November 11, 2010

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

Have you seen Hoarders? It’s one of Discovery Channel's documentary programmes which chronicles the lives of compulsive hoarders in America. I could relate to the show cos these hoarders and my mom have one thing in common: they love to collect stuff. I mean loads and loads of stuff.

My sister would rather use the term junk cos most of the things my mom collects can't be used. Like, who would keep two sacks of waste cloth pieces with the hope that one day someone could make a quilt out of them? My mom would.  Who would keep a book written  in a foreign language? I mean, one that is in Russian? My mom would. And who would keep a sack of old kapok for  more more than 10 years? You guessed it! My mom would! Like I said, mom's an avid collector and this is what keeps her from throwing things away. It drives my sister nuts. 

Unrelated:  Did you know that kapok is also kapok in English? I didn't know that until today.
In an effort to not turn into my mom, I recently had a garage sale to declutter our home. It wasn’t only because of that. We are downsizing to a one-bedroom house very very soon so there'll be no space for junks or big furniture or bulky fitness equipment like this one.

I almost went hysterical when hubby told me he bought this hideous thing online. My concerns were: 1. I didn't think he'd use it (and I was right!) and 2. It takes up a lot of space. But for the sake of our marriage, I kept my mouth shut. Well, it doesn't matter now. He's going to sell it on Trade Me. End of story.

Now, about the sale. You know that feeling when you're all hyped about something and all you want to do is share that excitement with the whole world? That's how I felt after I had my first garage sale. I just couldn't wait to tell everyone how fast and easy it was for me to sell Alva's baby stuff. That was two weeks ago and now some of the excitement has fizzled out.

But I'll talk about it anyway. 

The sale was supposed to start at 9.00 but some people who obviously couldn't read came as early as 8.20. There were ten people waiting in front of the garage and when hubby saw this, he got worried and told me to start the sale immediately. I was like WTH???!!! Are you kidding me? I haven't had my breakfast yet, my hair's a mess, I have no lipstick on and I need to slap on some sunblock! Why can't they just wait??

Like it or not, we had to start early. Hubby opened the garage at 8.30 and let them through. Like scavengers, they rushed in and started searching for items they fancy. Within three hours, we managed to sell tons of stuff from mattresses to sofa bed to portacot to handbags to laundry basket to baby clothes to winter clothes and scarves. I got excited and was eager to sell all of my old clothes so I started getting more and more stuff from my wardrobe.

Each time I saw someone flipping through my outfits on the rack, I'd start talking about the material, how fine it was, how many times I've worn it and where I bought it. I would then coax the buyer into trying it so she could see how it would fit her. "Try it on! Try it on!" Some hated my VIP treatment but I couldn't help it.  I was like a woman possessed. When a buyer walks away, I'd try to stop her by making an offer she can't refuse.

Okay, 70% discount! Seven dollars! Just take the jacket for seven dollars!   SOLD!!!

Yep. That's how I managed to sell most of my stuff. I find it very very effective.

Not much left
  At 1.00 pm we called it a day. Some old items like the king size mattress and baby clothes were give-aways so these went by very quickly. However, there were two free items which nobody wanted.

The evil washing machines! Both are broken btw. Hubby said he's going to put them up for sale as spare parts on Trade Me (something like But if no one wants them, we'll bury them in our own back yard. I think that's better than renting a trailer for $50 to dispose two bulky machines. 

Hosting a garage sale can be a pain cos it's a lot work.  Some weirdos will drive you nuts, asking you 25 questions about a mattress that cost $5. Hagglers will try to haggle over every single thing you're selling, even for items that cost $2. And some agressive people will just take what they want and give you half of the amount you're asking for.  It's annoying but if you're serious about decluttering your home, then just let it go. After all, that's what a garage sale is all about.


Caroline said...

Hi Mrs! Glad you had good garage sales.. always wanted to host one..

Anyway, tell you a little story, one of these hoarders gave my great-aunt a christmas gift, it was a tube of toothpaste. So aunt stored it away till she had to use toothpaste one day. She opened it and out fell pennies.. pennies and pennies.. worth 20 bucks. The hoarder had used the toothpaste box as a gift..

Lizeewong said...

Hi Carol!

