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Dumpster Disasters: How (not) to prepare to downsize |

Dumpster Disasters: How (not) to prepare to downsize

“I think we are ready for you to come a take a look at Mom and Dad’s House. We’ve already hauled off 2 dumpsters full of trash to make your job easier.”

This is the kind of statement that sends chills up my spine. Unknowingly, in their effort to “help”, families can throw away thousands of dollars in goods that to them appear to be worthless. What do folks pitch that could bring them cash? Here are a few things to watch for.


Most homes have a stack or two of records, and for the most part, they are of little value. However, if you have vintage rock albums from 1950-1980 in good condition, you will want to take a closer look. They can bring several dollars each and that adds up. Then there is always the chance you have an original issue of David Bowie album ‘The Man Who Sold the World” which recently brought $10,000 on eBay.

With the resurgence of the popularity of old records turntables from the 1970’s and 1980’s are in high demand. Many of these need to be reconditioned, but even in fair condition, they have some value. It is not uncommon for people to consider them outdated and toss them in the dumpster!

Take a closer look before you pitch all of the “junk” in the garage. Tools and tool boxes, fishing gear and workbenches can garner a nice chunk of change at auction. The area of collectibles, referred to as Petroliana, has a large following of ready buyers.Included in this category are old metal signs, pre-1960 oil cans, license plates and anything marked with the name of an oil company. On a recent Indy garage clean out, the consignor saw over $2,200 from what appeared, to the untrained eye, to be trash.

Old iron in the form of doorstops, bookends, skillets, garden statues, ornate fencing and primitive tools can be overlooked due to their condition. In many cases, fencing and garden statues are considered desirable with a rusty patina. Skillets, doorstops, and bookends still sell best when they are rust free, but most can easily be cleaned.

I have never understood women’s fascination with handbags. I own three! There are, however, some homes where we find dozens of bags. Again many of these are of the no-name variety or brand name knockoffs, but not always. While cleaning out a farmhouse last winter with Jeff Leak, the general manager of Heimel Auction Service, we stumbled across a small pile of leather bags in the corner of a room that was strewn with miscellaneous hodgepodge. They looked interesting so Jeff ran the research on them and sure enough, they were collectible bags that even though in used condition, brought from $400-$600 each.

Boxes of paper and drawer contents are one of the first things most people discard, often sending old postcards and vintage Halloween and Christmas cards on their way to the city landfill. This area of collecting, referred to as “Paper Ephemera”, covers a wide variety of paper goods. Items to watch for, in addition to postcards and greeting cards, include; sheet music, sheets of paper dolls, place cards, playbills and art posters. Until next time…Linda

Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at lkennett@indy.rr.com or 317-258-7835.

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