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This topic contains 35 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of lucy1965 lucy1965 3 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #159360
    Profile photo of genny
    genny
    Member

    Did anyone see this on MSNBC?

    http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/the-great-american-yard-sale-smartmoney.aspx

    Basically, this is an article about the excess of stuff in America and how worthless it is because there is so very, very much of it.
    I see a lot of the men from Central America who come here to work and find themselves doing grounds maintenance which takes them through the burbs of America. What do they find there but yardsales! This must be quite a surprise to find that, in America, you can live such a well provided for life, if you live off the excess. There is plenty of excess. It seems to be endless.
    I see it all the time at yard sales where someone just bemoans the fact that they paid such and such for that item, or that they bought it at such and such a place and now someone wants to buy if for a dollar. The truth is that it is only worth as much as someone wants to trade you for it. The fact that there is so much excess makes most of it pretty worthless. Too many people end up putting all that stuff back in the garage, or just giving it away to write off.

    I thought that the article was interesting.

  • #188278
    Profile photo of shebolt
    shebolt
    Member

    anyone see this?

    That was interesting. I used to frequent estate sales and yard sales, and it always depressed me when shoppers were given full access to houses to buy anything, because the heirs just wanted to empty it so they could sell the house. I’d think that we were pawing through someone’s precious belongings as if they were nothing.

    This, more than anything, helped me detach my identity and sense of self from my stuff.

  • #188283
    Profile photo of Claycat
    Claycat
    Member

    anyone see this?

    It was interesting but depressing. I still need to get rid of a lot of stuff, and I would like to get something out of some of it.

  • #188289

    anyone see this?

    @genny – Thank you for posting that article. Like Claycat said, it is depressing. Anytime I go to a dollar store (usually to buy gift wrap of some kind) I am depressed. Have you ever taken a look around and notices just how much complete and utter crap exists? All of that will end up in a land fill at some time or another. 99% of it shouldn’t have ever been made in the first place!

  • #188290
    Profile photo of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Interesting article, Genny. I used to be so caught up in consumerism. I had lists of ‘stuff’ I ‘needed’ for each room of my house. You know, the perfect do-dad for every table, counter, wall…. I live 30 minutes from Charleston, SC so the antique shops are unbelievable! What was I thinking? So much of it is gone now and I’ll never return to hobby-shopping again.

    themusiclives….I feel the same way in every store. It’s all crap regardless of the price! We’ve all been fed a line about value and what we SHOULD want and have. Those marketers sure know how to work us.

  • #188293

    anyone see this?

    Sky, I just moved back to Charleston (my hometown) two weeks ago after nine years away. I’m thrilled to be back, but it’s true — the antique shops call out to you when you pass them!! I’ve avoided them for two weeks, but it’s only a matter of time…

    Where do you live? I’m just south of Charleston off Hwy 17.

  • #188298

    anyone see this?

    @Sky – You’re right. And the scary thing? When I go into Target (or just about any store like that) I look around and say, “Wow. There are thousands of Targets filled with the same crap across the USA. Imagine all of the junk!” It’s crazy!

  • #188300

    anyone see this?

    I had read that when it first came out — I think the point of this article is that there isn’t even a robust market for GOOD stuff, let alone the junk in the dollar store or target. The only sensible value is the value to US, and not some pie-in-the-sky future resale value.

  • #188302
    Profile photo of Emilie
    Emilie
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Another vote for “depressing”. My street is having a garage sale at the end of the month, but I’m tempted to just skip it and continue giving things away for free. Last time we had a sale, it was too frustrating to deal with everyone haggling over $1 items. I don’t think I made more than $20 that day.

    It’s kind of sad to think that I don’t own anything that has significant resale value. Although I do have a lot of things that are of great value to ME…probably too many ;)

  • #188304
    Profile photo of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Great article, thanks for posting genny!

    IMO it’s not depressing. Sad, yes – but not depressing. I hope that articles like this, and sites like Unclutterer, are contributing to a first-world wake-up call regarding consumption.

    I have a feeling that, within my lifetime, landfill mining is going to become a viable business. As natural resources get more and more expensive, manufacturers are going to get more and more ingenious about recycling – and there’s a lot of recyclable material in landfills.

    As to the developing world … well, let’s just say I’m pretty sure the people in Somalia couldn’t care less about what happens to their trash. They’re just wondering if they’ll be able to eat tomorrow.

    My own Stuff … I love it; we spent a lot of money on it; but you know, we USE it and ENJOY it and, barring disaster, will continue to for many years. I am very fortunate to be in a position of not needing to worry about whether I can make any money selling it; to be in a position of making money by working. I know a lot of people can’t do that.

