Letting go

Earlier this week I had a call from a lady who had stored her father’s belongings for several years after he had moved in with her family. She said she was tired of paying rent to a storage facility and wanted to ask about an auction. Like many people, she had never sold at an auction before and wanted to know how the process worked.

It became very obvious at the beginning of the conversation that she expected to sell the items at retail price. She mentioned a few specific items that would probably sell for a good price, but she also admitted that a lot of what they had was pretty common. I explained how some items are not realizing the prices they brought a few years ago, and she was adamant that she “was not going to give the stuff away.”

She asked about putting a reserve price on some items. I explained that I will do that on expensive items, but that I do not like doing so on very many pieces. It kills the auction to announce a reserve on too many many items. I offered to come to their home to see what they had so I could give her a better idea of what she might expect. She contacted me the next day saying they would hold onto their things a little longer.

I realize it’s hard to let things go, especially if they have belonged to family members or other loved ones. The sentimental value of the items is often far greater than the actual value, and it seems wrong to sell family possession for so little. However, like I explained to one elderly lady one time, “This was not anyone else’s grandmother’s dresser. No one who attends the auction will have any sentimental attachment to it. They are there to purchase it for the lowest dollar they can.” Fortunately, she decided to have another auctioneer sell her belongings, and although I was told by someone who attended the auction that she got good prices he also told me she was very upset at those prices.

Numerous articles have appeared recently discussing how today’s younger generation does not want the items accumulated by their parents. At some point, each of us will have to make decisions about what to do with our possessions. One thing is certain: we will not take anything with us when we leave this world. So what do we do?

The two choices we have is to sell the things we no longer need. This gives us the satisfaction of knowing someone else will get to enjoy the things we’ve enjoyed over the years. This option also gives us the opportunity to do something with the money we raised by selling those things. The other option is to just leave everything to our heirs and let them dispose of the things we owned. Perhaps they’ll have an auction, a yard sale, put an ad on Craigslist. Or the worst scenario, as one person said to me, “I’m afraid they will just haul everything to the dump so they don’t have to fool with it.”

I’ve seen so many people struggle with letting things go. I really do feel their pain as it is saying good-by to part of their history. However, there comes a time when we do have to let things pass on to others. For me, when that time comes, I want to be the one to make that decision and not dump that on someone else.

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