While the PHOTOS themselves made the move from our lake house to Arlington and are in nice album that’s now on the shelf in my apartment, those frames had to go.
There was plenty of wall space in the guest room at the lake house for about 30 nostalgic family photos to be displayed. These black-and-white photos all had a story behind them (as all photos do, I guess!), and the frames and mats had all been selected to complement the old photos. Knowing that we were downsizing and selling most everything from not only the Atlanta house but also from the lake house – into what can only be described as a small apartment – was overwhelming and emotional, to say the least. It was heartbreaking. I knew I’d miss seeing the loving faces of these long-lost family members.
It wasn’t only THESE photo frames I had to get rid of. In the Atlanta and Hartwell Lake houses, there were a total of 164 photo frames. (You read that right, 164! Ridiculous!) On every shelf in every built-in bookcase, on every dresser and in every nook and cranny, I had the faces and experiences of my past to look at and enjoy. I loved being surrounded by these memories displayed in all these lovely frames!
But they weren’t going to fit into my new apartment. As I did with the wall of framed photos, I took all the photos out of the frames on tabletops and shelves and put them in a box for looking at when I need to see them. But what was I going to do with the frames? If they were no longer going to house my memories, I wanted to recoup some of the money I had spent acquiring them.
Fewer people are buying “cluttery” items these days.
I tried to sell the frames in one big lot on eBay. Not one bite. Then I broke them up into individual sets. Still nothing. The nicer ones, I tried to sell by themselves. I sold a couple of frames that cost $60 each and got $12 for the pair. (Ten cents on the dollar!) Of the dozens of frames that didn’t sell on eBay, I put some of the larger and a few of the more-expensive smaller frames at a consignment shop. Out of about 40 that I had there, I sold three. In eight months, just three! The rest I took to Goodwill and said, with a sigh, “Good-bye. Thanks for serving me well.”
What I learned through my downsizing process (and from observing dozens of other downsizing processes) is this: Many people are already bursting at the seams and they don’t want more stuff.
Saying good-bye to beloved items is hard. Like, gut-wrenchingly hard.
The point of this whole story is to convey this: I know that like me, you’re probably nostalgic about your things. You have a hard time thinking about parting with a lot of them. But it’s just stuff and a lot of it has no place in the fresh new life you’re planning. Take a lot of good photos of your most beloved items, then list them on eBay or use one of the many apps that help you sell your stuff. And if it doesn’t sell, take it to consignment stores, take it to the street, or take it to Goodwill. But don’t expect to make a lot of money from selling it.
I’ve been going to estate sales lately. (I had one for my mother’s estate and one of my own when we left Atlanta so am familiar with the process.) Fascinating to see what people collect – especially Washington, D.C. estate sales, because many people have traveled the world in one diplomatic position or another and collected scads of cool stuff. It’s fun to buy a couple of interesting, small items to give to others, or to decorate a nicely wrapped gift, or to wear with pride and say, “I bought this at an estate sale for five bucks.” Over and over, I’ve seen a whole life stacked in room after room, collected over a 40-year run in the house. A lot of items sell, especially those in fabulous homes that are being emptied after the death of a parent or after divorce. (Can you say “bargain”?) But in many instances, even in fabulous large estates, after the sale is over the house is still full of items that are ultimately given to charities or hauled to the dump.
Sell your good stuff as soon as you start thinking about downsizing.
The fabulous, large items you have (dining table that seats twelve, French mahogany armoire that belonged to your grandmother, eight-foot-high chest of drawers that belonged to your mother) should be listed for sale the minute you know you’re going to move. The longer you wait, the less likely the items will sell and the less they’ll bring. They’re not going to fit into your fresh new life. Your kids (especially Millennials) likely don’t want those big old items, and if you decide to put them in storage, you’ll spend thousands until you decide what to do with them.
Many people offer this advice to others about the downsizing process: “Downsize before you think you need to, because once you know you need to, it’s often too late.” Too late here can mean you miss your opportunity to move while you’re still young enough to enjoy a few stress-free years in a fresh, new life. It can also mean you’re older and maybe dealing with illness or injury, at which time your stuff ends up in an estate sale being sold for ten cents on the dollar and you end up in assisted living. Don’t hesitate. DownsizeToday!