Nowadays, not only are seniors downsizing, but boomers are as well and the market for saleable items is getting more and more saturated. Hence THE DECLINE OF THE SALEABLES!
Larger furniture from the past doesn’t always match the smaller, more compact apartments, condos and retirement residences of today and minimalism is rampant in today’s generation.
Parents are aghast when their children and grandchildren don’t want the family “heirlooms.” It’s disturbing for seniors because they, like generations before them, feel it is their duty to pass on the family “treasures” to their descendants.
We often hear, “I’ve tried selling things but no one wants them! Even my kids don’t want anything!!”
THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING!
Some people have an estate, garage or tag sale but often, by the time family has taken what they want, there is little of great monetary value left.
We have found that seniors and families do not want their possessions to go to landfill and are delighted to know their belongings will be appreciated and used.
Some suggestions: Please make sure all items are clean, working and that they will be a blessing to someone. Unfortunately, many people bring “garbage” to charities but because they must absorb the disposal fees, they simply refuse to accept it. We have had charity people climb in our truck and make decisions on what they would or would not accept. Many places will not take mattresses or “stuffed” furniture like chairs or sofas because of the possibility of bed bugs.
FURNITURE: Small tables, chairs, highboy dressers and some pictures are still in demand. At times, it is hard to even give away large bedroom or dining room sets as well as large entertainment units. We usually take a picture of the items and forward them to see if they will be accepted. Shops are usually not as full in the winter, so charities often take items they wouldn’t have room for in the busy summer season. Year round “Furniture Banks” (our city has one) help families who have lost everything in fires or disasters, as well as refugees who may arrive with just a suitcase.
KITCHEN ITEMS: Pots and pans in good condition are really in demand. Also sets of dishes, glasses, cutlery to serve at least 4 people (No chipped, broken or stained ones please). Some mixing bowls and serving dishes are needed. These can go to shelters, charities, fire victims or refugees. Cups and saucers are often delivered to a seniors’ center although a “bride-to-be” contacted us looking for 100 of them to use as “table favors” for her wedding guests. Crafts people in our village also re-purpose them.
TOOLS: If you are left with a substantial supply of tools, both hand and power, you won’t get very much for them. Used ones are going cheaply because the market is flooded. China and other countries are pumping out inexpensive brand new tools at very reasonable prices, with a warranty! Habitat for Humanity or a “shop” in a high school or junior college have often taken what we have. One client had a lot of unopened tools and the vocational school accepted them with gratitude. Our client was so pleased that they were needed and would help the students.
FOOD: Unopened food that has not passed the expiry date can go to a food bank or a local shelter. Some are equipped to take baked goods and frozen items but most are not. Rule of thumb – If you would feed your grandchildren the food, donate it!
Several years ago, Doug and I were in a supermarket about noon on Christmas Eve. The manager, who we knew, was lamenting that he had to throw a lot of food out. We asked why he wouldn’t call a charity and his reply was, “It’s Christmas Eve. No one will come!”
We looked at each other and quickly replied, “We’ll come. What time?”
With the help of our family, food was delivered to family shelters, the Salvation Army shelter, a drug rehab home, the Children’s hospital, and a restaurant that was preparing Christmas dinner for needy people. We even dropped off some donuts to the police station!! IT WAS FUN to take food that would have been discarded and help so many people. Last year we had eleven vans and many stores and volunteers involved.
The tradition continues…
UNOPENED PERSONAL HYGIENE ITEMS such as soap, shampoo, cream rinse, deodorant, tooth brushes, toothpaste..etc can go to a shelter, an outreach program or a food bank.
LINEN: We give pretty towels and sheets to homes for battered women or family shelters. We donate gently worn linens to shelters. Blankets, quilts and very clean pillows are needed. Pretty ones could go to a local hospice. Refugees, as well as disaster victims, also need these items.
CLOTHING There are many places to donate clothing. Clothing for men can go to a shelter for street people. They need work boots(a requirement in many work places), warm coats, socks, new underwear, shirts, sweaters, hats, mittens… Many churches have a “gently used shop.” Once we got 20 unopened nighties and took them to a nursing home.
DRESS CLOTHES are needed for people to go to job interviews. Some cities have charities that give or loan these items out.
ART SUPPLIES or CRAFT SUPPLIES can go to schools, adult programs in the community, senior centers or nursing homes. We recycle used greeting cards to a school where developmentally delayed people make them into gift tags to sell.
BOOKS: We have had rare books sent to various universities in recent years for a pre-determined tax donation, but most books are getting harder to donate. They must be in good condition and not have that musty smell from basements. No one wants used encyclopedias, Readers Digest or National Geographic books in our community. If you have a first edition “google it” to see if it has value. One home we worked in had about 10,000 books. We could only sell some for a dollar or two.
JEWELRY: Before you donate any, look at it closely with a magnifying glass and a good light. See if it is gold, sterling or “signed.” Donations are welcome in the shops, in “senior” support groups, church sales and local charities. As teachers, we recycled jewelry so the students could use the beads to make their own original creations.
COINS OR STAMPS: Silver and gold coins are sold by weight. If you feel you have a valuable collection get a reputable dealer to take a look. Most coins we have seen in the last 20 years are the “change” from a holiday.
WIGS AND PERIOD CLOTHING might go to a local theater group, as well as some older military uniforms. Note: Some uniforms and other military items such as medals, badges, buttons, hats as well as various weapons are saleable.
FURS, SHEEPSKIN, LEATHER are sent up north to be used to make lining for the Inuit childrens’ winter coats. (Our clients are delighted to hear this!)
OLD RECORDS, TAPES,CD’S AND PLAYERS. An awesome use for these is to donate them to a military hospital or Alzheimer’s unit so people can enjoy the songs that were familiar to them. Note: Some of these items may be saleable. When in doubt – check them out!
REMEMBER, although you may not be getting money out of some of your belongings, there is joy knowing that the items are needed and will continue to be used.