Mar 8 2011

hoarders on craigslist [day 285]

My friend was garage sale-ing and ran across an estate sale from a hoarder house, listed on craigslist.  I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but decided to check it out after work on Sunday.  Unfortunately they had closed up shop but I snapped a few photos while making a few observations.

As we drove up, the obvious signs were the furniture pieces in the front yard.  The front door area was cluttered, and after several knocking attempts, I decided to peer into the window.  Yes, we were at the right house, as one of the windows was blocked with a large shelving unit and the other window being a small display of a very large mess.  I’m not sure how people walked around in there to shop for treasures, but I guess if you’re determined enough, you’ll find a way.

Thinking maybe they have something going on in the back of the house, we walked around to the alley of this corner lot home.  The house itself, probably circa 1950′s, was large and looked nice, yet unkempt.  As we got to the back, we realized they were probably done with the sale.  The driveway was completely clear of any junk or trash.

Disappointed, as we drove almost 20 miles to see this, I thought about how many people must go through this is there are indeed 3 million hoarders in the United States.  (statistic provided by the TV show Hoarders)  As we were leaving, the mailbox made me laugh.  Yes, I know, I have a weird, off-beat sense of humor.

Border – hoarder.  It rhymes.  I don’t know why that’s funny, but it just is.

I decided to look up the word “hoarder” on craigslist just to see how many different listings I could find.  I did this search in all 50 states from at least one city.  I found some interesting listings and I’ll share a few with you.  I’ve shortened these a bit, but tried to keep in all the good parts.  Some were really long.  I’ve also highlighted a few interesting things.

HOARDER SEEKS SWAP MEET AND THRIFT STORE OWNERS.

Having a garage sale in my backyard, by appointment only. I have a 32 year accumulation of personally handpicked items. The prices to the public are $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00; with other items ranging over $100.00. THERE ARE NO BURIED TREAUSURES HERE! No furniture, no gold or jewelry. The items are mostly “GUY STUFF”. I know the value of these items, same as you. However I am attempting to offer them to you, at a price where you can make a profit and come back as a repeat customer.
I am offering “YOU’S” an opportunity to cherry pick my estimated inventory of 2,000 pieces [which represents about 20% of all the items needed to be eliminated]. If you like something, you offer me a price, based upon what you think you can sell it for. This eliminates the potential of you having to buy any junk mixed in. FYI, there is no junk, just items you can or can not sell to your customers.

THIS IS NOT A FUND RAISER. I just simply do not understand the value in having such a ridiculous accumulation; causing me to store and periodically to reorganize it. Candidly, despite knowing that I have an item, I seldom can ever really find it in a timely manner.

Predictively the average swamp meeter will have no problem scooping up $500.00 worth of merchandise for their inventories.

Confessions of a potential hoarder..Big Back Yard Sale – $1

We have all seen the show, I opened my storage unit the other day and said I won’t go down that road :^)  Continue reading


Dec 27 2010

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  ”WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading


Oct 1 2010

I bought a bunch of stuff [day 127]

I went to the thrift store a couple of days ago.  I really didn’t need anything but winter coats for my boys, but I was also kind of looking for a chair for my kids loft room.  I bought the following:

  • Winter coat for my son (he outgrew the old one)
  • Winter coat for me (with pockets, as my last one had none)
  • Sleeping bag (we all need one for mission trips, the boys outgrew theirs)
  • 2 folding chairs (for my front porch because my neighbors and I sit outside while the kids play)
  • Electric guitar and amp (birthday gift for Joe)
  • Cloth napkins (I don’t use paper towels much around here)
  • Throw pillow (for the kids loft room)

I spent about $85 for all of this.  If I had paid retail, it would have been around $400. Continue reading


Jul 24 2010

back to school [day 58]

Houston, we have a prob… challenge.  It’s time to buy school supplies.  The boys dad is buying their new shoes, which is good, because I have had a difficult time finding used ones for them.  I suppose it would be helpful if I knew what size they wore!  I realized I did not have that info when asked what size bowling shoes they needed last week.

