Let’s face it, we are collectors. We hold onto many things far longer than we probably should. That said, many of us were raised by people for whom the depression was very real. But it’s almost 2020 and if you are selling your house, you’ll probably need to get rid of a few things (ok, probably a lot more than a few!) so here are some resources. I word of caution: There is a VERY LIMITED market for second-hand things these days so don’t get your hopes up for a windfall from selling your old Hummel figurines.
Q: I have lots of good quality furniture, etc. that I can’t take with me. Where can I donate it?
A: My first suggestion is to talk to family, friends, neighbors, etc. and simply ask if anyone needs furniture…maybe a new college student? Yard tools can be given to a gardener; Kitchen things might go to a house cleaner; NextDoor.com is a good way to move things along as well…FREE is the best. Beyond that, there are other options but most are rather selective in what they’ll accept. Try: Bay Area Furniture Bank, Ecumenical Hunger Program, Salvation Army, Hope, Goodwill, etc. If they won’t take your items, try the curb in front of your house with a big “FREE” sign taped to it…you’d be amazed at what people will take.
Q: But some of my things were very valuable? Is there any way to get some money for them?
A: Usually not unless they are of high value like artwork or sterling silver, etc. Consignments Stores will take some things but they too are very selective. For China, Crystal and Silver, etc, go to Replacements.com and see what they will pay you for your pieces. There are estate sale companies but they tend to work with larger collections of things. Call me and I can give you some names. They typically both charge for their services as well as taking a percentage of the sales. If you have the time and energy, eBay or Etsy are websites where you can sell your items directly to consumers but I typically find the returns are pretty low for the amount of effort it takes.
Q: Are there other options?
A: Yes, there are companies like Managing Moves and More or KuzaksCloset that will meet with you to review what you have and help you determine how to best move it on.
Q: What about Household Hazardous Waste and Paint, etc.
A: Most cities/counties have wonderful programs set up to help you get rid of these things. You will typically need to take it to a drop off site but they have it dialed in so you don’t even get out of your car. Go to www.HHW.org for a great resource.
Q: Anything else?
A: You bet! Here are a few resources:
Clothes: Local drop off centers are everywhere. For higher quality items consider one of the organizations that donates items to those in need like DressedForSuccess or PricessProject or the VA in Palo Alto or Menlo Park.
Books: Most libraries accept donations. Some will even bring you boxes and then picked them up after you fill them. Call me for details.
Guns, munitions, etc: Call your local police department or Sherriff. DO NOT drive them to the police station without calling ahead for specific instructions.
Q: This sounds like a lot of work. Are there people who can help?
A: Yes, it can be a daunting and emotional job. Talk with your family or your attorney and see if they have suggestions. There are fee-based professional organizers who can be hired as well. Don’t try to take on the entire project in one weekend. Set up a plan, take your time and spread it out over as many weeks as you can and you’ll get through it.
Owen Halliday is a REALTOR who manages the Sereno Group Real Estate office in downtown Los Altos. If you have a subject you’d like addressed in a future column, Owen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-492-0062.