoration seems to make value much lower than never restored. Also, the numbers have to match (serial number on car, motor, and other parts.) Here in the Pa/NJ area I see a lot of old car shows around on Summer and Fall weekends, the only people I know who go to them are either retired or close to it, if that’s any indication of how interested kids are in old cars.

    by Jean — October 18, 2019

  56. The collector car times they are a changing. Drive them, maintain them, pay taxes (including taxes, insurance and if you’re fortunate, you might break even. Sold my last high dollar muscle car in 2018. Dropped the price three times. The only party that came to look at the car were European buyers who flew over and bought it.

    Here is the link to one of the better valuation tools that are out there.

    by Futura — October 20, 2019

  57. @Futura, Just curious what make and model was your Classic Vehicle. If it were a Foreign make, I can understand, however, I am a Car Collector and have sold several Classics’s, all Domestic. I never had any trouble selling any of them.

    by Will B — October 21, 2019

  58. Will B. A 1967 Mustang GT 390 fastback, 4 speed, paperwork, original paint, owner history and 20+ year ownership (me). I was initially asking the market value from 5-10 years ago but the market has changed.

    by Futura — October 22, 2019

  59. For a fascinating tour of what happens to your stuff, once it gets to a thrift store, listen to this NPR podcast. Second hand expert Adam Minter spent months in stores and sorting centers to find out.

    by Editor — December 7, 2019

  60. Art journalist love old paper and will use it in the collage. Most of them will come and pick it up for free. Contact your local Art/Craft iCenter-use the words Art journaling or mixed media artist. These artist will be very grateful for all your old paper!

    by Brenda Voorhees — December 8, 2019

  61. We just downsized from a 4200 SF home to a Condo half that size…had a huge 3 car garage with a sweet 1950 Lincoln, a newer Studebaker Avanti, Mustang convertible, a Buick Reatta convertible, and a 1995 BMW 840CI….was able to sell them at “fire sale” prices, but am stuck with the BMW….harder and harder to sell the classics ! Anyone in the market for the BMW ? almost 70 years now, and just so so tired….

    by al tommaso — December 8, 2019

  62. I am helping a cousin go through her mother’s collections most which we can figure out what to do with. But there are tubs and tubs of stamps. Some are full sheets of famous people, places, lots of neat historical ones all never used. However, there are old loose ones in hundreds envelopes. I looked into what to do with them and found I can take them to professional stamp collectors and pay over $100 dollars an hour for them to look at, I’m not willing to do that, and not sure what they would find that would be worth the money. Has anyone been through this, I think as this blog states that it is a hobby no one is interested in anymore.

    by darladear — January 17, 2020

  63. Nerdlife accessories are easier to dispose. I am a geek and helped clean up after a geek friend passed, leaving his hoard of old action figures, comics, Star Trek & Wars junk, and so on.

    Yeah, I’m an Xer. But the Reaper is coming for us and our junk, too. So I figured I’d start young after seeing my friend die alone, with no one but the trash collector wanting his “estate.” Partly that was beause he’d not organize it, but still…a dealer paid the executor 10 cents a comic when some still were worth 20x that.

    It shocked me. I too collected old toys, and about 10 years ago, I started eBaying them. Some actually made money for me, and my life felt lighter. I began another collection, but one that will grow a lot slower: I began building 4-5 plastic models every year, a childhood hobby reborn for me. I have room to display them, now that the toys and other junk are gone. Making something is fun, exercises my mind and my manual dexterity. When I’m gone? They can toss the lot.

    The same goes for my three classic or near-classic cars. I chose to get ones I can work on myself and I drive them regularly. When I’m gone? Sell ’em or scrap ’em. None of the punks in my family have one iota of interest. My books? I read them, enjoy them, have them well shelved, and they’ll be easy to pack up but heavy to move when I’m dead.

    So stop fretting: all things must pass. Be at peace with that. Everything we own will be dust in a few centuries. Enjoy the hours of sunlight you have left.

    Now I sound like a Boomer 😀

    by Tractorpunk — March 3, 2021

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