    But even if I suddenly had to sell everything off and move to a trailer beside my parents’ garage, I wouldn’t regret having bought (e.g.) my beautiful furniture. What we spent on it is such a tiny fraction of what we spend on housing and transportation, it’s just not worth worrying about.

  • #188309
    Profile photo of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    anyone see this?

    happymonkey….I’m in Summerville

  • #188319

    anyone see this?

    Sky, my best friend has a booth in Tea Farm Cottage (I think that’s the name of it). I’ve been promising her I’d go by and check it out one of these days. We should have an unclutterer meetup!

    Chacha1, I like the idea of landfill mining. There’s such a vast amount of stuff in them that could be reused/recycled. Awesome concept.

  • #188320
    Profile photo of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    anyone see this?

    happymonkey, I know exactly where Tea Farm Cottage is. Let me know if you want to meet up.

  • #188321
    Profile photo of jbeany
    jbeany
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Fabulous article! We’re reaching a point, with the aging population, that supply for antiques is going to vastly outstrip demand, and the prices are dropping accordingly. Combine that with the learned habit of keeping things so they “increase” in value that so many got from their depression-era parents, and the bottom is completely gone out of the the collectibles market. I had collector friends in a tizzy with what I had priced most of my gram’s stuff at the estate sale – and we still had to cut prices even lower to get even a quarter of it to move.

    We’ve got too much stuff – so much that we can’t even sell it – but it’s not getting to the places that seem most in need of it, even when it gets donated.

    The resort town I grew up in hired hundreds of Jamaican workers each summer. They were absolutely astonished by how much we sold at garage sales and for how little. There simply is no supply in most of Jamaica. If they are lucky, there’s one dress shop in their small hometown. The wisest workers arrived with nothing but a purse and the clothes on their backs. They spent all their days off buying clothes at the local sales and shipping them home by the box load, to be resold by family in Jamaica for substantial profits. When the season was over, they packed up as many used suitcases as they were allowed to take on the return flight, and stuffed those full of things to resell as well.

    My mother and I took a mini-van full of the ones who had been working part-time for our family restaurant to the closest mall, just over 2 hours away. I thought they were all going to pass out from shock. Marcia stood big-eyed at the entrance to the giant JCP store and just kept saying “So Much, So Much!”

    Then we took them into the PetCo, and they decided Americans were all insane. “Lizards, bugs, rodents and snakes are not pets!” ;)

  • #188322
    Profile photo of lazycow
    lazycow
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Urgh, reminds me of what my sister and I went through last year when we had to clear out our parents’ house. Furniture that my mum saved for for years we couldn’t sell. In the end lots was Freecycled and we were so grateful that people wanted to take it so it didn’t go to landfill. Even the charity shops – who are inundated with furniture – didn’t want it. Sigh.

  • #188328
    Profile photo of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Only in the USA…?

    My Italian teacher who lives in Berkeley had a friend visiting her from Italy. He went out for an afternoon stroll all around the neighborhood, then came back home perplexed. He asked my teacher: “Why are so many people selling their garage?”
    :-D

  • #188329
    Profile photo of Gypsie
    Gypsie
    Member

    anyone see this?

    @Emilie, next time I have a garage sale, I’m going to have a jar and you can just put in the jar what you feel the item is worth. If you don’t think it’s worth your money, then just take it!

  • #188340
    Profile photo of Parsifal
    Parsifal
    Member

    anyone see this?

    I believe it! I’ve found through experience while trying to sell off my clutter that the vast majority of mass-produced non-utility items I own are essentially worthless five years later. When was the last time you managed to recoup your investment from a CRT TV, VCR, ceramic trinket from Hallmark or plastic toy that cost $50 at Walmart and $0.27 to make in China?

    From TFA: “I’ve seen people hug toasters because they can remember making toast in the morning,” says Hall, the Charlotte liquidator)

    What the heck is wrong with people?!? It’s just stuff! I guess I just had a lucky upbringing – enough was provided that I don’t feel I was deprived, but we did without enough extras that I never learned to desire them.

    JBeany – I agree collections are impossible to get rid of now. I’m about to give a pewter fantasy figure collection, acquired for maybe $300 total over years as a child, to a board gamer friend to use as pieces for games. I tried to sell the whole shebang online for $50 OBO with current prices totaling more than that for just a few pieces. How much interest was there? Not one inquiry!

  • #188491
    Profile photo of genny
    genny
    Member

    anyone see this?