Seriously??? Wahhh..I am speechless! You know what, my cousins used to do that too. I remember opening one of Ah tung's present (which they gave)and I noticed that the wrapping paper was recycled. Nothing wrong with that but this one was really2 old ba and kurudut suda. You know what's kurudut right? And the best thing was, they told me to open the present gently so as not to tear the paper!

Amanda Christine Wong said...

OMG, my mom is a hoarder too! she got like, 10 bags of the 'beg china' full of clothes that she thinks she's gonna wear someday again! but i made her give them away, without choosing the clothes that she wants. out of sight, out of mind! but yeah, i think there's part of me who was a hoarder last time - mags, cassettes, cds etc. but i too decided i dont want to become like my mom. so i threw them out too.i always thought of having a garage sale, but ntah org kita mau ka tu ah? haha

GladysDavid said...

I'm not sure if our ppl here would be as enthusiastic abt garage sales or not but i wish to go to one so i can do some scavenger hunt!

And, oh... it's mild but i think i'm a bit of a hoarder too.

Tina said...

Hi Lizee:

Great post!

I know some serious hoarders. A few live in my house! Each time I clear some space, it’ll be filled up in no time. You think your mom’s remnants and foreign language books are bad? Mr. Hubby takes home the old, broken parts of his car whenever the parts are changed or serviced. Imagine bawa pulang the useless radiator, broken lights, engine parts, wipers, etc. Drives me up the wall especially when he asks ‘where is the screw/bulb/washer etc I put on this cabinet?’ Ten years ago he put the thing there and he expects it to be sitting on the same spot!

I’ve been to only one garage sale here. But I was tempted many times to ‘host’ one… like invite a few friends to bring their stuff and have a common sale in one location. More people to attend to customers/scavengers!

Mimi said...

OMG! My mom's a hoarder too and also a impulse shopper, you should see the amount of stuff we threw away the last time with price tags still intact! Buruk sudah but still ada price tag, ok.. I told her to put some up on ebay/mudah, she doesn't want.. adeh..

Lizeewong said...

Manda - At least she listens to you and you could make her give her stuff away. My mom susa sikit..hehe..I used to keep old stuff too and I got so attached to them that it was hard to let them go :)

Gladys- You're right. It's not that common in our place kan. Btw, I think there;s a hoarder in every one of us. :)

Thanks Tina! You know your hubby sounds a lot like my dad! Hehe. He'd keep all sorts of junk in our backyard and mom who has her own junk, will complain about the place being samak. Hoarder vs hoarder :)

I think if there's enough publicity and support from friends, a garage sale can be successful, even in KK. :)

Mimi- Odoi dogo! Such a waste oh kan.My mom pun doesn't like people messing with her stuff so if we want to throw something, we'd do it discreetly hehe :) Seems like everyone's mom a hoarder! :)

debrajill said...

yerrrr..i think im the hoarders la~ my mom will throw stuff away one..hahaha..and she will be happy to throw my stuff away! but neway, I learn to give them away..cause make room for more!!! neway nice garage sales!!! i love garage sales! hehe

chegu carol said...

hahaha i can imagine the people who came, tried to haggle price with you...sudah murah, mau lagi yang paaaling murah. but then again, yeah...daripada tida kena jual, better give at cheaper price la kan.

i think, as we mature..itu hoarding habit also develop especially when it involves our kids punya stuffs. Every time we want to throw them, we have this thinking that so sayang wanna buang cos it reminds you of your kids and their growing phase. At least, that's how my mom is every time I suggested her mau buang itu trophies2 kami yg dari zaman high school. LOL!

TheWanderingSumandak...... said...

My grandma's a hoarder! Me? I will do my own version of inventory like every 6 mths. Most of my junks are clothes btw. Sometimes, I will go balik kampung with a large bag or trash bag full of clothes! I normally give it to my aunt. You see, she loves to open her 'rombengan' every time there's a tamu in my kampung (it's every Saturday btw)
well, in a way, i myself a bit of hoarder but must of my 'junks' are books and I won't ever give them away! My plan is to have my own mini-library :)

Lizeewong said...

Mandak - Good on you! It's hard NOT to be hoarder you know. I can get so attached to stuff like my kids' baby clothes and little toys. :)

Bagus juga you send your stuff balik kg every time kan...Kena recycle lagi tu baju2. That's what they do here, recycle clothes.