Here’s the school supply list for Frisco ISD, 4th grade:

  • 1 Crayola Crayons, 24 count
  • 1 Crayola Washable Markers, Classic Thick
  • 1 Crayola Map Colors (colored pencils)
  • 12 #2 Pencils
  • 1 Pink Pearl Eraser
  • 2 Ballpoint Pen, red
  • 1 Highlighter, yellow
  • 1 Wooden Ruler, 12 inch with 1/8, 1⁄4, and 1⁄2 inch markings
  • 1 Fiskars for Kids Scissors, sharp tip, 5‐to‐8 inches
  • 2 Large Elmer’s Glue Sticks
  • 1 Spacemaker 8 X 5 School Box
  • 1 Assorted Construction Paper, 12 X 18
  • 2 Wide Ruled Spiral Notebooks, 70 Notebooks
  • 4 Composition Notebooks
  • 2 Packages of Wide Ruled Notebook Paper, 200 Sheets
  • 6 Folders with brads/pockets‐blue, purple, yellow, green, orange, and red
  • 1 Large Box of Kleenex Tissues

Notes Specific for Fourth Grade: Student planners will be provided by the school. Students will be using dictionaries and thesauruses in their work; if you do not have these items at home, you may consider purchasing them.

Issues

  1. Since this is a standard list, sometimes the teachers don’t need or want this stuff.  Some of it is used, some of the stuff came back home at the end of the school year.
  2. Name brands.  Really?  Is the school getting a kick-back from Crayola, Fiskars or Elmer’s?  I agree that sometimes these companies do make better products, but most times you pay a premium.
  3. My kids are going to be embarrassed by me bringing in a bunch of used or incorrect supplies.  Maybe I SHOULD join the PTA.  Can you imagine???  LOL

Challenges

  1. Finding some of these supplies used, such as colored paper and spiral notebooks, is going to be difficult.
  2. Finding all this stuff for free or in thrift stores is going to be difficult, and most likely, very time consuming.
  3. Brainstorming a way to change the system for the better, getting the needed supplies to the school, but also having a system for the extras.  (teachers, help me out here)

Solutions

I don’t have many answers yet, as I haven’t really started the search.  I am starting today and will keep you posted.  Here’s a few things I do have:

  1. We are reusing lunch boxes and backpacks.  If they want new (used) ones, they’ll have to go shop for them in thrift stores.
  2. We are using a lot of supplies leftover from last year, such as scissors, paper, rulers, etc…
  3. Share multi packs of supplies with neighbors.  If you buy in bulk, you can save money.  This is a greener way to shop too, as the bulk stuff usually has less packaging.
  4. If possible, talk to the teachers to see what they need.  This usually is not an option before school starts, but once school is in progress, you might have some supplies laying around the house that they could use for projects.
  5. Old folders can get a facelift with a little artwork and duct tape.

Off to thrift for school supplies.  :)


Jul 20 2010

thrift store vs. retail [day 54]

I decided to go to the thrift store yesterday.  I was hoping to find some shoes and shorts for the boys.  I made them look for shorts individually, which did not go well until I forced them t do it together.  They found 3 pairs and I found a fourth so now I won’t have to hear, “MOM!  There’s no clean shorts.  I have nothing to wear.”  At some point I usually threaten them, if they’re not dressed, they’re going ‘as is’.  So far they’ve had clothes on every time.

In the evening we decided to go see the movie Despicable Me.  Cute movie by the way.  On the way out, Barnes and Noble was still open and my kids were begging to go in.  They’re allowed to spend their own money at retail stores if they want to, but I won’t.  I usually try to talk them out of it.  Cole found a book that he really wants, however he had no money.  I do owe him 2 weeks allowance and I told him that, also telling him that we could come back tomorrow and get the book if he still wants it.  He tried to pull that ‘it won’t be here tomorrow’ line, and the ‘I need it now and I’ll pay you back’ line.  Clearly the books were not flying off the shelves and it will be there tomorrow.   I will give him his allowance today.

To be continued….


Jul 14 2010

feedback and cool stuff from others [day 48]

No shopping yesterday AND I managed to avoid the grocery store.  :)  My kids and I went to see the Sno-cone Lady, then went to the library, and they actually wanted to sit there and read for a long time.  Wow, that was nice.  Much better than being in a store hearing, “Mom, can we get this?”  I guess I should mention that during prayer time last night, after my kids prayed for all of the needy people to have what they need, Joe did also pray for the new iPad he wants.  Oh well, at least he prayed for the important stuff before wedging in the electronics.

