Tag Archives: Downsizing

The End Of An Era…

I guess the guy working the back door at Goodwill was understandably a little overwhelmed when we let down the trailer door.

After all, he seemed to be working alone, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and who has a yard sale on Sunday anyway?

People that don’t want to load all their stuff up again, that’s who. People having their second multi-family yard/moving sale in one month.

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Dozens of empty totes

We didn’t have as much stuff this time, but it was still enough to fill seven folding tables, one 10 foot clothes rack, a piece of plywood balanced on sawhorses, two tarps on the ground, and multiple totes just opened up for your digging pleasure.

We started Thursday evening setting everything up, and ended up with a pretty good looking yard mall comprised of five pop up canopies and an improvised clothes rack. Friday morning we opened for business, and it was just a big blur of eating and selling until Sunday afternoon. We hadn’t planned on continuing into Sunday, but honestly we never do. Once you’ve unloaded everything and arranged it in the yard it’s hard to not succumb to the ease of just leaving it out one more day, hoping for a few stragglers to stop by and give you a little more money for things you don’t want anymore.

Saturday afternoon in a valiant attempt to load back up as little as possible we decided Sunday would be dirt cheap day, with everything being priced at $1 or less aside from one small tarp of things we knew could be sold online for more.

Signs were made, Facebook posts were issued, and the plan went into action. We did okay on the $1 sale… I think if we had tried it on Saturday it would have been a bigger success. You just don’t get a ton of traffic at Sunday yard sales in the south, and you do get the occasional dirty look. But I don’t think we were quite there yet Saturday.

By about 2 o’clock Sunday we were all completely worn out, so when a heavy shower popped up suddenly we decided to call it a day. We had already gone through and pulled out anything that would be worth selling online, so after one more quick walk through (I did rescue two shirts I might want for my fall 33) we boxed and bagged up the rest to donate.

That’s when I started having mixed feelings. At first I thought it was about letting go of everything, because now it would all really be gone instead of sitting in boxes in the trailer. But looking around I realized it wasn’t about the stuff, I had gotten rid of it all for a reason.

It took me a little while to realize where the mixture of relief and unsettled was coming from. But once I knew that it wasn’t regret for letting go of so much I was okay to just keep packing boxes and trying to figure it out.

Part of what I came up with might sound a bit greedy, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. It was a little hard to let go of the potential money we could have gotten if we kept everything for ‘just one more yard sale’ instead of giving it away.

That’s what we’ve done in the past, we’ll get through on the last day and decide that we have enough good stuff left we should just let it sit and have another sale later, in a few weeks or months. The problem with that is at a certain point your return on investment starts to shrink. With lots of $10 and $20 items there was a good return for waiting and doing it again. But when you’re down to things that might have sat dormant through all the previous sales, and you’re selling them for $1 or less, you’re spending more energy loading, unloading, packing, arranging, cleaning and storing stuff than it’s worth. It becomes as much of an energy drain as taking care of all that stuff was to begin with.

Secondly, it also feels a bit like the end of an era. The end of our big yard sales, no more hanging out and socializing all weekend with friends while we sell, no more sitting under a shade tree while people hand us money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of work and I always end the weekend exhausted, but there’s something really fun about it too. Without all the excess stuff we’ll have to find other reasons to hang out… I think a celebratory cookout might be in the near future.

But most of all it brings to an end the last five months of selling off our excess stuff. We really started in January focusing on getting rid of it all, we’ve sold tons on Craigslist and Facebook, negotiated furniture into the sale of the house, and had yard sales to sell the small stuff. It’s been a huge focus of the first part of this year, and it’s nearly over. It’s almost a bittersweet feeling.

We still have a few things left from the house to sell… our mattress is too big to fit in the Turtle so it has to go, and a leather loveseat is waiting to be re-listed on Craigslist, plus one small tote of items I pulled out of the yard sale.

But for the most part, it’s all gone. We’re down to what we really need or want, and there are no more areas where things sit unnoticed waiting to be decluttered. If it’s in the Turtle or in a tote in storage I know what it is and why it’s there.

I have my 33 clothing items here in the closet and one large tote in storage waiting for the next swap, that’s it for clothes and shoes. All the dishes and cooking stuff we own fits in our kitchen, and the same goes for the bathroom, den, and outside stuff. In storage I have long term files and business paperwork (2 small totes), one Christmas tote and one tote of fall decorations, my wrapping paper, a few odds and ends like a small desk I refinished by hand and a large antique basket that I don’t have room for but don’t want to let go of, and two totes of heirlooms and truly loved things. And oddly, that feels like a lot. Even though it’s probably less than an eighth of what we had at the house.

We looked around yesterday and realized we can now fit everything we own that isn’t in the Turtle into our 6×12 closed in trailer, maybe with room to spare.

It’s a bit of a weird feeling, as this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had so little, but at the same time it’s exciting. It’s like starting with a clean slate. I don’t have to worry that I’ve lost or forgotten something, I have everything I need and most of it is in use at all times, and if I desperately need something in the future I just imagine I can find a store that sells it. It’s sort of like another small weight has been lifted now.

So that’s how we ended up pulling up to Goodwill on a Sunday afternoon with a trailer full of boxes and bags. We filled three of their rolling carts and piled the rest inside the door. It wasn’t all ours, I’d say it was more like 50/50. But it was still enough to make you a little sick thinking about all the money spent on stuff.

What about you? If you’ve gone through this process or are going through it now have you had similar feelings? Do you miss anything you’ve sold?

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