Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Charities & Thrift Store Need Saleable Items, Not Our Junk"

No matter when we do our cleaning, organizing, and throwing out - or help our clients do the same - we have to be careful that we are being productive. It doesn't matter whether it's spring cleaning, seasonal cleaning, fall cleaning, first-Saturday-of-the-month cleaning or once-a-year cleaning, it needs to be done, but there is a point.

The idea is to reduce the amount of stuff that is present to make our home safer and more livable. It needs to result in fewer items that can be located when they are needed without needing to wade through piles of unimportant or unneeded items to find what we want.

That's why we sort and then keep, discard, or give away.

Actually there are two ways we can give something away - assuming that we don't have the time or patience (or interest) in trying do run a yard sale, set up a table at a flea market, or run an ad in Craigslist, eBay, or the local paper. As for selling an item, there are certain items that people seem to want, and there are others - even though they may be in pristine condition or in the original packaging and never opened - that people just don't show any interest in taking off our hands. It can be different in a few days or weeks, or it might just be that this is the hard reality of it.

If the purpose is to place good and usable items that we don't need or no longer want, and we don't want the delay of trying to sell them or really don't need the little amount of money that might be generated, we need to consider donating the items. "We" means us personally as well as our clients that we advise.

One more thing about trying to sell items is the current value to someone else versus what we paid for the items or what we think they are worth. Something that cost $200 new might only be worth a few dollars - if that - today because of the color or style of it, the fact that it is obsolete or an older model, or that it meant something to us but may not to anyone else. We need to be realistic about pricing items. That is another reason many people just skip this option and go straight to the discard or donation.

Remember that charities are non-profit organizations and the reason they maintain thrift stores are to generate money for their organizations and programs. If we give them our junk - and it literally is just that - they will just have to throw it out after taking the time to inspect it and then having it take up room in their trash when we could have saved them the time, manpower, and effort by making that determination ourselves.

Drive by a thrift store sometime and look behind their donation center. There are dumpsters filled with discards that never should have been given to them in the first place. If it's junk to us, it likely is to them also. If they can't sell it, it is worthless to them. Also, they don't have the manpower or materials to fix or repair broken items such as furniture or to mend clothing. We really do them a disservice in giving them our junk.

No matter how we decide to remove items that we don't want - that aren't just immediately discarded because it's obvious they have limited value or are clearly broken or unusable - we need to ask if we would be willing to purchase that item at a thrift store, yard sale, flea market, or online.

If the item is not desirable enough, attractive enough, or appealing enough for us to want to acquire it (even though we clearly wouldn't want to because that is why we are getting rid of it), then it belongs in the trash. Sometimes even "free" is too high of a price for some items.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.