I received some good info from some friends yesterday, so that’s what I would like to highlight today.

Thrift store gift cards

Maria facebooked me that The Colony’s reSale shop has gift cards.  I shop (treasure hunt) there regularly and I had no idea they had those.  Here’s the link on their website, and they have a 20% off coupon!  If you are not in the north Texas area, check your local thrift stores.  What a great gift idea!  These could also be a good thing to carry around with your fast food gift cards to give out to homeless people.

Recycle your bras

Yes, that’s what I said.  Here’s the message Brenda sent…

Just heard about a company that recycles used bras! very cool. maybe you can include in your trash society blog. they area for profit company that also donates to women’s shelters, etc but theyare for profit….but still it’s cool, I normally throw mine away but they take the fabric and wire and remake them. the name of the company is bossom buddies or something like that …i believe they said they were from arizona.

Here’s the website… http://brarecycling.org/ I usually send mine to the thrift store, but I plan to send some here.  I suppose, that is, when I can actually part with the 7- year old tattered things.

Thanks you guys for sending this info!


Jun 28 2010

the challenge: day 32 [dumpster diving]

I have taken dumpster diving to a whole new level.  I was leaving church after work and happened to glance over at the dumpster.  Sitting right on top were 6 really nice sofa/chair cushions!  I’m not talking about those cheap crappy ones either, I’m talking nice ones, the kind that sell for $80 a piece!  I’m pretty sure I ran to the dumpster, you know, just in case anyone else was eyeing my treasure.  I dove in and started unloading my cushions, and when I looked up to get out, I had an audience.  ”Look, Jody’s in the dumpster!”  Yes.  Jody can be found in any dumpster that has useable stuff in it.

Now some of you might be wondering if I was embarrassed.  The answer is yes, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.  I’m not at all ashamed to be caught in a dumpster, I’m ashamed that there was useable stuff that was carelessly discarded.  All it takes is a phone call to a local thrift store.  They will gladly come pick things up from businesses or residences FREE of charge.  The donations sometimes go directly to people in need or sold to financially help impoverished people.

Lori was leaving work today and also found a treasure, two nice indoor/outdoor rugs.  If the rain holds off, I’ll go dig out the other good stuff and take it to the thrift store.


May 29 2010

questions about the challenge.

I had some questions posted on my blog from my friends about the details of the challenge.  I’m going to attempt to answer them, although I’m not sure I’ve thought of everything, you know, like the batteries.  (day 2)

The plan:

The plan is to not buy anything new, other than groceries and toiletries.  No new stuff for the house, no new clothes, no new electronics, no new toys, no new anything.  The only places we would shop would be resale shops and thrift stores.  We can buy used stuff, but only if needed.  No shopping at retail stores.  The kids and I decided Half Price Books would be okay, but only used books.

Why?

I do not want to be materialistic and I tend to justify buying stuff.  I’m not in debt, and I have the money to buy things, but I clearly don’t need more stuff.  I have seen a different world than the one where I live.  I have ventured out of the affluent bubble I live in and I can’t ignore what I’ve seen and experienced.  I’m uncomfortable with being comfortable.  I don’t want to support major superstores and mega marts.  I want to buy only what I need, when I need it and used.  I’m going to do this for an entire year.  I guess maybe I want to prove to myself that I really just don’t need so much stuff.  Food, water and shelter.  I also want to be able to have more to share.  More financial resources and more time.

Reality check!

So what happens when my kids need new clothes or shoes?  I plan to go shopping at the thrift store.  This is not a big change for me, as I buy 90% of my clothing and the boys clothing at thrift stores.  Most of my shoes have come from the thrift store, but finding shoes that are in good condition in the boys sizes isn’t going to be an easy task.

School supplies will be another challenge. I should be able to get some of them used or reuse some from last year.  I clearly didn’t think through all of this!  I did think through the important part, that part being the importance of this.  This is more of the radical, cold-turkey approach instead of just making some simple changes.  The teachers won’t be digging this explanation when it comes time to bring the brand new, pristine supplies to school.

