The Elephant from Murano circa 1994
We had such a great response to the last post about down-sizing, that we decided to follow up with one strategy for getting rid of all the stuff that you no longer want or need. Last June one of our across-the-street neighbors sold their home to move into a 55+ community, and they had an auction. We became aware of it when pick-up trucks and giant SUVs started pulling up and parking up and down the street. There was a "blue house" (port-a-potty), and one of those fast-talking auctioneers...it was the real deal. Now our neighbors had built their house in 1983 or so, and she had it filled with antiques, and he was a hunter, and was also selling some of his rifles. So we thought they had enough valuable stuff to appeal to an auctioneer. We didn't really think we did, though. And our experience with yard sales in State College is that they're a lot of work with very little return. So we've been boxing things up and carting them to Habitat, AAUW and Goodwill.
When we met with our realtor to discuss our plans, he gave us the name of a local auctioneer who specializes in on-line auctions. We met with him, and it was a real education. Over the past ten years, the entire auction industry has been evolving, so that there are fewer and fewer traditional auctions. Even for a well-publicized auction you might get a hundred people, and it limits your audience to those who are near enough to travel to it. With an on-line auction, things are put on the website for two weeks, and then after the auction happens, there is a two-hour window when people who are local can come pick up items, and then everything else is shipped (and the buyer pays for it!). Your items will be viewed by thousands of people all over the country. Smaller items are generally taken to their warehouse, and distributed from there. And here's the real kicker: the things that sell the best are everyday items. I mean dishes, decor items, cookbooks, kitchen utensils, cookware, garden tools, rugs, appliances, lamps, and, of course, furniture. Apparently there are some people who furnish their entire houses with items they buy at these auction sites.
The beautiful thing is that they are really catering to the baby boomers who are down-sizing now. We are planning to have them come take away the smaller items we won't be moving with us (or using in the next few months), and those will be auctioned first. In January, when the stagers come in and inevitably want less furniture in the house, they will auction those things off. Finally, when the house sells, they will hold the big auction of everything else. We'll move out what we want to take with us, and they can sell the rest. When the sale is over they will haul off and dispose of anything that doesn't sell, leaving an empty house.
I can't begin to describe the sense of relief we are both feeling. So many of the things we have carried with us over the years we keep because we feel they are worth something and we don't feel right just throwing them away. Even donating them to Goodwill doesn't guarantee that they won't just end up in the trash. There's something extremely validating about knowing that someone else appreciates your belongings...it's almost like you can fantasize that they are going to a good new home, where they'll be appreciated and loved.