So for the past year or so I’ve been obsessed with A&E’s show Hoarders. Now, I realize that the main focus of the show is to address the problem situations that these people have come full on with and then showing how the specialists and professional organizers manage each situation, but there’s something that always bothers me about the show. Each episode a 1-800-GOT-JUNK truck pulls up (whom I’m sure has an exclusive contract with the show) and then the house in most episodes is purged of all it’s crap that has built up, then the stuff is hauled away to some undisclosed location. What I don’t understand is in the houses where there’s not poop smeared on the walls and where it’s just a lot of new/unused/volumes of stuff – why don’t they have a garage or estate sale?
About 50% of the episodes the underlying reason is that the people feel the need to hold on to their items due to financial constraints, fearing that if they get rid of an item, that they’d need to spend the money to purchase a new one eventually. In the most recent episode the hoarder confided to the camera that she wanted to keep a pair of (in my opinion what looked to be shitty cheap K-mart lamps) “because they were a pair”. She went on to state that she “could go find a tacky lamp at a thrift store for cheap” but wanted to keep the ugly ones…because they were a pair. This pissed me off because of some peoples’ reputation of thrift stores is that there is nothing good in them. Which isn’t true of course, it’s people like that who have no imagination, no artistic inklings to realize that there is good stuff and not all stuff is even old or tacky in thrift stores. That very reason alone is what separates a hoarder from a thrifter. Thrifters can think on their feet, their savvy, they’re resourceful, they like stuff that just works.
What these folks don’t realize is that if they had a garage sale just once a year or every couple of years, it not only helps thin down all of your belongings but also can make you some serious cash. See my tips for having a garage sale post from a while back here. I know that this is a bit idealistic and that this might come off as insensitive. Most of the cases are people who have pretty harsh mental issues and it boils down to just needing to get the volume of stuff out of their premise. My mother’s garage sale alone made over $2000 (yes THREE zeros) last year! *I should note that her sale is usually combined with a neighbor or two and usually some friends decide to put some items on her sale as well. It’s win-win. The larger the sale the more people show up. Her garage sale has built up a reputation for being big – and having a great variety of good stuff. She has a garage sale twice a year in the spring and the fall. Come hell or high water – tons of people show up in droves.
Here’s my idea: Not too unlike a couple of shows on HGTV or Discovery, I wish (in the cases where it’s plausible) that they’d have the hoarders pick and choose what items they want to sell and then have massive garage sale. Simple as that, have a sale, then the crap that doesn’t sell – they donate or toss. Readers of this blog probably think I have items everywhere in my house, but I don’t. I mostly re-sell what I buy or it’s something I needed. I just think it’s a missed opportunity by the show to address cases where American consumerism has run rampant, and to show the viewing public a great way to help themselves by making some cash or even just taking a long hard look at what they purchase and accrue. My personal “I can re-sell this” mentality was acquired from growing up and watching my mother turn our seemingly useless piles of junk that slowly built up every year into some serious cash. It’s what helps me maintain a fine balance of the stuff I buy. The show sometimes leaves me depressed and unfulfilled because I feel sorry for the folks that aren’t quick enough to realize that they can change their situation or because they were just never taught how to keep their stuff clean and tidy. It all boils down to parenting in some respect.
Always remember a favorite quote of mine: “he who dies with the most toys is still dead” right?
Oh yea, and here’s my personal Twitter handle as well: @JPeddycoart