Gifts won’t be a problem, as I can buy used books, make an art piece or donate money in someone’s name to their favorite cause.

I’m sure there are many other things I haven’t thought through.  Every day will be a reality check.  :)

What qualifies as retail?

I don’t travel much, but I do have one flight this summer.  I drive to Mexico pretty often for short-term missions.  I never really thought about the travel thing being a part of this.  I don’t travel much so I don’t think much of cutting back on it.  I always shop for the best deals on everything.  I guess there’s no such thing as a used plane ticket!  It wouldn’t get you very far if you found one.  Airlines I suppose, don’t count as retail.

The fast food thing has been on my mind a lot lately.  My kids and I went to Mooyah for my birthday last weekend.  I was so completely irritated with the large amount of paper waste in bags, cups and wrappings that it takes to eat there.  It’s not even like I had it to go.  It’s ALL made ‘to go’, doesn’t matter where you sit.  Again, ease and comfort and any cost.  And don’t get me started on the ridiculous portion sizes!  I think I’m going to add fast food places to my list of things not to do.  Restaurants without all the paper waste I will still patronize.

As for groceries, we have to eat, and yes, food is retail.  (Yes Amy, potato chips included… LOL)  My challenge excludes groceries and toiletries.  I do hope to make better choices with these purchases though, meaning containers that are better for the environment, more fresh produce and fair trade foods.  Before I buy my quarterly coffee supply, I’m going to do some research to make sure Lavazza is a fair trade coffee.

So what now?

I have a feeling I will encounter many things each day that will challenge me to be more creative in how I approach my wants and needs.  Please keep the questions coming!  We can all learn to do this together.


May 27 2010

the challenge

I have been reading many books lately about poverty and homelessness.  Among those are Under the Overpass, Trolls and Truth and Irresistible Revolution.  I have a long list of other books that I have on my reading list, but one at a time.  ;)

The one thing I love about all of the books is these are all about ‘ordinary radicals’, people that have chosen to sacrifice their life to follow Jesus’ examples of living.

I bought the domain name trashsociety.com a while back, with many different intentions of what I could do with it.  We have so much waste in our American culture.  We are raised to do anything and everything that will make our lives easier and more comfortable.  Well I am finally uncomfortable with comfort and irritated with ease.  There is so much suffering in the world and we can all make a difference by intentionally choosing to make some simple changes in the way we live.

A few months ago, I was channel flipping on my TV (my nice big flat screen TV that I just really needed to buy with the monthly satellite TV package that everyone needs in order to live because we must be entertained if we’re awake, right?) and came across a show called Hoarders.  If you haven’t seen this show, check it out http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/index.jsp.  It’s a little bit like watching a wreck.  It’s awful, quite disturbing and yet you want to look at it.  I’ve watched many episodes of it and came to one conclusion.  The only difference between these hoarders that are being showcased for reality show entertainment and the rest of us watching is that the rest of us don’t have a problem getting rid of our stuff.  We buy stuff, lots of stuff and when we are tired of it, we give it away or worse yet, throw it away.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this many times in my life.  And being a person who loves to buy used things, shop at thrift stores and is all about getting a great deal, I appreciate that someone bought these things new.  If people didn’t buy new cars and sell them, there would be no used cars for people like me to buy, which by the way, I drive a 14 year old car that I bought used.  I wouldn’t trade it in even if I had unlimited money.

So now that I’ve yapped a long time, let me step down from my soap box.  What’s the challenge?  The challenge is no new stuff for one year. This means no shopping in retail stores, with the exception of groceries and toiletries.  (I don’t want CPS taking my kids away for my radicalness)  Groceries and toiletries are the only new things we will buy and will, in the process, learn better ways to make those purchases.  The only places we will shop is thrift stores or resale shops.  No major purchases either.  Now the one small issue here is that sometimes I have to buy things at work for stage sets or marketing.  I will still have to make those purchases because I need my job.  (Or do I?  Okay, a subject for another time)

I will be blogging this challenge.  It started yesterday, May 27, 2010.  Stay tuned…