The Psychology of Garage Sales - Letting Go and Saying Goodbye

aka - "stuff" and the emotional ties to "our Stuff"....

One normally doesn't associate mental stress with garage sales - physical exhaustion, perhaps, yes - getting all of your "stuff" together for sale - hauling out big, heavy tables, setting up makeshift displays - that can be physically demanding.

But the act of putting on a garage sale can be mentally demanding as well - all due to the emotional attachment to our "stuff". Because that "stuff" represents our hopes, dreams and memories. And what was worth a ton of money before is now being sold at a fraction of its original price, to strangers who want to haggle more money out of you......(because to them, it is just stuff - they have no emotional ties to it, they just want a good deal).

During yesterday's garage sale, I had to say goodbye to lots of my "stuff". "Stuff" that held some sort of emotional significance:

  • The kids' first tricycle - this classic Radio Flyer that we purchased as a Christmas gift for Erica when she was 3 years old. She rode it around the house that first winter:

  • The Little People Farm House, complete with Tractor, Farmer and all its animals - two horses, cows, sheep, the pig and rooster. I still remember playing with my Little People Farm as a kid.
  • Erica's onesie with kitty cats all over it - she wore it when she was 2 months old.
  • The beautiful canopy from Pottery Barn that I bought for Erica's bedroom (she only used it for a year and a half).
  • The Scooby Do stuffed animal we purchased during our fun day at Six Flags Amusement park:

But I guess at the end of the day, the stuff is just stuff and keeping it around won't change any of the memories, and it being in storage won't create any new ones. So I made my peace with it and know that my "stuff" will have gone to good use in someone else's possession.

And as a side note, the kids had a good time earning money at their bake sale, which was an extension of the garage sale - put out cookies, brownies and lemonade with some cute kids and see how much money you can bring in:

But you need to make sure the kids running the sale don't eat too much of the product (notice that Henry, all the way on the right is guilty of sneaking some of the goods - he even said to his mom that he was "eating my paycheck!").

agent713  – (June 16, 2008 at 6:02 PM)  

"at the end of the day, the stuff is just stuff and keeping it around won't change any of the memories, and it being in storage won't create any new ones"

That is very insightful. Thank you.

Kaye  – (June 17, 2008 at 11:03 AM)  

We had a garage sale two summers ago. I had such a hard time letting go of some of the boys' things. They didn't have any problems with it, though. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so sentimental. I'm trying to get better!

Michelle –   – (June 23, 2008 at 3:12 PM)  

Great post Shirley.

We had a garage sale last year and it was so hard for me to let go of some things. You're right - it's just stuff.

This year I'm taking all of the stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. They don't haggle with you there. ;)

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