    I took stuff to SA today. They had cars lined up waiting to unload! So much stuff!!!!
    I had a bunch of stuff from my son and his wife who just moved to Canada, today.
    I have been freecycling.
    Then, I am always the one to haul off stuff from my daughter’s house, too.
    I am the transfer station, the processing unit for all of our “get rid of’s”.
    The charity shops are bursting at the seams with stuff, most of it not worth a crap.

    I used to shop for clothes, but the used clothing market now just reflects the worthless crap that people have been buying for the last decade. And, so much Xmas stuff and worn out linens. Most of it just needs a match set to it.

    I don’t want to live in a house filled with useless stuff, and I don’t want to die with a house filled with worthless stuff that my kids have to deal with.
    I urge us all to think very seriously about EVERYTHING that comes into your house. This stuff filters in through some pretty innocent holes. And, it is dammed hard to get rid of, sometimes—often times.

    Yes, it is horrific to look at it all in the store and to think of how many times you can multiply that in America. How much pollution and waste is caused by all of that ! Horrors! And, there is little, if any, redeeming value to the vast majority of it. It pollutes our earth and takes our money. Time for us to just say “no” to corporate America with the Walmarts and Dollar Store.

  • #188499
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Parsifal, I feel like I’ve gotten full value for every CRT TV and VCR and DVD player and electronic game system and CRT computer monitor I’ve ever owned – except for the Playstation 2 and the Wii, I’ve never paid more than $5 for any of them (the PS2 replaced a $5 atari and a DVD player of unknown origin) and we use them to til they just stop working entirely. I actually am just now getting rid of a CRT monitor picked up for free when my partner’s office went to all flat screens – I think we ran it for 4 more years after they discarded it as obsolete.

    We’re on our second TV ever. It was a hand-me-down. The one before that came from the curb. It was very small, but I was living a nomadic life, so that was great; about the time it finally gave up the ghost, I was settling down into a permanent space and was ready for a new (to me) TV.

  • #188531
    Profile photo of Parsifal
    Parsifal
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Rosa has a good point – the best thing to do is not pay full retail for electronics (or anything!) in the first place.

  • #188539

    anyone see this?

    A fascinating article. It just reminds us to shop carefully and sparingly.

  • #188572
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    anyone see this?

    It’s not so much the money, as the actual value of the stuff. It’s worth paying (in money, time, effort, upkeep) for things you really use and enjoy. I spend ridiculous amounts of money on books and food, my partner spends it on camping gear and vintage videogames (now *there* is money you won’t recoup – cash spent on downloading content. You’re paying for enjoyment.)

    It’s when we try to put that kind of resources into EVERYTHING that we end up with too much.

  • #188662

    anyone see this?

    Sorry, but I keep thinking of that ‘uni-tasker’ (really a no-tasker) that cropped up a while back – the Gift of Nothing http://theawesomer.com/the-gift-of-nothing/62329/ I’m going to offend all the ‘got-their-heads-on-right-about-stuff’ USA citizens but quite frankly I can’t imagine anywhere but the USA that would seriously conceive, produce (via somewhere like China) and market this ‘product’…well, not without the USA to come up with it first (I’m sure you can get it in other countries now). And to think, they market this as the ‘ultimate in minimalism’! If you know that this monstrosity was actually perpetuated by some other nation, please corect me.

    I think the ultimate lesson to come out of the article is to only buy stuff that is decent quality that you will enjoy while you have it and don’t expect any resale $. A good quality wood kitchen table is still a worthwhile thing to have IF you’re going to use it. A Persian rug is still a worthwhile thing to have IF you’re going to enjoy walking on it or looking at it. A ‘Gift of Nothing’ is not worthwhile – it’s just landfill poison.

  • #188675

    anyone see this?

    I think many western countries are capable of conceiving and producing crap products for people who have too much money and too many resources and possessions. Have you never seen the items like the donut safe from Japan? I know there is plenty of unnecessary crap on sale in Australia and I am sure we generate stuff into the mix.

    It is about bloated western societies who do not think enough about the use of resources and their disposal. It is something that is difficult to change across a society, but we can each change our ways and try to influence others around us.

  • #188679

    anyone see this?

    Ah, Jackthetiger – you’re a lot more gracious than I am. True enough – we produce a heap of rubbish too.

  • #188681
    Profile photo of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    anyone see this?

    that was an eye-opener of an article.
    thanks for sharing the link!
    i wish we had access to all this terrific second hand stuff….but what you see around here is broken, shabby, awful stuff and it is priced alarmingly high.
    the glut hasn’t reached rural queensland just yet!

