Acquiring easier than Disposing

Some options for those unwanted, unneeded Items

By Joan Trezek

Chances are good that you have a closet, garage area, maybe even a whole “spare” room where you store things “temporarily” until you can figure out the next move.  Perhaps you’ve noticed that weeks  go by and you still haven’t figured out whether to save, sell, share with other family/friends, or donate the items.   While 2015 is still young, maybe now is the time.

A move, particularly a downsizing move, will force you to deal with clutter. Disposing of the home and goods of a loved one, typically an aging parent, is another force factor.  If you have been in one or both situations, you probably can attest to the fact that delay doesn’t make things easier.  Actually situations like these can offer some valuable insights.  For example, you may be the best one to make decisions about disposing of goods.  And, given how much time is required to thoughtfully dispose of items, it is unfair to put the burden on someone else.  Of course, one always has the option to enlist a professional organizer.

Clutter, junk, stuff, unused items—whatever you call items that haven’t been used or looked at for a year or longer are likely candidates for disposition.  If we’re honest, we may admit that just looking at the pile of stuff is stressful.  And, paying to move items that are no longer used makes little sense, and no sense at all if there is no space for them at the next location.  Finally, if the situation is settling an estate, it is really difficult for adult siblings—absent a will where jewelry, family heirlooms, etc. are designated for a specific individual—to determine who gets what.  Feelings can be very easily hurt.   The following may be of some help:

Gifting: Family Heirlooms/Art/Jewelry:  Items of value may be a particularly memorable gift to a friend, family member and can be designated as gifts in one’s will.  Of course, they can be given as a gift while one is still alive assuming they haven’t appreciated greatly in value over time so that the recipient would owe capital gains tax if items were to be sold.

Selling: Lots of options here—garage sales (time-consuming to organize), web sites like Craig’s List, Ebay, auction houses ( take a commission based on the hammer price and a small insurance fee), Amazon and used book stores (books of value); antique/collectible shops that take goods on consignment (again a commission applies). There are specialty fee-based  web sites for vintage and high-end clothing, for men and women.  Even fur coats in good condition.  Just do an online search.

Donate: A number of nonprofits operate thrift shops where goods can be dropped off and many will pick up large items that are in good, usable condition.  In our area, many homes receive postcard alerts from charities indicating when their truck will be in a neighborhood and what goods are needed. Residents just leave items at the door or curb.  For art/museum lovers, donating to the Oakland Museum’s annual White Elephant Sale may be a good option. Their site identifies items they accept.  Lions Clubs sites—often dropboxes or health providers’ offices– are a good place to donate eye glasses.

One more tip:  The site,, is made for folks who have something they want to give away as well as folks who are looking for a specific item.  There is no charge to post an item and each community has its own site—so Walnut Creek residents have their site, San Ramon theirs, etc.  You can register to participate in as many sites as you wish and opt out when you no longer wish to participate.