  • #188682

    anyone see this?

    bandicoot – that’s because rural Qlders are holding onto what little stuff they’ve got after the floods and cyclone and the stuff that gets donated in the south goes to people with no walls on their houses. Give it until next wet season at least. ;-)

    Anyone else notice that while in our grandparents generation(s) necessity was the mother of invention but now ‘invention’ has become the mother of necessity? As in, you NEED product xyz to fill this hole you never knew you had.

  • #188697

    anyone see this?

    Laetitia and Bandicoot, I am not seeing this amazing range of second hand furniture here either. I wonder why we would not have the same issue? Maybe it is a population thing. It must be hard for people who thought their furniture would have some value as an asset when they retired.

  • #188699
    Profile photo of Parsifal
    Parsifal
    Member

    anyone see this?

    I’m pretty sure the gift of Nothing is supposed to be a gag ;) After all, the person who has everything by definition lacks Nothing, so why not get it for him or her?

  • #188700

    anyone see this?

    Parsifal – yes, the GoN is meant to be a gag – but that doesn’t mean it’s a ‘good’ one. It’s the biggest arguement I can see for making manufacturers pay for the dumping of their packaging. I wonder if that would cost them more than they’re charging for the ‘product’.

    JtT – on the basis of the article’s premise that post WWII people were encouraged to consume, consume, consume then you may be on to something (either that or our baby-boomers didn’t buy into that culture as heavily). We would have had a much smaller population base than the USA to consume conspicuously so there isn’t as much ‘stuff’ (in terms of numbers) to get rid of. Another alternative is that our BBs aren’t trying to downsize as much as those in the USA, at least just yet – I wonder if our higher house prices have something to do with that.

  • #188707
    Profile photo of mskris
    mskris
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Interesting that on the sidebar of this forum are ads for clothing! I have way too many clothes, and although I purge every season, I still have too many I’m hanging onto. I’m going to get very serious about keeping only the items that fit well, flatter, and that I love starting this very weekend (last weekend was spent emptying the trash – and I mean trash – my family had loaded into our spare room).

    I was raised to buy the very best I could afford, to take care of it, and to keep it until it stopped working. although I’ve tried to instill that into my kids, they seem to be the “disposable” generation, and I continue to find that they’ve ruined something that should’ve lasted for decades….through neglect. It makes me so angry!! I have items that my parents used (and I still do), but newer things I’ve purchased don’t last nearly as long! I guess the quality is lacking, but it’s also my dh’s and kids’ mindsets that we can just “buy another one.” Grrrr.

  • #188718

    anyone see this?

    I just finished a month in the UK and Ireland, noticing less retail and fewer selections of what there was. I kept wondering if people have to buy more things on e-bay and Amazon in order to aquire much at all!

  • #188720
    Profile photo of lucy1965
    lucy1965
    Member

    anyone see this?

    @mskris Are there? I’ve got AdBlock turned on, so don’t see them . . . .

    @Deb When my best friend visited me (too many years ago!), we walked around the grocery store together; she turned to me and said “How many kinds of cereal do Americans need?” I replied that we’d only been in that aisle because she’d griped about my tea selection, and up until then everything we’d purchased had been on the periphery of the store — but I did see her point.

    That being said, there are plenty of ways of getting your hands on all sorts of things: ask lottie and Charity! If this move happens (I’m not saying when: I’m not going to believe it until I’m shuddering at the damage UKBA is doing to my credit card), I know there’s at least an Ikea and John Lewis run in my future.

  • #188730
    Profile photo of Netleigh
    Netleigh
    Member

    anyone see this?

    Deb,
    No problems with acquiring stuff here in the UK. I suppose it depends where you were staying.
    But with retailers such as John Lewis they have restricted the larger choice down to representative samples over the price range and generally seem to stock the good stuff. I prefer shopping with them than one of the electrical goods warehouses, I get an easier job selecting big electrical goods that way. Too much choice seems to hurt my head!
    Lucy1965, sounds like you are a woman after my own heart in the furnishing destinations.

  • #188736
    Profile photo of lucy1965
    lucy1965
    Member

    anyone see this?

    I like the ethics behind the John Lewis Partnership, and the automatic two-year extension of EU electronics warranties. *thinks fondly of a dear friend who said I had too many things in my kitchen that went “beep!”; she’s old money and uses a Simplex kettle on an Aga* And I’ve got Ikea pieces in solid oak that have endured years of rampaging adolescents and still look gorgeous, so I’m happy to purchase pieces there — just really picky about what I bring in.

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